Proteins or Amino Acids: which supplement to choose?

It's important to know the differences and similarities between the various dietary supplements for sports performance. One of the choices to make is whether to choose proteins or amino acids.
Proteins or Amino Acids: which supplement to choose?

Last update: 12 January, 2019

Many athletes trying to increase muscle mass may ask themselves whether to choose proteins or amino acids in their dietary supplements? These two are quite similar but their differences may offer you great training results.

In this article, we will discuss their main characteristics and how to choose the ideal supplement for you. This choice will mainly depend on your physique, training schedule and type of discipline.

Proteins and amino acids are quite similar

Athletes rely significantly on dietary supplements to increase their muscle mass. The most popular among them are those that contain proteins or amino acids.

You can prepare your own homemade protein shake

Most athletes think that the results that come from both of these supplements are pretty similar. Thus, they consume either of them indiscriminately. However, this might not be true. They both help to gain muscle mass, but depending on how and when they are consumed, they will give different results.

This is the reason why it’s important to know the difference between these two dietary supplements. That way you can take them correctly and get the results you’re looking for.

Different digestion times

The main differences between them are the time the body takes to digest each one.

Proteins, for example, have a faster digestion time since they reach the stomach and the body divides them into different amino acids. Then, the small intestine is responsible for absorbing them into the body.

On the other hand, amino acids don’t provide fast digestion, as the body takes longer to absorb them. This process can take up to a few hours and so the body will reap the benefits after that time.

It’s important to clarify that we aren’t suggesting that one is better than the other, but they have different functionalities. If we are going to maintain a constant training for a few hours, then it’s best to take amino acids.

If, on the other hand, if we just finished exercising and need to quickly feed the body with nutrients, then protein supplements are more appropriate.

Both are compatible

Both protein and amino acids have the same final effect on the body. They help build muscle mass more quickly. They do vary in certain characteristics and thus in specific results.

However, you must choose one or the other at a specific time, since they don’t have the same exact effects on the body. The main factor to help you choose between a protein or amino acids is if you take them just as you finish working out or if you rest for a few hours after taking them.

If you decide to take both supplements, throughout your day, there will be no adverse issues. They are compatible as long as you don’t take them together at the same time. For example, you can take one in the morning and then another after your workout.

The correct amount

While many athletes drink these supplements as a base for their diets, you must know what the correct dosage is. We recommend you buy these supplements from authorized and trusted stores or professionals. That way, we are reliably informed about the correct dosage for our body type and goals.

Protein shakes to improve performance

It’s important to note that ingesting a higher dose doesn’t mean muscle mass will increase more. Thus, you must give your body the correct amount of proteins or amino acids.

A dose that is much higher than needed will cause you to gain more weight. Ingesting excessive proteins or amino acids will make the body turn the unused content to fat, which might not be your goal.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • de la Cruz Palomino, L. F. (2005). Digestión. Fisiología y fisiopatología de la nutrición : I Curso de Especialización en Nutrición, 25–36.
  • Naclerio, Fernando. (2007). Utilización de las Proteínas y Aminoácidos como Suplementos o Integradores Dietéticos. PubliCE Standard. Pid: 766.
  • Rabassa-Blanco, Jordi, & Palma-Linares, Imma. (2017). Effects of protein and branched-chain amino acids supplements in resistance training: a review. Revista Española de Nutrición Humana y Dietética21(1), 55-73.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.