Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) are the building blocks for protein and muscle.
Amino acids play a very important role in a person’s health, and there are 20 of them in total. They are crucial for the proper functioning of a person’s metabolism and many other things. Taking an amino acid supplement can do great things for your health. Studies have shown that these supplements can help with muscle growth and even prevent certain types of cancers.
Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs can also help with protecting the muscles and preventing damage over time. There is even mounting scientific evidence that these amino acids can help those with liver disease.
If you want to maintain a healthy body over the long term, taking an amino acid supplement can be a great decision. There are many of these supplements to choose from though, so you need to make a point of doing your research. In this article, we will help you to make the right decision so you get your money’s worth.
Best Overall – Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
An overall great product needs to have good quality ingredients at a good price point.
- Shorter recovery times between workouts.
- Enhanced and rapidly accelerated muscle growth.
- Significantly slower muscle deterioration/breakdown.
- Reduced soreness after intense workouts.
- The results of this product vary depending on the person.
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine supplement offers a natural and effective way of developing and strengthening your muscles. It is specifically formulated to accelerate muscle growth and help prevent muscle deterioration over time.
We rate this product at 97.8 based on its effectiveness and long term benefits. It contains 4000 milligrams of L-Leucine, 2000 milligrams of L-Isoleucine, and 2000 milligrams of L-Valine.
This product uses premium fermented vegan BCAAs.
Optimum Nutrition BCAA
- These capsules are easy for almost anyone to swallow.
- You don’t have to deal with any unpleasant taste.
- Promotes muscle synthesis for rapid fitness results.
- Aids in muscle recovery to accelerate muscle growth.
- Some customers have complained about experiencing nausea when taking this supplement on an empty stomach.
With a rating of 94.2, this amino acid supplement is fairly impressive as a whole. It contains 500 milligrams of Leucine and 250 milligrams of Isoleucine and Valine per capsule. Each bottle contains 60 capsules, which will last you an entire month.
Optimum Nutrition BCAA is another excellent amino acid supplement worth considering. It comes in the form of capsules that are easily swallowed and without any taste whatsoever.
Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy
- Significant increase in physical energy to help you stay productive in the gym.
- The enhanced mental focus for your workouts.
- Can be taken any time of the day with noticeable results.
- Does not contain any sugar
- This supplement is a little bit on the expensive side.
- There are some artificial ingredients in this product’s formula.
We rate this amino acid supplement 89.2. It is very effective and features a potent formula that contains 1050 milligrams of leucine as well as 450 milligrams of isoleucine and valine. It only contains 1 gram of carbs per serving, so it won’t interfere with your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy provides you with BCAAs that give your muscles what they need to stay strong and healthy. This supplement also offers an incredible energy boost to help you make maximum progress with your workouts.
MET-Rx BCAA 2200
Accelerated metabolic effects make maintaining a healthy weight easier.
Increased energy for enhancing the productivity of your workouts.
Much faster recovery times.
Doesn’t have any noticeable taste or flavor.
- This supplement costs a bit more than others on the market.
- Some artificial ingredients.
With a rating of 88, this amino acid supplement offers a high level of effectiveness. It contains just 10 calories and 2 grams of carbs per serving. It gives you lots of important amino acids, including valine, leucine, alanine, glutamine, taurine, lysine, methionine, threonine, and phenylalanine. This supplement comes in the form of capsules that are very easy to swallow.
MET-Rx BCAA 2200 has a formula that is designed to increase energy while supporting healthy muscle development. It comes in the form of capsules that don’t have any distinct taste whatsoever.
Cellucor Alpha Amino
- A high amount of BCAAs.
- Contains 11 different amino acids.
- Formulated for hydration of muscle tissue.
- Doesn’t contain any sugar.
- This supplement costs a little more than some others on the market.
We give this product a rating of 86.2 due to its high concentration of branched-chain amino acids. It contains 2500 milligrams of leucine as well as 1250 milligrams of isoleucine and valine. You also get high doses of sodium, magnesium, and potassium with each serving.
It comes in the form of a powder and can be used after each of your workouts. Just mix it together with some water for a healthy muscle-building post-workout beverage.
The Cellucor Alpha Amino supplement is available in four different flavors, including Fruit Punch, Icy Blue Razz, Lemon Lime, and Watermelon. It has a unique formula that gives you the hydration necessary to fight off muscle breakdown.
BSN Amino X
- This powder mixes easily with water or just about any other liquid.
- Formulated to encourage muscle endurance.
- Helps with stimulating muscle recovery for faster healing after workouts.
- High dose of micronized amino acids with each serving.
- It might be necessary for you to adjust the dose based on your body weight.
With a rating of 83, this amino acid supplement feature includes 10 milligrams of an amino acid interfusion blend. This blend includes leucine, isoleucine, valine, alanine, taurine, and citrulline. It can help with reducing muscle soreness after your workouts, which help you get back into the gym faster.
This supplement does not contain any caffeine, so you won’t have to worry about any jittery feeling when taking it. The taurine helps with burning fat, which in turn makes it easier to maintain healthy body weight while building lean muscle.
BSN Amino X is an amino acid supplement that comes in the form of a powder. There are four different flavors available, including Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, Grape, and Green Apple.
RARI Amino Mend
- Promotes faster muscle recovery following strenuous workouts.
- Formulated for hydration to keep your muscle tissue healthy.
- Doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or additives.
- You will pay a little more for this product than some others on the market.
Coming in with a rating of 82.2, this amino acid supplement contains five grams of branched-chain amino acids. It has a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and valine. The two milligrams of glutamine helps with preventing muscle breakdown.
The potassium that is also in this supplement helps with preserving nerve function. Most people who have taken it report a sweet flavor that tastes good. It comes in the form of a powder that mixes easily with water.
RARI Amino Mend is formulated to support rapid muscle growth while keeping post-workout soreness to a minimum. It’s completely vegan-friendly and doesn’t contain any GMO ingredients.
- Huge variety of amino acids offers a wide range of health benefits.
- All-in-one amino acid supplement.
- Works well for building and maintaining lean muscle.
- Very effective at reducing excess fat accumulation.
- Some customers have reported that this supplement doesn’t provide the energy boost it promises.
With a rating of 79.8, RSP Amino Lean is formulated to help with losing weight while building lean muscle mass as effectively as possible. It is a combination of BCAAs and essential amino acids. This ultimately gives you increased energy levels and enhanced mental focus.
This supplement’s green tea extract, L-carnitine powder and green coffee bean promote natural and rapid weight loss. It is an excellent choice for those who want to lose excess body fat as quickly as possible. There is absolutely no sugar, zero carbs or calories.
You can buy this supplement in three different flavors, including Blackberry Pomegranate, Blue Raspberry, and Fruit Punch. It comes in the form of a powder, which you can easily mix with water, milk or any other liquids.
Scivation Xtend BCAA Powder
The powder is sugar and carbohydrate-free and has zero calories per serving. Xtend also contains 3.5 g leucine, 2.5g of L-glutamine, and electrolytes for hydration.
Studies show that leucine and glutamine increase the rate of recovery when co-ingested and this means you can build muscle and make gains that much quicker. (9)
But, if you don’t like artificial sweeteners like Sucralose and acesulfame potassium then you might want to look elsewhere.
Price: $20-24 for 30 servings
Best Capsules – Natura BCAA Capsules
Mixing the powder and drinking a glass full of BCAAs isn’t appealing to everyone (Even if the taste is bearable).
Natura offers a 2:1:1 ratio between L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine and the Natura caps are NSF and GMP certified while manufactured in an FDA registered facility. Plus, they offer a “365 Day “You Must Be Thrilled!” Guarantee”!
So, if you aren’t thrilled with these caps, you’ll get your money back or another product in exchange.
Price: $20 for 30 servings
Best For Mass Building – Betancourt Nutrition Plus Series BCAA
This BCAA product has a 4:1:1 ratio of BCAA’s per serving which supplies more leucine per serving and we already know it’s a very important component for protein synthesis as mentioned previously.
You’ll also get electrolytes and Sustamine for adequate hydration so you can keep on performing.
Electrolytes are minerals which balance water, drive nutrients to cells, and support heart, muscle, and nerve function… so, the more the better! (10)
Betancourt is a great brand with good quality supplements so you can never go wrong with this product!
Price: $30 and under for 30 servings
Best For Aerobic Activity – ProSupps HydroBCAA BCAA/EAA Full Spectrum Matrix
Each serving of HydroBCAA has 7g BCAA + 3g EAA with zero sugar, zero carbs, no artificial colors or flavors.
So, if you’re health-conscious then this is a great BCAA option. But, consuming healthy, energy-supplying ingredients without a lot of the fake stuff will ensure long-lasting activity.
There’s a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so if you’re not happy then no worries.
Price: $23 for 30 servings
Best For The Money – MuscleTech Myobuild BCAA
We always need an option that’s affordable and high quality. And Myobuild is just that.
It’s a wallet-friendly option and it works very well for its intended purpose. This product has a 4:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, but it also contains Betaine which is an effective muscle-building compound.
In fact, Betaine significantly increased arm and thigh size in a study comparing users to a placebo group. But, it also improved power as well. (11)
Now, Myobuild also includes the non-essential amino acid taurine which plays a role in maintaining cellular function in the Central Nervous System, heart, and muscles. (12)
Then, take into consideration the added electrolytes and you have a powerful, muscle-promoting BCAA supplement.
Price: $16 for 36 servings
Best For Women/Weight Management – Raw Synergies Amino Slim Vegan BCAAs & Weight Management
Amino Slim was our choice for women whose focus is weight management.
Now, it’s not that men don’t want to be slim (Because some really do). But, it’s a generally a preconceived notion that most women want to look trim and sexy (Nothing wrong with this at all).
And to accomplish this you need a product with more than just BCAAs (Although effective on their own).
Amino Slim contains fermented BCAAs and glutamine but the secret ingredients here are ksm-66 ashwagandha & satiereal saffron.
Ashwagandha is a powerhouse of a compound. It’s one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda (Traditional Indian medicine) and has a wide range of health benefits, from its antioxidant properties, to stress relief, and positive effects on mental health. (15)
These benefits have a big effect on weight loss by also reducing stressful cortisol hormones. (15)
Satiereal saffron has similar effects on weight loss and when paired with the Ashwagandha, well… you have some real fat loss ammunition. (16)
Amino Slim is also caffeine-free if this is something you look for in a BCAA supplement.
Price: $24 for 20 servings
Best All Natural – Gnarly BCAA Workout Supplement
Gnarly is a vegan, all-natural product which combines high quality, plant-derived, fermented BCAAs and there are no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. So, there’s nothing you don’t want in this BCAA supplement and everything you do!
There’s 5g of BCAAs in a serving, with a 2:1:1 ratio which provides a sufficient amount of healthy, effective ingredients.
But, for the person who loves all-natural, this product is an ideal choice.
Price: $37 for 30 servings
How we Ranked
When we are ranking each product, there are a number of specific factors that we take into consideration.
Before we give a score for a product, we take a look at its effectiveness. This is essentially how well it does what it claims to. Every amino acid has a different level of effectiveness, and it varies wildly depending on the product. One of the things we look at is customer reviews. This gives us a better idea as to how each product works for the average person.
If you really want to find out how effective a certain product is, taking advantage of a free sample is a good idea. This will provide you with an effective means of ascertaining how well it is going to work for you in particular.
The potency of the product is something else that is very important. This is basically how strong the formula of this supplement is. We look at the quantity of each of the amino acids that make up the product’s formula. This gives us a strong indication as to just how potent it is as a whole. It is absolutely crucial that you purchase supplements that are highly potent so you can be sure they are truly effective.
Another factor we look at with these supplements is how they can be useful. Many of these supplements are helpful for burning fat as well as building lean muscle mass. We always find out how many different uses each product has before deciding on a ranking. A truly useful amino acid supplement will help you push yourself harder in your workouts while reducing recovery times.
Ease of Use
The fact is that some amino acid supplements are easier to use than others. We believe that this is a very important factor to consider prior to assigning a ranking. There are numerous things that can affect this, including the product’s taste, texture, and form. Some of these supplements come in the form of a capsule, which is very easy for most people to take. While the capsule products might be more expensive sometimes, they can be worth the expense.
There are other amino acid supplements that come in the form of a powder, which can be a little trickier. Certain powder supplements are easier to mix than others. You definitely want one that mixes well with water and a number of other liquids. This gives you a higher degree of convenience on a regular basis. The last thing you want to deal with is a product that is messy or difficult to combine, as this just makes everything more difficult.
Even supplements that have an all-natural formula can still come with side effects for some people. It is very important that you take this into consideration before making a final decision on a certain product. Before we rank any of these supplements, we take a look at the side effects that each one is known for.
The most common side effects with amino acid supplements include mild nausea and a jittery feeling if there is caffeine in the formula. If you are especially sensitive to stimulants like caffeine, it is better to purchase supplements that use natural ingredients to boost energy levels.
Speaking in terms that we fitness lovers can all understand… BCAAs are used to aid in muscle growth (protein synthesis), performance, exercise recovery, muscle wasting, and even exercise-induced fatigue.
Muscle growth/Protein Metabolism – There is evidence to support the positive effects of BCAAs for protein synthesis and decreasing the rate of protein degradation in resting muscle cells. (3)
But, leucine is especially important because it helps to coordinate protein synthesis, resulting in more muscle growth. And studies also show BCAA consumption after exercise to be beneficial as well. (4, 5)
Performance – Research has shown BCAA’s to have an anabolic effect during the recovery phase of endurance type exercise. (3)
But, a study on psychomotor performance concluded that BCAAs might also be a helpful aid during activities which require changes in intensity like sports for instance. (6)
Muscle Wasting – Taking BCAAs before and after exercise reduces muscle damage and this is a big benefit for people who play sports and exercise on a normal basis. (7)
Recovery – Although there is not sufficient evidence to support the role of BCAA’s in recovery from weight training, the protein synthesis and muscle wasting benefits lead us to believe they help with recovery.
Fatigue – BCAA intake has been shown to lower concentrations of fatigue substances like serotonin. This has a direct impact on exercise-induced fatigue, energy and muscle damage substances as well. (8)
Factors to Consider
There are a number of crucial factors to consider before choosing a certain amino acid supplement. With all of the different options that are available, the following criteria will help you narrow down your options.
It is very important to look at the basic list of features for each amino acid supplement. This includes the specifics of the formula so you know exactly what is in it. Manufacturers have a tendency to modify their formulas, so you need to get this information. You need to make certain that you are getting the best product in terms of what it actually contains.
These days a lot of amino acid supplements are available in a variety of flavors. If you want to find a supplement that is compatible with you, this is a consideration to make. It’s always good to buy a product that you actually enjoy drinking. If you don’t want any flavor at all, there are plenty of these supplements that come in capsule form. This is a big factor in determining just how compatible a certain product will be with your needs and preferences.
The value of an amino acid supplement is basically what you get for the money you spend. Some of these products offer more than others, so you need to consider this before buying anything at all. Look for supplements that offer as many different benefits as possible so you aren’t wasting your hard-earned money. It’s also important to consider the number of amino acids in each of these supplements. A good value means that you will get what you pay for and then some.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Should Everyone Take an Amino Acid Supplement?
As beneficial as these supplements can be, they are not right for everyone. Those who are under the age of 18 should not take them. If you are unsure as to whether or not to start on an amino acid supplement, you should talk with your physician. Some people who have serious kidney problems may also not be able to take these supplements.
What Are the Primary Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements?
Amino acids are naturally found in many foods, especially those which are high in protein. They promote strong muscles and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. This is just one of the reasons why so many professional athletes take these supplements. One of the most significant benefits of amino acids is that they help prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue. Branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs stimulate a process known as protein synthesis. This, in turn, helps your muscle retain as much protein as possible.
What is the Difference Between Regular Amino Acid and BCAAs?
Branched-Chain amino acids consisting of valine, leucine, and isoleucine. These are all essential amino acids that the body needs to stay healthy. They play a crucial role in providing the muscles with the protein it needs to grow strong. This is why they are so popular among weightlifters. While regular amino acids are important, they aren’t quite as useful for strengthening muscles and promoting recovery as BCAAs.
What are the Consequences of an Amino Acid Deficiency?
If you aren’t getting enough amino acids on a regular basis, you could experience problems with muscle development. People with this sort of deficiency also sometimes experience problems with maintaining a healthy weight.
Who Should Use Amino Acid Supplements?
Anyone who wants to build lean muscle as efficient as possible should consider using an amino acid supplement. These products can be very useful for those who also want to maintain a healthy weight. If you are committed to staying in shape, these supplements can be incredibly helpful.
Those who have problems with slow recovery times can particularly benefit from taking this type of supplement. It is a good option for most people who are serious about physical fitness and health.