By Robert Schinetsky
Athletes understand the value and importance protein plays in their diet. It provides the building block our bodies need to grow and repair the damage induced by high-intensity workouts. But that’s not all, protein is also needed to bolster immune system function as well as support the production of neurotransmitters and muscle-building hormones like testosterone.
The “building blocks” that dietary protein supplies come in the way of amino acids, which function like lego blocks. The body assembles individual amino acids into complete proteins which it uses to repair damaged tissues, such as muscle fibers.
For well over a decade, BCAA supplements have held a special place in the heart, stomachs, and shaker cups of gym goers. Throttled by musings of increased muscle protein synthesis, reduced muscle breakdown, and faster recovery, BCAAs were used by everyone from high-level physique competitors to weekend warriors looking for an anabolic edge.
But, there’s a bit of “problem” with BCAA supplements.
While they are capable of stimulating protein synthesis, they are an incomplete option, and cannot sustain complete protein synthesis. You see in order to successfully construct muscle protein, the body requires NINE essential amino acids (EAAs). The BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) only supply three of the nine EAAs the body requires to build muscle, which creates an issue.
In the absence of sufficient plasma levels of the other amino acids, your body will break down existing proteins in the body to get the other amino acids it needs to complete protein synthesis. This lays the groundwork for the possibility of a negative protein synthetic balance in the body, which means you’re not building more muscle.
The solution…swap your BCAA supplement for an EAA Supplement
Simply put, the three BCAAs do not provide all of the mandatory building blocks required to build muscle tissue. It’s as simple as that, and there’s research to back it up! When compared head-to-head EAAs stimulate a significantly stronger anabolic response than BCAA supplements. While BCAAs were able to stimulate “a 22% greater response of myofibrillar-MPS following resistance exercise compared with a placebo…
“The magnitude of this increased response of myofibrillar-MPS was ~50% less than the previously reported myofibrillar-MPS response to a dose of whey protein containing similar amounts of BCAA.”
Other studies have found much the same thing: ”In summary, oral supplementation with BCAA following resistance exercise stimulates mTORC1 signaling more potently than ingestion of leucine alone, but not as effectively as EAA.”
In other words, BCAA supplements are a “decent” option for supporting muscle growth and recovery, but if you want to maximize your muscle building potential, you should be using an amino acid supplement that supplies ALL NINE essential amino acids. Not only do EAA formulas support protein synthesis to a more complete extent than BCAAs, they also bolster immune function and collagen formation. The reason for this is that EAA formulas supply the body with Lysine, which supports antibody biosynthesis and immune system function and is required for the production of collagen.
Furthermore, EAA supplements also support a healthy mood and better sleep as they supply the body with tryptophan, the amino acid used by the body to create the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin. In just so happens that the body can subsequently use serotonin to produce melatonin, which is the hormone that governs our circadian rhythm and ultimately our ability to go to sleep. So, when it comes to purchasing your amino acid supplement, you have to ask yourself, are you ok with “decent” or do you want the best?
EAA + Hydration is a full spectrum amino acid supplement containing a heaping 8 grams of essential amino acids, including 6 grams of 2:1:1 BCAAs, to support protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and growth.
We’ve also included a comprehensive Hydration Complex in EAA + Hydration that includes 1 gram of taurine plus coconut water powder and Calci-K to encourage cellular hydration, proper muscle function, and electrolyte balance.
Click Here to learn more about EAA + Hydration and why it is your amino acid solution!
1. Jackman SR, Witard OC, Philp A, Wallis GA, Baar K, Tipton KD. Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans. Frontiers in Physiology. 2017;8:390;
2. Moberg M, Apró W, Ekblom B, Hall G Van, Holmberg H, Blomstrand E; “Activation of mTORC1 by leucine is potentiated by branched-chain amino acids and even more so by essential amino acids following resistance exercise”; Am J Physiol Cell Physiol; 2018:874-884;
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