Athletes have known for decades that consuming enough protein is essential to getting the results they want from their diet and training program, be it muscle gain, fat loss, or greater performance and recovery.
to help ensure they’re getting in enough “building blocks” for the body to support the myriad of processes that rely on amino acids and protein, including:
- hormone and neurotransmitter synthesis
- tissue repair
- bone maintenance
- and (of course) muscle repair and growth
For quite a long time, the top amino acid supplements on the market were branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements, which contained the three essential amino acids -- leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
BCAAs gained popularity due to some early research indicating that they were responsible for stimulating protein synthesis and reducing muscle protein breakdown. However, as our understanding of the human body has grown, research has shown that simply supplementing with BCAAs isn’t enough.
The body doesn’t just require three amino acids to synthesize protein. In fact, it requires nine amino acids, known as the essential amino acids (EAAs).
Does this mean you need to buy two different amino acid supplements?!
No, not at all.
One of the great benefits of EAA supplements is that they naturally contain the three BCAAs as leucine, isoleucine, and valine are essential amino acids by definition.
What this means is that by using EAA supplements, you get the benefits of BCAAs plus the added benefit of supplying your muscles with the other six EAAs it needs to fuel protein synthesis, recovery, and growth.
Let’s take a deeper look at EAA supplements, and why they’re one of the best supplements you can use to optimize athletic performance, recovery, and growth!
What Are EAAs?
EAAs consist of nine amino acids:
Leucine -- the “king” of amino acids that stimulates protein synthesis and helps inhibit protein breakdown
Isoleucine -- the “little brother” of leucine that can stimulate protein synthesis (albeit not as strong as leucine) and also help reduce muscle breakdown during exercise. Isoleucine also supports immune function, metabolism, and hemoglobin production.
Valine -- aids energy conversion in the body as well as enhances glycogen synthesis in skeletal muscle, which supports recovery
Lysine -- key structural component of collagen and elastin, which supports healthy joints, ligaments, skin, hair, and nails and also plays an important role in immunity
Threonine -- aids fat metabolism and immune function. Threonine also works with lysine to support important structural proteins in the body like collagen and elastin
Phenylalanine -- supports production of dopamine as well as the catecholamines adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are critical for nervous system function, exercise performance, and fat burning.
Tryptophan -- a precursor for serotonin (and subsequently melatonin) that beneficially impacts mood and immune system as well as support anti-inflammatory processes
Histidine -- a precursor to histamine, which can help combat free radicals generated by exercise
Methionine -- aids the liver with fat digestion and supports cardiovascular health
The EAAs are termed “essential” because our bodies cannot synthesize them on their own. As such, the EAAs must be obtained through the diet from either food or EAA supplements, such as EAA Max or EAA Max Energy.
Food sources which are abundant in EAAs include:
- Lean beef
- Fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.)
- Shellfish (shrimp, clams, mussels, etc.)
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Whey protein powder, such as Primeval Labs ISOLIT or WHEY
In addition to whole food sources, it may also be helpful to use an EAA supplement, like EAA Max, to help ensure you’re getting enough essential amino acids each day.
Benefits of EAA Supplements
Supports Lean Muscle Mass
Muscles are made of protein, which are made of amino acids.
EAA supplements provide the body with the nine aminos it requires to preserve lean mass and the raw materials to support the construction of new muscle tissue.
Aids Muscle Recovery
Using EAA supplements helps combat muscle breakdown and increase protein synthesis, promoting faster recovery while also reducing fatigue during and after training.
Helps Keep Appetite in Check
High protein diets are known to offer greater satiety and result in less cravings.
Researchers have also found that specific amino acid levels in the blood and brain following a meal are an important signal that imparts the sensation of feeling full.
Plus, when you drink an EAA supplementing, in addition to getting the benefits of essential amino acids, you’re also consuming more fluids and staying sufficiently hydrated, which may help keep hunger levels in check.
Supports Better Sleep
The essential amino acid L-Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin, the hormone in the body that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Supplementation with tryptophan is known to improve sleep and mood.
Who Can Benefit from EAA Supplements?
Everyone can use EAA supplements!
We all have to consume enough protein and essential amino acids each day to support the myriad of processes that depend on amino acids to operate at full capacity.
So, no matter if you’re a competitive athlete, weekend warrior, or casual gym rat, you can use an EAA supplement.
When Can I Use EAA Supplements?
EAA supplements can be used pre workout to supply the body with the amino acids it needs to support protein synthesis and resist protein breakdown. This is all the more important if you have not eaten a pre workout meal.
If you’ve had a pre workout meal but will be training for a considerable length of time (such as endurance training), it may be helpful to use an EAA supplement intra workout to ensure a steady stream of amino acids in the bloodstream to prevent muscle breakdown.
After training, your muscles are beat up, broken, and craving nutrition. Typical post workout protocol is to slam a whey protein shake or have a full meal.
However, many individuals aren’t particularly hungry right after training, even for a protein shake.
EAA supplements are fast-digesting and provide all of the essential building blocks that muscles require to repair, recover, and GROW!
Plus, EAA supplements are lighter on the stomach than consuming a full meal or protein shake easing the demands on the digestive system.
We all get a hankering for some kind of snack between meals.
Instead of grabbing an overpriced energy drink or coffee which can contain hundreds of calories from sugar, why not mix up a serving of EAAs. Not only will you help keep hunger at bay, but you’ll also be consuming more fluids, which aids hydration and recovery.
In addition to being low-calorie, EAA supplements also stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which can help promote positive muscle protein balance throughout the day, fostering greater muscle recovery and growth.
EAA Max -- The Best EAA Supplement
Essential amino acids are required for optimal muscle recovery and growth as well as hundreds of other processes performed daily by our bodies.
We’ve formulated these two EAA supplements to supply a complete spectrum of essential amino acids to aid the body’s natural recovery and growth mechanisms all while delivering best-in-class flavoring for unparalleled taste!
Click here to learn more about EAA Max and why it’s the top-selling EAA supplement.
- Lazutkaite, G., Soldà, A., Lossow, K., Meyerhof, W., & Dale, N. (2017). Amino acid sensing in hypothalamic tanycytes via umami taste receptors. Molecular Metabolism, 6(11), 1480–1492. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2017.08.015