Beta-Alanine vs. BCAAs – which one should you take?
Beta-alanine and BCAAs are two of the most popular supplements in the bodybuilding world. They are said to have a range of benefits, like improving endurance and muscle growth. As a result, the two are common ingredients in many pre-workouts and muscle-building supplements.
But, what is the difference between BCAAs and beta-alanine? Which one should you take to support your fitness goals?
In this blog, we will learn everything about beta-alanine and BCAAs. You will also find out which supplement to take to achieve your fitness objectives. So, let’s start with sharing a few words on both.
What is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in our bodies. You can also find beta-alanine in meat, poultry, and fish. It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning we don’t need to rely on our diet to get enough beta-alanine.
Rather, our bodies can produce it to fulfill the requirements.
Why is Beta-Alanine Important?
The buzz around beta-alanine is due to its claimed fame of improving muscle endurance and athletic performance. The amino acid acts as a buffer to lactic acid that builds up in our muscles during exercising and leads to fatigue.
So, beta-alanine can delay the effects of lactic acid and keep fatigue at bay. Or, in other words, you may be able to exercise longer by ensuring you have enough beta-alanine.
The Benefits of Beta-Alanine
The main benefit of beta-alanine is improved muscle endurance. According to The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), the amino acid:
- Is a safe supplement
- May improve exercise performance
- Reduces neuromuscular fatigue, especially in the elderly
However, ISSN notes that beta-alanine is most effective for exercises that last between 1 and 4 minutes. They also conclude that we need more research to establish the benefits beyond 25-minutes of working out.
WebMD seems to agree on this point. It says beta-alanine can only help you exercise a bit longer instead of increasing endurance or muscle strength. Additionally, it points out studies where athletes gained no advantage after taking beta-alanine for a 400-meter race.
As a result, the benefits of beta-alanine are still up for questioning, even in scientific circles.
Next, let’s find out a bit about BCAAs in our beta-alanine vs. BCAA review.
What are BCAAs?
BCAA is short for branched-chain amino acids that are made up of leucine, valine, and isoleucine. BCAAs are essential amino acids, meaning our bodies cannot produce them.
Therefore, you have to depend on your diet to get an adequate dose of BCAAs. You can find them in animal meat, fish, and also dairy products.
Why are BCAAs Important?
BCAAs are called the building blocks of muscles. They are available abundantly in animal protein and stimulate the process of protein synthesis. Or in other words, BCAAs help in the production of muscle fibers, that too, in many ways:
- BCAAs facilitates protein synthesis
- They activate your cell growth pathways
- BCAAs prevent protein or muscle breakdown
As a result, BCAAs are indispensable for humans to grow and repair muscles.
The Benefits of BCAAs
BCAAs have a range of proven benefits. Let’s check them out quickly before we move on with our discussion.
Builds Muscle Mass
You cannot have muscle mass without BCAAs. They help you synthesize protein and convert them to muscles. As a result, BCAA supplements can help you build big and sturdy muscles.
In addition, you can expect more strength and power.
Reduces Muscle Soreness
Studies show BCAAs to bring down DOMs or delayed onset muscle soreness. Therefore, you can expect less muscle pain and stiffness after working out for long hours.
Additionally, BCCAs are beneficial for reducing muscle damage brought in by exercise. As a result, you can always be up and ready for your next gym session.
Gives You Relief from Fatigue
BCAAs can help you escape from both physical and mental fatigue. Moreover, you can enjoy several benefits like:
- More energy
- Better performance
- Extended workout sessions
- More focus
BCAAs have a few more health benefits along with the above fitness perks. They can regulate your blood sugar and even help improve your immune responses.
We have a detailed guide on BCAA you can check out by clicking here. You will gain in-depth information and countless resources to expand your knowledge.
Beta-Alanine vs. BCAAs: What is the Difference?
The only thing similar about BCAAs and beta-alanine is they both are amino acids. The rest are all dissimilar, starting with how they work.
Beta-alanine reduces your muscle acidity by acting as a buffer to lactic acid. It only helps you extend your exercise duration for a little while. However, beta-alanine may not help you improve your actual performance.
Plus, the effectiveness is applicable for only high-intensity and short-duration exercises.
BCAAs, on the other hand, and proven to boost muscle growth. They directly work on your growth pathways and help you build muscle fibers. You can also increase your muscle strength and endurance.
Additionally, BCAAs reduce muscle damage and muscle soreness. Therefore, you can look forward to quicker and improved recoveries.
Moreover, BCAAs can alleviate fatigue and help you exercise longer.
Beta-Alanine vs. BCAAs: What Should You Choose
BCAAs are the unbeaten champion to build muscle and increase strength. They are also more effective in reducing fatigue and helping you get back to your feet faster.
Best of all, researchers have been studying BCAAs for over 50 years. We have countless studies to prove the benefits of BCAAs, unlike beta-alanine. You can also find ample resources online to get an answer to every query you have about BCAAs.
As a result, BCAA is the first choice for:
- Building muscles
- Reducing tiredness
- Gaining relief from muscle soreness
You should go along with BCAAs if muscle-building is your goal. The same is true if you are looking for a good pre-workout that actually works.
Beta-alanine supplements make sense only if you have very low levels of muscle carnosine. Otherwise, you are always better off with BCAAs.
Some experts also suggest taking BCAAs and beta-alanine together. However, we don’t have any significant research yet to say if that really pays off.
So, BCAAs are a better choice if you are chasing bodybuilding goals.
BCAA and beta-alanine are amino acids but work differently. You can also get more benefits from BCAAs if you want to build muscles or reduce fatigue. We have ample research to prove the effectiveness of BCAAs and don’t need to fall for any false claims.
The research on beta-alanine is not very extensive and doesn’t provide enough evidence for its effectiveness. As a result, you may be better off with BCAAs instead of beta-alanine.
Can I take beta-alanine and BCAA together?
You can consume BCAA and beta-alanine supplements together without any worries. The combination may help you reduce fatigue during exercising. However, we don’t have considerable research to say anything conclusively.
Is beta-alanine worth taking?
Beta-alanine is not very effective in improving strength or endurance. All you can gain is exercising a little while longer. Additionally, the benefits are only applicable to exercises that have a short duration of up to 4 minutes.
Are BCAAs better than amino acids?
BCAAs are also a type of amino acid. However, they are more important as we cannot produce them naturally. We must depend on our diet to get enough BCAAs. They help you build muscle mass and reduce fatigue.
Is beta-alanine bad for you?
Beta-alanine is generally safe and harmless. However, you should still consult your physician before starting any new supplement.
Can BCAAs make you gain weight?
BCAAs help you synthesize protein and build muscle mass. Your weight is also going to increase as your muscles mass increases. However, the weight gain is only lean muscles and not any fat. Therefore, BCAAs will not cause obesity.