BCAA vs Pre-Workout: Which One Is Worth Your Money?

BCAAs and pre-workouts are the most popular supplements on the market. Especially when you are first starting out as a beginner fitness enthusiast, learning about all these products can be overwhelming. Here is everything you know about the all-time battle between BCAA vs pre-workout and which one is worth your money!

bcaa vs pre-workout

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In this article:

  • What are BCAAs?
  • What is pre-workout?
  • BCAA vs Pre-Workout: What is the difference?
  • Which is better BCAAs or pre-workout?
  • Personal experience

What are BCAAs?

bcaa vs pre-workout

BCAA stands for: Branched Chained Amino Acids.

So, what are these “branched chained amino acids”?

Named after their chemical structure, BCAAs play a vital role in the building and repairing of muscles.

The three BCAAs are leucine, valine, and isoleucine.

They comprise three of the 9 Essential Amino Acids (EAAs), considered essential because the body cannot make them and must get them from food or supplements.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and they are crucial in the synthesis of muscle growth and the prevention of muscle catabolism.

There are Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) and non-essential amino acids.

9 Essential Amino Acids List

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine (BCAA)
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Methionine
  • Leucine (BCAA)
  • Isoleucine (BCAA)
  • Lysine
  • Histidine

EAAs play a crucial role in muscle building and you absolutely NEED to include them in your diet through proper nutrition or supplementation if necessary.

BCAAs are the three amino acids that are primarily responsible for muscle protein synthesis.

Here is a list of foods rich in EAAs:

  • Red meat
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Soy
  • Buckwheat

Non-Essential Amino Acids List (Your body can make these)

  • Alanine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Asparagine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Serine
  • Selenocysteine

BCAA Benefits

  • Muscle Building
  • Muscle Recovery
  • Decreased Fatigue

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are non-essential amino acids and essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be synthesized within the body without supplementation. Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) need to be consumed via proper diet and/or supplementation and cannot be synthesized by the body alone. BCAAs make up 3 of the 9 essential amino acids. They are highly vital for training since they play an important role in muscle building and muscle protein synthesis.

***Check out my Workout Log Book!***

What Is Pre-Workout?

bcaa vs pre-workout woman drinking supplements

As the name suggests, pre-workout is anything you consume before your workout.

Its purpose is to fuel you and keep you energized for your workout.

Generally, pre-workout supplements contain some sort of stimulant or nitrous oxide booster to improve mood and workload.

The most common ingredients found in pre-workouts include:

  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Electrolytes
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Taurine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Citrulline
  • BCAA or EAA
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • and the list goes on and on!

BCAA vs Pre-Workout: What Is The Difference?

In short, the main difference between bcaa vs pre-workout is the ingredients themselves.

BCAAs are a compound whereas pre-workout is a combination of compounds that make up the supplement.

Another major difference is the intent.

BCAAs are used for those looking to reduce muscle fatigue, improve muscle recovery, and enhance muscle repair.

Pre-workout supplements are taken by those who want to increase energy, endurance, focus, as well as improve their overall performance.

bcaa vs pre-workout

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bcaa vs pre-workout

Which Is Better BCAAs Or Pre-Workout?

Drum roll…

The answer to the BCAA vs Pre-Workout debate is…


Again, let me remind you that they both have different functions. Both are very beneficial.

BCAAs help with muscle recovery and protein synthesis, whereas pre-workout helps with improving your overall performance and energy levels.

While BCAAs can work well for helping your muscle grow and repair, there’s no real impact on your focus or energy levels.

At the end of the day, your workout performance will yield the best results so if you are trying to decide which supplement you should invest in, it has to be your performance.

So, with that being said, pre-workout wins the battle!

Personal Experience

I was 18 years old when I decided I wanted to start weightlifting.

As a total beginner at the time, I basically bought whatever the fitness industry told me to buy.

I have tried both BCAAs and pre-workout supplements and I can honestly say that BCAAs are not necessary.

Again, this is my personal opinion.

Proper nutrition can absolutely guarantee muscle recovery, without the use of supplements.

In terms of energy levels, that is something that you can’t always gain from food alone.

Having a steady flow of energy during your workout will have the biggest impact on your muscle gain goals.

My only recommendation when it comes to pre-workout would be to pay attention to your dosage.

You will most likely feel “tingles” around your lips or the tips of your fingers. The “tingling” sensation might be felt throughout your entire face.

Nothing to worry about though!

This “tingling skin” is caused by an ingredient called Beta-Alanine. Pre-workout products which feature this ingredient, especially in doses higher than 2g per serving, will most likely cause this sensation. This is due to Beta-Alanine causing acute paresthesia.

So, here is my favourite pre-workout:

Why I love it:

  • It doesn’t have Beta-Alanine which is the ingredient that can cause a “tingling sensation.”
  • Very convenient. (No messy powders!)
  • Pre-measured dosage.
  • It gives me SO MUCH ENERGY, every single time!

Thank you for reading, fit babe!

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