There are many products out there with less-than-ideal ingredients and side effects. This has led many consumers to question the differences between specific aspects of a given product, such as whether it’s made with non-GMO ingredients or what process was used to extract the compounds they provide. BCAA supplements – one of the most popular kinds of fitness supplements on the market today – are not exempt from these questions. Consumers often ask about the difference between fermented and non-fermented BCAAs.

The Production of Non-Fermented vs Fermented BCAAs

Although the terms “fermented” and “non-fermented” tend to dominate this debate, it’s important to clarify. The comparison is between BCAAs made from animal products – the non-fermented kind – and those that come from plants – the fermented variety. For vegetarians or vegans, this detail is enough on its own to eliminate the non-fermented BCAAs from contention, but for others, we’ll need to take a closer look at these productions.

Non-Fermented BCAAs

The process of making non-fermented BCAAs require significant amounts of keratin, which is high in BCAAs. Companies that use a non-fermented process will extract the amino acids from hair and feathers. To extract the necessary compounds, these ingredients are put through an intense acid-based extraction process designed to induce hydrolysis, which breaks down the proteins in the feathers and hair into amino acids. The resulting substance must then be further refined before they can be added to the fitness supplements. Many companies prefer to use non-fermented BCAAs because the process of making them is relatively cheap.

Fermented BCAAs

Just as some companies make products like yogurt, beer, and sourdough bread by using fermentation, some companies make BCAAs through this process. aminoVITAL uses a patented fermentation process to extract BCAAs from plant-based ingredients. The basic ingredients in the process – wheat and soy – are placed in a tank with molasses and sugar, which helps the fermentation along. As long as the proper temperature, acidity, and oxygen levels are maintained, the microorganisms in the starting culture will break down the protein in ingredients into their constituent amino acids, which include the three BCAAs.

Why People Take Fermented BCAA Supplements

Although BCAAs, fermented or otherwise, play a number of roles in the body, the use of BCAA supplements predominantly occurs among fitness enthusiasts. The three BCAAs – branched-chain amino acids – are notable for their ability to improve the results of exercise, which happens in a variety of ways. The following are a few of the benefits:

  • BCAAs, especially leucine, stimulate the process of muscle protein synthesis, causing the body to create more muscle cells after exercise and leading to greater gains and a faster recovery.
  • By limiting the movement of tryptophan into the brain and the buildup of serotonin there, fermented BCAAs can help fight central fatigue during exercise.
  • The body can use fermented BCAAs as a source of energy during long workouts, which not only helps people maintain the intensity of their exercise but also protects the muscles from the damaging effects of catabolism, the process in which the body breaks down tissue for fuel.
  • BCAAs are more readily available because the body doesn’t need to spend as much time digesting them as it does with whole proteins, such as those in whey. BCAA supplements can take effect as much as three times faster than protein supplements.
  • Supplements made with fermented BCAAs can contain fewer calories than those based on powdered protein. A single scoop of a protein supplement can have over a hundred calories, our Action mid-workout mix only has 15, and it contains zero sugar.

Fermented BCAAs have a longer, more natural production process than non-fermented. However, BCAA supplements produced through fermentation are just as affordable as other fitness-oriented products, so they’re definitely worth considering as a possible addition to your workout stack.

One of the hallmarks of a good supplement is its ability to fulfill a variety of roles, from improving the rate of muscle production to limiting soreness and fatigue. Because they can be used as a pre-, mid-, or post-workout recovery supplement by athletes of every stripe, fermented BCAAs offer a wealth of opportunities designed to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. 

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