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Thread: BCAA calories

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    Registered User doctapeppadoc's Avatar
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    BCAA calories

    I was browsing some options for BCAAs, and came across one that claimed it's "calorie free". This is definitely wrong, isn't it?? I mean, BCAAs should be digested and absorbed the same way as amino acids from proteins that are broken down to amino acids, so it seems like there's no possible way this could be true, right?
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    Wrong. I think the calories from protein are produced when the body breaks the protein down into the amino acids. Since the BCAA's are already broken down there is no energy available from breaking bonds, hence zero calories
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    Originally Posted by doctapeppadoc View Post
    I was browsing some options for BCAAs, and came across one that claimed it's "calorie free". This is definitely wrong, isn't it?? I mean, BCAAs should be digested and absorbed the same way as amino acids from proteins that are broken down to amino acids, so it seems like there's no possible way this could be true, right?
    Leucine and isoleucine have about 6 calories per gram and valine has about 5 calories per gram. FDA labeling guidelines != reality.
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    They have calories

    Even Xtend tubs have calories listed
    Yes... I've started a log - http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=159357321
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  5. #5
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    Originally Posted by rhizome View Post
    Leucine and isoleucine have about 6 calories per gram and valine has about 5 calories per gram. FDA labeling guidelines != reality.
    I can't believe you ignored this gem:

    Originally Posted by Yorksa View Post
    Wrong. I think the calories from protein are produced when the body breaks the protein down into the amino acids. Since the BCAA's are already broken down there is no energy available from breaking bonds, hence zero calories
    The above statement/post does not represent the opinions of anyone in real life. This is the internet. Not real life. Anyone who cannot grasp the difference between the two lacks the basic intelligence necessary for survival and should not be allowed to form opinions.
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    Originally Posted by Yorksa View Post
    I think the calories from protein are produced when the body breaks the protein down into the amino acids. Since the BCAA's are already broken down there is no energy available from breaking bonds, hence zero calories
    Have you been drinking too much of the 4th macronutrient???

    Anyway, leucine has about 6.5 calories per day, isoleucine has about 6.5 calories per gram and valine has about 5.9 calories per gram.
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    Originally Posted by in10city View Post
    FDA regulations state that "Protein shall not be declared on labels of products that, other than ingredients added solely for technological reasons, contain only individual amino acids." But Total Calories can be determined based upon the Atwater factors (eg. 4-4-9 * macros) or by using "(D) Using data for specific food factors for particular foods or ingredients approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and provided in parts 172 or 184 of this chapter, or by other means, as appropriate; or (E) Using bomb calorimetry data subtracting 1.25 calories per gram protein to correct for incomplete digestibility, as described in USDA Handbook No. 74 (slightly revised 1973) p. 10, which is incorporated by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51 (the availability of this incorporation by reference is given in paragraph (c)(1)(i)(A) of this section)."

    I'm too lazy to look up the bomb calorimetry data for those amino acids, but contrary to what people like to believe, all amino acids do not share the same caloric value / heat of combustion when examined in isolation. Leucine and valine are perfect examples - leucine's heat of combustion is greater than valines because it has an extra CH2 group compared to valine and more energy is released when the extra bond is broken.
    I'll just copy+paste this from in10city (miss that dude). It's important to note that calorie values come from bomb calorimetry and our bodies are not bomb calorimeters.
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    Sorry, but those who agreed that they contain calories are right. The "biochemical" basis is that ALL amino acids are absorbed by the GI tract, after which they are used as "building blocks" (muscle, other biological proteins, etc.), or are metabolized to carbohydrate derivatives. These carbohydrate derivatives are then used as fuel like any other macronutrient, hence being one of the sources of "calories" of the diet.
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    Originally Posted by Yorksa View Post
    Wrong. I think the calories from protein are produced when the body breaks the protein down into the amino acids. Since the BCAA's are already broken down there is no energy available from breaking bonds, hence zero calories
    I don't always neg, but when I do, I prefer to neg idiots. Stay red, my friend.
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    Rhizome- just curious, where'd you hear that..?

    From a biochemical standpoint, they have four per Fran. The actual energy expended for processing then may differ a little, the actual calorie content doesnt vary, because they're all processed to similar carbohydrate molecules that are burnt as fuel supplying 4 cals per gram.
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    Originally Posted by Yorksa View Post
    Wrong. I think the calories from protein are produced when the body breaks the protein down into the amino acids. Since the BCAA's are already broken down there is no energy available from breaking bonds, hence zero calories
    Just what I needed today. My daily "LOL" post. Thanks.
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    Originally Posted by thegymbum View Post
    rhizome- just curious, where'd you hear that..?

    From a biochemical standpoint, they have four per fran. The actual energy expended for processing then may differ a little, the actual calorie content doesnt vary, because they're all processed to similar carbohydrate molecules that are burnt as fuel supplying 4 cals per gram.
    WHAT? First, since they are free form, they probably have a lower TEF than whole proteins. Second, not all amino acids are created equal. Different bond energies/# of bonds hold different energy values and hence a different caloric value. The 4 cal/gram for protein is an estimation compiled by looking at the calories of AAs in a typical person's diet. BCAAs have a higher caloric value than pretty much any other amino acid.

    I have no clue what you're talking about with the latter comment.
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    Originally Posted by thegymbum View Post
    Rhizome- just curious, where'd you hear that..?

    From a biochemical standpoint, they have four per Fran. The actual energy expended for processing then may differ a little, the actual calorie content doesnt vary, because they're all processed to similar carbohydrate molecules that are burnt as fuel supplying 4 cals per gram.
    That's completely wrong.

    The HoC of various FFAA's vary from a low of ~2.9 calories per gram for aspartic acid to a high or ~6.7 calories per gram for phenylalanine.
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    I usually count my BCAA as protein in my diet. IE a 20g BCAA drink means that I cross off 20g from my protein requirement. It feels like the right thing but maybe I'm way off base here :S
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    ^ Now you're just being all practical. Where's the fun in that.
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    o i admit i do the same thing as loctus, count them as exact calories. i never knew it was different.....
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    No, it's not "compeltely wrong". As I said, the energy expended in processing differs. And given that "energy" is "calories", I was basically saying exactly what you said, that they have different values, though I did not specify exact values. I was agreeing with you on that; I was just interested to see the sources informing you guys on the exact numbers, since I was unable to find a source providing some specific detailed numbers. Not disagreeing, just going a little more in detail about the metabolic fate of the carbon skeletons of amino acids once the side chains have been removed to convert them to a usable form when required for energy (thus, excluding their use as building blocks for the body's proteins).

    From a biochemical perspective, yes, they are ALL converted to carbohydrate molecules, which are converted to acetyl CoA and burnt in the TCA cycle; one round of a molecule of carbohydrate going through the TCA cycle produces exactly 4.18 kilocalories of energy. So after processing (providing differing values, as you cited), they are then utilized to produce the same amount of energy. It's the processing that varies, not the actual byproduct of the molecule...
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    Originally Posted by WonderPug View Post
    That's completely wrong.

    The HoC of various FFAA's vary from a low of ~2.9 calories per gram for aspartic acid to a high or ~6.7 calories per gram for phenylalanine.
    You're 100% sure you're not looking at the pKa? Those numbers happen to be really close to the pKa values for those AAs. I'm not doubting you're more than likely right, just checking, though it's probably just a funny coincidence.
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    Originally Posted by thegymbum View Post
    No, it's not "compeltely wrong". As I said, the energy expended in processing differs. And given that "energy" is "calories", I was basically saying exactly what you said, that they have different values, though I did not specify exact values. I was agreeing with you on that; I was just interested to see the sources informing you guys on the exact numbers, since I was unable to find a source providing some specific detailed numbers. Not disagreeing, just going a little more in detail about the metabolic fate of the carbon skeletons of amino acids once the side chains have been removed to convert them to a usable form when required for energy (thus, excluding their use as building blocks for the body's proteins).

    From a biochemical perspective, yes, they are ALL converted to carbohydrate molecules, which are converted to acetyl CoA and burnt in the TCA cycle; one round of a molecule of carbohydrate going through the TCA cycle produces exactly 4.18 kilocalories of energy. So after processing (providing differing values, as you cited), they are then utilized to produce the same amount of energy. It's the processing that varies, not the actual byproduct of the molecule...
    Actually different amino acids enter and different points of the TCA cycle and are not all converted into acetlycoA but eventually combine with it in the form of oxaloacetate.



    The different reactions required to form different intermediates of the TCA cycle probably dictate the energy released from the bonds broken.
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    OK, if we're going to get technical, I guess I'll elaborate that it's derivatives of the metabolic pathway of acetyl CoA that have the same metabolic fate within the TCA cycle. They all cycle through in the same way, producing the same amount of NADH, FADH2, GTP, and ATP, with the NADH and FADH2 going through ox phos to produce exactly the same number of ATP molecules.
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    Please... http://www.ajcn.org/content/52/5/770.full.pdf

    Originally Posted by thegymbum View Post
    Rhizome- just curious, where'd you hear that..?

    From a biochemical standpoint, they have four per Fran. The actual energy expended for processing then may differ a little, the actual calorie content doesnt vary, because they're all processed to similar carbohydrate molecules that are burnt as fuel supplying 4 cals per gram.
    Originally Posted by Mr.Cooper69 View Post
    WHAT? First, since they are free form, they probably have a lower TEF than whole proteins. Second, not all amino acids are created equal. Different bond energies/# of bonds hold different energy values and hence a different caloric value. The 4 cal/gram for protein is an estimation compiled by looking at the calories of AAs in a typical person's diet. BCAAs have a higher caloric value than pretty much any other amino acid.

    I have no clue what you're talking about with the latter comment.
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    Originally Posted by PowerChica View Post
    You're 100% sure you're not looking at the pKa?
    Nope, I'm talking about the HoC of each FFAA, not the pKa.*









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    * See: http://www.ajcn.org/content/52/5/770.full.pdf
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    Don't take bcaa's. Problem solved
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    Originally Posted by vitornoob View Post
    Yeah, I have an alternative list on my computer as well, essentially same values. Nice find.
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    Originally Posted by doctapeppadoc View Post
    I was browsing some options for BCAAs, and came across one that claimed it's "calorie free". This is definitely wrong, isn't it?? I mean, BCAAs should be digested and absorbed the same way as amino acids from proteins that are broken down to amino acids, so it seems like there's no possible way this could be true, right?
    Yes, as has been pointed out by nearly everyone, BCAA contain Calories. It now appears to have turned into an argument of "how many Calories?". Generally I would just treat them like regular protein (4 kcal/gram) if you are counting Calories. You generally don't eat enough of them to have any substantial impact on Caloric intake.

    If you want to know how the food label could get away with listing them as having "zero Calories" it is because there is a loophole in the food labeling guidelines. If the product were to contain fewer than 5 Calories per serving it can be listed as zero Calories. This is when you would have to be a little wary of the product. If the BCAA is listed as having zero Calories that probably means that there are very little actual BCAA in the product. This is a much more important point than the biochemistry discussion above. Most supplements you have no idea how much of the "active ingredient" is included as it is listed 95% of the time as "proprietary blend". This blend could be mostly something that isn't digested by the body and only contains a very small percentage of the BCAA you were planning on buying. There is absolutely no regulations regarding how much of your product needs to contain the active ingredient so buyer beware.

    This is a brilliant move from a marketing standpoint. It allows the company to successfully market its product by saying that it is zero Calories while at the same time allowing them to employ cost-cutting measures which makes the product even cheaper to produce.
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    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post
    If you want to know how the food label could get away with listing them as having "zero Calories" it is because there is a loophole in the food labeling guidelines. If the product were to contain fewer than 5 Calories per serving it can be listed as zero Calories. This is when you would have to be a little wary of the product. If the BCAA is listed as having zero Calories that probably means that there are very little actual BCAA in the product. This is a much more important point than the biochemistry discussion above. Most supplements you have no idea how much of the "active ingredient" is included as it is listed 95% of the time as "proprietary blend". This blend could be mostly something that isn't digested by the body and only contains a very small percentage of the BCAA you were planning on buying. There is absolutely no regulations regarding how much of your product needs to contain the active ingredient so buyer beware.
    Um no. The FDA doesn't allow free form amino acids to be counted as protein so they CANNOT be used to calc calories. See post #7.

    Perfect example - Xtend, US version. Plenty of BCAAs, ZERO calories.
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    Originally Posted by rhizome View Post
    Um no. The FDA doesn't allow free form amino acids to be counted as protein so they CANNOT be used to calc calories. See post #7.

    Perfect example - Xtend, US version. Plenty of BCAAs, ZERO calories.
    Not sue if that makes it better or worse from the reporting standpoint. Regardless it is nothing more than a loophole being used by supplement manufacturers. But just to give this some sense of practicality before everyone goes off into a biochem discussion, protein is 4 calories/gram. That is an average of all the amino acids taken together. If you ae trying to determine the Caloric value of your BCAA supplement it is impractical to calculate it out for each individual BCAA as you are still not consuming enough of them to really matter.

    Looking at the Xtend label there are 9.5 grams of BCAA per scoop and recommended to take 2-3 scoops per day which would be 114 Calories per day max if you used 4 calories/gram. The highest caloric value I saw anyone give above was ~6 calories/gram. Using that number you would take in maximally 171 Calories. That is less than a 60 Calorie difference which would be far less than the measurement error even if you to weigh all of your food before eating it. So from a practical standpoint it largely doesn't matter.
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    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post
    Not sue if that makes it better or worse from the reporting standpoint. Regardless it is nothing more than a loophole being used by supplement manufacturers. But just to give this some sense of practicality before everyone goes off into a biochem discussion, protein is 4 calories/gram. That is an average of all the amino acids taken together. If you ae trying to determine the Caloric value of your BCAA supplement it is impractical to calculate it out for each individual BCAA as you are still not consuming enough of them to really matter.

    Looking at the Xtend label there are 9.5 grams of BCAA per scoop and recommended to take 2-3 scoops per day which would be 114 Calories per day max if you used 4 calories/gram. The highest caloric value I saw anyone give above was ~6 calories/gram. Using that number you would take in maximally 171 Calories. That is less than a 60 Calorie difference which would be far less than the measurement error even if you to weigh all of your food before eating it. So from a practical standpoint it largely doesn't matter.
    I calculated it using the list given and it is between 55 and 56 calories per serving.
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