Everyone seems to be raving on about BCAA’s and EAA’s, but what actually are they? With so many abbreviations for ingredients and nutritional formulas, it can be difficult to stay on top of what they all mean. BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids, whereas EAA stands for Essential Amino Acids. Sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, right? BCAA’s and EAA’s are typically found in pre-workouts, protein powders and recovery drinks, but for what purpose? Do you really need them?
Don’t worry, we’re here to break down exactly what Essential Amino Acids are and why they could be beneficial to your health and fitness routine.
The Difference between BCAA’s and EAA’s
Branched Chain Amino Acids and Essential Amino Acids are a part of the same family, in fact, BCAA’s are made up of 3 EAA’s. It can get confusing here because we then ask ourselves, “if they are made up of the same thing, what's the difference?”
There are 9 essential amino acids and BCAA formulas only use 3 of them, Valine, Isoleucine and Leucine. The BC (Branched Chain) refers to the chemical structure of the molecules, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a scientist to understand the benefits of these supplements.
EAA’s on the other hand contains all 9 essential amino acids. Essential Amino Acids are nutrients that your body cannot produce on its own. These must be consumed via your diet or EAA supplements. EAA products are becoming increasingly popular as we are now realising the amazing benefits of this complete amino acid formula. So, let’s focus on how EAA supplements can help YOU achieve the results you’ve been dreaming about.
The Benefits of EAA Supplements
Essential amino acids are important regardless of your goals in the gym, we simply need them to survive. You are probably getting your EAA’s from your diet, in foods such as mushrooms, fish, legumes and eggs. Your body uses these nutrients to fuel your entire system, from energy production to the building and forming of muscle tissue, essential amino acids are exactly that...essential.
When you start hitting the gym, your body uses more energy than normal, especially if you’re doing some heavy lifting or hardcore endurance training.
This is where EAA supplements can come in handy. Amino acids are essential for the building of your muscles. You might think protein powder ticks all the boxes, but did you know that proteins are actually composed of amino acids? Protein and amino acids work together to build your physique and create the body composition you’ve been working towards.
If you’re not fuelling your body with the proper nutrients, the hard work you’re putting in at the gym ultimately goes to waste. With EAA’s you can support your body in 3 key areas.
Increase Protein Synthesis and Build Muscle
EAA’s can help increase muscle protein synthesis. When we work out and don’t provide ourselves with proper nutrients, our bodies will break down muscle in order to fuel intense exercise. So, your workout routine could actually be counterproductive. When you give your bodies more amino acids to work with, you can relax knowing your muscles are being fed rather than being depleted.
Improve Your Recovery Time and Reduce Muscle Soreness
It’s crucial to rest in between your workouts, so your body has time to recover and form the new muscle fibres you’ve been training for. Without recovery, the muscles don't have the time or energy to form new muscle fibres.
Incorporating EAA’s into both your training days and rest days can be extremely helpful in supporting the body’s repair as the nutrients are already readily available.
Amino acids can help improve sleep? Yep! Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is within EAA formulas. The body uses tryptophan to assist the production of melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps regulate your sleep cycle and serotonin is responsible for appetite, mood and pain. Whilst being great for muscle recovery, EAA’s also support you in these vital areas.
If you’re lacking in the sleep department and struggle to get in all your essential nutrients, incorporating EAA’s could be a great and simple way to support your body each day.
When to Have Amino Acids?
EAA supplement's are the perfect drink to sip on before, during or after your workouts. They are refreshing, hydrating and are often exactly what you're craving during an intense sweaty session. To optimise muscle recovery, drink during or post-workout and your body will be thanking you! Whenever you decide to consume your amino acid supplement, your body will take what it needs to fuel your daily activities.
Whether you’re training in the gym to reach a body composition goal or looking for different ways to support your health, EAA’s can be a great addition to your regime. Not only are they delicious and refreshing, but they are an effective and simple way to support your body composition goals.