They're already broken down into amino acids thereby allowing faster absorption.
Its the same principle as using whey protein powder instead of eating a steak. If you want faster absorption you'd consume the whey protein as the steak requires longer digestion to break it down into its composite nutrients.
they're more or less indentical. buy a high quality protein with a good amino acid profile and you don't need to buy aminos individually.
good question chewie
Amino acids by themselves in supplements are typically in the free form which theoretically allows for quicker absorption. They have their time and place but for most people, your protein from food supplies you with plenty.
This is Layne Norton's stand. I should mention that this is just his educated point of view but it is yet to hold up in peer reviewed literature.
Norton: BCAAs have been shown in scientific research to increase protein synthesis and reduce protein degradation. However, many people suggest that one can just increase their consumption of whey protein, which is rich in BCAAs. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The BCAAs in whey are peptide bound to other amino acids and must be liberated through digestion and absorbed into the bloodstream in order to exert their effects. Even though whey protein is relatively fast digesting, it still takes several hours for all of the amino acids to be liberated and absorbed into the bloodstream. However, BCAAs in supplement form are free-form BCAAs and require no digestion. Therefore, they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, spiking blood amino acids to a much greater extent than peptide bound amino acids.
Even a few grams of BCAAs will spike plasma levels to a much greater extent than a 30 gram dose of whey protein. It will also impact protein synthesis to a greater degree. The reason a supplement has such a powerful effect on the blood levels of BCAAs is that unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are not metabolized to a significant extent by the small intestine or the liver. Therefore, an oral supplement is almost like a BCAA injection because it reaches the bloodstream so rapidly.
I think Layne's point actually has more relevance just to Leucine and its ability to turn off catabolism quickly. Leucine on its own has been shown to have great benefits during the PWO window and is believed to be the actual trigger in most of the BCAA, whey and casein supplement findings for the switch to anabolism.
So aside from leucine I'm not really sold on the idea of individual amino supplementation. Whey and casein have so many other benefits over and above anything any one amino can provide. Plus I see such little benefit in micromanaging details like this when most people have pretty ordinary diet and training habits.