By Erick Avila
Knowing which supplements to use can be confusing when you’re starting out. BCAAs and pre-workout are two of the most common supplements that people use to power their workouts. While both supplements have their benefits, they serve different purposes.
The main difference between BCAA and pre workout are that BCAAs are used for those looking to reduce muscle fatigue, improve muscle recovery, and enhance muscle repair. While pre-workouts are used for those looking to increase energy, endurance, and focus.
BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are essential amino acids that get their name because their chemical structure resembles tree branches. The BCAAs are a group of amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) that make up three out of the nine essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are deemed essential because our bodies can’t make them on their own, so we need to consume them through foods or supplements to function.
BCAAs are a popular sports nutrition supplement to take before, during, and even after workouts because of their wide range of benefits. Because of BCAAs unique chemical structure, they can mostly bypass the liver for faster metabolization. BCAAs can be used by the body as a fuel source during exercise to support endurance.
When BCAAs are supplemented in sufficient amounts for a consistent amount of time, they also show benefits for decreasing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). [2,3] This makes BCAAs a popular supplement to help speed up recovery and reduce soreness post-workout.
BCAAs are also a popular supplement for people interested in building muscle because they can stimulate muscle protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown during exercise, contributing to an overall positive net protein balance. Think of protein balance like a teeter totter, when you have a positive balance, your body is in a favorable state to build muscle whereas when the scale slides to a negative state, your body is in a state that is conducive to muscle loss.
Pre-workouts are multi-ingredient supplements that are formulated to support energy, focus, pumps and endurance. They typically include ingredients like caffeine, nootropics, and amino acids. Pre-workouts help keep your brain and body in the zone during your training sessions so you can try to get the most out of each workout. The goal with pre-workouts is to provide your body with the right fuel before you step foot in the gym to perform at your best.
When it comes to whether you should take a BCAA powder or supplement with pre-workout, the answer is: it depends. Your individual fitness goals will influence whether you take just BCAAs, just pre-workout, or you stack (combine) the two together.
BCAAs will be beneficial if you’re looking for an alternative fuel source to carbohydrates before or during your workout. And BCAAs will be beneficial if you’re looking to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness following a workout, this can be especially helpful if you’re starting a new workout program.
Pre-workouts will be beneficial if you’re looking for a boost in energy and focus to help get you in the right mindset before the gym to train at your best. And pre-workouts can be beneficial if you’re looking to provide your body with the right ingredients to support specific aspects of performance like pumps or muscular endurance.
BCAAs can be used as a pre-workout supplement. The benefits of taking BCAAs before a workout is that you can provide your body with a fast-acting fuel source, you can help prevent muscle protein breakdown during your workout, and you can support recovery. However, if you’re looking for a boost of energy before your workout, you’ll likely want to supplement with BCAAs that include caffeine.
Pre-workout and BCAAs can be combined to create a powerful combo. Pre-workout can be used to elevate your energy and heighten your focus before you get to the gym. While BCAAs can provide your body with muscle fuel and support recovery.
Some popular ways to combine these two supplements include:
- Taking your pre-workout and BCAAs at the same time before a workout
- Taking your pre-workout before you get to the gym and your BCAAs during your workout
- or Taking your pre-workout before your workout and your BCAAs after your workout.
Some powerful pre-workout x BCAA stacks you can try:
The Sport Stack: C4 Sport and XTEND Sport
XTEND Sport: With XTEND Sport BCAA, the NSF® Certified for Sport® mark certifies that the product has been tested by one of the most respected independent certification companies and is trusted by professional athletes around the globe.
The Original Stack: C4 Original and XTEND Original
C4 Original: Our original pre-workout that started it all - C4 Original Pre Workout Powder is built to take your energy, muscular endurance, and pumps to the next level.
XTEND Original: XTEND Original BCAA is the category leading BCAA product that has been trusted by consumers for more than 15 years. With its huge selection of mouth-watering flavors, XTEND Original was designed to help you hydrate, repair, and recover.
The Ripped Stack: C4 Ripped and XTEND Ripped
C4 Ripped: In addition to explosive energy and muscular endurance, C4 Ripped Pre Workout Powder infuses Capsimax, naturally from Cayenne, to help support fat burning and an increase in metabolic rate.
XTEND Ripped: XTEND Ripped BCAA features the clinically studied ingredient Capsimax®, which helps support fat burning. In addition, XTEND Ripped is formulated without stimulants, giving you options for your workout routine.
The Ultimate Elite Stack: C4 Ultimate and XTEND Elite
C4 Ultimate: Formulated to fuel your ultimate workout, C4 Ultimate Pre Workout Powder provides ingredients to support ultimate energy + alertness, pump + performance and muscular endurance.
XTEND Elite: With patented and clinically studied ingredients, XTEND Elite BCAA is built to take your performance to the next level. Boost muscular endurance, power output and blood flow to train at your highest intensity.