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Essential amino acids (EAAs) are essential for health and function. The body cannot make them and they need to be ingested through dietary means to satisfy our body’s requirements.
When we consume protein, the body breaks it down into specific amino acids, each with a particular function and role to play in the body. There are 20-22 amino acids of which 8-10 are considered essential. Three of these essential amino acids are quite well know as BCAAs, comprised of leucine, iso-leucine and valine. BCAAs are often used to improve muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown, however, it is becoming evident that we could be missing out on truly maximising the benefits of BCAA supplementation by neglecting EAA consumption.
What are the benefits of EAAs?
Firstly they provide fuel for growth, boldly function and along with our vitamins and minerals are the foundation for optimal health. Being so important in the body leads to the fact that they can greatly support the function, endurance, strength, performance, recovery and growth of the body in relation to exercise. They’ve been found to enhance and optimise the benefits of of BCAA supplementation
As a standalone, BCAAs aid in muscle recovery, prevent muscle soreness and limit muscle breakdown. However they don’t effectively induce muscle protein synthesis for development of new muscle tissue. Leucine alone has been shown to activate mTOR, signaling muscle growth, it appears that EAAs are required to significantly increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis, as they need be present in order to actually increase the production of new muscle tissue.The absence and lack of EAA consumption may be the limiting factor for optimising the function of muscle protein synthesis and development of new muscle.
Utilising a complete protein source that contains all the essential and non-essential amino acids is always a preferable option, as it gives our body the fuel it truly requires to build, recover and perform at our best. However, when training intensely to achieve a particular fitness goal it is always preferable and beneficial to include a BCAA during workout and spread throughout the day in order to aid in recovery while limiting muscle breakdown. The real kicker is when we want to take that to a whole knew level, flick the switch from simply preventing muscle breakdown to instead stimulating new muscle growth through the addition of EAAs to your intra-workout and daily BCAA supplementation. In order to really maximise muscle protein synthesis and achieve optimal results when it comes to muscle recovery and growth, including EAAs with your BCAAs is the way to go, removing all limiting factors on overall performance and wellbeing, putting you in a position to make great progression towards your health and fitness goals.