What is the difference between taking a bcaa supplement and a protein supplement? Should they be stacked together or is it best to choose one over the other? We'll discuss how to easily discern between a good protein and a good bcaa supplement and whether or not you need it!
BCAAs or branched-chain-amino-acids include 3 specific amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Amino acids are what make up proteins, and thus all protein supplements have some variation of amino acids. However, supplement companies are not required to list the amino acid profile on their labels as the industry is not highly regulated. As a result, you never really know what you're going to get unless the information is explicitly written!
Do you really need BCAAs?
These essential amino acids include valine, leucine, and isoleucine. They are a part of the "essential" family of amino acids because they are not produced by the body (as non-essential amino acids are) and must be absorbed through good nutrition. A healthy diet rich in animal products helps with getting all of your amino acids, including the BCAAs.
All people, even those who are inactive, need bcaas for muscle to maintain its structure. People who exercise and who do a lot of resistance training need a lot of BCAAs as well as a wide spectrum of amino acids to help repair and restore muscle and other connective tissue.
Supplements for BCAAs are ideal for a quick shot of pre-digested proteins. Being in the most basic form of the nutrient, they are very rapidly absorbed and delivered to muscles. For those who are looking for a little extra shot post-workout, a BCAA supplement is ideal.
Do you need other protein?
While the BCAAs are essential for muscle growth, protein in general is essential for all body reparation and healing.
There are so many different types of protein supplements which all add value to something or another. For example, we always recommend a solid whey concentrate, isolate or blend post workout. These help with the immediate needs of the muscle. Something with a fair amount of carbs to help with glycogen replenishment in the muscle is also recommended. This is an ideal "in between" type of supplement for between healthy meals. Adding in a little extra BCAA goes a long way here as well!
For the evenings, we would recommend a casein protein which is a slow releasing protein and helps with recovery while you sleep. Most muscle memory and long-term recovery occurs during sleep. Since we cannot feed our bodies through the night and protein degeneration is common, this supplement helps to keep muscles going!
There are more examples of wide-spectrum protein supplements being ideal. However, having both a protein and bcaa supplement on-hand helps those of us with busier schedules who cannot always eat the ideal full course meal!