BCAA

Absolutely not!

Everyone should know that amino acids are broken down into 4 different categories:

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) – also (EAA’s)
  • Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s)
  • Non-Essential Amino Acids (NEAA’s)
  • Conditionally Essential Amino Acids (CEAA’s)

Let’s review each category separately

It is highly probable that you have heard of Branched Chain Amino Acids (aka BCAA) and that you are currently using them in your intra and/or post workout supplement. Of all of the amino acids, they are the most popular. By the way and as a side note, BCAA is also part of the Essential Amino Acids we will discuss momentarily.

Branched Chain Amino Acids, (BCAA’s)

The list of benefits is too many to list in this short article but here are some knowledge nuggets for you research further:

  • BCAA’s are comprised of L-leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine
  • BCAA’s possess both anabolic (they help build muscle) and anti-catabolic (they help prevent muscle breakdown when training) characteristics
  • BCAA’s reduce fatigue during exercise
  • BCAA’s accelerate how fast you recover from exercise
  • BCAA’s help reduce post-workout muscle soreness
  • BCAA’s help trigger protein synthesis for building muscle

The list goes on but here are some of the major benefits associated with BCAA supplementation, which is why they are such a popular supplement.

One last detail: BCAA’s tend to foam up in your shaker so you should look at the Supplement Facts for the word “instantized” next to where it states BCAA. This means that the BCAA’s have undergone a process to make it more soluble when mixed with water and reduce the amount of settlement at the bottom of the shaker.

Oh! Here is another last detail: You should know that unless your Supplement Facts has the word “fermented” next to BCAA’s it means your BCAA’s are sourced from duck feathers, beaks, human and dog hair, etc. MYOTREND isn’t the only brand to use premium grade BCAA’s sourced from vegetables but you should look for something that looks like this: BCAA 2:1:1 (instantized) (fermented). This assures you that your BCAA is used at the clinically validated ratio of 2:1:1, sourced from a vegetable origin and instantized to mix well. Check out INTRABCAA.

Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s)

Essential amino acids (EAA’s) are amino acids that the human body cannot make on its own and must be sourced from our diet.  There are 9 essential amino acids (EAA’s) and they are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

You should note that the BCAA’s we just reviewed are part of the 8 the essential amino acids.

You should also know that essential amino acids (EAA’s) are predigested meaning they are quickly assimilated into the body and into muscle without the digestion process. This makes EAA’s a perfect post-workout supplement.

Today you find a lot of amino acid-based formulas being marketed to bodybuilders and athletes, sadly with very few exceptions, these products are severely under-dosed. You should avoid any amino acid product or any supplement for that matter that doesn’t list the amount the dose of each ingredient. These are proprietary blends and should be considered bad news.

Non-Essential Amino Acids (NEAA’s)

Non-Essential amino acids (NEAA’s) are amino acids that the human body can make on its own. There are 11 non-essential amino acids (EAA’s) and they are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

The most popular from this list and the ones you probably recognize are arginine, glutamine, and tyrosine. Arginine is ineffective when taken as an oral supplement. Glutamine is popular and often seen in recovery formulas like INTRABCAA and tyrosine and/or its acetylated version is very popular and often seen in pre-workouts, energy, and fat burners.

Conditional Essential Amino Acids (CEAA’s)

I’m going to give conditionally essential amino acids (CEAA’s) the least amount of attention except to say that: Conditional amino acids are amino acids that are needed in times of severe stress of trauma.  An example would be a burn victim.  This condition produces a lot of stress on the individual and these amino acids become required.  Some examples of conditional amino acids are Glutamine, Arginine, and Cysteine.

I recall speaking with a doctor “bodybuilder” who explained that the stress upon muscles experienced through a typical workout is identical to the stress experienced by a burn victim. The difference, he explained, was that unlike a burn victim who is in a severely catabolic environment and very the hands of his doctor and God, the bodybuilder, an athlete could stop training and eat a meal.

So, amino acids are not the same, maybe similar but not the same. They have a variety of application in health and fitness. Consumers should, however, expect that whatever supplement they usefully declare the dose of each ingredient and that the ingredients be from the best possible verifiable sources.

About the author

MSc Epidemiology MSc Exercise and Nutrition Science CITI Human Subjects Training for Research Certified Sports Nutritionist Certified Personal Trainer

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