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October 06, 2022
To build lean muscle, you must train consistently, eat a well-balanced diet, get proper sleep, and keep stress levels down. You can speed up your muscle-building goals by using certain supplements such as branch chain amino acids or BCAAs.
In this post, we researched the best BCAA supplements on the market, explained how they work, and the essential factors to look out for while shopping for them online.
** This post may contain affiliate links where we make a small commission on purchases made at no cost to you. We only recommend products we think you will find valuable.**
Huge Aminos are loaded with a high dose of amino acids at nearly 15 grams per scoop. Eight grams of these are BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio, plus 1675 mg as essential amino acids, making this our pick for the best overall BCAA supplement.
Huge Aminos will help to stimulate muscle protein synthesis for optimal performance, muscle growth, and recovery.
In this formula you'll also find a solid dose of five grams of glutamine which can aid your body in muscle recovery and reduce soreness after intense workouts, as well as 750 mg of coconut water powder for optimal hydration.
If you're trying to avoid artificial ingredients, then it is worth noting that Huge Aminos contains natural and artificial flavors. There are two fantastic flavors, one being bomb popsicle and the other Kiwi Blueberry.
To get the most out of your Huge BCAA, they recommend that you consume two scoops per day and consume before, during, or after your workout.
Transparent Labs takes our second spot with their BCAA Glutamine product.
Similar to our top pick, this supplement doesn't have only pure BCAAs but also includes glutamine and coconut water.
In each 19+ gram scoop you'll get 8 grams of BCAAs per serving plus, 5 grams of l-glutamine, 1 gram of coconut water and a whopping 1.5 grams of vitamin C. The fermented vegan BCAAs are in the standard ratio of 2:1:1 regarding leucine, isoleucine and valine.
Transparent Labs BCAA glutamine is a product geared towards recovery and repairing muscle tissues.
You have 5 flavors to choose from including Sour Green Apple to Tropical Punch.
Last but not least, you can expect a transparent label without any extra fillers, harmful additives or colored dyes.
BulkSupplements BCAAs are currently one of the most affordable branch chain amino acid supplements available. In our opinion this is best unflavored BCAA all things considered.
All BulkSupplements products are manufactured at the highest quality according to cGMP standards, as well as third-party tested to ensure consistency and standards.
BulkSupplements BCAA is straightforward and contains no added amino acids, caffeine, hydration formulas, or stimulants. The only ingredients you pay for are the L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine, which make up the optimal 2:1:1 ratio to support your overall health and fitness goals.
BulkSupplements BCAA is available in an unflavored powder so that it can be added to cold water, smoothies, or your drink of choice.
To get accurate serving sizes, use a milligram scale to measure out the 1500 milligram dose.
BulkSupplements offers better pricing when you buy in bulk, so if you plan on supplementing BCAAs consistently, we recommend saving some money and buying more at once.
Intra Blast from NutraBio is an advanced intra-workout supplement that was therapeutically formulated to improve performance, recovery, hydration, and muscle growth.
Each of the thirty scoops will provide you with high-quality ingredients to support your body through tough workouts while having minimal flavoring and absolutely zero fillers.
Intra Blast uses a 2:1:1 ratio to pack in 20 grams of instanitized and fermented amino acids into each serving, this helps to support proper recovery while delaying the effects of onset muscle soreness. NutraBio believes that you should know what you put into your body, so each container has a clear label that states the exact ingredients and dosages.
With the addition of glutamine, Taurine, EAAs, and electrolytes, your muscles will benefit significantly from having balanced water levels and improved recovery after intense exercise. IntraBlast also combines TMG and OKG to help preserve muscle tissue, reduce the effects of fatigue, promote muscle recovery, and improve endurance.
To ensure that their products are genuine and the dosages are accurate, NutraBio has all of their products third-party tested and manufactured in the smallest batches possible.
Overall, IntraBlast is a fantastic BCAA intra-workout supplement that won't leave you wishing for more and will help you to push past your limits.
GENIUS BCAA from The Genius Brand is a versatile, all-natural BCAA powder supplement that covers everything from focus and energy while also upgrading your daily amino energy consumption and improving your lean muscle mass.
This BCAA powder has you covered with proper dosages of vegan branched chain amino acids, as well as ingredients such as caffeine, Rhodiola Rosea, and Cognizen Citicoline.
Most lower-quality BCAA supplements derive their amino acids from sources like duck feathers or even human hair. The Genius Brand doesn't offer poor-quality ingredients. Instead, they source their vegan amino acids from high-quality InstAminos developed through fermentation.
Genius BCAA does not contain any fillers or artificial ingredients, instead opting for carefully selected clinical ingredients. It is even sweetened naturally with organic stevia, monk fruit, and other natural flavors.
Unlike many BCAA supplements, Genius BCAA incorporates natural nootropics like Rhodiola Rosea, Taurine, and Cognizin Citicoline to help improve focus, reduce stress, and optimize your mind for high-mental performance. It also offers a small dose of stimulants in the form of caffeine to provide a quick spike of energy in the middle of your workout, but it shouldn't be enough to keep you up at night.
The Genius Brand states that its products are flexible and are even better when paired together. So if you're already taking their products, Genius BCAAs can be a great addition.
Universal Nutrition is a New Jersey-based supplement company that's been in the supplement business for around forty years. Animal is one of their most popular brands that was created to fill the needs and desires of pro bodybuilders.
Animal Juiced Aminos is an enhanced amino acid supplement that goes beyond your average BCAA formula due to its addition to EAAs. The amino acids include a 2:1:1 ratio of the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Juiced Aminos also include lysine, arginine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, and histidine.
This offering improves hydration and endurance with patented ingredients like L-Glutamine, L-Taurine, and Citrulline Malate. The supplement does use proprietary blends, so we don't know how much of each ingredient the product contains.
It's worth noting there are no anti-caking agents like calcium silicate or sunflower lecithin. This results in a powder that may look a little clumpy but still mixes pretty well because the amino acids are instantized.
The formula is caffeine free, perfect for use at any time of the day or night for individuals looking to maximize their workouts and recovery.
Nutricost's Women BCAAs are formulated with a nutrient cocktail specifically tailored with women in mind to build and keep lean muscles, stimulate muscle recovery, and encourage protein synthesis.
Nutricost is located and headquartered in the USA, with all of its supplements being manufactured in a GMP-complaint facility.
They use only the highest quality ingredients with a simple, clean formulation to ensure maximum quality and effectiveness to help women feel their best. Nutricost's Women BCAAs contain only ten calories and six grams of industry proven 2:1:1 instantized BCAA.
It also contains some unique ingredients such as Vitamin D3, Folate, Biotin, Calcium, Hyaluronic Acid, Rose Hips, and Cranberry extract. This supplement comes in six different delicious flavors, which include grape, green apple, peach mango, pink drink, strawberry lemonade, and watermelon.
Ladies, if you have been looking for a BCAA supplement that is specifically tailored for you, then Nutricost's Women BCAAs is the product for you.
ISO 100 from Dymatize is a protein powder with BCAAs, perfect for individuals looking for a protein powder that is low in calories and fat while still having a good BCAA profile.
ISO 100 contains scientifically proven, fast-digesting, hydrolyzed, 100% high-quality whey protein isolate.
Each 32-gram serving contains 120 calories, 25 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs (1 gram of sugar and no fiber), and 0.5 grams of fat. Each scoop also contains 11.8 grams of essential amino acids, 6.8 grams of conditionally essential aminos, and 6.5 grams of non-conditional aminos.
The only other ingredients ISO100 contains are cocoa powder, salt, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, potassium chloride, and sucralose. ISO 100 is gluten-free and contains less than 0.5 grams of lactose, making it an excellent option for individuals with low gluten and lactose tolerance.
While the upfront cost is significant, you do get 71 servings per container, so you save some money in the long run compared with protein bars or other substitutes. With ten flavor options to choose from, everyone should be able to find one that they will like.
This protein powder mixes pretty well with little effort. So, you don't have to worry about unwanted protein clumps.
Nutrex Research EAA Hydration, EAAs + BCAA Powder is one of the best intra and post-workout supplements on the market. Each 13-gram recommended serving has a complete spectrum EAA profile consisting of all nine Essential Amino Acids and six grams of BCAAs.
EAA+ also contains an excellent hydration complex made of Coconut Water, Taurine, and Albion minerals to refuel and rehydrate. To ensure proper uptake, 50 mg of clinically researched AstraGin is included.
To take this intra-workout supplement on training days, mix one scoop of the essential amino acids in 10-16 ounces of water. EAA+ contains no artificial colors or dyes and comes in seven different flavors.
Whether you're looking to build muscle, increase your endurance, or improve muscle recovery, this EAA+ supplement with zero calories, zero sugar, and zero carbs can help you reach your goals.
As a rising star in the supplement industry, GHOST is a premium active lifestyle brand that strives to create effective and delicious products. They have a modern style that includes superb marketing, clean labels, collaborations with massive brands and third-party-certified flavors.
Some of these unique flavors include Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids Blue Raspberry, Redberry, and Watermelon. GHOST's BCAA supplement delivers an impressive seven grams of vegan-fermented BCAAs (3500MG Leucine, 1750MG Isoleucine, and 1750MG Valine) per 11-gram scoop.
It includes Astragin to help improve your body's ability to absorb key amino acids, proteins, and glucose. GHOST BCAAs feature a fully transparent label that discloses the exact dose of each active ingredient. Zero proprietary blends mean you know what you're getting in each and every serving.
To make GHOST BCAA an even better option, it is vegan-friendly, soy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free.
If you're looking for a delicious-tasting BCAA supplement that provides phenomenal performance, then look no further than GHOST BCAA.
Triquetra's Organic Plant Aminos is our pick for the best vegan BCAA supplement.
All of the amino acids that are delivered naturally in raw whole-food by combining the most amino acid-dense forms of Organic Spirulina & Organic Chlorella. These amino acid-dense forms are shown to have 4x higher absorption than compared to why and soy-based alternatives.
Plant Aminos contains all nine of the essential amino acids, three branch chain amino acids, and nine other non-essential amino acids to help muscles repair and facilitate better brain function. Plant Aminos is USDA certified organic, vegan friendly, and raw in the form to adhere to the highest standards of purity and quality.
Triquetra takes great pride in its product and has it tested for over 130 toxins and contaminants in a GMP-certified facility. Unlike most companies, Triquetra ditched the standard powder form, instead opting for tablets that do not include any artificial colors or sweeteners.
To ensure the full bioactive enzyme activity, Plant Aminos are made with a low-temperature process. The serving size is six tablets, and each container comes with 60 servings.
Triquetra's Plant Aminos is an excellent option if you care about the products that go into your body and are a vegan looking to supplement your nutrition with EAAs and BCAAs.
Optimum Nutrition has been one of the biggest names in the supplement industry ever since it was established in 1986 to help performance-focused athletes achieve their goals.
Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Capsules are a stripped-back product that contains only three ingredients.
Each two-capsule serving contains one gram of branch chain amino acids coming from 500mg leucine and 250mg each of isoleucine and valine. That's a 2:1:1 ratio, the industry standard when it comes to BCAAs.
The only other ingredients are microcrystalline cellulose, gelatin, and magnesium stearate. It is worth noting that the capsules themselves are made of gelatin which is derived from beef or pork, so the capsules aren't considered vegetarian, kosher, or halal.
Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Capsules have no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. There's no soy, unnecessary fillers, or gums. Capsules are a beneficial way to take supplements as they are easier to control doses, don't require mixing, and are unflavored.
Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules are portable, cheap, and come with an incredible 200 servings per container.
There are twenty amino acids that your body needs to function at optimal levels.
Nine of these amino acids cannot be made by your body and, therefore, must come from the foods you ingest. These nine are called essential amino acids (EAAs).
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are a group of three EEAs-leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Arguably the most important essential amino acid to boost muscle growth is leucine.
Leucine and valine play an essential role in protein synthesis, whereas isoleucine plays a vital role in immunity, glucose transportation, and other bodily functions. The ideal ratio of BCAAs is 2:1:1 at two parts leucine, one part isoleucine, and the last part valine.
You can get branched-chain amino acids from a variety of protein-packed foods like milk, meat, eggs, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, and brown rice.
There are multiple benefits of BCAA supplements including aiding muscle repair, enhancing muscle endurance, promoting muscle gain and reducing muscle soreness. Let's look at some of the benefits you can gain from using BCAA products.
One of the essential benefits of BCAAs for men and women is their ability to improve muscle growth. For example, one study, showed that people who consumed a BCAA supplement after resistance training saw a significant increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to the control group.1
The BCAA leucine activates this specific pathway in the body that helps to support muscle protein synthesis, resulting in the potential of gaining more lean muscle mass.
While BCAAs can increase muscle protein synthesis, they can't do so optimally without the other essential amino acids and protein, such as those found in whey protein or other complete protein sources like meat. So to avoid muscle breakdown you shouldn't only rely on a dietary supplement but rather a healthy protein rich diet.
Muscles are constantly being broken down and rebuilt, especially when they are under intense stressors like resistance training exercise. Finding the right balance between muscle protein breakdown and synthesis determines the amount of protein and BCAAs needed in the muscles.
A study in 2012 shows that BCAAs can reduce the breakdown of proteins during exercise, reducing muscle damage to mitigate soreness and speed up recovery times. This includes BCAA supplements to minimize the effects of muscle fatigue. 2
In humans, BCAAs account for 35% of the essential amino acids found in muscle proteins, and they account for 40% of the total amino acids required by your body for day-to-day activities. So it is vital that the BCAAs and other amino acids are replaced when the muscles are being broken down.
BCAA's ability to slow down and inhibit muscle protein breakdown results in better health outcomes and improves the body's ability to recover.
It's pretty common to feel sore a day or two after a workout, especially if your exercise routine is new or incredibly intense. This soreness is called DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, which generally develops 12-48 hours after exercise and can last 3-4 days.
DOMS is a result of tiny tears that occur in the muscles after exercise. BCAAs are able to decrease muscle damage, resulting in reduced severity and length of time affected by DOMS.
Several studies prove that BCAAs decrease protein breakdown during exercise and lower levels of creatine kinase. Therefore, supplementing with BCAAs every day, especially during and before training, can reduce muscle soreness and the amount of time you'll experience it. 3
More research has been released recently regarding the benefits of taking BCAAs for weight loss. In one study, ingestion of a supplement containing BCAAs while following an eight-week resistance training program resulted in a significant decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and positive strength gains. 4
Long-term supplementation helps increase lean body muscle mass and decrease overall body fat.
Branched-chain amino acids are one of the most popular sports supplements in the world, as they are marketed as a way to enhance muscle performance, prevent muscle breakdown, support muscle growth and reduce fatigue and muscle soreness. While they are a prevalent supplement amongst athletes and the public, the actual efficacy of BCAAs has been a source of controversy in recent years.
Early adoption of BCAA supplements was a result of old research data on the role of BCAAs in muscle protein metabolism. A substantial amount of research has been built up on the topic, resulting in mixed views on the effects of BCAA from a practical standpoint.
A 2016 study found that BCAA supplementation and resistance training maintains lean body mass during a caloric-restricted diet. In fact, not only did the group taking BCAAs to maintain lean body mass, but they also saw a slight decrease in body fat. 5
On the other side of the coin, a 2017 review on the subject states the claim that "dietary BCAAs stimulate muscle protein synthesis or produce an anabolic response in human subjects is unwarranted." In the short term, BCAA supplements offer no actual benefits to those who are meeting their daily protein needs.6
If you are lacking BCAAs in your diet due to low protein intake or spaced-out meals, supplementation of BCAAs can then be beneficial. As a good rule of thumb is to consume .8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
A non-active individual can eat around half that amount, so 0.5 grams per pound of body weight. To find your specific recommended protein intake, we always recommend consulting with your nutritionist or doctor.
When looking at general BCAA supplements there are a few key factors to be aware that we covered below.
BCAA supplements can be essential in an individual's fitness journey, as they can reduce muscle soreness, enhance muscle recovery, and promote muscle growth and other bodily functions. When looking at the BCAA labels, you want to look for natural, tested, and clinically backed ingredients.
Another critical factor to look out for is if the BCAA supplement has a transparent label that states the ingredients and the exact dosages of each. Consuming improperly formulated supplements can lead to unwanted side effects or no benefits at all.
So do your research and always check the label. Any company that uses a BCAA blend that isn't clearly labeled with the breakdown of each individual ingredient and dosage is usually trying to hide something.
BCAA supplements are an ever-expanding market and for good reasons. The rising demand for sports-enhancing supplements has resulted in a bunch of brands taking advantage of the market and bringing their own products to the market.
Unfortunately for the consumer, not all BCAA supplements are created equal, which makes it even more essential to be wary and do your due diligence. Good brands will want to build trust with their customers by using high-quality ingredients, transparent labels, clinically proven doses, and the best processes in making their BCAA supplements.
Another important characteristic of a good company is the manufacturing processes and third-party testing that goes into its products. A company that is proud and confident of its supplements will have them third-party tested, which will guarantee their dosages, usefulness, and level of quality.
Many good companies will also have their products manufactured in cGMP-certified factories, which is an excellent certification to look out for.
BCAA supplements will be able to provide plenty of health benefits without putting a big dent in your pocketbook. However, we don't recommend going for the cheapest options either, as they are more likely to contain fillers or poorly dosed and low-quality ingredients.
We recommend looking at BCAA supplements that range in the 25 to the 45-dollar range. This way, you will get high-quality ingredients without being gouged by overly expensive products and unnecessary ingredients.
It is worth noting that purchasing protein powders that include BCAAs will typically run higher than the price range stated above.
When buying any supplements that have BCAAs, we highly recommend that you check out the product's reviews and testimonials. Most lower-quality products tend to fluff their product descriptions to make them sound better than they actually are.
The last thing you should want is to be putting supplements into your body and realize that it isn't working the way you thought it would, or worse, you have a negative reaction to the ingredients. One helpful idea to prevent this from happening to you is to check out the reviews for the BCAA supplement you're looking at buying.
Usually, customers that have purchased the product will leave honest reviews and give you a decent idea of the quality of the supplement. We recommend checking out review blog pages (like ours), product sites, Reddit, and YouTube to find more reviews of the BCAA supplement you're looking to buy.
Overall we think that Huge Aminos is the best BCAA supplement on the market due to its premium ingredients, clinical doses of branched-chain amino acids, and inclusion of coconut water powder. It is the BCAA supplement option that we believe would work for the vast majority of lifters looking to enhance muscle growth and reduce muscle fatigue.
The answer to this question varies, as it depends on your health and fitness goals. As previously stated, the potential benefits of BCAAs include muscle-building, performance enhancement, and post-exercise recovery.
Supplements like creatine, protein, and greens powders, should be used as just that; a supplement to proper diet. Eating adequate amounts of protein in a well-balanced diet, training hard, and ensuring you sleep fully are more important that just consuming supplements.
If you go longer than three hours without eating a good amount of protein, then we would say BCAAs are worth taking. If you are consistent with your protein intake, then it may be a waste of money and a bit redundant.
We recommend that BCAAs are the most effective when they are taken consistently for more than a week. This ensures that you're getting all the nutrients you need so your body functions optimally.
In fact, prolonged intake for more than a week will result in more incredible benefits compared to short-term usage.
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acid due to their "branching" structure. These amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Of the 20 total amino acids your body needs to function, there are 11 that it can produce on its own and nine that it is unable to.
Out of those essential amino acids, there's an important trio that helps you maintain muscle mass: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine, in particular, is a muscle-building powerhouse.
It is worth noting that you need all 20 amino acids to build muscle, so taking a BCAA supplement can help you to build muscle, but it isn't as effective as eating protein-packed foods.
BCAA supplements can be highly beneficial to your muscle growth, improved recovery, and decreased soreness.
Each of the BCAA supplements on our list is great in its own way, and how well they work for you depends on your training and lifestyle choices. So if you have been wondering whether you should add a BCAA supplement to aid in your fitness journey, then consider one of the options listed above.
Always remember that supplements are meant to enhance the good decisions that you are making every day, so they aren't a shortcut or magic product. The harder you work on improving your sleep, workouts, and nutrition the faster you will reach your goals.
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