BCAA supplements have been around the market for quite a while now and they have completely dominated the market but now the supplement industry has been seeing a shift of lifter’s interest from BCAA’s to EAA’s.
A lot of people have started getting confused about choosing between EAA vs BCAA, this article is going to cover all the basic differences between BCAAs and EAAs, stay with us!
EAA vs BCAA what’s the difference? BCAA supplements are not complete protein source since they lack other 6 essential aminos, on the other hand, EAAs contains a complete range of essential amino, researches have proven the superiority of EAA for better protein synthesis too. Additionally, EAA may help in improved cognitive functioning and hunger control.
First, we need to understand the basics of amino acids.
What Are Amino Acids
Your body requires 20 different types of aminos for protein synthesis and growth, that’s the reason amino acids are often referred to as the building block of protein.
These amino acids are required by the body to complete many vital functions like protein synthesis, regulation of different hormones and neurotransmitters.
Amino acids are categorised into 3 different categories:
- Non-essential amino acids: Non essential amino acids can be produced by the human body and you don’t really require to supplement these.
- Essential amino acids: 9 out of 20 aminos are essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own. You need to feed your body these aminos for optimum strength and muscle building.
- Conditional amino acids: These are the aminos that can be produced within the body but something your body might not be able to fulfill the demands. Under specific circumstances, you might require to supplement these aminos to meet the body’s demands.
What BCAAs Are Made Of
Branched-chain amino (BCAA) comprised of three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
For a long time, BCAAs have been known to increase protein synthesis and protect muscle from breakdown. BCAA has been advertised as a magical supplement that has a capability to trigger anabolic hormones and muscle building.
Several researches have been done to demonstrate the effectiveness of BCAAs and how they help in muscle development and faster recovery but most of those neglected the limitations of BCAAs that we are going to cover in later part of this article.
What Are EAA Supplements Made Of?
EAA supplements contain all those essential amino acid profiles that your body can’t produce on its own, although the ratio of the aminos might differ in different brands.
Main thing to notice here, EAA contains BCAA plus 6 other essential amino acids that plays a vital role in growth and other functions.
EAA includes 9 amino acids:
BCAAs vs EAA
Now lets get to the differences.
1# Number Of Amino acids
First and the most basic difference between BCAA and EAA
BCAA contains three essential aminos that are known to directly promote muscle protein synthesis and increase anabolic capacity.
EAA contains all nine essential aminos that not only support muscle protein synthesis but other vital functions.
2# Muscle Preservation In Fasted State
I have seen many people taking their BCAAs while training in fasted state, most of the people who workout as the first thing in morning pay more emphasis on BCAA.
When you workout in a fasted state, your body is depleted with many vital nutrients and carbs, taking BCAA as an intra workout might seem like a great idea but research proves it wrong.
A research conducted to know the Response of BCAA ingestion on Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Training found some amazing results. Just to save myself from misquoting anything I am attaching the conclusion part of research work.
Researchers clearly specify: although supplementing with only BCAA stimulates the anabolic response but lack of EAA appears to limit the myofibrillar protein synthesis.
Training is fasted state? Your body is already depleted with essential nutrients (Including all essential aminos), supplementing with EAAs can be more beneficial for you.
3# Protein synthesis
Another meta-study published by Dr. Robert R. Wolfe, he is one of the most potent research scholars in the field of amino acid metabolization, you should be paying attention if he is saying something.
He has taken a really hard stance on the efficiency of BCAA; when you don’t supply your body with optimum levels of all the essential amino acids, your body gets them by muscle protein breakdown. Your body needs to complete the amino profile by breaking down its already present muscle protein. He further states, BCAA can trigger a persistent catabolic state if optimum essential aminos are not present.
Dr. Robert R. Wolfe writes,
He also specifies, since the remaining 6 EAAs can not be produced by the body, they are derived from protein breakdown. Twist is, all the broken aminos are not utilized to create new muscle tissues, some of the aminos get partially oxidized in this whole process of breakdown and repair. Thus, the rate of muscle protein synthesis will always be lower than the rate of muscle protein breakdown in the post-absorptive state. In simple terms, if your body does not have sufficient EAAs and you supplement BCAA as intra workout or post-workout, you will actually lose more muscle then you gain (because of that partial oxidation).
The balance between muscle protein synthesis and breakdown remained negative, meaning that the catabolic state persisted and an anabolic state was not produced. The simultaneous decreases in muscle protein synthesis and breakdown during BCAA infusion can be described as decreased muscle protein turnover.
We can conclude from these two studies that BCAA infusion not only fails to increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis in human subjects, but actually reduces the rate of muscle protein synthesis and the rate of muscle protein turnover. The catabolic state was not reversed to an anabolic state in either study.
4# Cognitive functioning
Yes, Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that plays a vital role in the cognitive functioning and biosynthesis of other amino acids.
Phenylalanine is a precursor of tyrosine, a compound used in the biosynthesis of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in keeping you alert and regulation of mood.
Another essential amino that is responsible for mood regulation is Tryptophan, it’s responsible for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your appetite, sleep, and mood.
On the other hand, leucine, isoleucine, and valine are not known to give boost to cognitive functioning
5# Fat metabolization:
Although BCAAs are known to improve metabolic rate and fat burning process, replacing your BCAA with EAA can give your fat loss process a boost.
Another essential amino that is not present in your conventional BCAA is Threonine, Threonine has been found to improve fat metabolization and prevention of fat buildup.
|Number of Aminos||Contains 3 amino acids||9 Amino acids|
|Muscle Preservation||Not sufficient for fasted||The best option to train in a fasted state|
|Protein Synthesis||Only good if body has sufficient supply of remaining EAA||EAA contains complete spectrum of Essential Aminos that promotes growth,|
|Appetite Regulation||Does not have any effects||EAAs regulate hunger hormones and curbs craving.|
|Cognitive Function and Sleep||No effects||Improves cognitive functioning because of Phenylalanine & Tryptophan.|
BCAA’s are not sufficient enough to help you build muscle on their own, you will be required to use other essential amino acids to see positive changes.
EAA supplement has everything that BCAA have but BCAA’s don’t have everything that EAA has.
Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always.