Branched-chain amino acids, colloquially known by their abbreviations, BCAAs are synthetic amino acid bodybuilding supplements that enhance body strength, post-workout muscle recovery, and fat burning. BCAA supplements can be taken before a workout, during, or post-workout to enhance the speedy recovery of muscles and boost strength. Amino acid supplements apply scientific knowledge regarding the building blocks of muscles and the role of protein in bodybuilding. These amino acids play a crucial role in structuring muscle formation, enhancing speedy recovery after working out. However, some manufacturers do not make all amino acid supplements to play a required role in bodybuilding. To expose them and uncover the best BCAA supplements the market can offer, our team of experts investigated the state of the BCAA supplements the market offers by analyzing lab results, talking to manufacturers, and doing our own analysis to establish the best supplements out there.
The Best Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplements
On reviewing what the market offers by analyzing more than a dozen of supplements, our results are as follows:
- Performance Labs BCAA
- XWerks Motion
- Cellucor Alpha Amino BCAA
- Genesis Gold
- Cellucor BCAA Sport
- Perfect Aminos
- Transparent Labs.com BCAA Glutamine
- Essential BCAA 2:1:1 Powder
- MTN Ops BCAA
- IdealFit IdealLean BCAAs
- Beast Sports Aminolytes
- Huge Supplements BCAA
- Max Gains Promolex
- Genius BCAA Powder
- EHP Labs Beyond BCAA + EAA
- Naked BCAAs
Our rankings considered that different manufacturers have different sources for amino acid chains and offered further instructions on dosages and ratios.
Each supplement is unique from the other, although each manufacturer has tailored it to perform the same function. Below is an in-depth analysis of each supplement.
Performance Labs BCAA
This dynamic muscle booster and performance enhancer are built to increase endurance, prevent muscle disintegration, boost muscle growth, among other benefits, by combining the best BCAAs the market has to offer. This supplement is tailored for both pre-workout and post-workout intake for better results. Performance Labs BCAA uses a 2:1:1 ratio better known as the “ultramodern BCAA 2X” formula, which combines L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine BCAAs in the form of Ajipure formula. This trademarked formula employs a unique fermentation technology for better absorption. The supplement comes in capsules, and the manufacturer recommends 2 – 4 pills an hour before the workout and 2 – 4 tablets after. Intense trainers are advised to take 2 to 4 capsules mid-workout for better results. Performance Labs BCAA retails at $44 per bottle.
XWerks Motion is a unique brand of workout supplement that combines a unique blend of ingredients to offer the best combination of pre-workout boosters to enable you to have the best results in performance and results. This supplement combines BCAAs, carbs, and electrolytes with 50 servings per bag, with each serving offering you 25g of carbs and 3g of BCAAs to maximize performance and endurance throughout the workout, especially for pro athletes who do intense workouts. The ingredients are packed in a bioavailable form, not forgetting the two tasty flavors of raspberry lemonade and grape it offers. XWerks Motion retails at $79.
Cellucor Alpha Amino BCAA
In the BCAA supplement industry, the Cellucor’s Alpha Amino BCAA formula has been in the market for almost twenty years, therefore, cementing its popularity in the bodybuilding world among athletes. Each Cellucor’s Alpha-amino formula serving contains 10 grams of BCAA for post-workout muscle recovery and hydration. Besides the BCAAs, Cellucor’s Alpha-amino formula also includes a combination of fourteen amino acids. For better muscle formation, boosting power, and protein synthesis after the workout, Cellucor’s Alpha-amino formula combines BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio to give you the best results there are. It is known as America’s top pre-workout brand, and it comes with unique flavors like Icy Blue Razz. This supplement is available at only $25 per bottle in retail stores and online retails.
Genesis Gold combines natural ingredients from plant extracts, herbal extracts, and mushroom extracts, including probiotics, to support natural hormones and the hypothalamus. The supplement offers 12g of formula per scoop comprising the Genesis Gold trademark blend of the “Sacred Seven” amino acids. The manufacturer guarantees natural ingredients with organic plant-based ingredients GMO- free. The herbs used are gluten-free, adding to the ancient grain, sea vegetarian, and green superfoods. A bottle of this supplement is highly-priced at $150, making it the most expensive on the list.
Cellucor BCAA Sport
Cellucor BCAA Sport comes as an alternative Cellucor BCAA supplement to the Alpha Amino designed to give you all-day hydration and recovery. It uses a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs and other amino acids with 4,000mg of a 2:1:1 BCAA blend, 2,250mg of other amino acids, and 2,000mg of glutamine per serving. The NSF’s ingredients are certified, making it safe for athletes. Each bottle comes with 30 servings with 11g of the total formula per scoop, while the bottle retails at $22.
Perfect Amino is a unique supplement that combines eight essential amino acids, including phenylalanine, threonine, valine, lysine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, and tryptophan in either tablet or powder form. The manufacturer recommends a five tablet or one scoop of powder that contains 5,000mg of the Perfect Amino trademark blend. The product has no specific ratio apart from the amino acid blend for boosting muscle recovery, endurance, and growth. A bottle of the supplement retails at $40.
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
Besides offering BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio per dose, Transparent Labs’ BCAA Glutamine offers a unique blend of L-glutamine and coconut water for muscle growth and recovery. Each serving contains 5g of L-glutamine, 8g of fermented vegan BCAAs and 1g of coconut water to enhance hydration, muscle recovery and growth and hydration. The manufacturer offers a variety of flavors including green apple, orange, strawberry lemonade, blue raspberry, and tropical punch with each bottle retailing at $39. Transparent Labs’ BCAA Glutamine offers a host of other benefits, including reducing muscle fatigue, boosting the recovery of muscles, improving glucose metabolism, and enhancing muscle synthesis. Coconut water provides unique hydration.
Essential BCAA 2:1:1 Powder
The Essential BCAA 2:1:1 Powder comes loaded with amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine in a 2:1:1 ratio for speedy muscle recovery and enhance muscle protein synthesis. The manufacturer recommends taking one scoop 2 to 4 times per day, with each serving giving you 8g of BCAAs. The supplement offers blue raspberry, gummy fish, cold brew coffee, and snow cone. One bottle retails at $25.
MTN Ops BCAA
MTN Ops BCAA offers you 30 servings from one bottle, with each serving giving you 11g of the formula. Then supplement is tailored to provide you with quick muscle recovery besides offering the client a variety of flavors, including green apple, strawberry dragon fruit, and tropical punch. You can access a bottle of this premium product at $35, although the manufacturer offers a $25 price tag when you use a discount code.
IdealFit IdealLean BCAAs
As the name suggests, IdealLean BCAAs are tailored to give you the ideal combination of building lean muscles, fat loss, and other effects. This supplement comes with 7g of high-quality amino acids in a 2:1:1 ratio to provide you with these results. The manufacturer incorporates coconut water, green tea extract, and thermogenesis against Thermo Diamine to maximize fat loss. A strong dose containing 1,000mg of L-citrulline and L-glutamine is added to enhance the benefits of BCAAs. The manufacturer offers this bottle at a reasonable price of $23.
Beast Sports Aminolytes
Beast Sports Aminolytes come in a bottle containing 30 servings at a retail price of $35. Each serving offers you 5g of essential amino acids and 5 BCAAs. These ingredients are meant to give you a replacement of electrolytes, help in muscle recovery, and improve post-workout protein synthesis. However, the manufacturer does not reveal the ratio of the combination of the amino acids, although they use the 2:1:1 combination for other supplements.
Huge Supplements BCAA
Offering a large serving of 15g of amino acids, including 8,000mg of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio, Huge Supplements BCAA provides the largest serving on our list. Huge BCAA adds more ingredients like L-glutamine and coconut water powder for more muscle protein synthesis, body hydration, and muscle recovery. The addition of these proven recovery agents pushes the price tag of the supplement to $30 per bottle. The manufacturer offers two flavors, kiwi blueberry, and bomb popsicle, for a tasty combination.
Max Gains Promolex
Promolex from Max Gains comes in a unique form, capsules, with the manufacturer recommending five pills per serving every day before bedtime to offer you proper muscle recovery. Each serving of five capsules gives you 1,500mg of L-glutamine besides three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, in a 2:1:1. That is 850mg of leucine, 425mg of isoleucine, and 425mg of valine to be specific. This is one of the lowest doses per serving on the list, considering it’s priced close to the other supplements at $32 per bottle.
The Top BCAA Supplements on Amazon Online Store
Amazon’s online store offers a variety of supplements, of which we selected some and sampled them to determine the best supplements they have to offer. A similar sampling and ranking have been used to rate the store’s various supplements.
Genius BCAA Powder
The Genius BCAA Powder has been made to offer a unique combination of providing both physical and mental power. This supplement was built from a recent study that showed that the brain also needs proteins to function correctly and that BCAAs positively impact building cognitive energy. The manufacturer recommends a 13.8g scoop per dose, which offers you 3g of L-glutamine, 2.5g of leucine, 1.25g of isoleucine, and 1.25g of valine 2:1:1 ratio of amino acids for optimal muscle development. The manufacturer also adds unique ingredients like citrulline malate, L-tyrosine, and taurine, along with proven cognitive boosters like citicoline, Rhodiola Rosea, and caffeine, all at 100mg per serving. Backed with a solid online review and positive user feedback, the Genius BCAA Powder has proven itself as one of the best supplements on amazon. A bottle of the supplement retails at $35 each.
EHP Labs Beyond BCAA + EAA
EHP Labs Beyond BCAA + EAA supplement offers a new combination of the traditional branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs) to support muscle endurance and recovery. The BCAA + EAA simply detonates the manufacturer’s combination of branched-chain amino acids and essential amino acids into developing the product. Each serving offers 10g of essential amino acids, including 8g of BCAAs and additional unique ingredients like a 1,500mg nootropic blend that comes with tyrosine and Huperzine A and 50mg of a recovery booster known as Senactiv. This combination gives you more active ingredients, thus offering you above-average benefits per serving beyond standard BCAA supplements. Moreover, the supplement provides you additional nervous system booster making it more unique. A bottle of the supplement retails at $53.
The Naked BCAAs offers a solution to vegan customers to boost their muscle growth by providing a supplement made from solely vegan, unflavored, branched-chain amino acids. Like other BCAAs supplements, Naked BCAAs offer customers a pure ratio of 2:1:1. Each container has 100 servings, with each serving having 5g of formula per scoop in addition to 2,500mg of leucine and 1,250mg each of isoleucine and valine. One bottle of the supplement retails at $35, almost the same price as the other supplements. Our analysis showed that this supplement offers the best price-to-value and cost-per-serving size ratios in the list of supplements sampled. Naked is also ranked as Amazon’s best-selling supplement.
NSP Nutrition Advanced Aminos 1000
The Advanced Aminos 1000 employs the technique of combining essential and branched-chain amino acids from egg whites to offer the best recovery plan for your muscles post-workout. The supplement retails at $24.99 per bottle and a discount of up to $22.39 per bottle when buying in bulk. The manufacturer offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on this supplement in case of dissatisfaction. The combination of the essential and branched amino acids is meant to boost muscle power and size, offering quicker recovery after training and helping you keep your body anabolic. With the ability to also manage hunger and appetite, Advanced Aminos 1000 can help slow down muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, and enables the body to maintain a positive nitrogen balance.
BCAA Ranking Criteria
Our efforts were employed at giving a closer look at the supplements the market has to offer by analyzing their active ingredients and ranking them from the best to the worst.
The following considerations were used in ranking.
We came up with an average serving of BCAAs and realized that the majority of the supplements fell in the 5g-15g range. Supplements offering higher or lower rates were not analyzed.
The ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine in the proportion of 2:1:1 is considered the best, although other manufacturers offer a 10:1:1 ratio at a lower price. The 2:1:1 ratio is the best for optimum protein synthesis, endurance, and muscle growth.
Mixability, Flavor, & Texture
The ability of a supplement to be easily mixable, especially with water, was considered. A good supplement should be easier to mix with water for drinking before and after a workout. Additionally, flavoring was considered in the list of considerations. A good supplement should have good taste without compromising effectiveness.
Types of BCAAs Used
Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are considered to be the three basic BCAAs. Supplements found not to contain these BCAAs were not included in the review.
The reputation of the Manufacturer
The supplement industry has both companies which have been there for decades and new arrivals. Young companies were not rejected, although much consideration was given to companies that have proven themselves.
Honest Advertised Benefits
Honest advertised benefits included those that applied to real-life situations. In essence, dieting and working out have to be included in the plan for supplements to work. Products with real benefits were considered over unrealistic benefits.
Price & Value
The price of the BCAA supplement was weighed against the value an individual can derive from the supplement. Supplements with high prices were measured by analyzing their value in return. Only products with a good return on investment were added to the review.
Adding more ingredients like coconut water, essential amino acids, and other amino acids to support muscle growth to BCAAs as complementary ingredients is a new trend in the supplements industry. Supplements containing additional supplements were given better consideration than traditional supplements containing only BCAAs.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Definitions and Examples
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are amino acids with a branched-chain of a single carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms. This gives them the name branched-chain amino acids. Branched-chain amino acids belong to the essential amino acids group. Essential amino acids mean that your body cannot produce these amino acids independently. Therefore, they need to be outsourced through food. Branched-chain amino acids are three in number, including leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
How BCAAs Work
Branched-chain amino acids play a vital role in developing and building muscles. BCAAs, leucine to be specific, repair and rebuild damaged muscle tissue, although aline and isoleucine also have essential functions to play. They develop muscles, increase fat burning in the body, boost body energy, and provide other benefits like losing weight.
When BCAAs Can be Taken
BCAAs can be taken from before doing a workout to during the actual training or after a workout. However, taking them does not matter and depends on what goals one desires to achieve.
- Pre-workout. This is where BCAAs are taken to increase muscle energy and minimize muscle protein breakdown, also known as catabolism, during your workout.
- Post-workout. Taking BCAAs after a workout is essential for boosting muscle protein synthesis, responsible for muscle synthesis. This is agreed to be the best time to take BCAA supplements.
- Intra-workout. This is taking your BCAAs in the middle of the workout. This is done to keep your energy levels sustained throughout the movement. Intra-workout also prepares your muscles for protein synthesis after the training.
- All other times. BCAA supplements can be taken between meals, during off days, or at any other time, provided that an active lifestyle is followed to enable you to realize results. The body needs amino acids for protein synthesis throughout.
Types of BCAAs
As previously mentioned, there are three basic BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The three are part of the nine essential amino acids. In total, there are 20 known amino acids overall.
Leucine is the most critical amino acid as it plays a more significant role in muscle growth and fat loss. Leucine keeps fat levels low and boosts energy by balancing blood sugar levels. Despite this, it is also responsible for muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth.
Isoleucine is an essential branched amino acid responsible for fat burning through metabolizing isoleucine through carbs or fat. This amino acid, therefore, plays a crucial role in fat loss.
Valine is the last of the branched amino acids. Valine boosts energy levels by adding more glucose to muscle cells. Additionally, it promotes muscle recovery and growth besides boosting body immunity and brain function.
BCAA Supplements Benefits
The list below gives the benefits of BCAAs and helps clear the misconceptions around BCAA supplements.
BCAAs are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are essential in building strong and healthy muscles. After working out, the body needs extra protein to repair the sore muscles. The typical diet cannot provide for this hence the need for essential BCAAs.
BCAAs have been proven to boost endurance during exercise. Taking BCAAs before, during, or post your workout will give you a boost in energy levels needed to sustain throughout the training or restore the energy lost during an exercise.
Taking BCAAs builds muscles and helps to lose excess fat from the body. Taking leucine with glutamine has been proven to increase fat burning significantly.
Reduce Muscle Soreness
Muscles experience soreness and tearing up during workouts. This raises the need to get these muscles repaired after working out. BCAAs have been shown to reduce muscle soreness. BCAAs have also been claimed to boost immunity besides balancing blood sugar, among other benefits.
BCAA Clinical Trials
BCAAs are developed by applying basic scientific principles to give the users the optimum results like muscle growth, fat burning, losing weight, and boosting energy, among other benefits. Various scientific researches have been conducted to prove the effects of BCAAs in the body. For instance, this 2012 study found that taking BCAA supplements reduced damage caused to muscles from resistance training, making it easier for your body to repair itself and grow more lean muscle tissue. Researchers found that BCAA supplements taken before and after a workout significantly reduced soreness.
This 2006 research found that BCAA supplements stimulate vital enzymes needed in post-workout protein synthesis. This boosts the rate of protein synthesis and reduces the disintegration of muscle tissue.
A stable blood sugar level has been linked to taking BCAAs, according to this research done in 2003. The study revealed that BCAAs are responsible for altering glucose metabolism. Balancing blood sugar is essential to maintain energy levels.
Scientific research has shown that BCAAs effectively reduce fatigue. For instance, this 2007 research revealed that BCAAs are responsible for enhancing energy levels in the body.
BCAAs have scientifically been shown to enhance weight loss. According to this 2007 study, BCAAs were found to have improved the body’s ability to regulate glucose and burn fat for energy, thus enhancing weight loss.
BCCAs supplements have been proven to help older adults with muscle wasting. For example, in this 2007 research, researchers found that BCAAs helped cancer patients with muscle atrophy.
BCAA Supplement Dosage
Dosages of BCAA highly vary depending on the manufacturer recommendation, time of taking the supplement, and or the goal of the user. A user may decide to take a supplement before working out, mid-workout, or post-workout depending on their preferences.
The following tips give a guideline to taking BCAA supplements.
- Pre-workout: When taking supplements before working out, it is advisable to take a dose of about 6g to 10g.
- Post-workout: 10g to 15g are recommended when taking your BCAASs after a workout.
- General Usage: When taking supplements either off days, between meals, or in general use, 5g to 10g are recommended.
Most BCAA supplements come with a dosage of between 5g to 8g per scoop. However, following the recommended dosage instructions on your BCAA supplement is essential as per the manufacturer’s instructions to optimize muscle growth and development and realize maximum benefits.
Side Effects of BCAA Supplement
Generally, healthy people do not experience any severe side effects of BCAA supplements. However, an overdose is associated with; headaches and dizziness, nausea, indigestion, and stomach discomfort. Symptoms do not persist for long.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About BCAA Supplements
Q: What are BCAAs?
BCAAs, also known as branched-chain amino acids, are amino acids with one carbon branch. Branched-chain amino acids are part of the nine essential amino acids and cannot be made by your body.
Q: What are the best foods for BCAAs?
The best foods for BCAAs include:
- Chicken (6.6g of BCAAs per 170g serving, including 2.9g of leucine, 1.8g of isoleucine, and 1.9g of valine)
- Canned tuna (5.6g of BCAA per can, including 2.5g of leucine, 1.5g of isoleucine, and 1.6g of valine)
- Eggs (1.3g of BCAAs per egg, including 0.54g of leucine, 0.3g of isoleucine, and 0.4g of valine)
Q: Can women take BCAAs?
BCAAs are gender-neutral and can be taken by anyone.
Q: How do BCAAs work?
BCAAs help build muscles in the body by offering the building blocks of protein necessary for protein synthesis.
Q: What do BCAAs do?
BCAAs form a vital building block of protein by contributing about 40% of the essential amino acids. Amino acids form a vital building block for muscle formation. According to research, 15% of your muscle cells consist of BCAAs.
Q: What are the side effects of BCAAs?
For a healthy adult, BCAAs have no severe side effects. An overdose of the supplements can cause stomach upset, headache, nausea, and dizziness, among other side effects.
Q: How long should I wait after taking BCAAs before eating?
A 45 minute to one-hour wait before eating is generally recommended to let your body absorb the BCAAs after your workout.
Q: Are BCAAs bad for my kidneys?
Generally, BCAAs are safe for your kidneys, although one study has shown that they can affect kidneys.
Q: What are the dangers of BCAAs?
BCAAs have no significant dangers when taken in standard dosages as recommended on your BCAA supplement. Some mild symptoms may be experienced when taken in overdose.
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