Choosing the Best BCAA Supplements – Top 10 Brands

Explosive gains and quicker recovery, what’s not to love

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Bodybuilders, athletes, runners, sportspersons, and all other health-conscious individuals who are in the habit of exercising on a routine basis so as to stay in top form, need to stay energized. For these individuals, simply taking a balanced diet may not always suffice when it comes to keeping themselves energetic while exercising, especially during strenuous workouts. In order to have a steady supply of energy as well as focus on their workout programs, they can look to supplements.

BCAAs or branched chain amino acid supplements of late have attracted the attention of the health experts and are gaining popularity with those who are fastidious about building lean mass and keeping themselves fit and trim.

What are BCAA Supplements?

BCAA’s, also known as Branched Chain Amino Acids, have become one of the more popular supplement options in recent years, especially for the more fitness-oriented demographics and athletes.

While their benefits have been widely touted and in many cases disputed, there is solid evidence that branched chain amino acids can help reduce muscle loss when dieting, improve energy and performance during workouts, increase endurance and/or reduce fatigue, and in some cases, help to improve muscle gain and performance.

In this article, we’ll break down exactly what branched amino acids are and how they work, their benefits and potential side effects, the best way to use them and the best products on the market.

What are Branched Chain Amino Acids?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, one of the fundamental nutrients we need. Protein is especially important in muscle growth and development. Through a rather complicated series of biological actions, our muscles grow and perform at their best when we synthesize protein for energy.

In short, when we train or exercise our central nervous system initiates a process that sends an electric signal to muscles, which initiates a chain reaction that delivers protein to the muscles, who then synthesize the protein for fuel. A major part of this process that helps to kick this response into action is known as mTor, a function that branched chain amino acids help to kick in, thus increasing protein synthesis and fueling muscle growth and performance. In this regard, branched chain amino acids can reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.

Branched chain amino acids are part of a larger category within the human body, amino acids, of which there are hundreds. The branched chain amino acids are primarily comprised of leucine, valine, and isoleucine. Leucine is the primary BCAA that takes part in protein synthesis, arguably the most important role BCAA’s play. Among the other primary functions and key benefits of BCAA’s is their role in preventing muscle loss during dieting or periods of extreme use without the ability to refuel.

One of the most often used aspects of BCAA’s is by physique competitors who are cutting down their diets but maintaining their training schedule in order to become as lean as possible. While normally dieting despite training hard results in lean muscle loss, when supplementing with BCAA’s this effect is at least somewhat mitigated, resulting in better performance and physique.

Common Ingredients in BCAA Products

The core ingredients of branched chain amino acids are of course the amino acids themselves. As mentioned previously, the primary three branched chain amino acids are leucine, valine, and isoleucine. In addition, many branched chain amino acid products may contain other compounds such as beta-alanine or citrulline.

Also, BCAA’s may at times be paired with other supplements such as pre-workout powders or ingredients or protein powders. Since BCAA’s are often associated with reducing muscle soreness, they may also be commonly combined glutamine, a substance that promotes joint health.

BCAAs for Bodybuilding, Muscle Building & Weight Loss

There is some evidence to corroborate the assertion that increasing overall protein and BCAA consumption can go a long way in enhancing lean mass by way of rigorous workouts (besides dieting). You can take BCAA supplements in powder or capsule form before or after a workout or in between your exercise program. You will be able to reap the benefits readily in the form of speeded up recovery, alleviated fatigue, greater utilization of stored fat, and decreased muscle inflammation.

Leucine help build muscles

The body’s capacity to synthesize protein decreases with age, particularly after one reaches his or her forties. Of the three BCAA component, leucine is needed more than the other two as it plays a key role in protein synthesis. If you take a BCAA supplement enriched with leucine, after a demanding workout the rate (of protein production) goes up by 145%.

For muscle development to happen effectively and smoothly, it is imperative to sustain a proportion of 4:1:1 for leucine, isoleucine, and valine respectively. And as far as individuals aged over 35 are concerned, maintaining this ratio is all the more important owing to weakened muscle-building function and decreasing appetite for proteinaceous food.

BCAAs promote protein synthesis

There is more than sufficient scientific data to ascertain that BCAAs greatly contribute towards protein synthesis. Consuming BCAA supplements routinely while exercising speeds up the protein synthesizing mechanism which ultimately lead to enhancement of lean mass. Since your body uses a good amount of BCAAs during workouts, it becomes necessary to take the supplements continually to maintain a steady supply.

Even if you are not able to carry on with your workout program owing to an injury or due to paucity of time, continuing to intake supplements will keep muscle loss at bay as well as stimulate protein production.

Balance during intensive workouts

Studies have established that taking BCAA and L-arginine enriched supplements along with foods rich in carbohydrates aid in maintaining hormonal balance which in turn enables the body to cope with strenuous training. Sustaining hormonal equilibrium is essential for furnishing greater power, strength, and tolerance capacity during workouts.

Accelerates melting of fat

BCAAs play a crucial role in muscle building, melting of fat, and helping to maintain a well-toned physique. It is the leucine in BCAA that triggers fat mobilization and loss, resulting in improved metabolism thereby enabling one to develop and hold on to a slim and trim profile.

Helps fatigue side by side with boosting endurance

BCAAs are most efficient in boosting up endurance power during resistance training while at the same time minimizing fatigue that results from exercising arduously. Branched chain amino acids perform these aforementioned functions, primarily by helping to uphold ATP levels, thereby enabling the body to melt fat.

Helps in strength building

Taking BCAA supplements with a high concentration of leucine goes a long way in performing strength building workouts with effectiveness eventually leading to development of muscle mass. Consuming food items endowed with amino acids including but not limited to eggs, meat, lentils, chicken, and fishes along with increased intake of protein supplements contributes towards gaining strength from challenging workouts.

Checks muscle loss during endurance training

If you perform mega endurance workouts like weightlifting, cycling, kayaking or long-distance running on a routine basis, you have a high likelihood of suffering muscle damage and loss and metabolic stress. Combining the intake of BCAAs along with other types of protein supplements will help inhibit catabolism and hence muscle loss.

Helps muscle soreness during strenuous workouts

BCAAs is key to holding on to the compactness of muscle fibers which in turn aid in checking muscle inflammation and speeding up recovery, ultimately letting you exercise routinely with the same intensity.

How & When to Take BCAAs

You can consume BCAA supplements orally either in powdered form or as capsules or tablets. If taken in powdery form, you can consume in dosages of 5g 2-4 times in a 24-hour period, depending upon your level of training. The powder can be taken before or after a workout session or when you take a break during a session.

In case you find popping pills more convenient, then follow the dosage recommendation outlined by the manufacturer of the particular brand you have bought.

Precautions

The side effects of BCAA’s are rarely an issue if you follow the basic recommended dosage from a given product. However, if you increase the dosage you may experience some side effects. In addition, many BCAA products come with additional ingredients or may be paired with other compounds for additional effects, thus side effects related to those ingredients can come up as well.

When in doubt or if you are new to BCAA supplements, make sure to consult with your medical professional for advice on the best product. The most common side effect will generally result from taking a BCAA product that has stimulant ingredients with it, such as beta-alanine or caffeine, in which case the side effects associated with overuse of stimulants can occur, such as an upset stomach or dehydration. Most BCAA products when taken in moderation however, will have minimal side effects.

What to Look For in a Quality BCAA Product

When choosing a BCAA supplement there are a variety of factors to take into account. Your personal preferences will play a major part in finding the right selection for you, for example if you prefer a powdered option you can mix with a drink or you may prefer a capsule instead.

Some BCAA supplements will skew towards a specific demographic or training goal, such as gaining mass or losing weight; your personal goals will need to align with the stated purpose of the product in order to see the best results. For example, if you are untrained and not an athlete, a BCAA with more of an emphasis on endurance may be better.

Flavor is of course important and not all BCAA supplements are particularly tasty, you’ll want to search for an option with a flavor you generally like to make the supplement more palatable and easier to use, or if you prefer not to worry about taste then possibly a capsule option may be best.

Finally, price and budget are a factor as well. When cross-referenced with your other needs, the best option will need to fit into your budget, and while you generally may get what you pay for, there are some very effective BCAA supplements that won’t break the bank.

Top 10 Recommended BCAA Supplements

We have put together a list of our top 10 recommended BCAA supplements. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10 and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for a BCAA supplement. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!

1. Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs Coreseries Bcaa Glutamine

Transparent Labs, one of the highest regarded supplement companies in the industry, has produced one of the best and innovative BCAA products with their CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine. It features both BCAA’s and glutamine for joint health, with no artificial fillers or additives. It is a great product for delivering exactly what you are looking for from a BCAA product with minimal extras.

Product Highlights:

  • Includes both BCAA’s and Glutamine
  • Has coconut water powder as well to improve hydration.
  • No unnecessary ingredients, additives, fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • Comes in both blue raz and green apple flavors.
  • Ships worldwide wherever you need it.

Key Ingredients: (per 1 serving)

  • 8g BCAA’s per serving (2:1:1)
  • 5g glutamine
  • 5g coconut water powder
  • 4g leucine
  • 2g valine
  • 2g isoleucine

Company Profile:

Transparent labs is the manufacturer of CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine. They pride themselves on delivering honest and straightforward products based on science and research rather than marketing gimmicks or false claims. They aim with all of their products to deliver high quality products without any harmful additives, artificial sweeteners, or unnecessary fillers. They also are completely transparent with their products in that they list all of their specific dosages and all ingredients used in the product.

Why We Recommend It:

Transparent Labs has produced another excellent product, delivering the needed dosage of BCAA’s with glutamine for joint health and coconut water powder for hydration, with no extras or additives. It delivers everything you need from a quality brand that has done their research to create a quality product.

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2. Cellucor COR-Performance Beta-BCAA

Cellucor Cor Performance Beta

COR-Performance Beta-BCAA from Cellucor is an excellent BCAA supplement product that delivers a powerful punch that is sure to improve your workouts and training. It delivers the standard BCAA’s, 5g worth, and adds in citrulline malate and beta-alanine for an extra punch, making it one of the best BCAA products on the market.

Product Highlights:

  • Includes both BCAA’s citrulline malate, and beta-alanine among others.
  • Is an affordable option and a great value.
  • Comes in 3 different flavors.
  • Easy to mix and convenient.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 5g BCAA’s (2:1:1)
  • 5g leucine
  • 25g valine
  • 25g isoleucine
  • 2g citrulline malate
  • 6g beta-alanine
  • 740mg HICA, a metabolite of leucine also known as A-hydrooxyisocaproic acid.

Company Profile:

Cellucor is one of the most recognized brands in the sports nutrition industry. Though they may be most well-known for their pre-workout product line C4, they have an extensive line of quality products. COR-Performance Beta-BCAA is part of their COR-Performance product line that offers a mixture of high quality ingredients with great value. Cellucor is an industry leader and one of the top brands in the supplement industry and fitness as a whole.

Why We Recommend It:

Cellucor’s Beta-BCAA lives up to their brand name and image and is an excellent product. By delivering not only BCAA’s but also beta-alanine, citrulline malate, and HICA it is a potent and effective product that will get results.

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3. Optimum Nutrition PRO BCAA

Optimum Nutrition Pro BcaaOptimum Nutrition, one of the most well-respected brands in the industry, delivers Pro BCAA as an excellent product that packs one of the larger BCAA’s per dose ratios in the product category at 8g of BCAA’s per serving. With 5g of glutamine and other ingredients as well, it is a great product to add to your training and supplement regimen.

Product Highlights:

  • Has one of the higher amounts of BCAA’s per dose.
  • Includes glutamine, electrolytes and phytonutrients for additional energy and health.
  • Made by a strong and well-respected brand in Optimum Nutrition.
  • One of the more affordable options in the BCAA product category.
  • Comes in fruit punch and raspberry lemonade flavors

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact ingredient amounts not specified)

  • 8g BCAA’s
  • 5g glutamine
  • Electrolytes
  • Phytonutrients

Company Profile:

Optimum Nutrition, ON as it otherwise known, is one of the leading companies in the nutritional supplement industry and is the producer of Pro-BCAA. They are best known for their Gold Standard line, particularly protein powders, however they are well-known and respected for using scientifically proven ingredients and strategies in all of their products, making them a successful and respected brand.

Why We Recommend It:

Pro BCAA is an excellent BCAA supplement and is one of the most powerful per dose products on the market. It is made by one of the top brands in Optimum Nutrition, and the product has received great feedback and reviews from their customers, evidencing that it is a fan favorite.

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4. BPI Sports Best BCAA

Bpi Sports Best BcaaBPI Sports is a new brand that has produced Best BCAA, a great product for anyone who enjoys training, but also an especially good product for more serious lifters or athletes. It offers 5g of BCAA’s but adds in 1,000mg of CLA and includes some agmatine as well for a potent and effective addition to your training.

Product Highlights:

  • Has 5g of BCAA’s, along with 1,000mg CLA and agmatine.
  • One of the more affordable options on the market.
  • Has more variety than most other BCAA products with 5 flavors to choose from.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 5g BCAA’s (2:1:1) ratio
  • 5g leucine
  • 25g valine
  • 25g isoleucine
  • 1,000mg CLA
  • 250mg agmatine

Company Profile:

Best BCAA is a relative newcomer to the branched chain amino acid market and is made by BPI Sports, also a newcomer to the supplement and sport nutrition field. They were founded in 2010 and have won several awards and have a loyal following of customers. BPI has an impressive selection of supplements and takes pride in staying on the cutting-edge of the supplement and sport nutrition industry.

Why We Recommend It:

BPI’s Best BCAA is a unique product with the extra ingredients it sports, making it easier to digest and one of the more effective products on the market. It is affordable and an excellent value from an up and coming company in the industry. It is also a great choice for serious lifters and athletes looking for an extra boost to their training.

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5. MusclePharm BCAA

Musclepharm Bcaa 3 1 2One of the more unique BCAA products on the market, BCAA 3:1:2 from MusclePharm comes in pill or capsule form rather than the more traditional powders for drinks. In addition, it uses a unique ratio on the three primary branched chain amino acids that delivers a potent and powerful effect, making them one of the best BCAA supplements and arguably the best pill-based version on the market.

Product Highlights:

  • Comes in pill or capsule form.
  • Uses a different BCAA ratio than traditional options.
  • Offers more convenience from easy to take capsules as compared to powder.
  • Does not contain any superfluous sugar or sweeteners.
  • One of the more affordable options.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 6g BCAA’s (3:1:2 ratio)
  • 3g leucine
  • 2g valine
  • 1g isoleucine

Company Profile:

MusclePharm, the manufacturer of BCAA 3:1:2, is a multinational nutritional supplement company primarily based in Denver, Colorado. It is a well-known brand in the industry as one of the bigger companies and offers a wide variety of products. They offer innovative and unique products while maintaining affordability for their customers.

Why We Recommend It:

These are arguably the best capsule based BCAA option on the market and very convenient to take as opposed to powders that have to be mixed. It is also a potent formula with a non-traditional 3:1:2 ratio, making it a great option for someone looking for a capsule based option that is affordable and effective.

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6. BSN Amino X

Bsn Amino XBSN Amino X is a unique product that brings one of the most powerful doses of BCAA’s per serving to the table within an easy to mix formula. It is an instantized effervescent formula making it incredibly easy to mix into your drink of choice. It also has additional ingredients to help improve your endurance and health!

Product Highlights:

  • Has 10g of BCAA’s and essential amino acids per serving.
  • Includes additional ingredients for endurance.
  • Is an instantized effervescent for easy mixing.
  • Comes in very tasty fruit flavors yet without any additional sugars.

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact quantities not listed)

  • 10g BCAA’s and essential amino acids such as taurine, citrulline, and alanine.
  • Vitamin D
  • Additional ingredients to help with endurance.

Company Profile:

Bio-Engineered Supplements, BSN for short, is a smaller company in the sports nutrition industry but also one of the fastest growing companies on the market. They have built a reputation of quality and effective products and continue to grow by leaps and bounds. They have a motto of “Finish First” and have created innovative and unique products within the supplement industry to help their customers “finish first”!

Why We Recommend It:

Amino X is one of the most complete amino acid options available offering not only the core BCAA’s but also other essential amino acids as well. In addition, it is one of the easiest to mix products making it convenient and easy to use with your workout drink of choice.

7. Gaspari Nutrition BCAA 6000

Gaspari Nutrition Bcaa 6000One of the stronger products on the market and certainly one of the heaviest in terms of leucine, Gaspari Nutrition’s BCAA 6000 is an effective product. It offers a 4:1:1 ratio of BCAA’s and 6g per serving, incuding 4g of leucine, higher than most products. It also includes a few other ingredients for improved performance, and comes in tablet form for a more convenient on the go style supplement

Product Highlights:

  • Comes in tablet form.
  • Is one of the most leucine oriented BCAA products on the market.
  • It’s 6g per serving is a strong dose.
  • Also includes vitamin B6.

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact amounts for all ingredients not listed)

  • 6g BCAA’s
  • 4g leucine
  • 1g valine
  • 1g isoleucine
  • 3mg vitamin B6

Company Profile:

Gaspari Nutrition has been in business since 1998 and is known for developing innovative and effective fitness supplements in a variety of product categories. They have grown into a large company with a loyal customer base.

Why We Recommend It:

BCAA 6000 is an effective supplement that is one of the more leucine dependent options on the market. It comes in capsule form making it more convenient than most powders. It is a tad more expensive than the average product but does deliver a potent dose.

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8. Dymatize BCAA Complex 2000

Dymatize Bcaa Complex 2200BCAA Complex 2200 from Dymatize is a quality product from a quality brand, and an excellent choice for beginners, novice fitness enthusiasts or those who want a less potent yet effective form of BCAA’s. It delivers 2.2g of BCAA’s in each serving as well as vitamin B6, making it an affordable and low-risk option for increasing your BCAA consumption.

Product Highlights:

  • Comes in capsule form.
  • One of the most affordable and high-value products.
  • Delivers 2.2g of BCAAs per serving at a 2:1:1 ratio

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 2g BCAA
  • 1g leucine
  • 550mg valine
  • 550mg isoleucine
  • 5mg vitamin B6

Company Profile:

Dymatize Nutrition is a mid-sized supplement company originally founded in 1994 and has been in business producing quality products for over 20 years. They are known for a variety of products from protein powders to amino acids and are best known for high quality yet affordable products.

Why We Recommend It:

While considerably less potent per serving than most of the other popular BCAA supplements, Dymatize BCAA Complex 2200 is a solid product that is effective and simple. It is a great option for beginners new to training or BCAA supplementation and is one of the more affordable options as well.

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9. EVL Nutrition BCAA 5000

Evl Nutrition Bcaa 5000At 5g BCAA’s per serving, the BCAA 5000 capsules from Evlution Nutrition are a simple, effective and affordable product that delivers a great value. With no additional ingredients or unnecessary fillers, they are a great option for a simple yet effective approach.

Product Highlights:

  • Comes in capsule form for convenience.
  • One of the more affordable options, at only $.50 per serving
  • 5g of BCAA’s per serving.
  • Serving size is a bit bulky at 8 capsules per day

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 5g BCAA’s (2:1:1 ratio)
  • 5g leucine
  • 25g valine
  • 25g isoleucine

Company Profile:

BCAA 5000 is one of the latest products from Evlution Nutrition, one of the younger up-and-coming companies in the sport nutrition supplement industry. They were a “Breakout Brand of the Year” in 2013 from Bodybuilding.com and have been a successful company in their early stages thus far.

Why We Recommend It:

BCAA 5000 is a great product from the up and coming Evlution Nutrition line. It is affordable and delivers a strong dose per serving of BCAA’s.

10. Infinite Labs BCAA Caps

Infinite Labs Bcaa CapsInfinite Labs’ BCAA Caps offer 3g of BCAA’s per serving for a mild, yet effective product. Most importantly, they have no added fillers or extra ingredients making them a perfect option for someone looking for a simple and effective BCAA option. They are a great option for those new to BCAA’s or to fitness in general who want to try a simple, convenient and effective option.

Product Highlights:

  • Comes in capsule form.
  • No additional stimulants, sugars or artificial flavors.
  • 3g BCAA’s per serving

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 3g BCAA (2:1:1 ratio)
  • 5g leucine
  • 750mg valine
  • 750mg isoleucine

Company Profile:

Based in sunny Orlando, Florida, Infinite Labs started small and has progressed to a mid-sized manufacturer of various health and fitness products, including supplements and sports nutrition items. They have grown quickly and cultivate a dedicated fan base of customers by creating simple, effective and affordable products.

Why We Recommend It:

This product is perfect for someone looking for a mild serving size and a simple, no frills approach. With nothing but BCAA’s, the BCAA Caps product from Infinite Labs is perfect for someone who may have not taken BCAA’s in the past or is looking for a simple, effective and affordable product.

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