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BCAA vs EAA: Which One is Better to Take?

What is the difference between BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and EAA's (Essential Amino Acids)? And which one is better to take?
This is really a trick question because the three BCAA’s (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) are also three of the eight EAA's. So all BCAA's are EAA's, but not all EAA's are BCAA's.

Here's a list of the eight Essential Amino Acids:

Leucine (Branched Chain)
Isoleucine (Branched Chain)
Valine  (Branched Chain)

Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are called "branched chain" because unlike all the other amino acids, their physical structure is branched.

For example, here's a simple diagram of Leucine:

So if branch chain products are missing five of the eight essential amino acids the human body requires for strength and recovery, why would anyone take them? 


Because the three BCAA’s are the most important for energy production and muscle metabolism, they were heavily promoted to the bodybuilding industry and they simply caught on.  And taking a BCAA product can be beneficial.  

But using only the three BCAA’s it is a lot like fielding a baseball team with only a shortstop, pitcher, and catcher. They may very well be the three most important positions, but you certainly can’t expect to win any game without the rest of the team.

It's important to note that a high-quality, clinically-proven EAA formula such as Core 4 Nutrition's FundAminos contains 50% BCAA's and 50% of the other five, essential amino acids.

So it's a win-win!

Here is a quick refresher on why an EAA blend should be part of everyone’s nutritional support program.

Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) are called "essential" because the body cannot make them; they must be obtained from food and/or supplement sources.  Many of us don't eat enough EAA-rich foods, and many more don't absorb or utilize them well.  As we age, the body's ability to extract the maximum nutrients from any protein source decline; and the excess calories in this protein can be stored as fat. 

While bodybuilders popularized the use of "branched" EAA’s for muscular growth and maintenance, anyone can benefit from their use! EAA’s stimulate the production of cellular energy and promote cellular repair. They initiate the creation of the critical enzymes necessary for healthy (and complete) digestion. They are especially important for those who cope with any form of physical or mental stress including intensive training, injury, or surgery.

Because the effects of EAA's have been well-studied, they offer several, scientifically-proven benefits. We know that:

EAA’s prevent muscular breakdown during periods of intense physical and mental stress.

EAA’s improve enhance and protect the mitochondria, our cells' energy factories.

EAA’s can curb hunger and improve metabolism.

For more information on essential amino acids, you can refer to these previous posts:

Four times more powerful than protein
Essential amino acids to the rescue

What's the key take home point?

Regardless of our age or level of athletic ability, we all need all the EAA’s to look, feel, and perform our very best.  And FundAminos can help you get the job done!