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What are amino acids, BCAAs and proteins?

The world of sports nutrition can often be overwhelming and more than a little confusing. If you’re a passionate gym goer or simply living an active lifestyle, you’ve no doubt heard proteins, amino acids and BCAAs. All three are popular among bodybuilders, athletes and strength trainers alike, yet what do they really mean? In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between them so you can incorporate them into your own fitness routine (and impress some of your fitness friends along the way).

Protein

Our bodies are made up of thousands of complex molecules called proteins. These are the structural components of our cells and tissues and have a range of functions in the body, most notably supporting the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. You can find protein in lots of different animal and plant products.

Animal sources include meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.   

Plant sources are nuts, soy, peas, bread, rice, pasta and, to a lesser extent, in potatoes and vegetables.  

On average, an adult needs about 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. This can vary depending on your age and activity level. An athlete, for example, needs between 1.5-2g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. If you’re not getting enough protein from your normal diet, you can use a tasty, versatile and easygoing protein supplement like our Whey Essential.   

Amino acids 

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They can be broken down into three categories: essential amino acids, non-essential amino acids, and conditional amino acids. 

Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body itself; they need to be obtained through protein-rich food or supplements.

Non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body and are available in food. 

Conditional amino acids are those your body only needs at certain times, such as when you’re ill or during periods of intense training.  

Our Amino Super Tabs are ideal for getting your essential amino acids in an easy, convenient way.

BCAAS  

BCAA’s, or branched chain amino acids, are a group of three essential amino acids: valine, isoleucine and leucine. They’re considered essential as the body is unable to produce them, so we must either get them from food (which can be time consuming and costly) or BCAA supplements.  

Our bestselling protein shake, Whey Perfection, contains BCAAs. Alternatively, you can use the below intra-workout drinks:

ESSENTIAL AMIN.O ENERGY + Electrolytes

This ready-to-drink formula from Optimum Nutrition provides 3.1g of amino acids and 100mg of caffeine (from natural sources) per can. It’s also low in calories and contains no sugar. You can enjoy ESSENTIAL AMIN.O ENERGY + Electrolytes in a selection of delicious flavours (tropical, pink lemonade, mix berry and orange) to give yourself a refreshing boost when you need it most.  

BCAA AMINO  

Our delicious BCAA Amino powder contains 8g of branched chain amino acids per serving. Enjoy before, during or after your workout (the body absorbs BCAAs optimally after a heavy workout) to stay on top of your game.

As always, our Nutrition Experts are on hand to answer any further questions you might have about proteins, amino acids, BCAAs or sports nutrition in general. Follow us @bodyandfit_official for news on our latest product innovations, recipe inspiration and expert advice to help you #FINDYOURFIT.