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Essential Science: Amino Acids

 In Aubs In The Blog

If you workout regularly there is a good chance you have read or heard about BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). These are part of the nine essential amino acids (EAAs) that must be derived from our diet because they can’t be created by the body. Coming in a simple to mix powder form, getting these into our diet is as easy as tossing a scoop into a shaker and off we go. Sure, it all sounds groovy until studies began to unveil that BCAAs only supply three of the nine EAAs, and a lack in the remaining aminos can actually create poor results in our overall health, physical performance, and lean muscle mass repair and growth. So why do we need both of these, how do we get them, and what do they do? Let’s get into it! 

Essential Amino Acids 101

  • There are nine essential amino acids (EAAs) total
  • EAAs cannot be converted down from other forms of amino acids
  • Utilized in all systems of the body for a multitude of functions
  • Can be taken at any time, with benefits remaining the same regardless of timing
  • Essential meaning we cannot produce them inside our bodies and must get from our diet

The Nine EAAs are:

  • Leucine*
  • Isoleucine*
  • Valine*
  • Histidine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan

Branched Chain Amino Acids 101

  • There are three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) total 
  • BCAAs are also EAAs *bolded with asterisks above*
  • Shown to prevent muscle loss (catabolism) when taken pre and intra-workout
  • Shown to increase muscle repair and growth when taken post-workout

Should I Supplement with EAAs or BCAAs?

If you are debating whether EAA or BCAA supplementation is right for you, consider your goals and what you are expecting to get out of the amino profile. 

Consider Your Diet 

A 2017 study researched and compared herbivorous (plant only) diet regimens to omnivorous (feeding on both plant and animal) and the effects on the amino acid profiles. Results showed the plant only diet caused a sudden decrease, within 48 hours, of total BCAAs and EAAs. Concluding that plant-based protein diets are inferior to those including both plant and animal-based protein sources. This further supported the notion that plant-based protein diets are inferior to whey protein diets due to the lower levels of leucine and the BCAA profiles. In this case, supplementing with both BCAAs and EAAs will ensure you have an enrichment of leucine to support your body’s needs.    

Consider Your Training and Exercise

In strength and endurance training, exercise-induced muscle damage occurs. The supplementation of BCAAs has been studied and shown to reduce the effects of muscle soreness following exercise and training while boosting the potential for muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Although it remains an ongoing debate, whether BCAA supplementation alone is enough, results from a multitude of studies demonstrate that a diet higher in protein with the use of BCAA supplementation can complement and improve muscle recovery and repair. 

If we put it all together, studies and findings say sure, maybe, yes to BCAA use. Take a closer look and they give an underlying hint that to maximize muscle-building potential, we should be supplementing with both EAAs and BCAAs. All nine of the EAAs will support MPS, the process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage while opposing muscle protein breakdown (MPB), which results in the loss of protein due to exercise. This also makes their use a great supplementation when recovering from an injury or over-training! 

Benefits of EAAs & BCAAs

As if everything I haven’t covered isn’t enough to get your wheels turning, let’s dig a little further into the benefits of EAA and BCAA use, take note that some of these have already been covered above:  

  • Boost muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and provide anti-catabolic effects 
  • Increase and support immune function and health
  • Reduce muscle soreness and muscle fatigue
  • Improve and increase muscle repair
  • Support a healthy mood and provide better sleep (thank you tryptophan)

Are you interested in purchasing EAA or BCAA supplements? Not sure where to start? Stop into Jada Blitz Fitness and ask one of our knowledgable staff to assist you in our supplement store. We carry the industry’s top brands that manufacture both EAA and BCAA products.

Questions or Comments? Give me a shout via email to ashofner.jadablitz@gmail.com  

Aubree “Aubs” Shofner
Fitness & Nutrition Professional
Jada Blitz Fitness

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