Training sessions are only as good as the fuel you give your muscles. To maximize muscle recovery and growth, the right nutrition is pivotal. But with so many products out there, navigating what’s necessary and fluff is difficult. Luckily, two supplement camps have plenty of research behind them: protein powders and BCAA/EAA powders.
PVL will give you the inside scoop on everything amino acid, from whey protein powders to BCAAs, from EAAs to foods high in protein. We’ll also review the best protein powders and amino acid supplements you can get and which is the right supplement.
It’s time to learn everything you need about protein supplements to maximize gains!
Whey Protein & Alternative Protein Powders
Whey protein is derived from drying whey, the liquid remaining from milk after it’s been curdled and strained. The liquid, sold in powdered form, has the most protein from dairy milk. So it’s a protein supplement to supplement additional protein in your diet.
As for alternative protein powders, there are powders derived from pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, peas, brown rice, hemp, and soy. There are also specific dairy protein powders, like lactose-free and casein. They all provide a high-quality source of protein. Protein is an essential nutrient, a building block for our body, primarily muscle cells. Proteins are polymer chains made up of amino acids, both essential and nonessential amino acids. (Essential amino acids are ones we cannot biosynthesize, i.e., make inside our bodies.)
Proteins Build Muscle
Protein’s tasks boil down to a simple fact: Build muscle after training. A lifting session creates micro-tears in the muscle fibers, and protein helps to recreate them stronger and bigger. Protein powders of all kinds offer a range of 18-30 grams (0.63-1.06 ounces) of protein per serving, and you want to get about a gram of protein per pound of ideal bodyweight digested daily. So, if you weigh 150 pounds (22.68 kg), you want 150 grams (5.29 ounces) of protein to build muscle to achieve that weight.
Of course, it can be tough to get that from food alone. Protein supplements can offer a quick and efficient way to get extra protein.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids & Essential Amino Acid Supplements
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are specific amino acids found in proteins combined for training and recovery. These are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, three of the nine essential amino acids. An essential amino acid (EAA) supplements include all nine essentials: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
BCAAs Improve Workout Performance and Recovery
These are stripped-down versions of protein powder, giving you only what you need. While protein powders give you all 21 amino acids – including the nonessential ones – BCAAs and EAAs are supplements that give us what we can’t biosynthesize. These have been shown to increase muscle growth, decrease muscle fatigue, and improve workout recovery.
Of course, getting all the amino acid profiles in with your food and supplements is good. But if you’re looking for the most precise formulas, BCAAs, and EAAs are solid choices.
The Verdict: Which Supplement Is Best For You?
Overall, protein is necessary for muscle growth and overall physical health. How you get it is completely up to you. However, getting most of these 21 amino acids from whole foods is ideal. Foods high in protein include animal protein like chicken, beef, seafood, pork, dairy byproducts (milk, cheese, yogurt), soy products (tofu, tempeh), eggs, and lentils.
Again, getting one gram per pound of ideal bodyweight from food alone can be challenging, which is where these supplements come into play. You should factor in your goals before picking the supplement to go with.
Protein Vs. BCAA/EAA
Protein powders are the way to go for those who want or need more protein in their diet and are looking to add muscle and weight. Conversely, if you’re focused on calories but still want to see results in the gym, then BCAAs or EAAs are your best bet. While BCAAs are the three most important amino acids for building muscle, EAAs are terrific for complete health. (Some products give you both an increase in BCAAs and a smattering of EAAs for the most bang for your buck.)
The most crucial thing you can do for yourself and which supplements you take is to do heavy research on any product you’re going to digest. Ensure the supplement is of the highest quality and gives you exactly what you’re looking for. Shop PVL for the best protein powders and BCAAs/EAAs on the market!
Article by Terry Ramos