BCAAs vs EAAs: What's The Difference?

Written by: Stephanie Box

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Time to read 6 min

When it comes to building sick supp stacks and enhancing the quality of your performance, BCAAs and EAAs are easily the most overlooked and underutilised solutions.

So, what’s the difference between BCAAs and EAAs, and which should you use?

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are probably the more well-known option and refer to three specific essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. EAAs, as a whole, represent the nine amino acids (out of twenty) that are essential to humans and that cannot be produced by the body itself. Both BCAAs and EAAs must be found through food or supplementation (English, N. 2023).

Which option is better: BCAAs or EAAs?

The debate between BCAAs and EAAs has run since the dawn of time (or a least since sports nutrition and supplements began to rise). Both BCAA & EAA supplements are designed to improve performance, enhance muscle growth, and decrease muscle breakdown.

However, the question that many in the fitness industry ask is which supplement is more effective. Many people take BCAAs to support muscle building and reduce muscle fatigue. On the other hand, EAAs are often favoured for muscle repair and recovery.

So, is one better than the other? Well, it depends on your goals and what you want to achieve. However, based on recent studies, it seems that EAAs may be more effective in promoting muscle protein synthesis than BCAAs alone. A 2016 study found that EAAs were actually superior in stimulating muscle protein synthesis than both BCAAs and leucine alone, while another 2018 study showed that EAA supplementation could reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle fatigue while improving resistance training capacity (English, N. 2023).

Do you want our take? If you’re not combining both, you’re wasting your time.

Okay, maybe that’s harsh. But seriously, you’re selling yourself short if you don’t combine the two.

Research suggests combining BCAAs with EAAs can offer increased performance benefits like improved energy and mood. BCAAs and EAAs are essential for health and performance, so combining them is the best way to maximise the benefits and enjoy the best of both worlds (Jones, M. 2022).

Taking BCAAs and EAAs can improve muscle growth, ensuring you have the ammunition to perform. BCAAs are metabolised differently than other amino acids and are used directly by the muscles for energy. This is why BCAAs are so prevalent in gyms. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect the benefits of adding EAAs. Both EAAs and BCAAs are beneficial in supporting recovery and reducing soreness, so if you’re serious about supporting your body during training and beyond, combining both can help you improve your results (Smith, A. 2023).

Thankfully, many amino acid formulas combine BCAAs and EAAs to optimise your performance, muscle growth, recovery and more. Let’s take a further look at the difference between BCAAs and EAAs, and some of the best supplements to support your training.

BCAAs

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are essential amino acids that play a vital role in muscle growth and recovery. These three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are not produced by the body, meaning we must obtain them from our diet or supplements (this is where ASN can deliver the goods).

BCAAs have been shown to reduce muscle breakdown during exercise and promote muscle protein synthesis, meaning they can help build and maintain muscle mass. This is spearheaded by leucine, which activates a specific pathway in the body that stimulates muscle protein synthesis (Van De Walle, G. 2022).

Additionally, taking BCAAs can also improve endurance and reduce fatigue during exercise. Your muscles use BCAAs as fuel during training, causing the levels in your blood to decrease, which can contribute to fatigue. Two studies, firstly related to taekwondo athletes and secondly to endurance exercise performance, showed that participants supplementing with BCAAs experienced reduced fatigue, prompting better results in performance (Van De Walle, G. 2022).

And, most importantly (in the opinion of our ASN Copywriter), BCAAs can reduce DOMS. If you’ve ever had your body shattered with aches and pains after a calf-shattering leg day, having BCAAs in your corner to alleviate that soreness is an incredible relief.

So, want to get your hands on our best BCAA supps? We’ve got you.

Scivation Xtend BCAAs

Xtend BCAAs offer a powerful formula with clinically proven ratios of 2:1:1 BCAAs, hydrating electrolytes, and muscle-repairing ingredients, providing the ultimate pre, intra, and post-workout recovery tool for nourishing, repairing, and supporting muscle growth while keeping your body replenished.

Optimum Nutrition BCAA Boost

Optimum Nutrition BCAA Boost is a cutting-edge recovery-supporting supplement that closes the gap between you and your fitness goals. With a powerful blend of 8g of BCAAs, 1.2g of electrolytes, and 1g of L-Citrulline, this caffeine-free and zero-calorie formula enhances body repair and recovery, making it ideal for post-workout rejuvenation.

EHP Beyond

Elevate your gym routine with EHP Labs Beyond BCAA + EAA intra-workout formula. Designed to support nutrient recovery, post-workout recovery, and overall muscle maintenance, this formula contains EAAs, SENACTIV'® Recovery Booster, and a Super Focus Blend to promote enhanced recovery, hydration, and performance.

 

EAAS

Essential Amino Acids, or EAAs, are the building blocks of protein our bodies cannot produce independently. These crucial nutrients must be obtained through our diets or supplements.

EAAs serve a variety of functions in the body, including maintaining and repairing muscle tissue, regulating metabolism, and boosting the immune system. If you engage in physical activity or strength training, taking EAAs can aid muscle recovery and growth (Kubala, J. 2023).

Furthermore, supplementing with EAAs may improve cognitive function and mood balance. Tryptophan plays a role in the production of serotonin, which acts as a neurotransmitter in your body and is essential in regulating mood, sleep and other behaviour (Kubala, J. 2023).

Evolve Damage Control

Evolve Damage Control is a high-quality amino supplement that exceeds industry standards with its advanced peptide formulation. Packed with BCAAs, EAAs, and PeptoPro, it promotes rapid absorption and muscle protein synthesis, making it the best choice for natural recovery and anti-catabolic properties.

 

Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy

Optimum Nutrition's Amino Energy provides all the essential nutrients your body needs for optimal endurance and performance. From promoting energy and recovery to supporting performance and endurance, this formula helps you stay hydrated, replenished, and at your best during and after workouts.

If you want to learn more about EAAs, check out our guide here to learn more.

RCN Amino Corps

RCN Amino Corps is a comprehensive amino acid formula that offers a meticulously crafted blend of EAAs, BCAAs, and electrolytes, backed by extensive research to optimise muscle protein synthesis, growth, and recovery. With scientifically proven ingredients like Amino9® EAAs, InstAminos® BCAAs, and KSM-66 Ashwagandha, it's designed to enhance performance, lower cortisol levels, and promote muscle endurance and strength.

The bottom line

Both EAAs and BCAAs are two of the most underutilised supplements when it comes to supporting your training, muscle protein synthesis, and recovery. BCAAs offer a lot of value when it comes to muscle protein synthesis, muscle repair and muscle growth, while EAAs support muscle repair, energy and mood. Alone they are strong formulas, but together they can take your training to the next level.

Want our inside advice? Look for a BCAA + EAA formula that contains added electrolytes or minerals to further support your performance, endurance, nutrient absorption and recovery - we mentioned some above!

If you want to learn more about how BCAAs and EAAs can support your performance, energy and recovery, or still can’t choose between EAAs, BCAAs or both, our friendly team at ASN can help you find what you’re looking for. Just head in-store or reach out online.

References

English, N. 2023, ‘What’s The Difference Between BCAAs Vs. EAAs Anyways? BarBend, accessed 7 July 2023, https://barbend.com/bcaas-vs-eaas/

Jones, M. 2022, ‘Which Is Best for You? EAA vs. BCAA’, Gainful, accessed 7 July 2023, https://www.gainful.com/blog/eaa-vs-bcaa/#:~:text=Combining%20BCAAs%20and%20EAAs%20may,and%20improve%20your%20athletic%20performance.

Smith, A. 2023, ‘EAA vs BCAA: Full Guide’, Discover, accessed 7 July 2023, https://www.discovermagazine.com/lifestyle/eaa-vs-bcaa-full-guide

Van De Walle, G. 2022, ‘5 Proven Benefits of BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)’, Healthline, accessed 7 July 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-bcaa

Kubala, J. 2023, ‘Essential Amino Acids: Definition, Benefits, and Food Sources’, Healthline, accessed 7 July 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/essential-amino-acids#how-many-are-there