EAA vs. BCAA: What Do Supplement Brand Owners Need to Know?
Branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements have long been among the most well-liked (and lucrative) products. BCAAs were propelled into the public eye by some early studies and a massive amount of clever marketing, and they swiftly rose to the top of the industry. However, it soon became an argument topic as the EAA supplements entered the market. The holy trinity of branched-chain amino acids, according to BCAA supporters, is the secret to strength. On the other hand, EAA groups argue that consuming all nine essential amino acids is better. And understanding the basics of amino acids can be the first step in deciding between EAAs and BCAAs.
Simply put, amino acids are the building blocks that make the thousands of proteins that the human body requires to function every day. Each protein represents a specific sequence and structure of different amino acids and has a specific job in the body.
Some of the known benefits of amino acids include:[i]
- Grow and repair tissue
- Make hormones and neurotransmitters
- Provide an energy source
- Maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails
- Build muscle
- Support immune function
- Sustain a normal and functional digestive system
Twenty amino acids in all, including essential, non-essential, and conditionally essential amino acids, are utilized by the human body. We'll save the explanation of non-essential and conditionally essential amino acids for another article because the EAAs and BCAAs are the focus of this article.
Read on to learn more about this topic or click below to listen to the podcast.
Essential Amino Acids (EAA)
The human body needs 20 kinds of amino acids to function, as mentioned above. Among these, nine are Essential Amino Acids (EAA), which your body cannot make. So you have to rely on food sources (or, in some cases, supplements) to meet your body's EAA needs. And taking concentrated doses of EAA (in supplement form) have many health benefits:[ii]
- Decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Increasing positive mood
- Improving exercise performance and recovery
- Improving wound healing and recovery post-surgery
- Reducing postoperative complications and infections
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) is a subcategory of EAA having a branched chemical structure. The proven benefits of BCAA include:
- Reducing exercise fatigue
- Decreasing muscle soreness
- Preventing muscle wasting
- Increasing muscle growth
Of the nine EAAs, three have an aliphatic side-chain with a branch, and the three BCAAs are:[iii]
Leucine plays a critical role in protein synthesis and muscle recovery. It also helps produce growth hormones, stimulates wound healing, and regulates blood sugar levels.[iv]
Isoleucine is heavily concentrated in the muscle tissue and plays a critical role in muscle metabolism. Additionally, it plays a critical role in energy regulation, immune function, and hemoglobin production.[v]
Similar to Leucine, valine also helps stimulate muscle regeneration and growth. It also plays a key role in energy production for the body.[vi]
EAA vs. BCAA: What is the Difference?
As highlighted above, BCAA is a subcategory of EAA, with the chemical structure of the amino acids differentiating the two. Simply put, all BCAA are EAA, but not all EAA are BCAA. However, another main factor differentiating the two is their functionality in the human body.
The nine different EAAs perform a range of functions in the body, including regulating the digestive system, maintaining healthy energy levels, supporting healthy moods, stimulating muscle growth, regenerating and repairing tissue, and helping healthy hair, nails, and skin growth. And, thus, has a positive impact on overall health and well-being.
However, the smaller sub-section of BCAA has functionality that primarily focuses on functions impacting athletic performance. With beneficial functionalities like reducing workout fatigue and muscle soreness, preventing muscle breakdown, promoting muscle growth, and helping the quick post-workout recovery, BCAAs are primarily useful for individuals trying to gain muscle mass, increase strength or improve athletic performance.[vii]
Are EAAs Better than BCAAs?
EAA and BCAA have different benefits. So, is one better than the other? The answer is no. EAA and BCAA have different impacts on the body, and you need to choose the one that meets your customers’ needs. What are your customers’ health concerns? Are they looking for a product that promotes immune function? What about a supplement that supports healthy hair, skin, and nails? Then opt for EAA supplements. Do they want to gain muscle mass, increase strength and improve athletic performance? Then opt for BCAA supplements.[viii] However, one of the great advantages you have as a brand owner is that you can bundle, market, and sell these products together!
Can EAA and BCAA Work Together?
Absolutely! EAA and BCAA supplements together can boost mood and energy levels while boosting protein synthesis for optimal results. In fact, higher levels of BCAA can also increase the effectiveness of EAA supplements. But remember, if you’re taking EAA, you’re already getting BCAA.
Benefits of EAA and BCAA
Some of the main benefits of EAA and BCAA supplements that you can leverage as a brand:
Boosting metabolism is one of the critical factors in weight management. Incorporating EAA and BCAA supplements into the regular diet can help increase muscle protein turnover and build lean muscles. This can boost the basal metabolic rate and influence diet-induced thermogenesis, helping to address your customer’s with their weight management goals.[ix]
Building muscle is impossible without muscle protein synthesis. And EAA supplements are proven to have a positive impact on promoting muscle protein synthesis. This, combined with the role of BCAA in improving muscle growth and preventing muscle wasting, make amino acid supplements essential for muscle-building.[x]
Amino acids enhance water absorption and retention in the body. They can also help replace vital electrolytes lost during a sweaty workout. Moreover, the amino acids and hydration electrolyte drinks can skip the normal digestive process and become available in the muscle for energy regulation and muscle growth, repair, and recovery.[xi]
Both EAA and BCAA help in recovery. EAAs are effective in postoperative recovery. And BCAAs have a well-documented role in reducing exercise fatigue and decreasing muscle soreness. Thus, taking amino acid supplements can aid in recovery.
EAA and BCAA supplements are effective throughout the day. But for their full benefits and the best results, it is recommended to take them during or right after a workout session.[xii]
Why introduce EAA and BCAA supplements to your product line?
The benefits of amino acids are irrefutable, and consumers are becoming aware of these benefits – outside of improving athletic performance – of amino acids. And they are looking for EAA and BCAA supplements best suited to their needs.
The graphs show a 10% increase in people looking for EAA supplements on Amazon;
And a 10% increase in people looking for BCAA supplements on Google over the last year.
People are looking for these supplements, and introducing them to your product line can be a great opportunity to capture market share and gain a competitive advantage. And NutraScience Labs is the perfect partner for you in the journey to bring your EAA and BCAA supplements to the market.
How can NutraScience Labs help?
NutraScience Labs is an award-winning provider of turnkey nutraceutical services, including supplement manufacturing, packaging & label design, and order fulfillment services. Our staff possesses more than 120 years of industry experience and has helped more than 2,300 new and existing brand owners customize and bring high-quality nutraceutical formulas to the market.