Difference Between Amino Acids and BCAA (With Table)

Amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of protein chains, and they may be found in the bodies of every living entity on the planet in some form or another. A BCAA is an abbreviation for a branched-chain amino acid. It refers to three of the twenty standard amino acids found in humans, namely leucine, isoleucine, and valine, that belong to this group. These three amino acids account for a significant portion of muscle protein. However, whether BCAAs or full amino acid supplements are superior for weight training and recovery is still up in the air.

Amino Acids vs BCAA

The main difference between amino acids and BCAAs is that amino acids are the building blocks of protein in the human body. They are split into necessary amino acids and non-essential amino acids. BCAAs, on the other hand, are the building blocks of muscle. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are three necessary amino acids, namely leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They differ from other essential amino acids in terms of their structural composition.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building components. The amino acid‘s properties are determined by the amino acid’s side group (R). This side group, on the other hand, is just for amino acids. As a result, the side groups of individual amino acids are varied.

BCAA is a branched-chain amino acids acid with a branching aliphatic side group. As a result, a core carbon atom is formed, which is linked to three or so other carbon atoms. Proteogenic amino acids (amino acids that are biosynthetically integrated into proteins during translational) include the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are all three of the BCAAs.

Comparison Table Between Amino Acids and BCAA

Parameter of ComparisonAmino AcidsBCAAs
StructureAmino group-containing carboxylic acidsOne alpha-carbon amino acid that has three or more carbon atoms connected to it
NumberA total number of people: 500 Humans require 20 standard elements and nine essential elements to function correctly.Lastly, there are the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine
SourceProduced internally or obtained from dietary sourcesAll supplements and foods must meet the requirements.
LocationThe liver is where the metabolization takes placeMuscles are metabolized.
FunctionFunctions that are numerous and variedIncreased muscle growth and recovery, glucose regulation, and pain reduction are possible benefits of exercise.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are essentially the building blocks for diverse proteins, which are utilized for various tasks in living creatures and nutritional supplements for humans and animals. Amino acids are also employed in dietary supplements for humans and animals.

One of the simplest ways to visualize how they work is to assume that amino acids represent letters of the alphabet, and proteins represent all of the words formed using those letters. It is possible to produce a large number of words in English with only twenty-six letters, much as our bodies can create upwards of ten thousand different proteins from the twenty ordinary amino acids available to them.

All amino acids have groups of amine and carboxyl atoms as part of their chemical makeup, and there are around five hundred amino acids known to exist at this time. The amino acids that make up a protein that our bodies require arrange themselves in a long string, and the order in which they are sequenced determines the function of that protein. Nine of the twenty standard amino acids are classified as essential, which indicates that we must consume them for our bodies to produce them. The remaining eleven amino acids can be produced.

What is BCAA?

BCAAs are only three amino acids that are required for human survival. They are named leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and the fact that they are “branched-chain” amino acids distinguishes them from the other amino acids. A branching alpha carbon atom branches off the edge of a molecular structure with at least three additional carbon molecules linked to and surrounding it, known as a ring structure.

The three BCAAs account for forty percent of the total amino acids required by people in their diets. It has been well proven that they play a significant role in protein synthesis and turnover and the metabolization of sugar. As a result, BCAAs have become the topic of a great deal of discussion and research by sports scientists who are trying to determine whether or not supplements might increase athletic performance and recovery.

The BCAAs activate enzymes that promote muscle growth and repair damage caused by exercise; nevertheless, numerous studies have shown that taking BCAA supplements is not as effective at increasing muscle mass as consuming whey protein. They are also suggested to aid in workout recovery because they lower the body’s level of creatine and lactate after physical effort, both of which are implicated in muscle damage.

Main Differences Between Amino Acids and BCAA

  1. When it comes to their chemical makeup, amino acids contain both an amine group and an amino acid carboxyl group. However, BCAAs also contain a carbon atom chain that “branches” off one side.
  2. Around five hundred amino acids are known to humans, twenty of which are considered “standard,” nine of which are considered essential, and three of which are our BCAAs. Twenty of the amino acids are considered “standard,” and nine are considered essential.
  3. In general, amino acids may be generated in the body by our livers; however, BCAAs are essential amino acids that must be obtained from diet or supplementation.
  4. The liver metabolizes most conventional amino acids in humans; however, the BCAAs are the site of action for the body and are consequently processed in the muscles.
  5. The BCAAs have a significant role in muscle growth and recovery. However, in general, amino acids have a broad and varied spectrum of functions in the human body, including those related to protein synthesis.


There are many similarities between the chemical compositions of amino acids and BCAAs, with the most significant distinction being that an alpha carbon atom of the BCAAs branches over to the side, where at least three other amino acids flank it. Compared to other amino acids, BCAAs are more precisely geared towards muscular performance and recovery, while the other amino acids are more widespread in their roles in the body.

Despite a large amount of study that has been done on BCAA supplementation for workouts, there is currently no convincing evidence that it is more effective than a supplement that contains all twenty essential amino acids in a single capsule.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1440-1746.2000.02205.x
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/275318