Every lifter knows how crucial of a role protein plays when it comes to maximizing muscle growth. And since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, they play a key role too! So, why are there amino acid supplements and protein supplements? Aren't they the same and provide the same benefits?
Amino acid supplements, like BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and EAAs (essential amino acids), may seem useless to someone already taking whey protein powder. But don't discount them quickly, especially branched-chain amino acid supplements! Despite popular belief, BCAAs and whey protein powder are not one and the same. They each provide their own benefits that can help you reach your muscle-building goals! In fact, some may benefit from taking both a whey protein supplement and BCAAs.
So, if you want to know whether you should take both to cover all of your bases, keep on reading to learn more about their differences, why you may benefit from taking both, plus more details to help you take both supplements effectively!
Whey protein vs BCAAs
So, what's the difference between whey protein and BCAAs?
Protein powders, in general, are excellent for increasing one's protein intake so your body has all the amino acids needed for better muscle recovery and growth. But whey powder specifically is compared to BCAA supplements because it actually contains the three branched-chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, with the added benefits of having all essential amino acids.
What sets whey protein powder apart from the other is that it's a complete protein (contains all 20 amino acids) and the protein powder with the highest amount of leucine. This is what makes it one of the best types of protein powder! Leucine is the essential amino acid that is known for increasing muscle protein synthesis which is the key driver of muscle growth.
However, it's an animal-based protein that is produced from the water portion of milk that separates from the curds when cheese is made. So, anyone sensitive to lactose or following a dairy-free, plant-based diet, can't reap the benefits of whey protein. That's when other amino acid and protein supplements can come in, one of them being BCAA's.
As you know now, BCAAs only include three amino acids, but they are the three most important for building muscle mass! Leucine is the most important and found the highest in whey powder, but valine and isoleucine are important too! In fact, the way these three amino acids work together and when you take them can help give you benefits that may sway you to add them into your supplement rotation with whey protein...
Benefits of using a BCAA supplement while taking protein powder
The benefit of BCAA is similar to that of whey protein when taken post-workout. They reduce muscle protein breakdown, muscle damage, and muscle soreness. But BCAA supplements can have pre-workout benefits that whey protein doesn't...
It's ideal to take BCAAs before a workout because they enter the bloodstream rapidly and are taken and broken down by active muscle tissue for sustainable energy. Unlike whey protein, they aren't bound to other amino acids which allows them to be absorbed quicker. So, essentially BCAAs fuel your muscles to help prevent fatigue during exercise. This will help you to really push yourself, and push through those last few reps which in turn gets you better effective results!
The studies support these claims too. One study compared a group that took BCAAs during high-intensity training to one that took a placebo. The group that took BCAAs reported up to 15% less fatigue! Other studies show similar results, reporting anywhere from 12-17% fatigue when taking BCAA's before or during a workout.
Should I take BCAAs?
Whether you're trying to build muscle or promote weight loss, BCAAs can help give your training the edge and focus its been needing. However, they're not necessary. Like all workout supplements, they're not to be heavily relied on and you should only use the ones that best fit your needs and fitness goals!
So, who should take BCAAs?
- Anyone who can't take whey protein powder, or other complete proteins due to dietary restrictions.
- Anyone who doesn't take a pre-workout supplement and wants a more natural form of sustainable energy.
When to take BCAAs
BCAA's can provide similar muscle recovery benefits as protein powder, but whey powder is definitely more effective post-workout. So, if you're still taking whey protein or another protein supplement, then take BCAAs before or during your workout to fuel your muscles and preserve muscle glycogen stores. Just makes sure to take 5 grams of BCAAs at a 2:1:1 ratio, that is the ideal ratio.
You can also take it after your workout to reduce muscle protein breakdown and enhance recovery, but it's not necessary if you're already taking whey protein!
To summarize, BCAAs and whey protein powder share similar benefits, but the timing of when you take them can provide you with different benefits that can make it ideal for you to use both supplements! But if you choose to use both, avoid using them at once. Use BCAAs as a pre-workout, and whey protein post-workout or anytime you need a boost in your protein intake!
In search of an effective BCAA supplement or Whey Protein Powder, or both?
373 Lab Supplements has what you're looking for!
Before your workout, take a refreshing scoop of 5 grams of 373 Lab BCAAs at a 2:1:1 ratio to help go stronger, for longer during your high-intensity training. Finish your workout with a scoop of our Whey Protein Isolate to help prevent muscle breakdown and increase protein synthesis.
All of our supplements are made with only the essentials. Meaning effective ingredients in optimal doses, and fewer fillers and additives!
Find your next favorite pre and post-workout supplements at 373 Lab.