BCAA vs EAA: Which One is Better?

When picking dietary supplements, among the options you have are BCAA vs EAA.

Are you picking a new amino acid supplement? If so then you have a lot of options like BCAA vs EAA. This debate includes branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs). Amino acids are the building blocks of protein so you’ll need them to build muscle mass. EAAs are “essential” because we have to get them from food. That said, it doesn’t mean they’re the only amino acids people need. Fun Fact: The human body’s protein has 20 amino acids. A little under half of them are EAAs. Non-essential amino acids are also important but the body produces them. You can still have a deficiency.

Then there are amino acids that are “branched-chain.” What are they about? This is a small group of three amino acids with a carbon chain. All of the BCAAs are also EAAs so the body doesn’t make them and you have to get them from food. However, so you can actually get them in different kinds of food like meat. So, if you pick BCAA supplements you’re still getting EAAs but a special group of them. Are EAA or BCAA supplements better for you? It’s important to know the features and benefits of both so you can choose wisely for sports, weightlifting, or general health.

 

What Are Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)?

These amino acids are “essential” because the body doesn’t produce them. So you have to get them from food instead. These are very important for your body to function properly and are involved in things like proteins, hormones, and signal-senders called neurotransmitters.

You can take EAA supplements for reasons like sports/weightlifting and boosting moods. They contain different chemicals like oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen. Nearly half (9 to be exact) of the body’s 20 amino acids are essential. It’s important to get enough of these amino acids in your life.

Why would you need supplements? In some cases, you might want to boost your level of EAAs for purposes like weightlifting/bodybuilding.

In other situations, you might have a deficiency. This can be due to factors like health conditions that cause your body to have less of particular EAAs than you need. Here’s a list of the EAAs:

  1. Histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine

You can get these amino acids from different foods. Some of the best sources are meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. Here’s what happens. When you eat protein, the body breaks it down into amino acids, which are important for processes like building muscle and boosting the immune system.

 

What are the Specific Roles of EAAs?

The EAAs have different functions; these include:

  1. Muscle-building
  2. Hormones
  3. Immune system
  4. Skin health
  5. Brain/body signals
  6. Energy
  7. Sleep
  8. Mood

These are just some of the many functions of amino acids. They’re quite important since protein is one of the macronutrients the human body needs to function properly. It’s also important to avoid EAA deficiencies since they can cause various health problems.

Food is always the best source of nutrients like EAAs. However, supplements provide convenience like just before a gym workout, for example. You can get a quick boost of certain amino acids.

 

What are the Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

This is a small group of three EAAs. They make up one-third of the 9 essential acids. The three BCAAs include:

  1. Leucine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Valine

Let’s talk about the “branched-chain” in the name. This is related to the BCAAs chemical structure. These amino acids are found in foods like meat, eggs, and dairy. You can find EAAs in different forms like tablet and powder.

Studies Show that BCAAs can Provide Various Health Benefits Including:

Faster muscle recovery

This soreness called DOMS can last from 1 to 3 days after a workout. Studies show that BCAAs can help speed up the recovery process, which can help you get back into the gym faster.

More muscle growth

This is one of the main benefits of these amino acids. For example, leucine creates a path in the body that helps it turn protein into muscle. This is a big plus for weightlifters/bodybuilders who want to build lean muscle mass.

Prevent Muscle Breakdown

It’s natural for the body to break-down then rebuild proteins. It’s important to replace BCAAs since they make up about one-third of EAAs in muscle proteins.

Less exercise fatigue

OK, it’s safe to say if you don’t get tired during exercise/workout you’re not doing it right. What we’re talking about here is reducing fatigue so you’ll have more energy and less soreness.

You lose lots of stuff during exercise like water, carbs, electrolytes, and yes–BCAAs. So, it’s important to replenish them either through food or supplements. This probably won’t boost energy levels but will slow down how quickly you get tired.

Fights Liver Disease

Another possible benefit of BCAAs is to help people with liver disease. Several studies show that taking BCAA supplements can help with the signs/symptoms of the disease. That said, they don’t seem to extend the sufferers’ average lifespan.

 

BCAA vs EAA

Now that we’ve taken a look at BCAAs and EAAs, which one should you pick when selecting supplements? Well, it depends.

EAAs are by definition “essential” because our bodies can’t make them. This means we have to get them from sources like food and supplements. If you don’t want to haul around grilled chicken, boiled eggs, and Greek yogurt with you all day then supplements are a practical option. So, in terms of convenience EAA supplements are a good idea.

They’re also a wise choice if you have a particular EAA deficiency. You might have a certain health condition that requires your body to consume more of a particular EAA. In that case, supplements are also a good option.

Another situation when you might need more EAAs is if you’re an athlete or weightlifter. In those cases, you’ll want to boost your levels of protein and amino acids. You can do that through food like meat, beans, and dairy. You can also use EAA supplements to reduce your meat intake and add more convenience to your daily regimen.

Then there are BCAAs. These are 3/9 of the EAAs that your body needs. They provide benefits for muscle-building and exercise endurance. BCAAs are also a good option for people who eat enough protein but want to build more muscle mass.

Finally, there’s also the issue of serving sizes. One serving of EAA should be 15g, while one serving of BCAAs should be 5g at one time.

The bottom line is the body needs EAAs and non-EAAs alike. It’s important to get all the nutrients you need in order for your body to work on all cylinders. It might require you to take supplements to boost EAAs, BCAAs or in some cases—both. This is the main takeaway to consider to get the most from the supplement options related to BCAA vs EAA.

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