Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they help build muscles. They also cause chemical reactions in the body and carry out other functions as well. Amino acids are essential, especially to athletes and other fitness enthusiasts. Currently, there’s a heated debate between BCAA vs EAA. If you are not familiar with what these two are, read on and educate yourself.
What Is EAA?
You won’t understand BCAA vs EAA without learning about EAA first. EAA means Essential Amino Acid. EAA are 9 amino acids that the body cannot produce naturally. External sources such as diet and supplements augment the body’s need for these EAAs.
The body needs these EAAs to prevent muscle catabolism. The catabolic state breaks down your muscles. It leads to a decrease in mass, which athletes and fitness enthusiasts do not like. EAA also helps build muscles and even promotes mental wellness.
The 9 EAAs are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids can be easily sourced from outside sources. Most often, the quantities provided by external sources are enough for the body’s needs.
The best sources of EAA include meat, poultry, and eggs. The proteins that you consume break down into different amino acids. These are then used by the body to help other functions such as muscle building and immune function.
Benefits of Essential Amino Acids
- Stimulates and helps in muscle build-up
- Can help improve mood, energy, and sleep
- Boosts exercise and athletic performances
- Restricts calories while maintaining muscle mass
- Increases protein turnover
- May aid in weight loss
- Assists in brain function
When Will You Need EAA Supplements?
Essential amino acids are often found in food sources. Hence, some people do not need extra supplements for it aside from natural sources. But, certain lifestyles may require you to take supplemental essential amino acids. This is to help keep up with your body’s needs as you go through your different activities.
You will need EAA supplements if you:
- Do regular exercise
- Are fasting or on a special diet
- Suffered from an injury and recuperating
- Have a stressful lifestyle
Best Essential Amino Acids Supplements
1. NutraBio Alpha EAA
- ALL DAY RECOVERY – NutraBio Alpha EAA features an 8.2g blend of Essential Amino Acids, with 6g of vegan fermented BCAAs to help supercharge your recovery. Full spectrum EAAs are a great way to improve lean muscle growth and recovery both intra and post workout.
- ENHANCED COGNITION – A potent matrix of Alpha GPC, VitaCholine, and Huperzine A help boost Acetylcholine levels in the brain, which is vital for memory recall and muscle control. KSM-66 Ashwagandha helps reduce cortisol. This combination makes for a great non-stim energy boost.
- ULTIMATE HYDRATION – Taurine and Coconut Water Powder help boost hydration and provide electrolytes, further improving recovery and endurance.
- SUPERIOR QUALITY - NutraBio uses only the best, and this product is no exception. Alpha EAA is non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, vegetarian, third-party tested, and made in the USA.
- THIRD PARTY TESTED, FULL DISCLOSURE – Like all NutraBio products, Alpha EAA is tested by an independent third party lab to ensure it is both pure and meets our strict quality standards. All NutraBio products feature fully transparent labels with no proprietary blends.
Alpha EAA contains the right blend of EAAs with an addition of more BCAAs for better muscle growth. It also enhances cognitive function. Components such as vitacholine help in memory recall as well as muscle control. Additionally, it is non-GMO and is free from both gluten and soy. Vegetarians can use this EAA supplement as well.
2. Bulk Supplement Essential Amino Acids
- IMPROVES ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE* - Essential Amino Acids have been widely used by the bodybuilding community to increase exercise performance by stimulating muscle protein synthesis, modifying fuel use during exercise and preventing fatigue.* Having all 9 EAAs in the correct ratio is thought to help boost athletic performance and contribute to well-being.*
- BUILD STRENGTH - EAAs have been used to help boost recovery by increasing muscle protein synthesis, which may aid in building strength and supporting the muscles.* Athletes and bodybuilders usually take EAA’s intra-workout or post-workout, and may help muscle fibers recover for optimal growth.*
- PROMOTES HEALTHY METABOLISM* - EAAs have been used to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism and energy balance.* It has also been used to improve metabolic health, possibly even when overall calories are not reduced.*
- FORTIFIES CONNECTIVE TISSUE* - EAA’s have been used to provide structure to all cells, especially those found in muscle tissue, and are believed to play a role in growth, repairing, and supporting connective tissue.* Amino acids are thought to be vital to skin and connective tissue.
- BENEFITS OVERALL WELLNESS* - In addition to exercise performance and recovery, EAAs have been used for better sleep and mood, improved body composition, and general feelings of health and wellness.*
This powder from EAA improves athletic performance. Along with other supplements, this product is famous among bodybuilders for muscle gains. This further promotes healthy metabolism since EAA regulates glucose. It also gives a hand on lipid metabolism.
3. Double Wood Essential Amino Acids Capsules
- Contains all 9 Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) - Each serving consists of a 1 gram powder blend of all 9 essential amino acids
- Contains all Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) - Each serving contains L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine
- Required for Countless Bodily Functions - The nine essential amino acids are required for many bodily processes such as building proteins and synthesizing neurotransmitters
- Supports Muscle Recovery and Growth - Essential aminos help promote muscle growth, decrease muscle soreness, and support exercise endurance
- Made and Tested in the USA - Double Wood's Essential Amino Acid Capsules are manufactured and tested for safety right here in the USA
If you do not like the powder form, then you can always choose capsule EAA. Each capsule contains all 9 EEAs blended in 1 gram powder. This blend supports muscle growth and recovery while reducing muscle soreness. Thus, it gives you more endurance when it comes to different physical activities.
What Is BCAA?
BCAA is an acronym for Branch Chain Amino Acid. Three essential amino acids make up the BCAA. These aminos are isoleucine, leucine and valine. Technically, branch chain amino acids are also parts of the 9 essential amino acids.
Just like EAA, you need to get BCAA from outside sources through diet. The foods with the highest concentration of the three BCAA are eggs, chicken, and beef. Salmon and whey protein are also great sources of BCAA.
Athletes often take BCAA as supplements. Freeform BCAA goes directly to the bloodstream without passing in the liver and gut. Thus, it can go directly to the muscle, where it is metabolized as an energy source. The energy derived from BCAA gives athletes the energy they need during exercise. It also prevents premature breakdown of muscles.
Among the three branch chain amino acids, leucine is the most important. It helps in protein synthesis. It is also useful in stopping protein degradation through mTOR.
Benefits of BCAA
- Improves exercise performance
- Decreases soreness of muscles
- Reduces tiredness and fatigue brought about by exercise
- Increases red blood cell count and other blood components
- Helps muscles to recover faster
- Slows down muscle breakdown even during high-intensity workouts
- Beneficial to people with liver disease
What’s Wrong with BCAA?
With all the benefits of branch chain amino acids stated above, what would be so bad about it? And if BCAA are part of EAA, what’s the problem?
Many people have used BCAA for quite a while. However, Robert Wolfe questioned its efficacy in his review. His review states that taking BCAA for muscle protein synthesis is unwarranted. Hence, the fight between BCAA vs EAA arose.
According to Wolfe’s review, no quantified studies were conducted on human subjects about the body’s response to oral BCAA. He also said that there were only two studies that assessed the effect of intravenous BCAA. These two studies yield results of decreased muscle protein turnover.
The studies showed that intravenous BCAA actually decreased muscle protein synthesis and protein breakdown. According to the study, the catabolic state exceeded the rate of the protein synthesis of muscles during the infusion. Thus, he finds it unjustifiable to use BCAA for muscle protein synthesis.
Technically speaking, you consume EAA when you consume BAAs. However, you only get a part of these essential amino acids rather than the whole. That is why BAAs are not as potent as EAA in giving the muscles much-needed protein and energy for growth.
EAA are crucial in growing muscles. The body needs EAA to synthesize new protein for muscle development. The availability of EAA is the deal-breaker of muscle protein synthesis. All 9 EAA are essential in muscle building. If you only take BCAA, you missed the other 6 essential amino acids. Thus, you cannot get the optimal benefit that you want from these amino acids.
Is BCAA Totally Useless?
Given the points raised earlier, you might think that EAA is clearly the winner between BCAA vs EAA. But that’s where you are wrong. BCAA still has unique uses that only they can provide.
The main purpose of BCAA supplements during training is to spare the muscle proteins. Muscles make and break proteins constantly. Muscle protein synthesis refers to the making of protein.
Meanwhile, the muscle protein breakdown refers to the breaking of protein. When the muscle is at a steady state, the level of synthesis and breakdown are the same. Muscle growth occurs when the balance shifts and gears towards muscle protein synthesis.
Here comes BCAA to the rescue.
BCAA may have the ability to trick the body. It can make the body think that protein breakdown is not needed by the muscle tissue anymore. Thus, saving the muscle proteins from being broken down during exercises and training. Additionally, BCAA help in decreasing muscle soreness.
Best Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplement
1. MuscleTech Amino Build
- BCAAs AMINO ACIDS – Amino Build is a scientifically dosed muscle- and performance-enhancing formula designed to supply your body with the critical BCAAs you need to boost your strength and support recovery
- MUSCLE BUILDER – Build 3.75 lbs of lean muscle in 6 weeks. Amino Build contains a scientifically validated dose of betaine to support muscle endurance & lean muscle. In a 6-week study, subjects gained 3.75 lbs of lean muscle vs 0.66 for placebo group
- BOOST STRENGTH – Amino Build has the same 4g dose of leucine shown in a research study to help subjects increase their 5-rep max strength by 40%
- BOOST ENDURANCE – The 1g dose of taurine found in a scoop of Amino Build has been shown by research on trained athletes to enhance endurance performance. Give your muscles the fuel they need to perform with Amino Build
- REPLENISHES ELECTROLYTES – Amino Build delivers coconut water and watermelon juice, plus essential electrolytes to help replace what is lost during exercise
MuscleTech’s Amino Build has a muscle-enhancing and performance-booster formula. This BCAA supplementation gives your body the needed BCAA for muscle strength and recovery. With this formula, you can build up to 3.75 lbs of lean muscle in just 6 weeks! Rest assured that this BCAA supplement blend is scientifically validated by a study. It further boosts your endurance while replenishing electrolytes lost during exercise.
2. XTend Sport BCAA
- XTEND BCAA POWDER FOR MEN & WOMEN - The World's Number 1 BCAA Brand has been perfecting recovery since 2004 with 7 grams of BCAAs in the nature-designed and research-proven 2:1:1 ratio
- SUGAR-FREE BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS - Zero sugar, zero calories, and zero carbs in every delicious serving. XTEND post workout drink mix helps support muscle recovery and growth. Formulated for athletes for optimal performance
- IMPROVE RECOVERY & HYDRATION - Consume a minimum of 14 grams of BCAAs per day - before, during, and after your workout. Added electrolytes help you to stay hydrated and support recovery. Mix each level scoop in 10-14 fl. oz. of water and shake well
- TESTED & TRUSTED BY THIRD PARTIES - Proudly NSF Certified for Sport, an independent certification program recognized by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the Canadian Football League
- DELICIOUS FLAVORS UNLIKE ANYTHING ON THE MARKET - Blue Raspberry Ice and Strawberry Kiwi Splash
XTend Sport contains 7 grams of BCAA. This makes a great post-workout drink to help the tired muscles to recover. Moreover, it promotes muscle growth among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The added electrolytes on this powder blend improve hydration and muscle recovery. It is also NSF Certified for Sport, which is recognized by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The Canadian Football League and Major League Baseball also trust this brand. That is why you can truly rely on this BCAA powder as well.
3. Sascha BCAA + Glutamine Powder
- It helps increase muscle mass and support fat loss: it prevents muscle mass break down, increases protein synthesis and it also will help your body use more fat for energy.
- Enhances performance and Accelerates recovery: HMB improves exercise performance, strength and endurance by supporting muscle cell repair and adaptation.
- Improves energy levels: Your body will have more amino acids available during training.
- Improves body composition: it helps you gain more muscle and speed metabolism.
- Lowers Cortisol: BCAA’s helps decrease cortisol levels.
Glutamine is known as the energy source of the immune and gut cells. Through this BCAA and glutamine blend, you gain more muscle and speed up metabolism. It also increases muscle mass while supporting fat loss.
Both BCAA vs EAA have their specific functions and contributions to muscle growth. While it is true that BCAA is only part of EAA, they are still essential to our body’s muscle development. The best way to take BCAA is with the rest of EAA.
And why do you need to take BCAA when you’re already taking EAA? The answer to that is very simple. BCAA supplements EAA. The three essential amino acids of BCAA are needed by the body to promote endurance and recovery. While you can get them from EAA, you still need to supplement EAA with more BCAA for a better effect.
In a nutshell, BCAA vs EAA should be used simultaneously to maximize the benefits of essential amino acids.