Thursday, April 4, 2013

Article # 449. Difference Between BCAA & Amino Acids

Q: What is the difference between a BCAA and a regular Amino Acid?

A: This is a great question. I have been asked this question several times from my friends and strangers I have met and spoke,  I have answered this question many times in the past; not very many people know or understand exactly what branched chained amino acids are.  They're much more commonly referred to as BCAA's. 
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and muscle tissue. Protein needs to be broken down and digested into amino acids for the body to absorb these nutrients nutrients in their smaller state into the bloodstream for thousands of uses within the body. Amino Acids generally aid in providing energy, recovery, muscle and strength gains and fat loss, as well as mood and brain function. In simple words when we eat a protein, our body through the digestive process breaks down protein into smaller molecules known as amino acids. 
Branched chain amino acids, on the other hand, only consist of 3 highly regarded aminos which are L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. They are required for the maintenance of muscle tissue and appear to preserve muscle glycogen stores and even may help to prevent muscle protein breakdown during exercise. All 3 are considered essential as your body cannot produce them. BCAAs can increase nitrogen retention, which may minimise the loss of lean muscle tissue during dieting or during intense training. BCAA supplementation may increase the amount of nitrogen stored within the muscle after training.  This may reduce recovery time and aid in the repair and growth of muscle tissue.
So why do you need Amino Acids and BCAAs when you are taking protein powder? It’s not a must, but it’ll be great to have.
Why? Protein takes time to be digested into Amino Acids and BCAAs. Therefore by taking Amino Acids or BCAAs before, during or after training, you will get better, faster results as it’s supplied almost immediately to your muscles. 
Can you take Amino Acids or BCAAs and NOT take protein powder? Can, but it’ll be highly costly to maintain at least 1g of protein per lb of body weight. Therefore, it’s recommended to take protein powder for your daily needs. 
Another important thing to take note before purchasing BCAAs: L-leucine is needed in the right ratio to other aminos in the body or you will be unable to utilise the protein you take in. This is why you’ll always see BCAAs offered as a 2:1:1, 3:1:1 and even 5:1:1 ratio of leucine, iso-leucine and valine. Leucine is the most popular of the three for its superior muscle synthesis support, making it a very effective supplement on its own. 
Powder form normally works better for most individuals, as absorption is normally faster and better. Now you know what the difference between Amino Acids and BCAAs are, you can decide which is more important for you, should you have both of them.
Always Consult Physician before taking any supplements!