BCAA vs Whey Protein Powder
BCAA or Whey Protein? Which is best for you? (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Human Window Staff
By Human Window Staff
Updated on May 15, 2019

BCAA or Whey Protein Powder? If you’re asking this question, then you’re probably wondering about the differences between these popular types of supplements.

There are so many different types of health and fitness supplements on sale these days that it can be difficult to keep track with them all.

If you’re looking to compare BCAA and Whey Protein Powder, then you’ve landed on the right page.

Whey Protein and BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are two of the most commonly used fitness supplements around – but they are not the same, and both of them have their pros and cons.

The purpose of this article is for us to take a detailed look at both BCAA and Whey Protein Powder to help you decide which is the best for you and your circumstances.

We’re going to break this article up into the following sections:

• What are BCAA?
• What is Whey Protein Powder?
• BCAA vs Whey Protein Powder
• Anything Else to Consider?
• Wrapping Things Up – Our Final Thoughts

So, with the introductions out of the way, let’s start to take a closer look at BCAA and Whey Protein Powder to see exactly where they stand.

What are BCAAs?

Performance Lab Sport BCAA
Performance Lab Sport BCAA (Photo: Performance Lab)

If you’ve landed on this page, then the chances are that you already know about BCAA, but let’s cover the basics quickly anyhow.

BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are a very specific group of three amino acids – namely, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

Simply put, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are types of essential amino acids. ‘Essential’ means that your body can’t produce them, and so they are required from dietary sources, whether from food or supplements.

BCAAs have become incredibly popular in recent years as a way to support your health and fitness goals.

Amino Acids in general are sometimes referred to as the ‘building blocks’ of protein. And in case you didn’t know, protein contributes to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass.

BCAAs are very popular supplements for people who hit the gym and exercise regularly.

In supplement form, BCAAs are typically sold in a ratio of 2:1:1 of Leucine to Isoleucine to Valine, which is intended to mimic the ratio found in the human body.

There are various different types of BCAA supplements on the market these days. Some of them are sold as powders which are mixed with water, and others come as unflavored tablets.

When the best time to consume BCAA supplements is often a source of debate. Generally speaking, most people choose to take BCAA supplements either soon before or soon after exercise.

So, now that we’ve covered the basics of BCAA supplements, it’s time to start taking a closer look at Whey Protein Powder.

What is Whey Protein Powder?

Protein Supplement
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Whey Protein Powder is one of the most popular supplements out there for gym goers and athletes.

As we mentioned above, Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, which is why many people choose to supplement with it regularly.

Simply put, if you’re hitting the gym or playing sport regularly, you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving your body enough Protein to help with recovery. That’s why many people choose to turn towards Protein Powders.

So, what exactly is Whey Protein?

Simply put, Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from Whey, which is the liquid part of Cow’s Milk that separates during Cheese production.

After being separated during Cheese production, Whey goes through a number of processing steps to become what is commonly referred to as Whey Protein.

This powder is then added to Protein Shakes, Meal Replacement Shakes and other products such as Protein Bars. It is usually flavored, and is commonly sold in Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry flavors.

Whey Protein Powder is incredibly popular because as well as providing good amounts of protein, it is also relatively cheap to produce, making it one of the more affordable types of protein supplements.

So, now that we’ve covered the basic facts about Whey Protein Powder, it’s time to take a look at the major differences between Whey Protein and BCAAs.

BCAA vs Whey Protein Powder

So, let’s now look at the differences between BCAA and Whey Protein Powder.

As we’ve mentioned, these two supplements are commonly taken by gym goers and athletes that are looking to help support their recovery and the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.

You may be wondering whether BCAAs or Whey Protein would be the best option for you.

Protein supplement powder
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

There is no ‘correct’ answer to this question, but it is worth noting that Whey Protein actually contains BCAAs.

This means that buying and using a Whey Protein Powder may offer better value for money.

As we mentioned above, BCAA supplements contain three of the nine essential Amino Acids – Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

Whey Protein is made from Cow’s Milk and contains all nine of the essential Amino Acids that your body requires, so it is more of an all-round supplement.

One of the main reasons why people may choose to take a BCAA supplement ahead of Whey Protein is because of dietary requirements or allergies.

For example, Whey Protein is not suitable for Vegans or those who can’t consume dairy products, because it’s made from Cow’s Milk.

BCAA supplements are often presented in unflavored tablets, so this may suit some people better.

So, those are the main things to bear in mind when considering whether a BCAA or Whey Protein supplement is right for you.

The bottom line is that Whey Protein delivers all nine of the essential amino acids, while BCAA supplements deliver only three.

However, taking a BCAA supplement may be more suitable than Whey if you are looking for a supplement that doesn’t contain Dairy and can come unflavored.

Anything Else to Consider?

Supplements like BCAA and Whey Protein can be great to help support your health and fitness goals.

However, they will not do the hard work for you – and they must be combined with a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Supplements can be a great way to boost your fitness journey, but they should not be looked at as ‘magic powders’ or shortcuts to success.

You should always make sure that you’re training hard and eating right before thinking about taking any new supplement for the first time.

That means making sure that you’re sticking to a good diet and training regime, and getting plenty of rest.

As always, we also strongly recommend that you speak to a certified medical professional before thinking about taking any new supplement for the first time.

It’s also important to realize that supplements can be good at helping to support your goals – but it’s always best to get your protein from real food sources rather than supplements if possible.

Wrapping Things Up – Our Final Thoughts

So, that brings us to the end of our look at BCAA and Whey Protein Powder.

We’ve covered the basics about Branched Chain Amino Acid supplements and have explained why they are popular amongst gym goers.

We have also covered Whey Protein, and explained why this is one of the most popular gym supplements around these days.

BCAA supplements contain three of the nine essential amino acids that your body requires from your diet.

Whey Protein, on the other hand, contains all nine of the essential amino acids needed by your body.

Choosing a BCAA supplement may be best for you if you cannot have dairy or are looking for a tablet-based supplement to take before or after your workout.

BCAAs may also be a better option for you if you cannot consume Whey Protein due to dietary reasons.

Generally speaking, Whey Protein Powder can be a good way to boost your protein intake in an effective manner.

However, supplements should never come at the expense of real, healthy food.