by Katie Hoehn January 18, 2023 3 min read
They don’t call proteins the building blocks of life for nothing!
They are found everywhere within the body.
Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which your body can synthesize, and others it can’t.
Of the 20 amino acids your body depends on, it can synthesize 11 on its own.
But the other 9 amino acids aren’t the kind you can just produce in-house.
These are called essential amino acids (EAA), and if you want them, you have to get them from your diet.
3 of these 9 essential amino acids are particularly important in building and preserving lean muscle tissue. These 3 are leucine, isoleucine, and valine … also known as the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
But if EAAs and BCAAs are both amino acids … what is the difference?
That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about.
Like I mentioned earlier, EAAs are all of the amino acids that your body needs. The problem is, your body can’t produce them on its own (making them essential).
These amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, lysine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
You can get these amino acids from complete protein sources. These are proteins like meat, eggs, seafood, poultry, dairy, whey protein, and more.
EAAs perform a lot of different tasks. They aid in everything from tissue repair, to energy, mood, digestion ... and heck, they even help keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy.
Sometimes though, the amino acids that get the most attention are the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). They are especially popular amongst gym-goers ... and for good reason.
But ... what exactly are BCAAs?
BCAAs are the amino acids that are most closely tied to muscle growth and repair: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They have a slightly different chemical structure, allowing them to bypass the liver.
Because of this, they can be put to use in the muscle right away.
Again, these amino acids are a specific subset of the EAAs. Every amino acid in BCAAs can also be found in EAAs.
Of course, the topic of BCAA vs EAA is about more than just chemistry and function … it’s a question of which you should supplement.
BCAAs can help you recover quickly from intense workouts. However, they are also catabolic, meaning they pull amino acids from other parts of your body to help get the job done.
So, if you’re stocking up on BCAAs but neglecting the other EAAs, you might be shorting yourself on what your body needs.
Does that mean that you should just concentrate on EAAs and get your BCAAs along with the rest of the aminos? Possibly.
However, research suggests that supplementing both EAAs and BCAAs together is the best approach. This gives your body the spectrum of EAAs it needs while also maintaining high levels of BCAAs to boost the anabolic effect. (1)
Your body needs these essential amino acids around the clock, so there’s really no wrong time to take them.
As long as you’re consuming or supplementing the right amounts of amino acids ... they’ll be available for your body to put to use when it needs them.
With that being said, certain times are better than others for taking amino acids. It all depends on a range of factors, like your specific goals and lifestyle.
In general, it's best to fuel your body with the amino acids it needs for training. This can help support muscle tissue, promote anabolism, reduce soreness, and decrease recovery time.
So, have those aminos on hand for your workout. Then you can enjoy better progress in your training, more endurance, and quicker recovery speed!
EAAs and BCAAs can both play a huge role in helping you reach your fitness goals. Here at 1st Phorm, we offer different top-quality amino acid formulas that can help support you and your goals!
After all, there’s a reason we call them ESSENTIAL amino acids — you need them. It’s as simple as that!
If you have questions about EAAs or BCAAs, or anything else, give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at CustomerService@1stphorm.com! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers that are here to help you - completely free of charge!
Wolfe RR. Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Aug 22;14:30. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9. PMID: 28852372; PMCID: PMC5568273.
Katie Hoehn Registered Dietitian ACE Certified Personal Trainer ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist ACE Youth Fitness Specialist 1st Phorm App Advisor