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Proteins, as we all know, are considered building blocks of our body. We consume proteins through our daily diet. But do you know how proteins are produced in our body? There are biological components or chemicals, which produce protein in our body. Like our body needs protein for build-up, proteins depend on amino acids (for their own growth).

In simple terms, amino acids are required to produce proteins inside us. There are 20 amino acids which produce proteins in our body. While all types of amino acids perform this crucial rule, however, some of them are still called essential, semi-essential, and non-essential amino acids. Do you wonder why?

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What are Non-Essential or Conditional Amino Acids?

Amino acids are classified in to non-essential, semi-essential, and essential amino acids. The 20 amino acids have been categorized according to their primary function, their nature and source.

Non-essential amino acids, for example, are not (literally) required for any external food source by your body. This group of amino acids (11 in numbers) is produced naturally by your body. They may become conditional, when you fall sick, or have a clinical protein deficiency. Out of these 11 amino acids, 3 are non-conditional too.

For example, a woman requires 46 grams of protein on a daily basis(varies depending on activity, workout intensity etc). A female’s routine diet will meet this requirement. She is not required to worry about non-essential amino acids, as her daily diet will meet this requirement. There is no need for an extra-effort, as your body produces them naturally for your living existence.

Have you heard of the term protein-rich diet or lean diet to lose fat, or even no-carbs diet? Well, not everyone tries to follow this pattern of daily diet. Those who don’t follow are not deprived of non-essential amino acids. As long as they are consuming food, they are getting protein in required proportion. When we are medically diagnosed with protein deficiency, these non-essential acids take form of conditional amino acids.

What are Essential Amino Acids?

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So, who follows a protein-rich diet or lean diet to lose fat? People, who are trying to lose weight, build muscles, or follow intense workouts, sometimes rely on functional proteins. Welcome to the world of essential amino acids.

Essential amino acids, are not produced by your body. There are 9 essential amino acids, and often termed as indispensable. As a first step, you will need a protein-rich diet to feed your body, with essential amino acids on a daily basis.

For example, vegetarians, or vegans, will necessarily need to consume a protein-rich dietary source, like lentils, legumes, vegetables, or grains, every day. Non-vegetarians have wider options, like eggs, meat, or fish, to consume every day.

But, do we require all essential amino acids in equal proportion?

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BCAA vs. Amino Acids – What is the Real Difference?

Like aforementioned, we don’t need to make an extra effort for non-essential amino acids except under certain health conditions. Essential amino acids, on the other hand, are required to be fed, or sourced from our daily diet.

BCAA, are 3 essential amino acids, grouped together for a functional purpose. Branched-chain amino acids or BCAA, promote muscle protein synthesis, and muscle growth. It is required by people with protein deficiency, for example, if your muscles are weak, or you have frequent muscle pain.

It is not hard to understand that the BCAA (protein supplement), is required to improve your athletic performance and muscle gain, or fat loss.

Related Article: The many benefits of a BCAA Supplements

Should I take BCAA or Amino Acids?

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Amino acids is a very wide term, as we have till now comprehended. If we say, should I take amino acids: the answer is, obvious! Our body needs protein. However, sometimes our regular diet may not be enough to feed various raw materials (specifically, the 9 essential amino acids) to produce protein inside us. Therefore, we require supplements.

BCAA is your functional protein diet. BCAA supplements are investment for your direct muscle growth. BCAA will benefit your skeletal muscles. Its benefit cannot be sourced from any other workout supplements.

BCAA primarily comprises Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Their primary function is categorized as follows.

  • Leucine: For maintaining muscle mass
  • Isoleucine: For instant energy
  • Valine: Aids growth of muscle build-up

The essential dose is Leucine, which triggers muscle growth. It also prevents muscle injuries or muscle breakdown. It also helps in muscle recovery. It promotes synergy between muscles and proteins, improving the protein synthesis. It is abundantly present in your muscles; therefore a measured dose is required.

It can be a post-work out tonic, to make you feel energetic. If you eat healthy before your workout, then your exercise will burn the stored fat. You will get the required energy from natural sources of BCAA. Therefore, Leucine is good post-work out. A whey protein shake is a good source of Leucine.

You require Isoleucine if you work out extensively. It reduces serotonin levels which cause muscle fatigue in body. Strenuous exercise level requires BCAA to lengthen your exercising regime. It increases your endurance level, like in case of intense muscle training. There are pure Isoleucine products available; however, it should be taken in combination with other essential amino acids (like Valine) content, until really required.

Related Article: Difference between Glutamine vs BCAA

Can I take my BCAA and Amino Acids Together?

Amino acids are usual proteins in your protein diet. BCAA, on the other hand, is supplementary. Like we said, if cutting abs is your target, you need BCAA supplements. You natural protein diet will continue the way it is; BCAA will be added for your muscle gain benefit.

What are your options to Safe BCAA Supplements?

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Now that we are clear about difference between BCAA and amino acids, the next important factor is considering your sources. We should not take the BCAA vs. amino debate as guaranteed.  It has to be a safe body investment, so that you enjoy uninterrupted intense muscle training program.

Multiple sources like protein powder, protein shakes, tablets, are all available in the market. Look for products which have a good ratio of all the three components. Acomposition of Leucine (2500 mg), Iso-Leucine (1250 mg) and Valine (1250 mg), in single serve is ideal.

Whey Protein is an effective source as it has added benefit of low fat and carbs. It is a popular choice as it is used for both weight gain and weight loss.

Casein protein, on the other hand is comparatively lower dose of BCAA. However, it has the same benefits as Whey protein. It slowly feed your body with essential amino acids, and is easy to digest. It can be taken before you go to bed. It is a complete protein source.

You can directly fuel your requirements, with pure Leucine servings. It is useful for people with protein deficiency or vegans, who sweat it hardevery day.

What you should consider before buying?

We did some search examining its potential benefits, safety, usage, ingredients and the consumption pattern. Money saving should also be your motto. These supplements have to be affordable. Your friends will advise you, and you will come across many advertisements too. But it is always wise to benefit by your own choice.

Your supplement should make you healthy. It should not be adulterated, or give you a temporary muscle pump feel. It is good to be aware to be able to feed your body with the best. You can really match the price, quantity as per servings, and also expect to meet your exact requirement. Again, we stress high quality is important. You don’t want temporary gains since you are really sweating it out, do you?

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Keyur Malani

The author Keyur Malani

Keyur Malani is a certified content writer who finds his true passion in fitness and bodybuilding. Apart from his contribution to Myfitfuel blog, he also guides people in their diet and training routines. When he's not writing articles and breaking Deadlift PRs, he's learning life lessons on brain pickings and cooking his post workout meals.
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