What is the difference between protein supplements and branch chain amino acid supplements? Isn't protein composed of amino acids? Are there scientific studies showing the benefits of BCAA supplement as compared to protein supplements?
Branch-chain amino acids (BCAA) are a set of amino acids with a particular chemical structure involving an aliphatic side-chain with a multiple carbon-bond. There are three relevant BCAA: leucine, isoleucine, and valine; these are three of the nine essential amino acids for humans.
BCAA by themselves could be considered a protein supplement, but they are not complete for dietary purposes as a BCAA-only mix does not contain all nine essential amino acids (or more, for efficiency). Any commercial protein mix could have some or all BCAA, but that's going to vary.
BCAA supplementation has been demonstrated to decrease muscle damage and increase muscle-protein synthesis. A couple relevant studies:
BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis; this suggests the possibility that BCAAs are a useful supplement in relation to exercise and sports.
results suggest that BCAA have a protein-sparing effect during the recovery after exercise, either that protein synthesis has been stimulated and/or protein degradation has decreased
Even though the answer has already been accepted, thought I'd throw in my two cents. I've been on protein shakes for a year or so and going to the gym and other activities. After going to the gym I'd get extremely exhausted and it would take me a week to recover each time. So I went to the nutrition store and they suggested I take BCAA and right away I noticed that I would recuperate a lot faster after going to the gym. So for me, this really worked.
So what's the difference, when you got the answer already checked. Does it work? Heck yeah.