For many years now, BCAAs have been one of the key supplements we’re told to take if we wanted to make any progress in the gym.

BCAAs would ideally be taken alongside other gym essentials such as whey protein, creatine, and the most potent pre-workout you can find.

Though, there is often confusion around what BCAAs are compared to EAAs. What exactly is the difference between these two supplements? Continue reading to find out!

EAAs Vs BCAAs: The Difference

Firstly, some background on amino acids:

Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. These compounds play many vital roles in the body, such as the building of proteins and the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.

Some are often taken in supplement form to potentially boost athletic performance, such as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) or essential amino acids (EAAs).

The BCAAs contain varying ratios of leucine, isoleucine, and valine (often 2:1:1). Whereas EAAs contain 9 of the essential amino acids, that include the BCAAs, which the body cannot naturally produce.

The essential amino acids are:

  • Methionine
  • Lysine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Leucine (Branched Chain)
  • Isoleucine (Branched Chain)
  • Valine (Branched Chain)

So, which is better to supplement with?

EAAs Vs BCAAs: Which is Better?

The research on BCAAs has led to claims around them being beneficial for several reasons, including:

  • Increased muscle growth
  • Improved muscle recovery and performance
  • Preserving muscle mass
  • Optimizing low protein meals

While there is some speculation around these claims, it ultimately depends on the individual and what they are looking to achieve.

On the other hand, EAAs are thought to provide the same benefits but in a more effective way. Amino acids do not tend to work independently, they are actually required to work together to achieve protein synthesis (the building of new muscle).

So, according to this theory, taking EAAs, which also include the BCAAs, may be more beneficial as you would be getting a range of amino acids and not just 3 working against the others.

EAAs can be taken at any point throughout the day, much like BCAAs, however the research does indicate more advantages when taken pre and intra workout.

EAAs can contribute to improved body composition by:

  • Preventing a catholic state
  • Assisting in building muscle mass
  • Increasing BMR for weight management

The Takeaway

The main takeaway here is that while you can take BCAAs and reap the benefits of muscle growth and recovery, you may be selling yourself marginally short.

Supplementing with EAAs may provide just a little bit more in terms of advantages, though this is so marginal, it would largely depend on individual preference!

Additionally, you may find a further benefit in prioritizing plenty of food sources of protein throughout the day, such as eggs, meat, poultry, and dairy, to help support your whole-body protein needs and boost your gains.