BCAA vs Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids in total, 9 of which are essential and the other Amino Acids are non-essential. The 8 essential amino acids need to be sourced externally because they can’t be synthesised and produced in the body naturally. They are found in protein sources in our diet, such as meat, fish and eggs but can also be supplemented. Non-essential acids are just as important, but these can be synthesised in the body.
BCAA refers to three of the essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are different to the other essential amino acids because of their ‘branched-chain’ structure. They are also found most commonly in foods such as meat, especially red meats but can be supplemented as well.
Here we look at the benefits of EAAs combined, and the benefits of BCAA supplementing. Is it worth supplementing pure BCAAs?
Benefits of Essential Amino Acids
The eight essential amino acids are: methionine, lysine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine and valine, three of which are branched-chain. Unlike non-essential amino acids, which your body can produce naturally, you need to source EAAs from food and supplements.
EAAs are required to complete protein synthesis as they are responsible for building proteins.
Benefits of BCAAs
BCAAs are essential amino acids, but they have a branched-chain structure that sets them apart from the other EAAs. They are the building blocks of protein. Although branched-chain amino acids are in EAAs, the quantity is higher in pure BCAA supplements. They are fast-acting as they are metabolised primarily by the skeletal muscle meaning they skip the liver and directly enter your bloodstream.
Protein levels need to remain high for exercise because energy levels can deplete rapidly during exercise. Protein helps to promote muscle maintenance and growth.
Although BCAAs are in some of the foods that we eat, when you are following a hard training plan and cutting calories, it can be difficult to make sure you get enough BCAAs regularly – this is where BCAAs supplements can help. They are available as either tablets or powder. You can mix the BCAA powder with sports drinks and water to make a refreshing drink for before, during or after a workout.