Posted on 21 Oct 2013
5 min read
Everyone has their staple supplements.
Whey protein, creatine, pre-workout, maybe a casein-protein mix.
And if you’re anything like me you have some ancillary supplements that you keep on the bench to give yourself a little boost or maybe even a treat now and again.
Well one of the supplements from my ‘substitute bench’ has recently been promoted to the first XI, and rightly so.
The Protein Works iBCAA powder is now a regular pre-workout drink along with some creatine.
In the past I’ve been a little sceptical of BCAAs and their purported performance enhancing properties.
But some careful reading of some recent and not-so-recent research had persuaded me to give it a try.
The Protein Works offering seemed like a perfect place to start as the other products we’ve had of theirs at Gymtalk towers have been ruddy brilliant.
And I knew it wouldn’t damage my bank balance either.
The actual amino acids you’ll find in BCAA products are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
The big player of the three is Leucine, which has been shown to promote muscle protein synthesis as well as granting increased strength gains when combined with resistance training.
This is why any BCAA product worth its salt should have the three amino acids mentioned about in a 2:1:1 ratio.
If you’re looking into buying a BCAA product and they are just free formed or not in this ratio then it is probably best to leave it on the shelf.
As well as the effects of leucine, BCAA supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone to cortisol ratios in the body, which is essential for getting a good anabolic response from your workouts, as well as decreasing the dreaded effects of delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.
Double dose after leg day anyone?
This offering for The Protein Works comes in the company’s standard resalable pouch which even when it’s being lugged around in my gym bag all hours of the day has yet to pop open.
Which is great, because I certainly don’t want to find my gym kit looking like an item from Tony Montana’s wardrobe after a night out on the razz.
It also comes with a free scoop, good start, and is available in three flavours which all seem to go along with The Protein Works’ unspoken USP of ‘mental flavours sell’.
You can choose from ‘Orange Burst’, ‘Green Apple Spike’ and ‘Berry Blitz.’
I went for Orange Burst but I’ll cover that later.
The one slightly annoying thing is that no matter the size you order it comes in, what I’m guessing is, The Protein Works’ standard size bag.
Which I assume can hold up to 2kg of powder.
When I only ordered 250g of the power and it’s all right at the bottom it is slightly annoying to have to reach in and dig out the scoop every time.
Only a small complaint but it should be noted.
While trying to decide what to write in this section I found myself sipping on this product like I was tasting a fine wine (or a £3 bottle from Lidl).
Here is what I’ve come up with…
The flavour is very good.
It basically tastes of orange squash, so nothing unusual there then.
What is slightly different is the texture.
The ‘i’ in the iBCAA stands for ‘instantised’, which supposedly makes for easy mixing, but I couldn’t help but detect a slightly powdery aftertaste.
Even after leaving it to mix for 10 minutes or so.
It didn’t make it undrinkable but it did make it difficult to chug down in one when rushing into the gym for a workout.
This is still a good tasting product though and I did by no means have to hold my nose while trying to get it all down before I gagged like a cheap hooker.
I don’t want to go overboard here but I was really pleased with this product with regards to its effectiveness.
I took a 10g serving pre and post workout and, certainly with regards to the pre workout, I felt really energised and ready to go and very hydrated as I went into the workouts.
The really major result from BCAA supplementation (at least in part) was the increase in strength.
My big three lifts went up over a six week period and my bench in particular went up 15kg.
But I can’t help feeling they were partially responsible.
Another TPW standard here, but this product is exceptionally good value.
At £16.99 for 250g it comes in at nearly half the price of some of the ‘big name’ brands of BCAA powders.
It is 50 pence more expensive than the offering from MyProtein – but don’t forget about that free scoop!
All in all it’s excellent value for money, par for the course from TPW to be honest.
If you’re looking to boost your performance or add a new supplement into your regimen and you’re not sure what to go for I’d highly recommend giving the iBCAAs a try.
Don’t be fooled by expensive brands when it comes to BCAAs.
Like creatine, branched chains are branched chains.
There is no changing them, so don’t be misled by fancy marketing talk trying to get you to pay more for the same product.
Just look for the 2:1:1 ratio and you’re pretty much golden.
Head over to this page of the TPW website to order your iBCAA.
Don’t forget to use a The Protein Works discount code to save yourself some money when ordering.
And let us know if you’ve tried these or any other BCAA supplement.
Tell us how you got on with them or how they compare.
Now get in the gym and move some iron!