BCAA vs Amino Acids: What Sets Them Apart

AminoAcidProducts | March 26, 2020 | Health

Are you considering different amino acid supplements? If so, you have several options including essential and non-essential amino. You can also pick branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are three of the nine essential amino acids (EAAs). What’s the difference between bcaa vs amino? While all BCAAs are amino acids, not all amino acids are BCAAs. So, it’s important to know the difference between amino acids in general and certain groups like BCAAs. This can help you get the right dietary supplements for your health/fitness needs. You might pick supplements that include single amino or a group of them like BCAAs.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Fun Fact: There are three types of proteins. There are also two main types of amino acids including ones the body produces (non-essential), and ones we have to from sources like food and supplements (essential). They’re both important but especially EAAs since the body usually makes enough of the NEAAs. BCAAs can provide several benefits like building muscle mass. However, protein is needed for several body functions including the skin, hair, muscles, and bones. So amino acids are especially important for overall health since all living cells including those in the human body contain proteins.

BCAA vs Aminos: Essential Amino Acids

First, let’s start with amino acids. these are the so-called building blocks of proteins. The body has 20 of them including 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) and 11 non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). What’s the difference?

The term might be confusing since it seems one is important and the other isn’t really needed. That’s not the case at all. In fact, the human body needs all 20 amino acids to function properly. The difference is whether or not the body produces a particular amino acid.

In fact, the body actually makes non-essential amino but doesn’t make essential ones. They’re essential in that we must get them from food and supplements. This means we should daily consume foods that contain amino acids.

Some foods are better sources of protein than others. For example, there are “complete proteins” that include all 9 EAAs. You don’t have to get 100% of your amino acids from these foods but they make it easier to consume enough protein. Some complete proteins include:

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Quinoa
  • Soybeans
  • Buckwheat

You can also combine foods to turn them into complete proteins. For example, if you blend rice and beans, you’re getting enough of the 9 amino acids to make up a complete protein. Another option is two different kinds of beans and peas whether they’re green, lima, chickpeas, kidney, pinto, navy, and so on.

Consuming enough EAAs can affect not only your health but also exercise. That’s because you can experience benefits like more muscle mass and workout endurance. EAAs can also help with issues like post-workout muscle soreness and muscle recovery.

When selecting EAA sources food is always the best one. You can also go with dietary supplements. Keep in mind these are manufactured in a factory so they’re not natural sources of amino acids. The options include protein powders and amino acid pills.

BCAA vs Aminos: Branched-Chain Amino Acids

BCAAs are a group of three essential amino acids including isoleucine, leucine, and valine. These are all important for good health. However, leucine is very important for building lean muscle mass. In fact, it can even achieve this goal when not combined with the other two branched-chain amino.

BCAAs can provide several benefits including:

  • Less soreness
  • Less fatigue
  • Less muscle breakdown
  • More muscle growth

These are all benefits that can improve your overall health. Besides picking a quality amino supplement it’s also important to know the best times to take them. In the case of BCAAs, this is during or right after your gym workouts.

One caveat to keep in mind is food is always the best choice when picking a source of amino acids. That’s because they’re a natural source of amino acids. Meanwhile, when you pick supplements they’re made in factories. They can be healthy but they’re not a direct source since they’re not whole foods.

You can also get BCAAs from different foods. They include fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, and beans. Even when you eat certain types like meat or beans you should try to eat different types in order to get different amino acids. For example, beef, pork, chicken, and fish are all “complete proteins.”

What’s a complete protein? This kind of food has all 9 EAAs and enough for your daily intake. When you consume these foods, you’ll be getting more protein, amino, and BCAAs.

A lot of research has shown that BCAAs can provide several benefits. They include more muscle mass, less muscle soreness, faster recovery, and less muscle breakdown. BCAAs might also help to treat kidney disease.

When taking BCAA supplements it’s important to keep in mind there are 6 other EAAs. That’s why complete proteins are a plus since you’ll get all the EAAs from one food.

Top Food Sources for BCAAs

Lean Beef

When picking beef make sure to go with lean options like 95% lean. This will help to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the beef. While some saturated fat can provide health benefits, you’ll want to avoid high amounts since this could cause some health issues.

There’s some debate among health experts about whether red meat is cancerous. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported it could be. However, this is greatly related to how the cows are raised.

For example, they’re often injected with hormones and antibiotics, and fed grains instead of grass. This can affect the quality of the meat you consume. While grains aren’t the unhealthiest foods cows could eat, studies show grass-fed beef is a healthier option.

Roasted Peanuts

This is another good option when selecting high-BCAA foods. Make sure to go with roasted peanuts over fried. While peanuts are actually beans, their nutritional value is so close to tree nuts they’re often classified with them. Peanuts are a good source of protein, healthy fats, and protein.

If you’re on a low-carb diet make sure to watch out for added sugar when buying peanut products. This includes options like honey-roasted, nut butter, and peanut brittle. These options can add extra carbs and kick you out of ketosis.

Chicken/Turkey Breast

These are good options in terms of lower fat/cholesterol content. Meanwhile, you still get all 9 EAAs and lean protein. If you’re on a low-fat diet then you should definitely consider these chicken parts since there’s less fat than other parts like leg and thigh.


This includes whole eggs and egg whites. It might be surprising that chicken eggs are so high in BCAAs. In fact, these are complete proteins with all 9 EAAs. You also get other nutrients like healthy fat and good cholesterol These are all nutrients the body needs when picking supplements like bcaa vs amino.

buckwheat kernels for complete amino

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