The difference between pre-workout supplements and BCAAs

3 min read

Knowing the difference between pre-workouts and branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) can be confusing for lifters, whether they’re just getting into the activity or have been doing it a little while.

Athletes too might be unsure of the differences, how they can benefit from using them and the ways they can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan.

This article aims to outline the differences between pre-workout supplements and BCAAs and how they both work.


BCAAs are the most anabolic group of amino acids crucial for muscle fuel, recovery and growth. These amino acids are made up of leucine, isoleucine and valine and each one can assist your workout needs in tandem and on their own.

When taken on their own, BCAAs have been shown to:

·         Improve endurance during workouts

·         Improve strength during workouts

·         Improve recovery and reduce soreness after workouts

·         Stimulate muscle growth

This is where leucine (the most plentiful branched chain amino acid in the body), isoleucine (which boosts the body’s energy levels and assist its recovery from strenuous activity) and valine (which promotes natural growth, repairs tissues, regulates blood sugar and provides the body with energy) work together as one unit, to build and repair muscle tissue.

However, the three also work independently in the following ways:

·         Leucine triggers actual muscle synthesis, signalling muscle growth

·         Isoleucine can be broken down to produce a number of muscle-fuelling molecules

·         Valine reduces exercise induced fatigue, by minimising tryptophan uptake in the brain

These are benefits that many people would like to add into their workouts, while there are many who already do.

However, the benefits of BCAA supplements are not the only bonuses you can add to your workout experience. Pre-workout supplements can also be very beneficial.


While BCAAs are one of the most effective ways to build muscle, maintain muscle and increase your metabolism, there are a number of effective ingredients which can improve the mental and physical experience of working out.

Pre-workout concoctions are offered as stacks or combinations of different nutritional compounds to produce different effects in the person taking them.

Creatine and caffeine are often found in such pre-workouts and offering these differing nutritional intakes prior to exercise can help you maximise your performance but also minimise muscle damage.

Creatine is one of the most commonly-used pre-workout supplements and it has the following benefits to users:

·         Improved growth of the muscles to facilitate quick energy bursts for sprinting and powerlifting

·         Increased body strength for improved endurance during training

·         Improved performance during high intensity training sessions

Caffeine is used to boost your training sessions in the following ways:

·         Improve metabolism rates

·         Improve endurance

·         Reduce fatigue

·         Stimulate the central nervous system and enhance the function of the brain, increasing the effectiveness and productivity of your workouts

Pre-workouts also include vitamins and natural compounds which encourage improved mood, focus and endurance, as well as a number of ‘power molecules’ such as betaine and beta-alanine which complement BCAAs by increasing strength, endurance and muscle growth.


Pre-workouts and BCAAs work in combination to make you feel better before, during and after your workouts, they allow you to work out more and get more benefits from working out.

This means more muscle growth for weight training, improved fat burning metabolism for those looking to lose weight by supporting the metabolic rate and a mixture of both for those exercising with the aim of toning up.

However, there are a number of pre-workout supplements on the market which have been negatively polluted and designed with the wrong principles in mind.

These are available in any generic supplement store, with countless products claiming to be the best pre-workout supplements, but they are not designed to help you reach your goals.

The ingredients in said supplements include ingredients that are based on how they can make your brain feel and not how they can support your body.

This is achieved through the use of inexpensive stimulants and a lack of quality BCAAs and power molecules, resulting in a supplement that provides only short-term boosts, but plenty of profit for its maker.

Unfortunately for you, these supplements don’t offer much in supporting your long-term fitness goals and for this reason they should be avoided.

You should seek to find supplements that are tailored to your goals, with transparent ingredients and no confusing jargon that throws you off course.

By knowing exactly what pre-workouts and BCCAs are, how they work and what you should be looking for when buying them, you can go into your workouts safe in the knowledge that you’re providing the body with good quality nutrients that will help it perform to its best and recover sufficiently.



Healthy living for all! Award-winning produce that tastes good and does good for less than the supermarkets!