Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Main Difference

The main difference between amino acids and BCAA is that amino acids are building blocks of proteins whereas BCAA are only three amino acids from the class of amino acids which are structurally different from other amino acids.

Amino Acids vs. BCAA — Is There a Difference?

Difference Between Amino Acids and BCAA

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Amino acids are of two types; essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids whereas CBAA are only essential amino acids.

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Amino acids perform different functions in the body whereas CBAA use as energy supplements.

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Glycine, serine, alanine are different examples of amino acids whereas CBAA is only leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Amino acids are metabolized in the liver whereas CBAA is metabolized in muscles.

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

CBAA starts protein synthesis whereas amino acids complete the process of protein synthesis.

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Amino acids can be taken through meat, fish, eggs, etc whereas BCAA can be taken through red meat and supplements.


Comparison Chart

Amino acids BCAA
Amino acids are building blocks of proteins BCAA has branched chain amino acids belong to the category of essential amino acids
Essential amino acids Non-essential amino acids Essential amino acids
Meat, Fish, eggs, supplements Meat, supplements
Protein synthesis Energy supplements
Essential amino acids: Gycine, alanine, serine, threonine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, cysteine, methionine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid, glutamine, lysine, arginine and histidine. Non-essential Amino acids: Citrulline, ornithine, argininosuccinic acid, GABA, pantothenic acid, DOPA, homocysteine, iodinated amino acids Leucine, isoleucine, valine

Amino Acids vs. BCAA

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential amino acids and remaining are non-essential amino acids. Whereas BCAA is three essential amino acids, Leucine, isoleucine, and valine which are branched chain amino acids. These are different from other amino acids because of their branched chain structure. Essential Amino acids are found naturally in protein sources of our diet such as fish, meat, and eggs and can also be supplemented. Non-essential amino acids are also important, but these can be synthesized in the body. BCAA are found most commonly in foods such as red meat but can also be available in supplements.

Overuse of amino acids or protein has some side effects. For example overuse of amino acids can affect badly on kidneys. Similarly, BCAA has also some side effects. BCAA and tryptophan both use the same carrier system to reach the brain. The abundance of BCAA will disrupt the brain’s uptake of tryptophan and creates a deficiency of serotonin. Similarly, high doses of BCAA can deplete B vitamins and increased BCAA levels are related to a high risk of metabolic disorder and insulin resistance and may even predict the development of type 2 diabetes.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. One amino acids combine with the other amino acid with a peptide bond, and in this way, proteins are synthesized. Proteins are present in all parts of the cell. There are 20 amino acids which have been found to occur in all proteins. There are other amino acids which are not present in protein and perform specific functions. Amino acids possess two characteristics functional group; amino group and a carboxyl group. Amino acids are generally soluble in water but insoluble in fat solvents. Although more than 300 amino acids are known only 20 take part in the formation of all types of protein. These 20 amino acids (Glycine, alanine, serine, threonine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, cysteine, methionine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid, glutamine, lysine, arginine, and histidine) are called essential amino acids. Essential amino acids have to be taken through diet whereas nonessential amino acids are synthesized in the body. Amino acids perform different functions in the body; amino acids are involved in muscle maintenance and exercise recovery after exercise. Sufficient balance of amino acids may help normalize appetite because essential amino acids activate brain cells that regulate hunger and satiety. An adequate level of tryptophan is necessary to produce and optimize cognitive performance. The amino acid supplement improves sleep and mood and decreases the symptoms of depression. Similarly, amino acids also play a role in metabolic health. The proper amount of amino acids could increase RBCs, hemoglobin, hematocrit and serum albumin.

What is BCAA?

BCAA or branched chain amino acids are important amino acids and different from other amino acids because of structure. There are three BCAA, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Although branched-chain amino acids are in essential amino acids category, the quantity is higher in pure BCAA supplements. These amino acids are metabolized in the muscles instead of the liver. Because of metabolism in muscles, these are fast acting and directly enter into the bloodstream. They are available in bloodstream after ingestion and quick energy source during exercise. This is the reason, BCAAis very popular in athletes because they have been linked with increased muscle mass, improved glycogen storage and decrease fatigue. Although BCAA is present in some foods that we eat, but when athletes are following a hard training plan and cutting calories, it becomes difficult to get enough BCAAs regularly so BCAA supplements can help here. BCAA supplements are available in tablets and powder. BCAA powder can be mixed in sports drinks and water to make a refreshing drink for a workout.

Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are three branched-chain amino acids. Leucine is essential for protein synthesis, growth hormone production, and blood sugar regulation. Isoleucine aids in prevention muscles from breaking down during exercise which could lead to faster recovery. It is also important for immune function, energy regulation and hemoglobin production. Valine helps to stimulate muscle regeneration and is involved in energy production. But BCAA cannot work alone; all of the essential amino acids are needed to complete protein synthesis.


It has concluded that amino acids, main class, are building blocks of proteins from which BCAA are different on the basis of structure.