Updated: Jan 30, 2021
BCAAs has been one of the critical supplements that training websites and coaches have promoted to make progress. Are BCAAs falling out of the population's eye as supplement promoters push Protein and other supplement's? Lately, most new amino products are EAAs or Essential Amino Acid blends. While BCAAs, Branched Chain Amino Acids, contain varying leucine, isoleucine, and valine ratios, EAAs contain nine amino acids, including the three BCAAs the body cannot produce itself.
The Essential Amino Acids are:
Isoleucine (Branched Chain)
Valine (Branched Chain)
Leucine (Branched Chain)
Research conducted with BCAAs, which pointed to many of the claims surrounding them, was carried out on rats in 2006 (Kobayashi et al., 2006). New "human" research points to a balanced profile of amino acids being most beneficial for protein synthesis (i.e., the building of new muscle). This is largely because each amino acid does not work independently and should be supported by a balanced diet (Santos and Nascimento, 2019). All are required to achieve their purpose, the relevant one in this context being protein synthesis. Any supplement which disrupts the balance of their levels, including BCAAs, may disrupt this process.
EAAs can promote better body composition by:
Preventing catabolic state
Build and maintain muscle mass
Promote BMR better control over body weight composition
BCAAs like EAAs can be taken at any time. However, research points towards pre and intra workout being ideal (AthleticEdgeNutrition, 2015). They are great to add to a glass or shaker to consume on the way to the gym and throughout training, allowing the body to be well hydrated while supplying muscles with amino acids.
When are BCAAs beneficial?
Adequate protein is not consumed through a daily diet
Staiate whilst on a diet
The point here is that consuming the correct amount of amino acids through a proper and balanced diet (Red Meat, fish and chicken) is possible. There is no need to throw a current tub of BCAA supplement in the bin, supporting BCCAs with an EAA supplement should suffice.
All in all, recommending to Olympic lifters that EAAs are the superior choice for the athlete to maximise their muscle-building potential, increasing performance. EAAs provide more, but all weightlifters need to assure that all other variables are fulfilled first. These include sufficient protein from quality sources (meat, fish, eggs) and a safe resistance training programme which allows you to progress lifts.
AthleticEdgeNutrition (2015). Gain An Edge Through Intra-Workout Supplementation. [online] Bodybuilding.com. Available at: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/gain-an-edge-through-intra-workout-supplementation.html.
Kobayashi, H., Kato, H., Hirabayashi, Y., Murakami, H. and Suzuki, H. (2006). Modulations of Muscle Protein Metabolism by Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Normal and Muscle-Atrophying Rats. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(1), p.234-236.
Santos, C. de S. and Nascimento, F.E.L. (2019). Isolated branched-chain amino acid intake and muscle protein synthesis in humans: a biochemical review. Einstein (São Paulo), [online] 17(3). Available at: https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1679-45082019000300600&script=sci_arttext.