What’s the Difference Between EAAs and BCAAs?

by James Doss

What’s the Difference Between EAAs and BCAAs? What’s the Difference Between EAAs and BCAAs?

What’s the Difference Between EAAs and BCAAs? There is no substitution for a physical workout to take care of your physical and mental state. Now and then, almost every individual tries to do some light workouts, but other kinds of people are built differently. They try to take it up a notch. To them, working out is almost like a way of life. We are talking about bodybuilders and athletes.

But the thing is that working out alone cannot help build a good body; extra supplements and diet are also necessary to build a body mass. Protein powder is very famous among the bodybuilding circle as a top priority supplement. Still, protein is made up of long-chain amino acids, and there are several types of amino acids. Some are better suited for one group of individuals, but it may not give the same outcome for others. Today we will talk about two types of amino acids- EAAs and BCAAs, and how do they differ from each other.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. They are critical to building our body structure, strength, and functioning. There are two types of amino acids- essential and non-essential. 13 non-essential amino acids are automatically produced in the body, and we obtain 9 essential amino acids through food supplements. BCAAs and EAAs fall under essential amino acids. That is why we need to take food supplements to gain those amino acids.

What is BCAA?

BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids. BCAAs are constituted of 3 of the 9 essential amino acids- valine, leucine, and isoleucine. BCAA produces an anabolic response. It acts as an energy source for the muscles if taken pre-workout. BCAA makes up 30-40% of essential amino acids that form the muscle mass and prevent the synthesis of muscle proteins or muscle protein degradation during a workout. Prevention of muscle damage can help to get relief from muscle soreness. BCAAs may help decrease blood levels which in turn, tryptophan in our brain increases that gets converted to serotonin, a stimulant that is believed to reduce exercise-induced fatigue. Apart from all the fitness benefits, BCAA also improves health in people with liver cirrhosis.

For the most part, BCAAs are harmless. Still, there are a few drawbacks of BCAAs sometimes, like- It negates metabolism of blood sugar and lowers the blood sugar level, so people having surgery should avoid taking BCAAs. It is not safe for pregnant women. BCAAs lower your serotonin levels and hamper your sleep schedule. BCAAs may also disrupt the regulation of other kinds of protein metabolisms. Taking BCAA is a major red flag if you have any of the following diseases- Lou Gehrig’s disease, branched-chain keto-aciduria, kidney disease, liver disease, and heart disease.

What is EAA?

EAA stands for essential amino acids. It is constituted of 9 amino acids- valine, lysine, methionine, leucine, threonine, histidine, isoleucine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. EAA increases the synthesis of muscle protein. EAA provides a better immunogenic response as one of its amino acids is histidine, which gets converted to histamine. EAAs also provide hormonal balance as it consists of lysine and leucine that contribute to balancing our body’s endocrine system. EAAs also help in weight management as it contains methionine that helps the body metabolize fat and detoxify an individual’s blood.

Some other features of EAA are that it has fast absorption, no digestion is needed, EAA is non-inflammatory, low in calories, does not spike insulin, can be plant-based, which vegans like.

EAAs come with their own set of drawbacks like- they can be detrimental to childrens’ digestive system, so consulting a doctor or a dietician before using these supplements is recommended. EAAs are low in calories, so it may be hard to gain muscle by relying only on them. EAAs have relatively fewer side effects, but you should always be careful to choose the best EAA supplements for you.

Differences between EAAs and BCAAs:

Both BCAA and EAAs are essential amino acids, and both can be taken as supplements. So, what are the features that make them different from each other?

  1. Composition

    Both are essential amino acids, but their compositions are different. BCAAs are composed of 3 essential amino acids- leucine, valine, and isoleucine, whereas EAAs are composed of 9 essential amino acids- tryptophan,valine, lysine, methionine, leucine, threonine, histidine, isoleucine and phenylalanine. So, in that sense, EAAs are richer than BCAAs.

  2. Response in Protein Synthesis

    BCAAs have a very low response for protein synthesis, but EAAs show a high response for protein synthesis. That means EAAs are considered very good for exercise.

  3. Endurance

    BCAAs are very good for intense workout sessions as they help retain more energy and lower muscle fatigue. EAAs are not that good in these criteria.

  4. Immunity

    EAAs provide better immunity to the body because it has histidine converted to histamine. Histamine is an important component for building the body’s immunogenic response. BCAAs cannot provide such support to immunity.

  5. Other Parameters

    EAAs have fast absorption, no digestion is needed, EAAs are non-inflammatory, low in calories, do not spike insulin, can be plant-based. All these features do not apply to BCAAs.

  6. Side effects

    BCAAs have more side effects like it negates blood-sugar metabolism and lowers the blood sugar level. It is not safe for pregnant women, BCAAs also lower serotonin levels and hamper the sleep schedule. BCAAs may also disrupt the regulation of other types of protein metabolisms.

    EAAs can be detrimental to childrens’ digestive system. Other than that, EAAs have side effects close to zero.

  7. Molecular Structure

    This is not that important in the case of application, but as we are discussing the differences- BCAAs have aliphatic side chains along with a central carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms. EAAs constitute essential amino acids in addition to the branched-chain amino acids.


EAAs are better than BCAAs as it is rich in more essential amino acids and have fewer side effects. EAAs are also low in calories and easier to digest so, EAAs can be used regularly, also provides immunity to the body. BCAAs are good for an intense workout session but consuming BCAA based supplements comes with caveats. You can easily gain weight by consuming BCAA based supplements as it is high in calories. As an end note, you can choose whatever supplement based on your requirements, but it is always advisable to consult with a doctor and/or a dietician before settling on a specific kind of supplement because results may vary based on your age, gender, diet, previous symptoms, etc.

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