Popular bodybuilding supplement could be bad for your brain, research finds 1 year ago

Popular bodybuilding supplement could be bad for your brain, research finds

Looking to build muscle? Exercise caution over what you're putting into your body

According to new research, one particular bodybuilding supplement could have a negative impact on your brain.

A common ingredient in many muscle-building supps, the amino acid L-norvaline is claimed to boost training performance and aid post-workout recovery.

However, the University of Technology Sydney discovered some potentially damaging effects.

Even at relatively low levels, L-norvaline could make brain cells unhealthy and eventually kill them off.

Know your aminos

Certain amino acids are responsible for muscle gain, but not all are as beneficial for your body. As the supplement world has proliferated in growth, some manufacturers have taken to adding amino acids not normally used by the human body.


Scientists say you should know the difference between amino acids that build muscle, and those which are added to a supplement as filler. L-norvaline is an example of the latter, with potentially harmful consequences.

Dietary proteins such as meat, poultry and dairy foods contain amino acids used by your bodies to build new proteins - in the form of muscle mass.

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs) are the key aminos responsible for building and repairing muscle tissue.

How do you really build muscle?

This study proves the importance of knowing what you're putting in your body. But don't take it as a cue to abandon all supplements. Many offer real benefits.

Whey protein is rich in BCAAs, the aminos which do work. Creatine monohydrate can also help you build lean muscle and add an extra couple of kilos to the weight you're lifting.

Supplements are only the very tip of the iceberg, when it comes to building muscle mass. A good mantra to live by is 'train, eat, sleep'. You should prioritise workouts, recovery and diet before looking for a supplement.

  • Training: aim to gradually increase your workout volume - increasing weight, sets and reps
  • Diet: a slight calorie surplus will feed muscle gain without causing excessive fat gain
  • Recovery: consuming protein after training repairs muscle tissue. Sleep releases testosterone and growth hormone

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