Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are the 2nd most popular supplement. Hell, when people buy protein powder they also buy some BCAA's alongside it.
The question is, do they even work? or are they just expensive water?
There are 20 amino acids and 9 of them are essential to building muscle tissue and are known as essential amino acids. BCAA’s only contain 3 of these; Leucine, Isoleucine and valine
You need all 9 EAA's to increase protein synthesis above base level. There is no way around this!
With just BCAA’s, we cannot build muscle tissue. There is just not enough building blocks. It's like trying to build a house without cement!
However, BCAA’s have been shown to reduce muscle breakdown. Which is what we need when building muscle. They are not a complete waste of money but at the same time not that useful.
If you wanted to just prevent muscle breakdown, you could actually have a small serving of glucose (tsp of honey) before a workout – which may have a similar effect to BCAA’s in terms of preventing muscle breakdown.
So if you want to experience both an increase in protein synthesis and decrease in protein (muscle) breakdown then EAA's are your better bet.
In fact, in 2017 Dr Rob Wolfe found there to be no anabolic effects of ingesting BCCA’s on their own and found EEAs to increase protein synthesis and help prevent muscle breakdown (https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9)
EAA's are great BUT they should not be your first choice and are not absolutely necessary. The work the best when your overall daily protein content is low or of poor sources.
Vegan diets are usually low in EAA's, so you could benefit through supplementing on them. With meals, in-between, intra-workout and post-workout.
If you use protein powder this is a better first option as this also contains the non-essential amino acids in too.
I like to use EAA’s intra workout as they are easier to drink than a scoop of protein. I find they give me additional muscular energy.
I hope you enjoyed this post, comment below if you have any questions and be sure to share with a friend.
This is the EAA I use in the UK: https://amzn.to/33ZcKyB
I would use this if I was in the US: https://amzn.to/3gCd9Mz
We'll talk soon!