Jan 09, 23
BCAA or EAA: Which supplement should I choose according to my type of training?
What is a BCAA? What is the difference with an EAA? Which one is better for my weight gain? Or to my fat loss?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's start with the basics of these two supplements, the essence of an amino acid.
Amino acids are the molecules that make up proteins. Once degraded, they can be part of three families:
- The essential amino acids
- The partially essential ones
- The non-essential ones.
They are all important, but the essential ones are more important, because the body cannot synthesize them in sufficient quantities for its needs. They must therefore be consumed.
The abbreviation EAA means Essential Amino Acids. In sports supplementation, these famous EAA are in fact a composition of nine essential amino acids:
These formulas are often available in powder form. They are consumed during physical efforts to build muscle tissue and promote protein synthesis. It is also common to see electrolytes added to this formula for hydration reasons.
For the BCAA, its abbreviation means Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are composed of three of the nine essential amino acids:
Like EAAs, they are mostly consumed as a powdered supplement and are often combined with a formula that includes electrolytes. Moreover, a BCAA supplement is an excellent addition for a vegetarian person, because vegetable protein sources contain very little of it.
EAA vs BCAA
Intuitively, one would think that since EAAs contain 9 amino acids, while BCAAs only contain 3, that EAAs would be the more effective option... this is not quite the case!
The influencing factor in this equation is quite simple: your health goal.
When it comes to mass gain and strength, BCAA's are your best allies. Remember that BCAA's are composed of leucine, isoleucine and valine. Leucine is an amino acid to prioritize in bodybuilding, because it impacts the protein kinase mTOR: (mechanistic target of rapamycin). This greatly promotes cell growth and strength.
On the other hand, leucine does not like competition, so it has more impact when it acts alone or with few amino acids.
For fat loss and high-intensity sports (cycling, marathons, hiking, etc.), EAAs are more beneficial. An athlete who trains at a high intensity and/or performs long periods of effort will want to prioritize recovery and prevent further degradation of their muscle tissue. EAAs are therefore better suited for this type of training, as their composition is more complete and more similar to a whole food. It is also a good alternative to help preserve muscle tissue. Besides, the more muscle tissue is preserved, the higher the total caloric expenditure remains, so it is a good strategy for fat loss.
Finally, we can understand that EAAs are more complete in terms of the variety of amino acids that we are going to get. They are to be favored for fat loss and high intensity training. The BCAA's, on the other hand, are beneficial for weight training, for hypertrophy and to take more power in your training loads.
For questions or a personalized supplementation plan, take your free consultation with Coach Francis, the Supplement Expert: https://bit.ly/3pdSfZt