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Scott Welch

The first amino acid ever discovered was found by French biochemists in 1806 when they were examining the active ingredients in asparagus. They named this amino acid asparagine in honour of the vegetable we all hate dieting on! By 1935, all 20 amino acids needed for human health had been discovered, nine of which were proven unable to be produced by our bodies to the level needed for growth. As a result, scientists called them essential amino acids (EAAs). To complicate things more, three of these (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are essential amino acids but are also called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) because their chemical shape resembles tree branches!


Fast forward to 2019, and you’d be hard pressed to find any performance athlete not taking amino acid supplements, the most popular of which are BCAAs. But lately, EAA supplements have landed on store shelves and websites around the world, which has caused an “EAAs versus BCAAs” debate. The story marketed by companies selling EAAs is that they’re “more complete” than BCAAs because they have all nine amino acids, whereas BCAAs only have three. The argument is further supported with the scare that all muscle growth completely stops when one of the nine amino acids is missing. Let us tell you what’s being left out of this story.

All Complete Proteins Contain 9 EAAs 

Whether you’re eating fish, beef, chicken, whey protein isolate, micellar casein, or eggs, these protein sources contain all essential and nonessential amino acids. These protein sources are broken down through digestion into amino acids, which enter your liver and your bloodstream, where they can be used. If you’re like most Muscle Insider readers, you’re already eating one gram of protein per pound of body weight, which floods your blood (after every meal) with more than enough of the essential amino acids your body needs to support growth any time of day. And each time you eat more protein, more EAAs are topping up the tank. If you’re taking BCAA or EAA supplements on top of this, you’re more than covered, provided the formula is well formulated.

BCAAs Are The Most Anabolic EAAs 

BCAAs account for up to 40 percent of all amino acids in the body and up to 18 percent of the aminos in muscle. They also increase protein synthesis and regulate the mTOR signaling pathway, which is directly involved in muscle growth. BCAAs are without question the most important of the nine essential amino acids, which is why products such as Allmax’s Aminocore are so effective at enhancing recovery while building muscle.

Buyer Beware

Many EAA products contain very low doses of the nine essential amino acids (especially the BCAAs) to cut costs. Look for at least 3,000 milligrams of leucine (Aminocore contains 3,681 milligrams) and 2,000 milligrams of isoleucine and valine (Aminocore contains 2,045 milligrams of isoleucine and 2,454 milligrams of valine). Dose concentration is also important as some BCAAs contain only a 50 percent dose in their scoop. Aminocore uses a 10.5-gram scoop, with every scoop delivering 8.2 grams of pure BCAAs, providing an 80 percent yield.

Finally, pay attention to the mixability and colour of your aminos. The most premium formulas mix instantly with no chunks and are almost 100 percent clear. There’s one supplement company that dumps so much colouring in its amino supplements that we’ve actually had readers tell us they’ve seen neon-coloured dye in their bowel movements! Allmax Aminocore uses InstaclearTM amino acids, which are 100 percent clear and are flash freeze dried to allow them to instantly dissolve in water. They don’t foam up or leave a gel-like film on your tongue. When it comes to supplements, quality costs more. Stick with reputable companies that have more to lose by skimping on their formulas than the small companies looking to make a quick buck.


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