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BCAA Products

The 7 Best BCAA Products to Consider When Working Out

Everybody is different and responds differently, so it’s not a bad idea to try out several of the top brands and see which one works the best for your individual needs and goals.

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are three essential amino acids, commonly taken to help boost muscle growth and help improve exercise performance. They may also help ease exercise fatigue and support weight loss. BCAAs are considered “essential” amino acids because your body cannot make them on its own. That’s why it’s important to get them from supplements or the foods you eat. 

We’ve researched the most popular BCAA supplements extensively to see if they really do live up to the hype. In this thorough BCAA supplement review, we’re going to take a closer look at the highest-rated BCAA supplements to see if they can help provide you with the boost you’re looking for. 

Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

When choosing a BCAA supplement, it’s important to consider the right ratio of Isoleucine and valine (250mg) to leucine (500mg) for proper metabolism and muscle support. Transparent Labs’ CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine not only delivers this precise ratio but also includes glutamine in the formula. Glutamine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by the body and is found extensively in muscles. Combining the two helps to both nourish your muscles and supports muscle growth and endurance. [6] 

Highlights

  • Contains no artificial sweeteners
  • Contains no artificial colors
  • Gluten free
  • Non-GMO
  • Contains no artificial preservatives
  • Available in six delicious flavors
  • Economical tub size contains 30 servings
  • Uses fermented vegan BCAAs
  • Includes coconut water powder for extra hydration

What’s in It and How it Works

Each serving (1 level scoop) contains the following ingredients: 

  • 8,000 mg of BCAA 2:1:1
  • 5,000 mg of Glutamine
  • 1,000 mg of coconut water powder – 

Recommended Usage 

According to the manufacturer, as a dietary supplement, mix one [1] level scoop of BCAA mixed with 10-12 fl. oz. of cold water (or any beverage of your choice) 30-45 minutes before, during, or immediately after training. For optimal results, consume at least two [2] servings of BCAA per day. During your workout, it is recommended that you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Do not exceed 4 servings per day. 

Bottom Line

With thousands of positive user reviews and scientifically-backed ingredients in the optimal dosages, TransparentLabs’CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine deserves a spot among the best for its superior quality, affordable price and carefully researched ingredients. 

Optimum Nutrition PRO BCAA

Optimum Nutrition PRO BCAA combines micronized L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine branched-chain amino acids in the right amount, as well as in the right size so as to adequately be absorbed quickly by the muscles and cells and put to work right away. True to its name, Optimum Nutrition makes taking BCAAs convenient. Choose from either capsules or fruit punch flavored powder for an easy and convenient way to get the BCAAs your body needs. 

Highlights

  • Contains a 2:1:1 BCAA blend plus glutamine
  • Includes a PhytoBlend of grape seed extract and whole grape extract
  • Includes 250%+ of the daily value of Vitamin C
  • Available as both capsules and a fruit punch flavored mix

What’s In It and How it Works

  • 8 g of 2:1:1 BCAA Blend ratio of L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine
  • 230 mg of Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid, acerola fruit extract, capsule only)
  • 5 g of L-Glutamine to help prevent fatigue and improve endurance [9]
  • 110 mg of sodium (capsule only)
  • 160 mg of PhytoBlend (a combination of grape extract, grape seed extract and citrus – capsule only). 

Recommended Usage

The manufacturer recommends mixing two level scoops with plenty of water until it dissolves completely. For capsules, it’s recommended that you take 2 1,000 mg capsules between meals, or 30-45 minutes before a workout, or immediately after a workout. 

Bottom Line

For sheer convenience and ease of use, it’s hard to beat the simplicity of Optimum’s Pro BCAA supplement. Easy to take as capsules or in a quick-dissolving fruit punch mix, this workout supplement fits your busy lifestyle. Although it does contain artificial colors and sweetener, the powdered variety also contains a unique blend of grape and grapeseed extract which can help to boost immunity [8]

Scivation Xtend BCAAs

What sets Scivation Xtend apart from other BCAAs is its combination of BCAAs and caffeine. With several flavors to choose from and no sugar, calories or carbs, it’s a great choice if you need that extra kick of energy to power through your workouts. In addition to caffeine, Scivation Xtend also contains vitamin B6, citrulline malate and electrolytes, making it a solid, well-rounded choice to help support endurance, hydration and muscle growth. 

Highlights

  • Available in three fruit flavors: fruit punch, blue raspberry and mango
  • Contains no sugar, calories or carbs
  • Includes caffeine to help increase energy
  • Includes citrulline malate to help decrease muscle fatigue while improving endurance and muscle strength [10]
  • Includes electrolytes sodium and potassium

What’s In It and How it Works

  • 3500 mg of L-leucine
  • 1750 mg of L-isoleucine
  • 1750 mg of L-valine
  • 1140 of “Electrolyte Blend”(Sodium citrate, potassium chloride, sodium chloride) to help replenish minerals lost in sweat
  • 1000 mg of Citrulline Malate to help improve endurance and reduce muscle fatigue [10]
  • 125 mg of caffeine

Recommended Usage

The manufacturer recommends mixing one serving (one level scoop) into 8-12 full ounces of water before a workout.

Bottom Line

If you’re worried about running out of energy mid-workout and want a little pick-me-up that’s easy to mix with water, Scivation Xtend is a good option. With added electrolytes and three flavors to choose from, you can mix up your BCAA supplementation without worrying about carbs, calories or sugar. Plus, with added citrulline malate, you can nourish your muscles and help speed up recovery as you reach for those impressive gains! 

Dymatize All9 Amino

Dymatize All9 Amino (known simply as ALL9)  bills itself as a “full spectrum amino acid supplement that contains both BCAAs and EAAs (Essential Amino Acids). The nine EAAs provided by ALL9 are those that the body can’t produce on its own. Because you can mix it with water, you can take ALL9 pre or post workout, or any time you want. This makes it incredibly convenient if you have a busy schedule but still want to give your body everything it needs to help support muscle health and growth. 

Highlights

  • Contains both BCAAs and EAAs
  • Available in five unique flavors
  • Non-GMO
  • No artificial colors
  • Gluten-free
  • No sugar
  • Includes vitamins B6, B12 and C

Drawbacks

  • Contains artificial flavors
  • Contains phenylalanine (does not contain aspartame)

What’s In It and How it Works: 

Each serving size of one scoop contains:

  • 90 mg of vitamin C
  • 1.5 mg of thiamin
  • 20 mg of niacin
  • 10 mg of vitamin B6
  • 2.5 mcg of vitamin B12
  • 9 mg of pantothenic acid
  • 25 mg of sodium
  • 7.2 g of instantly soluble BCAAs (l-leucine, l-isoleucine, l-valine) 
  • 2.8 g of essential amino acids (l-lysine, l-threonine, l-phenylalanine, l-methionine, l-histidine, l-tryptophan)
  • 200 mg of coconut water fruit powder

Recommended Usage

The manufacturer recommends taking one scoop fully dissolved in water either before or after a workout.  

Bottom Line

ALL9 is great for those who want a complete spectrum amino acid supplement that goes beyond BCAAs. Being that it is a complete essential amino acid supplement, it will have that somewhat chalky taste as amino acid mixes tend to have. However, there are several flavor varieties to choose from — some quite unique from the competition, like Cola Lime Twist. Those who are sensitive to phenylalanine should not take this supplement, as l-phenylalanine is one of the essential amino acids in the mixture. Overall a solid buy for anyone who wants to make sure they’re getting all of the amino acids their body needs for proper protein synthesis and muscle growth. 

JYM Post JYM Active Matrix

This particular BCAA supplement is designed more for those who are focused on muscle growth and strength. It contains creatine [12], glutamine [9] and beta alanine [11], which are designed to help improve endurance and decrease muscle fatigue. Made for post-workout recovery, JYM’s BCAA supplement is designed to be used with other JYM products, including the pre-workout blend and protein blend for a complete muscle fitness trifecta. 

Highlights

  • Available in six flavors
  • Independently tested by third party “Informed Choice”and “Informed Sport”and verified to contain no P.E.D.’s 
  • Contains creatine and glutamine to support muscle growth and recovery [9] [12]
  • Contains BioPerine
  • Contains Carnipure(r) which may help improve fat burning potential [13]
  • Made in the USA

Drawbacks

  • With the exception of the lemon lime, all other flavors contain artificial colors and sweeteners
  • Contains caffeine
  • Some users report gastrointestinal upsets as a side effect
  • Some users report itchiness as a side effect

What’s in It and How it Works

Each scoop contains:

  • 45 calories
  • 35 mg of Calcium
  • 3 g of L-Glutamine
  • 2 g of Creatine HCl (as CON-CRET(r)) 
  • 2 g of Beta-Alanine (as CarnoSyn(r))
  • 2 g of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (as Carnipure(r))
  • 1.5 g of Betaine (Trimethylglycine)

Recommended Usage

The manufacturer recommends dissolving one full scoop in 24-32 oz of water and drinking after a workout. 

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a supplement that’s centered around recovery after a workout, it’s hard to beat the combination of powerful ingredients in PostJYM. With specially sourced ingredients that help to nourish and promote muscle recovery, it’s a reliable product for those who want a BCAA blend that’s focused on supporting muscle protein synthesis. With some interesting twists on the traditional fruit flavored supplement mixes, blends like mandarin orange and rainbow sherbert are sure to add some variety to your post workout recovery routine. 

MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Energy

With a patent-pending blend of 3 leucine, 1 isoleucine and 2 valine, MusclePharm is a well-known brand that’s always looking for ways to break the mold of supplement products and do so in a way that’s built on scientific study. This ratio of branched chain amino acids is combined with caffeine, green tea leaf extract and panax ginseng root powder to help give you an endurance boost while also helping to improve muscle recovery and decrease inflammatory response. 

Highlights

  • Available in Blue Raspberry flavor
  • Contains caffeine for that added endurance boost
  • Contains panax ginseng to help with muscle recovery [14]
  • Contains polyphenol-rich green tea extract to help reduce muscle damage [15]
  • 30 Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • Tested by third party Informed-Choice and guaranteed free of banned substances

Drawbacks

  • Contains both minimal calories and carbs
  • Only one flavor available
  • Requires two scoops per serving
  • Contains artificial sweetener
  • Contains artificial flavor

What’s in It and How it Works

Two scoops (9 g) contain: 

  • 2 g carbohydrates
  • 3 g of L-Leucine
  • 2 g of L-Valine
  • 1 g of L-Isoleucine
  • 100 mg of caffeine
  • 50 mg of green tea leaf extract (45% EGCG) 98% polyphenols
  • 50 mg of panax ginseng root powder

Recommended Usage

The manufacturer recommends taking  two scoops fully dissolved in water after a workout

Bottom Line

MusclePharm is a well-known brand of muscle growth and energy supplements, and although this particular product only comes in a single flavor, it provides you with six grams of  BCAAs and 1000 mg of caffeine for that added push to get through your workouts. If you’re looking for the one-two punch of BCAAs and caffeine, MusclePharm’s BCAA 3:1:2 Energy is worth trying to see how it works for you. Although it requires two scoops compared to other varieties’ one, it’s not quite as economical as other varieties, but with a money back guarantee, you risk nothing to give it a try. 

EVL Nutrition BCAA Energy

This particular BCAA blend focuses on sustaining energy and endurance, but also adding in a mental focus benefit made possible by the included caffeine. EVL Nutrition’s BCAA Energy also contains beta alanine, l-alanine, taurine and a vitamin B and C complex, all of which work together to help promote energy and endurance as well as help the muscles recover. 

Highlights

  • Contains vitamins B6 and B12 for added energy
  • Includes 5 grams of BCAAs
  • Includes CarnoSyn(r) Beta Alanine, L-Alanine and Taurine to help improve endurance and recovery
  • Includes natural energizers from coffee bean and green tea extract leaf
  • 9 different flavors to choose from

Drawbacks

  • Contains artificial colors
  • Contains artificial sweetener (sucralose)
  • Only one flavor available
  • Less available BCAAs than other blends
  • Contains half as much product for the price. 

What’s In It and How it Works

Two scoops contain:

  • 2,500 mg of L-leucine
  • 1,250 of L-Isoleucine
  • 1,250 mg of L-valine
  • 90 mg of Vitamin C
  • 10 mg of Vitamin B6
  • 30 mcg of Vitamin B12
  • 500 mg of CarnoSyn(r) Beta-Alanine
  • 500 mg of L-Alanine
  • 500 mg of Taurine
  • 110 mg of “Natural Energizers” (Natural coffee, green tea extract)

Recommended Usage

The manufacturer recommends dissolving two scoops fully in water for an added boost any time. 

Bottom Line

Although the amount of BCAAs is lower than other products, this is one of the few BCAA supplements that combines BCAAs, caffeine and vitamins, plus recovery ingredients beta-alanine and CarnoSyn, giving your body the support it needs for every stage of your workout. There are also a variety of flavors to choose from (Furious Grape, anyone?) so you’ll always have something different and unique to keep you going.

What to Look for in a Good BCAA Supplement

When it comes to buying a BCAA supplement, there are certain questions you should ask yourself in order to better gauge the quality and efficacy of the supplement you’re considering. 

What is the Overall Quality of the Product?

Check the ingredients label. What’s in it and how does it work? Some BCAA supplements are made with synergistic blends of ingredients that support each other and improve each other’s function better than if they were separate. Read the label carefully. Some lower quality BCAA supplements contain “proprietary blends” which don’t go into detail about how much of each BCAA they actually contain, and may have more fillers than the actual amino acids you need. 

What is the Brand’s Reputation and Quality?

There are hundreds of BCAA supplements out there in every shape, form and color. But it’s important to know what you’re actually putting into your body. What about the brand behind the supplement? Is it well-known and trusted? Or did it seem to crop up overnight and gain a sudden influx of five-star reviews? If you’re not sure, ask. How long have they been taking it? Did it make them feel any different? If so, how? 

What Do Users Say About It’s Effectiveness?

Everyone has their preferred BCAA supplement routine. Some prefer to drink it before a workout while others prefer during or after. You may notice that the effectiveness of the BCAA supplement differs depending on when you take it, so try out different timeframes and see how your body responds accordingly. Every person is different and everybody handles supplementation differently. 

When Should It Be Taken?

Some BCAA supplements include stimulants like caffeine that help improve focus and energy and are better taken in the morning. Others are more effective after a workout. Consult the manufacturer’s directions to better understand the optimal time to take your supplement. 

Should It Be Taken with Food/Water?

Some BCAA supplements work better with food and have less digestive upsets as a result. Others should be taken on an empty stomach. Everyone reacts differently to supplements according to their own preferences. Nobody knows your body like you do, so if you take a supplement on an empty stomach and have digestive upset, it may be worth trying it with a light meal next time to see if the feeling subsides. 

What Type of Ingredients Does it Contain?

Every supplement is different and it’s important to note not only what the ingredients are, but how they work together. Like all supplements, many BCAA mixes contain other ingredients that work together synergistically with them, including: 

Grape Seed Extract – A potent antioxidant that may help prevent cell damage during exercise [8]. 

Citrulline Malate – An organic salt made up of the non-essential amino acid citrulline. It may help improve exercise performance, particularly during resistance training. 

Creatine – Creatine is naturally found in muscle cells and as a supplement, is very popular among weight lifters and bodybuilders for its effects on endurance and strength [13]/

Carnitine – Carnitine affects the body’s metabolism and some studies show that it may have an effect on weight loss as well as brain function. [13]

Panax Ginseng – A leaf historically used in traditional Chinese medicine. Some studies have demonstrated that it lowers the body’s inflammatory immune response as well as helps decrease muscle damage due to exertion. 

Green Tea Extract – A potent antioxidant that can help reduce cell damage as well as lessen muscle fatigue [15]

Bioperine – Made from an extract of black pepper, Bioperine is a proprietary and patented form of the extract which has been shown in studies to help increase the bioavailability of substances in the body. Bioavailability is simply the amount of a substance that can be used by the body at any one time. The higher the availability, the more readily usable the substance is. Many of the best supplements contain BioPerines to allow the body ample time to take advantage of the substance rather than simply dumping it all into the bloodstream and seeing the majority of it go to waste. 

Now, just because a particular substance doesn’t have these particular ingredients, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s inferior to the others. However, when looking for a BCAA supplement, pay special attention to supplements that have most or all of these ingredients, as it shows that the manufacturer has done their research in combining the best possible ingredients with substantial scientific research behind them. 

Does it Include Stimulants?

Some BCAA supplements include caffeine to help promote alertness and focus. In general, a typical cup of coffee has around 95 mg of caffeine, so keep the caffeine amount in mind when you’re measuring the serving size of your BCAA supplement. 

How Much Value Do You Get From It? What is the Price Per Serving?

Small serving sizes encourage you to buy more, especially if you use a BCAA supplement every day. Consider the price per serving and the results you’re getting from it. Everyone’s body reacts differently, so you’ll want to judge for yourself if the price is worth it. 

Has Any Trusted Third-Party Testing Been Conducted On It? Does it Adhere to FDA Standards?

You want to be confident that whatever you’re putting into your body is made up of quality ingredients. Look for supplements that are made in facilities that adhere to cGMPs or Current Good Manufacturing Processes. This means that they’ve been certified by the FDA to follow or exceed the correct procedures to ensure safety and quality. There are many other third-party seals and certifications to consider, including certifying that a mix is free from banned substances, that it’s gluten-free or vegan-friendly, and more. 

How Easy Is It to Buy and Take?

Making a BCAA supplement part of your routine revolves around how easy it is to buy and take. If you dread the taste or the effects you feel when you take it, it’s a sure bet that more of it will end up in the trash than in your body. Consider choosing a supplement that’s convenient and gives you the results you’re looking for. Everybody is different and responds differently, so it’s not a bad idea to try out several of the top brands and see which one works the best for your individual needs and goals. 

Scientific and Medical Studies Cited

[1] Improves glucose metabolism

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14651987

[2] Increases muscle uptake of glucose

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14651987

[3] Boosts immunity

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16365100

[4] Reduces fatigue

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18577773

[5] Reduces muscle damage due to exercise

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22569039

[6] Increases muscle growth post-workout

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16365096

[7] Increases fat loss through fasted training

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17372321

[8] Grape Seed Extract prevents cell damage

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1728869X18303344

[9] Glutamine prevents fatigue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520936/

[10] Citrulline malate

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2015/03000/Effects_of_Supplemental_Citrulline_Malate.29.aspx

[11] Beta Alanine

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0224-0

[12] Creatine

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z

[13] Carnitine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099008/

[14] Panax Ginseng

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21598413

[15] Green Tea Extract

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29746891

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