Any way you cut it, we need protein to fuel our bodies. Without that fuel, we would be unable to function or perform properly. We would feel fatigued and, well, frustrated. There is no doubt that both amino acids and protein are used for training. The question at hand is which is better and why? But that’s for you to decide.
Amino Acids → Protein
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are great for building muscle tissue and typically consumed from fish, poultry, and legumes. Vice versa, protein gets broke down into amino acids, which have been shown to be particularly beneficial in regard to muscle building, workout recovery, and overall athletic performance.
Comprising three essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation before and after exercise can diminish damage linked to that exercise, while increasing muscle-protein synthesis, aka muscle building.
Similar to BCAAs, protein powder has been researched for its role in athletic performance, muscle building, and workout recovery. One paper published in The Physician and Sports Medicine noted that protein and amino acid supplements, when taken close to training times, can improve endurance strength and aerobic exercise performance. In addition, a separate study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that protein supplementation can increase muscle mass and strength after resistance exercise (healthyeating).
Single protein: Such supplements contain just one protein type. To name a few, there’s whey protein, soy or pea protein, and casein.
Blended protein: These contain two or more types of proteins, delivering a more continued digestion and release of amino acids to muscles.
Amino Acid Supplements
Single amino acid: As you could expect, these supplements contain specific single amino acids such as leucine, lysine, or methionine. These are used for targeted muscle development.
Blended amino acid supplements: With more than one amino acid, these come in various forms like BCAA formulas and essential amino acid (EAA) supplements. Amino acid supplements can be made in tablet or powder form (sci-mx).
While either can be chosen to build muscle, there are ways in which protein powder beats amino acids. Whole proteins digest di- and tri-peptides, which are better absorbed without breaking down further into single amino acids. Though, single amino acid supplements are absorbed more gradually than whole proteins, since they tend to compete with the absorption of simple sugars.
Protein vs. Amino Acids
This is just one take on the debate, but protein may be a better route for those who exercise for lengthy periods because of its faster absorption time. For those who tread a bit lighter, amino acid supplementation might get the job done.
What’s your take?