BCAAs vs. EAAs
Supplements are one of the core factors in getting the body you’ve always wanted. Whether you’re a body builder or just serious about achieving your physical goals at the gym, using the correct supplements—the ones that will benefit your body the most—are crucial. But supplements can get confusing. Not only are there a ton of supplements on the market, but you also have to choose wisely as to what you can or cannot stack together.
If you’re in the fitness realm a lot, you’ve probably heard a multitude of acronyms and weird combinations of letters that represent different products. In the amino acid category, there are BCAA’s and EAA’s. Understanding these components can be the overriding factor that takes your workouts to the next level. But what do they do? And what’s the difference? As you increase the intensity of each workout, the body also requires more amino acids. It is very important to understand how to safely supplement your workouts.
A Little Background
Branched-Chain Amino Acids, or BCAA’s, are amino acids that help muscle growth and sustenance in several ways. Many studies have shown they may increase nitrogen levels in your muscles, which allows you to work out without losing lean muscle tissue later. They can also help sustain muscle glycogen stores. This means that during your workout, you’ll get more fuel to lift more weight and carry out more reps.
EAA stands for “Essential Amino Acid.” These are compounds that the body does not make—you get them from the foods you eat. EAA’s work to stimulate cellular repair and boost cell energy, which can help gain lean muscle. They also help to extract the nutrients from the food you eat so they can be properly absorbed by the body. If nutrients aren’t absorbed, the food you eat can easily turn into fat stores. You can find EAA’s naturally in proteins such as meat or eggs, but if you want to see a difference in muscle growth and energy, try an EAA product to supplement your workout.
What are the Differences?
Even though BCAA’s do contain essential amino acids, they are generally only comprised of more than just the essential amino acids. And even though they contain essential amino acids, BCAAs are not considered a complete protein. Therefore, they may only help with the retention part of the muscle building process. They’re most often used during workouts.
Compared with BCAAs, studies show that the body can more efficiently use EAA’s in order to provide needed energy for muscle growth pre and post-workout. Your body enters into protein synthesis mode after you consume protein, which helps to create and repair muscle fibers. As with any process, there is a peak point in which synthesis is the most active, after which it slowly levels off. Whereas BCAA’s can become redundant if you’re already getting adequate protein intake from your diet and therefore may not help with increasing productivity during protein synthesis, EAAs are proving to help restart and sustain protein synthesis between peaks.
Additionally, EAAs can help control hunger (which BCAAs don’t do), and there’s even research that shows they can have mental benefits! In all, EAAs like this are a more all-encompassing version of supplemental amino acids than BCAAs, and work as an agent to improve workout performance and sustain muscle repair growth over a longer time than BCAAs.
In some situations, the body doesn’t properly absorb amino acids found in food. If you’re trying to reach a specific weight or muscle mass and you’re not absorbing what’s needed from your diet, it can prevent you from reaching your goals. That’s why it’s important to know which supplements are best for you and your goals.
If you want to achieve a whole-body effect, BCAA’s alone won’t do the trick. Reports are showing that EAA’s can more effectively sustain protein synthesis in a post-workout setting. Whether you decide to use BCAAs or EAAs (or a little of both, safely paired), it’s critical that you carefully weigh your options and decide on a healthy plan for your supplements. Supplements are the most beneficial when paired with a healthy, balanced diet and regular rigorous exercise.