Best BCAA Supplements
Are you searching for a feasible means of improving your workout experience? Outside of improving your technique and simply exercising the right way, specific supplements can assist. In specific, those that provide you with branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs for short. BCAAs are a group of essential amino acids that can boost your muscle growth and also help with weight loss (among other things). But, finding the right supplement, while not terribly exhaustive, will require you to know a few things. Doing so can increase the likelihood of finding a brand that you love. Thankfully, that is what we are here for so if you stick with this guide, you will be provided with the necessary tools to buy the right product for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 3 hrs of research
There are 17 flavors to choose from
You get seven grams of amino acids per serving
The formula is sugar-free
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST BCAA SUPPLEMENTS
1. SCIVATION XTEND POWDER
There are 17 flavors to choose from
You get seven grams of amino acids per serving
The formula is sugar-free
The taste can be very, very sweet
When looking at all of the options on this list, none of them provide the number of acids that this powder does on a per-serving basis. That alone makes this quite compelling.Read more
In each serving, you are provided with seven grams of essential amino acids. The ratio is the common 2:1:1 (for leucine, isoleucine and valine) as this has been research-proven.
It is recommended to take this in a bottle. This way, you can rigorously shake it to ensure that the powder mixes well with water.
In addition to the amino acids, this powder is also made with a proprietary blend of hydration-inducing electrolytes. Also, it is sugar-free.
All in all, there are 17 different flavors to choose from (which is fantastic). Most buyers do note, though, that the end result is very sweet (perhaps too sweet).
There are quite a few size options that you can choose between. You have options for 20, 30, 50, and 90 servings and each of the prices is quite reasonable.
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong here. With each serving, you get seven whole grams of essential amino acids that are going to boost your exercising performance.
2. MP ESSENTIALS
Backed by a 100 percent money-back guarantee
It is banned-substance tested
Sports a patent-pending 3:1:2 ratio of amino acids
The flavor is not the best
If you are looking for something truly unique then this is the powder for you. Unlike virtually every other supplement out there, this one implements a 3:1:2 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine amino acids.Read more
All in all, you get six grams of amino acids with each serving of this. However, as mentioned, the ratio is much different at 3:1:2 (it is a patent-pending ratio).
Not all powders are going to mix easily but this seems to be one that actually does. That alone is an extra incentive to go with this option that is for sure.
Because the manufacturer cares so much about the products that they put into your body, they ensure their customer base that their formula is banned-substance tested and certified by Informed-Choice.
Now, this is actually served in a blue raspberry flavor. Overall, most users feel that the taste is less than to be desired. A few buyers even claim it can leave a potent aftertaste.
Each individual bottle has 30 servings and in combination with the price of admission (which is not incredibly expensive), it makes the value quite good.
The unique patent-pending ratio of amino acids is what stands out here. Most BCAA supplements you see will integrate a 2:1:1 ratio; so, the 3:1:2 ratio is quite different.
3. EVLUTION NUTRITION
Also includes Vitamin B6 and B12
There are two capacity options
Contains five grams of essential amino acids per serving
The taste is not for everyone
As with most of the top-end options on the market and on this list, this next supplement is extremely effective but not the best tasting. That is the price you pay for some of these.Read more
This formula is pretty standard as you are provided with five grams of amino acids with the ratio of 2:1:1 (again, between leucine, isoleucine, and valine).
Whether you want to toss this in a shaker with some water or merely mix it with a spoon in some water, both methods are fairly easy.
In addition to the high quality of BCAAs, this also provides you with green coffee and green tea which are natural caffeine sources for cleaner energy.
It seems that most buyers are split right down the middle. Some of them actually enjoy the flavor and others are appalled by it. Either way, though, there are 15 different flavors to choose from.
Both of the capacity options come at a decent price. For the record, these options are for 30 servings or 65 servings.
In a way, you could consider this the cliché BCAA supplement. It has a flavor that can be hard to take for some of you and also the classic ratio of amino acids per serving.
4. TRUTH NUTRITION
Helps to promote enhanced endurance
It is a 100 percent natural formula
Will mix rather easily
The flavors have been criticized by some users
What is so amazing about the formula that Truth Nutrition has put forth here is that it does not feature any synthetics of any kind. Instead, it is a 100 percent natural, vegan formula.Read more
Due to the 2:1:1 ratio of essential amino acids here, this is going to promote enhanced muscle endurance and reduced fatigue during your workouts. Oh yeah, and with each serving, you receive five full grams of BCAAs.
As this is a powder, you will need to dissolve it in water. Doing so is quite convenient as the powder is going to mix rather easily in liquid.
As Truth Nutrition points out, they extracted only the best amino acids from their plants. They avoided synthesizing them with non-edible sources such as duck feather and pigskin.
There are actually only two color options to choose from here. Of the two (red raspberry and watermelon), watermelon has been touted as the better flavor. Still, even some reviewers have not liked the taste.
This is one of the most expensive options on the market, bar none. You get 30 servings per container and the price of one container is not cheap.
If nothing else, Truth Nutrition deserves a lot of credit for developing a supplement that is 100 percent natural. For some of you, that is extremely important.
5. OPTIMUM NUTRITION
It is available in four different colors
This has been banned-substance tested
Offers five grams of BCAAs per serving
Some users feel the taste is not the best
The shape of the bottle was not well-thought-out
It is quite an audacious claim for any company to label their product the gold standard. Well, that is exactly what Optimum Nutrition has done here and they were not too far off with their claim.Read more
In addition to the five full grams of amino acids (with the classic 2:1:1 ratio), you also receive 250 milligrams of wellmune and 220 milligrams of electrolytes.
One of the issues that powder supplements can have is that they can sometimes not easily dissolve in water. Well, this has been documented as an issue by a few buyers with this product.
It is noted that this provides the quality you can expect from a brand you trust. With that said, this has been banned-substance tested for maximum purity.
While there have been a few users who have criticized the flavors, this option is available in four different ones. Some of which have even been positively received by various consumers.
It seems apropos that a “gold standard” product would cost a bit more than usual. That is indeed the case here and for the price, you actually only get 28 servings.
Even though this BCAA supplement is not the best on the market, no one is going to argue too much with its claim as the gold standard. Why don’t you find out for yourself?
6. BSN AMINO X
There are 12 flavors to choose from
Two size options are available
Sports a 10-gram blend of amino acids
There is an overabundance of sweeteners
While this is yet another option that sports the infamous 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, it delivers more grams per serving than most options on the market. If only BSN tamed it down a bit on the added sweeteners.Read more
Indeed, per each serving you take of this you will receive 10 grams of essential amino acids in the classic 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
It is advertised that this powder will mix easily without clumping. Of course, all options will be advertised in this manner but one buyer did back up this claim.
Amino X is free of any stimulants and yes, this means that it is indeed free of caffeine.
As mentioned, this would probably have fared better without so many added sweeteners. However, there are 12 different flavors to choose from, so that is nice.
It is mentioned in the product description that there are two main serving sizes available (30 and 70). For the price of admission, either way, this is a pretty good value.
It is easy to appreciate this option as it delivers a 10-gram blend of BCAAs per serving. If you can stomach the potency of the sweeteners, then you could have a winner here.
7. IDEALLEAN BCAA
Seven different flavors are available
It will mix pretty easily in water
An ideal option for women
The flavor is much too sweet
For all you women readers out there, IdealLean has developed a formula that is specifically for you. This right here is designed to maximize weight loss for all you women out there.Read more
Looking past the 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, this supplement also delivers coconut powder, glutamine, and citrulline to take this to the next level.
One buyer specifically mentioned that this powder mixed quite easily with water. Speaking of which, you should mix a serving of this with around 16 ounces of water.
It is worth noting that there are both natural and artificial flavors that are included in this formula. The aforementioned additional ingredients are very nice, though.
Though there are a strong variety of flavors available, most of them have been deemed too sweet. Part of the reason why is with no sugar added, too much sweetener was included.
Though the value is not horrendous, each container you buy only gives you 30 servings for a pretty high price.
Much like with the last option, you will need to put up with the extra sweetness of this supplement. With that said, this is an excellent option for women.
It is lab-tested for purity
The powder will mix easily
There are 333 servings
The powder can make a really bad mess
The taste is awful by itself
This option is unique in a way that you may not have expected it to. For whatever reason, it is packaged in a pouch instead of in a bottle. While this can be annoying at times, the formula itself is very effective.Read more
Though this delivers all the amino acids you come to expect in a BCAA supplement, it only provides 1.5 grams per serving. As compared to others, this is significantly lower.
Let’s just say that this is a very fine powder. While this makes mixing much easier, it also makes transferring the powder from the package much messier.
There are no fillers or additives present in this formula. In addition, it is lab-tested for the utmost purity.
It is advised to mix this powder with smoothies or other fruit drinks. The reason for this is the powder is extremely bitter tasting and not pleasant in the slightest.
Your eyes have not been deceived; this has 333 servings (with other size options available). The serving size only provides 1.5 grams of BCAAs but the entire package does account for 500 grams (making this an excellent value).
In spite of the packaging flaws, this is actually a very strong option. The amino-acid count is a bit lower (per serving), but the package does a hold a ton of substance.
9. OPTIMUM NUTRITION INSTANTIZED
It is available flavored and unflavored
Processed in a state-of-the-art production facility
Delivers five grams of amino acids per serving
It can be a pain to mix
Various users have not enjoyed some of the flavors
Coming up next is another option from Optimum Nutrition. However, while it is more than effective, both the taste and ease of mixing have been criticized by various users.Read more
What else would you expect from Optimum Nutrition? Their formula that is present here delivers five full grams of amino acids in the optimal 2:1:1 ratio.
As one annoyed reviewer pointed out, you may need a blender to efficiently mix this powder in liquid. If you plan to mix it by hand, you better exert some elbow grease.
One reason you can put your faith in a company such as Optimum Nutrition is they own and operate state-of-the-art production facilities. Oh yeah, and each of them is GMP compliant.
While you can buy this with a specific flavored option, the option is also there to buy an unflavored powder. As with most options, though, the taste is going to depend on your personal preferences.
For the price of admission for the 60-serving container, the value is pretty darn good. Factor in the high amount of BCAAs per serving and the value becomes even better yet.
When it comes down to it, it really is hard to go wrong with anything that this seller produces. Admittedly, though, a drawback is how difficult the powder can be to mix.
10. NOW SPORTS
Sports the classic 2:1:1 ratio of amino acids
Has undergone extensive testing
You can buy this in the form of capsules
The flavor is extremely bitter
Mixing can be an absolute chore
As great as this last option is, it probably has the two most common issues of these types of supplements (alluding to the flavor and the mixing). It is certainly effective, though.Read more
Per serving, you get right around five grams of leucine, isoleucine, and valine in the classic 2:1:1 ratio. You really can’t go wrong with this, folks.
Here is the good news; you can buy this in capsule form. If you do go with the powder, do not that it has been crucified for being utterly unmixable.
In addition to the fact that this is soy-free and gluten-free, it has also been produced in a state-of-the-art testing laboratory. Here, this has undergone rigorous testing to ensure optimal purity.
Spoiler alert, this is not flavored. A common complaint with this brand is that the bitterness can be tasted regardless of what it is mixed with.
Overall, the value is quite good here. There are different seller options available and you can even buy in bulk if you so desire.
It is reassuring to know just how much thought and care has been exerted into this supplement. For some of you, though, that alone will not be enough to overcome the unpleasant taste and pain of mixing.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The brand you buy needs to be able to deliver the goods, right?
In order for you to understand why these supplements are effective, in the first place, you must first know what they are. In short, BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids that feature three of the most critical essential amino acids that your body needs. You see your body needs 20 different types of amino acids to function properly. However, of those 20 only nine are considered essential and these nine can’t be made by your body. But, BCAA supplements provide you with three of them.
These three are leucine, isoleucine and valine. They make up the BCAAs and are all essential. However, you will most often see the ratio between them is 2:1:1 (in favor of leucine). The main reason for this is leucine itself is critical for muscle growth. But, even though some experts may suggest foregoing the other two amino acids, they should be included as they can increase the muscle protein synthesis even better. However, not all options on the market will deliver the same amount of BCAAs per serving. Most will offer five grams per serving but you will sometimes see more or less. As for how much your body needs, it will depend on various factors such as your gender and workout regimen.
How easy a powder is to mix and subsuquently consume is going to play a major role in your decision.
Now, it is worth noting that these supplements can be bought in either powder or capsule form. But, and this is evident based on the list above, the most popular form is powder. As you may have guessed, though, you do not merely consumer the powder by itself. Doing so would be so outrageously unbearable that it would be impossible to digest. So, this means that you will need to dissolve the powder in some sort of liquid. Typically, this is going to be water but if the powder is unflavored, you may want to dissolve it in a fruit drink (or something else).
This is where a common annoyance can come into play, though. You see depending on the option that you go with, it may be nearly impossible to mix it well. The result may end up being a drink with large clumps (which no one wants to digest). Yet, if the powder is relatively easy to mix then the digesting will be much easier. So, do your research and see what other buyers have been saying about the powder.
It is not wise to mess around with this section as the last thing you want is to consume a formula that is not pure.
When you buy a product that is designed to improve your health in any such fashion, the purity of it will come to the forefront. As you guessed, that is no different when you go to buy a BCAA supplement. In order to ensure that you do buy a formula that is pure, you need to keep a few important things in mind. Firstly, where was the powder produced? This is not so much the geographical location as much as it is the physical location. In other words, does the manufacturer process it on state-of-the-art equipment in their own personal laboratory (or any other certified lab)?
Secondly, has it been tested? Some designers will perform rigorous testing to ensure that their formula is pure. Along the same line, you should also look for any options that are banned-substance tested. If any product is marked with this claim, it means that it was tested to be free from relevant contamination with prohibited substances. Lastly, you can look for manufacturers that obtain their BCAAs from natural botanical sources.
In addition to the actual potency of the flavor, look for a variety of flavor options.
There is one of two ways you can go about this. On one hand, you can opt for a supplement that is unflavored. Or, of course, you can go with a flavored option. Starting with the former, this can be achieved with both powders and capsules. This is pretty obvious with capsules as you merely swallow them with a glass of water or other liquid. But, with powders, there are unflavored options. Be wary, though, if you opt for this route, avoid mixing with water. Even though unflavored options will lack any one specific flavor, they are often incredibly bitter and hard to consume. To make it easier, mix these with flavored drinks (such as fruit drinks).
Now, you can also go with a specific flavor. This is probably the most popular way to go as most sellers will provide you with a strong amount of flavor options. At the same time, though, do not expect any one option to taste amazing. In fact, if you can at least get it down without gagging, you should consider that a win. Some manufacturers will compensate for the lack of sugar with added sweeteners, though, and these can be quite potent. The best thing to do is to search through consumer feedback to see what previous buyers have said about the flavor.
As a consumer, you always want to spend your money wisely and here it is no different.
When you were in school, did you ever ponder to yourself when you would ever need to use math? Well, here is one such instance. If you want to determine the value of any one option then you need to look at more than just the price. While the price is one of the variables that you need to assess, there are others too. In addition, you have to keep the number of servings per bottle and how many grams of BCAAs you get per serving in mind.
So, just because one model is cheaper than the other it does not necessarily indicate that it has a better value. And, even though there is not a set algorithm to produce the best value, keeping all these variables in mind will help you buy the option you feel provides the best value.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
BCAAs provide your body with three of the nine essential amino acids that your body needs but can’t make. This is what you can expect from any brand that you buy. However, not all of the formulas are going to be the same. What you need to keep an eye on is the ratio of the amino acids and how many grams you are getting per serving.
If you plan to go with a powder version then you need to be fully aware that not all of them are going to be easy to mix and subsequently consume. In fact, this is one of the most common issues that buyers will run into. It can be frustrating to receive a powder that simply will not mix well with liquid no matter how hard you try.
Oh boy, is the product purity ever important here. When it comes down to it, though, any product that is designed to improve your health (in this case your physical well-being) is going to have this importance. In order to virtually guarantee that the option you go with is pure, though, you need to pay attention to the details and figure out the processing method that was utilized.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Who should take BCAAs?
To be honest, this really comes down to what you need BCAAs for, in the first place. To elaborate, it mostly comes down to whether you are a casual exerciser or if you are an exercising enthusiast. The reason it matters is that if you fall into the former demographic, you can probably get away with other means. For example, if you merely eat an adequate amount of protein from whole food sources then you should be fine. Of course, if you are an avid exerciser, you may want to add a BCAA supplement to your training regimen as it is going to help you recover afterward.
q: Are there any risks involved?
If you know anything about drugs and likewise products, you know that there can always be side effects. Now, it is worth noting that harmful side effects have not been linked to taking these supplements orally. Yet, as was just alluded to, there can be some side effects and the most common ones are headaches, body pains, and nausea. In addition, though, there is a potential risk of these amino acids interfering with blood glucose levels after and during surgery. Also, as a side note, it is not advised to take BCAAs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
q: When is the best time to take this?
If you think about this question logically for just a moment, you will probably be able to answer it. The most logical answer to this question is to take the amino acids right around the time you partake in your training. However, should you do so after your workout or before it? Well, if you are taking a high dose per day, you could probably do both especially if you are preparing to endure an intensive workout. If this does happen to be the case, also, then you can shoot for right around 15 to 30 minutes either after or before your workout.
q: What about before you go to bed?
Yes, this is playing off of the last question. It is certainly an intriguing one, though, and that is why it is being highlighted on its own. So, can you take these essential amino acids before you go to bed? Well, why not? You really can take them at any time during the day so the real question is; will doing so before bed yield any unique results? Interestingly enough, these amino acids have been shown to elevate growth hormone levels and lower cortisol levels. And, because both of these play important roles while you sleep, it means that there may just be an incentive to taking these before you go to sleep.
q: Can BCAAs cause acne?
This is one you may or may not have heard much about. Most of you, however, are probably fully aware of what acne is. But, for those of you who need a refresher, this is a common skin condition that usually affects people in their teenage years. However, could it be linked to these amino acids? Well, first off, there is not a ton of scientific evidence that backs this up so take it with a grain of salt. Yet, leucine (which is one of the amino acids that makes up BCAA) activates lipid production and this is what is believed to be the main culprit. Again, though, this is not written in stone and you should look up other remedies for your acne issues (if you have any).
q: Is this stuff banned in any capacity?
Due to the performance advantages that these amino acids can produce, it is not too much of a surprise if there are people out there looking to take them for athletics. The main question then becomes, though, is it legal? For the record, BCAA supplements are legal in the United States so you certainly do not need to worry about that. But, what about an organization like the NCAA? While they do ban specific drugs, BCAA is not listed as one of them on their page. Now, it is mentioned that many supplements can be contaminated with banned drugs that are on the NCAA’s page of illegal substances.