Best BCAA Supplements – Top 10 Brands Ranked for 2018

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This is our official list of the best BCAA supplements on the market. These 10 brands have the best feedback from users and the highest reviews online.

#1 BCAA Supplement

Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

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If you’re an active individual, you know the importance of eating healthy and ensuring that your body gets enough nutrients. For athletes, strength trainers and fitness enthusiasts, the daily dietary needs are well above those of an average individual.

If you work out regularly, your body will crave additional nutrients. The official dietary guidelines are just a starting point, meant for the average, relatively active individual. If you’re an athlete or weight lifter, your diet plan might look a little different.

Primarily, you’ll need extra protein, which serves as the building block of healthy muscle. And the building block of protein? Amino acids.

So, what exactly are amino acids?

Basically, amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins, which are an essential part of many processes in the body. Amino acids are vital for many functions of the human body, and even more important for strength trainers. Amino acids help to build and repair muscle tissues, among many, many other uses in the body.

What Are BCAAs?

what are branch chain amino acids

There are hundreds of amino acid types, but the most important type are branched chain amino acids. Otherwise known as BCAA’s, these acids help your muscles recover from strenuous activity, rebuild, and grow stronger, bigger, and better. BCAAs are essential amino acids, meaning your body needs them to function, but cannot make them on its own. Therefore, you need to get them in your daily diet. There are many benefits of BCAA’s, some you will experience right away, and some that are more of a residual, long-term effect.

There are three amino acids in the BCAA category: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Each acid operates in a different way, and provides different benefits to your body. Generally speaking, leucine is the most important of the three, due to its role in protein synthesis.

Branched chain amino acids are found naturally in protein-rich foods. Meats, beans, nuts and some grains all have high concentrations of BCAAs. You can read more about BCAA rich foods on Livestrong.com.

What Are BCAA Supplements?

The average person will likely get enough amino acids from their daily diet to function normally. However, that is often not the case for athletes, and especially for bodybuilders. Fitness enthusiasts need extra BCAAs in their body, in order to keep up with the strain they put their bodies through.

Most weightlifters will have a hard time getting adequate branched chain amino acids in their diet. Luckily, there are BCAA pills and powders that can help supplement your natural intake. The top of the line BCAA supplements will provide a high dose of leucine, isoleucine and valine in an easy and convenient package.

BCAA supplements help you increase your intake of amino acids by providing an easy way to consume a larger dose.

These supplements are generally found in capsule or powder form. Capsules can be taken with water, while powders need to be mixed into a liquid, such as water or milk. The high quality BCAA powders will have a tasty flavor, so you’ll actually look forward to taking them after your workout.

In a good BCAA product, you’ll find high doses of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Some products will also contain additional ingredients meant to speed your recovery and help build muscle, such as beta-alanine and citrulline.

Benefits of Branch Chain Amino Acids

should-I-take-bcaa-supplements

There are many benefits one may experience from these supplements. The most notable benefits of BCAAs are:

  • Increases muscle endurance – BCAAs can protect and fuel your muscles, allowing for longer workouts. They help delay mental and physical fatigue and muscle pain, allowing for more intense exercise and increasing the results of your efforts.
  • Prevents muscle breakdown – BCAAs can also help to prevent exercise-induced muscle breakdown. This helps reduce muscle soreness, speed recovery, and improve muscle growth.
  • Promotes protein synthesis – BCAAs have been shown in clinical studies to promote protein synthesis, which is essentially the process of rebuilding damaged proteins in the body. This helps repair the damage you do to your muscles during exercise.
  • Promotes muscle growth – by activating protein synthesis, BCAAs help to increase muscle growth after exercise.
  • Speeds recovery – by adding a good BCAA supplement to your diet, you can speed your post-workout recovery significantly, due to the above benefits.
  • Helps shed fat – by assisting your body in using fat stores for energy during workouts, BCAAs can help you drop unwanted fat from your body.
  • Helps increase muscle tone – if bigger, more defined muscles are what you’re after, BCAAs can help.
  • Prepares your body for muscle growth – in essence, BCAAs help prime your body to grow muscles. This will increase your results and make your time at the gym more efficient.
  • Absorbs quicker than amino acids from food – amino acids in supplement form absorb significantly faster than those found in whole foods. See the explanation below.

BCAAs are commonly taken to enhance muscle growth and athletic performance. They are commonly used by dieters, athletes and weightlifters. BCAAs are well-studied, with some of the primary BCAA uses being:

Reducing Fatigue During Exercise with BCAAs

Branched chain amino acids have proven to be useful in reducing physical and mental fatigue during exercise. BCAAs may help to:

  • Reduce mental and physical fatigue
  • Improve exercise duration and endurance
  • This may or may not help to improve athletic performance

BCAAs have been well-studied in clinical trials, and most findings agree that they are useful for delaying the onset of exercise-induced fatigue.

The Evidence Supporting BCAAs for Endurance

Reducing Muscle Soreness with BCAAs

Taking BCAAs may help to reduce muscle soreness after exercising. They may help to:

  • Reduce the perception of muscle soreness post-workout
  • Lower blood levels of creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, which contribute to muscle damage
  • Speed recovery time after strenuous exercise

It appears that taking BCAA supplements can help to reduce muscle soreness, and may also help speed up the recovery process.

The Evidence Supporting BCAAs for Post-Workout Recovery

  • Several studies (1, 2, 3) have found muscle soreness levels to be as much as 33% lower in participants given BCAAs after exercise.
  • Participants given BCAAs performed up to 20% better in repeat strength tests 24-48 hours following the initial workout.
  • Effects were found to vary from person to person.

Increasing Muscle Mass with BCAAs

Branched chain amino acids may help to increase muscle mass and boost muscle growth. They may help to:

  • Activate enzymes responsible for building muscle
  • Increasing muscle mass when combined with exercise

While BCAAs appear to be very beneficial for muscle growth, it’s unclear whether they are any more effective than cheaper protein supplements, like whey protein.

The Evidence Supporting BCAAs for Muscle Growth

  • Multiple studies (1, 2) have found that BCAA supplements are effective in increasing lean muscle mass – particularly when they offer a higher proportion of leucine.
  • A 2006 study found that BCAAs helped activate key enzymes involved in protein synthesis and muscle building.
  • However, some researchers warned that whey protein may be more effective than BCAA supplements, at least in some cases.

Other Benefits of BCAAs

In addition to the BCAA benefits discussed above, BCAAs may be beneficial for:

  • Regulation of blood sugar levels (source)
  • Management of healthy weight and body composition (source)
  • Management of complications related to liver disease (source)

It’s important to understand that some of these potential applications of BCAAs have not been fully evaluated. More research is needed.

Who Can Benefit from BCAAs?

A wide range of people can benefit from taking branched chain amino acid supplements. Those who can benefit the most are:

  • Men of all ages – Just about any man (over 18 years old) can benefit from additional BCAAs in their diet. Especially for those who are active, these supplements can have a huge positive effect. You can find our recommendation for the best BCAA for men further down this page.
  • Women of all ages – Both sexes require adequate amino acids to achieve the best results. Any woman over 18 who is active can benefit from adding a top BCAA supplement to her diet. Generally, these supplements don’t contain many gender-specific ingredients, so the best BCAA for women will typically be the overall best product (see below).
  • Athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts – Anyone who is active will greatly benefit from taking a BCAA. These simple supplements will help you lose more weight, build more muscle, and recover quicker. BCAA for bodybuilding is highly recommended.
  • Vegetarians and vegans – BCAAs are found naturally in foods, but the best food sources are typically meat products. If you do not eat meat, you’ll have a harder time getting a sufficient amount of amino acids in your diet. Adding a BCAA supp to your diet can help greatly.

How to Take BCAAs

First and foremost, you should always follow the instructions found on the product packaging and should always speak with your doctor before taking any supplements. This goes for any supplement. Do not take more than instructed, unless you ask your doctor first.

As far as when to take these supplements, there are several times throughout the day where they can be beneficial. Some of the most beneficial times are before, during or right after your workouts.

Most of these supplements come in powder form. Many people mix them into water on their own, or add them into shakes with other supplements, fruits, milk, etc.

If you plan to consume your shake during your workout or on the way to the gym, using a BlenderBottle can make that process a lot easier, since you can blend on-the-go. Most of the better BCAA products will blend fairly easily, so you shouldn’t need an actual blender in most cases.

Go to: Top 10 Shaker Bottles & Mixers

Are there Any Side Effects?

As with any supplement you take, it’s important to understand the potential for unwanted side effects. Generally speaking, BCAA side effects are mild, and the majority of people don’t experience any negative effects at all.

With that being said, certain supplements can cause some side effects. For example, many BCAA supplementss include beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is known for one strange side-effect: many people experience a tingling sensation when taking it.

This tingling sensation is normal. It will go away once your body gets used to the supplement, or as soon as you stop taking the product. Also, keep in mind that not all BCAA powders include beta-alanine, but some do.

The BCAA products we’ve put together will contain simple, proven ingredients, that shouldn’t cause any unwanted side effects. With that being said, everyone is different, so be aware of your body and be sure to report any unwanted effects to your medical professional.

Note: We do not recommend taking any supplements featured on this website without speaking with a doctor first!

BCAA Pills vs Powder: Which is Better?

bcaa powder vs pills

Most popular BCAA supplements come in one of two forms: BCAA pills or powder. Generally speaking, powders are more common, but pills are also popular due to the convenience factor.

So, what’s better – BCAA pills or BCAA powders? We usually recommend powders. BCAA powders are generally cheaper, offer more customizable doses, and are more flexible in how they are used. For example, you can throw BCAA powders into your pre-workout or intra-workout drink, you can mix them with other supplements, etc.

Also, BCAA powders make taking high doses of BCAA easier. If you’re on a training plan that calls for significant amino doses, you’ll end up having to take a ton of pills to reach the desired amount. With powders, it’s simply a teaspoon mixed into your drink.

Lastly, the powder form is almost always cheaper when you look at the per-gram cost – sometimes significantly cheaper. Supplement costs can really add up for regular trainers, so cutting costs without sacrificing quality is always recommended.

With all that said, BCAA pills do have some benefits. Mainly, they are a bit more convenient because you don’t have to mix them with anything. Simply swallow a couple to get your dose. They are also tasteless, whereas some BCAA powders might have a harsh taste. Lastly, pills are generally unflavored and don’t contain any additives, while powders are generally flavored.

As for the effectiveness of the two different forms, there won’t be much difference. You will essentially be getting the same thing, just in a different form. Powders might digest slightly faster, but the difference is minor.

All factors considered, in the fight between BCAA powder vs pills, powders come out on top.

What to Look for in a Good BCAA Product

In order to find the best BCAA supplements, you’ll need to weigh all your options. There are a lot of different products available, and it can be difficult to find the best one.

  • Ingredients – take a close look at the ingredients label to find out what’s in the supplement, how much of each nutrient, and if it contains anything unnecessary. Look for specific dosages of the three BCAAs: leucine, valine and isoleucine.
  • Brand reputation – who makes the product? Are they well known and trusted in the fitness community? You can read BCAA reviews to find out more about the companies, or do your own research.
  • Value for money – high quality BCAAs are not cheap supplements, but that doesn’t mean you should overpay. Generally, you’ll be looking at $0.50-$1.50 per serving, depending on the nutrient content and quality of ingredients. Compare prices by individual serving size.
  • Convenience of use/taste – does the product come in capsules, pills, or a powder? If it’s a powder, does it taste good? Check out BCAA reviews for comments on taste.

Below we have put together a list of the top 10 bcaa supplements you can purchase right now.

Top 10 BCAA Products Compared

Heads up, there are affiliate links in this article, so if you buy something, we get a cut of the sale.


10. EVL NUTRITION BCAA 5000

Evl Nutrition Bcaa 5000

BCAA 5000 is a simple and highly effective BCAA supplement from EVL Nutrition. With a combined 5g of BCAAs per serving, this supplement provides essential ingredients with no unnecessary fillers or junk.

Highlights:

  • 5g BCAAs per serving
  • 2.5g leucine
  • 1.25g valine
  • 1.25g isoleucine
  • Conveniently packaged in capsules
  • Affordable

Who makes it: BCAA 5000 is made by EVLution Nutrition, a new but rapidly growing supplement manufacturer. Founded by former BMX competitor Mike Spinner, EVLution Nutrition started in 2013 and has already amassed quite the following of loyal fans. With an already impressive lineup of products, we’re excited to see what EVL comes up with soon.

Bottom Line: EVL Nutrition BCAA 5000 is a great product from an up-and-coming brand. It’s a great value at around $0.50 per serving, but it does have a rather large serving size of 8 capsules per day.

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9. Infinite Labs BCAA Caps

Infinite Labs Bcaa Caps

Infinite Labs BCAA Caps are a simple but essential supplement. These BCAA pills offer 3g BCAA per serving, and are held in convenient capsules for ease of use. With straight branched chain amino acids and no other ingredients, these are simple and efficient.

Highlights:

  • 3g BCAA per serving (2:1:1 ratio)
  • 1.5g leucine
  • 750mg valine
  • 750mg isoleucine
  • Packaged in convenient capsules

Who makes it: BCAA Caps are made by Infinite Labs, a mid-sized manufacturer of health and fitness products. Based in Orlando, Florida, Infinite Labs is quickly becoming a powerhouse in the industry and has gained hundreds of thousands of fans who enjoy using their effective and affordable products.

Bottom Line: This product is a simple and affordable way to improve your fitness results by adding BCAAs to your diet. While each serving is affordable, it’s important to note that there are significantly less amino acids in each serving, when compared to our top recommendations.

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8. Dymatize BCAA Complex 2200

Dymatize Bcaa Complex 2200

Dymatize BCAA Complex 2200 offers high quality free form BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio. With a combined 2.2g of BCAAs, plus added vitamin B6, this is an affordable, easy way to increase your daily BCAA intake.

Highlights:

  • 2.2g BCAA per serving
  • 1.1g leucine
  • 550mg valine
  • 550mg isoleucine
  • 1.5mg vitamin B6 for energy
  • Capsules for convenience
  • Affordable

Who makes it: This supplement is made by Dymatize Nutrition, a midsized supplement maker founded in 1994. For over 20 years, Dymatize has made a name for themselves by consistently releasing high quality and highly effective products.

Bottom Line: BCAA Complex 2200 is a good product, providing a solid dose of the amino acids that are important for muscle growth. It is important to note that one serving of this product contains significantly less amino acids than most products on this list.

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7. Gaspari Nutrition BCAA 6000

Gaspari Nutrition Bcaa 6000

Gaspari Nutrition BCAA 6000 is a leucine-heavy BCAA supplement offering 6g of branched chain amino acids in a 4:1:1 ratio. Focusing on leucine, this supplement provides a hefty dose of this important nutrient, as well as lower doses of valine and isoleucine, and vitamin B6.

Highlights:

  • 6g BCAAs
  • 4g leucine
  • 1g valine
  • 1g isoleucine
  • 3mg Vitamin B6
  • In tablet form for convenience

Who makes it: BCAA 6000 is manufactured by Gaspari Nutrition, a large and well-known maker of high-quality fitness supplements. In business since 1998, Gaspari has a long track record of quality, and they now have a large fan base and a wide selection of products.

Bottom Line: BCAA 6000 is a good supplement. It’s also a convenient option since it’s packaged in capsules instead of a powder. However, it’s a bit more expensive than some of the better options on this list.

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6. BSN Amino X

Bsn Amino X

BSN Amino X is an instantized effervescent BCAA supplement. Containing a full 10 grams of micronized amino acids per serving, Amino X is instantized to mix easily. With several tasty flavors available, you’ll actually look forward to taking your amino acid supplement when you go with Amino X!

Highlights:

  • 10g amino acids per serving (BCAAs and essential amino acids)
  • Added ingredients to help endurance
  • Added vitamin D
  • Instantized to provide easy mixing
  • Tasty fruit flavors
  • No sugar

Who makes it: Amino X is made by BSN, a large-scale manufacturer of supplements and other health products. BSN’s motto is “Finish First”, and their goal is to help their customers do just that. By creating innovative and effective supplements at affordable prices, BSN is changing the game and helping their customers achieve the bodies they have always dreamed of.

Bottom Line: Amino X is a great amino acid supplement, offering not only BCAAs but also taurine, citrulline and alanine – all essential amino acids. The formula is instantized for easy mixing. The only downside is that the individual amounts of amino acids are not disclosed.

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5. MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2

Musclepharm Bcaa 3 1 2

BCAA 3:1:2 is a unique and effective product from MusclePharm. Using BCAA pills instead of powder, MusclePharm has come up with a whole new way to take these useful supplements. With a potent formula and an affordable price, these are the go-to BCAA pills on the market.

Highlights:

  • 6g BCAAs (3:1:2 ratio)
  • 3g leucine
  • 2g valine
  • 1g isoleucine
  • Conveniently packaged in capsules
  • Very affordable
  • No sugar or sweeteners

Who makes it: BCAA 3:1:2 is made by MusclePharm. As one of the biggest and best names in the business, MusclePharm, or MP for short, is known for their superior quality and widespread availability. Their team of experts produces truly innovative products, yet their size allows them to keep prices down for consumers.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a good BCAA supplement in capsule form, these are your best option. BCAA 3:1:2 is potent, effective, affordable, and convenient. And while the serving size is a full 8 capsules, that’s still might be easier than making a shake (for some people) every time you need to take your supplement.

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4. BPI Sports Best BCAA

Bpi Sports Best Bcaa

Best BCAA is one of the top BCAA supplements available. This simple, powerful and effective BCAA powder is made by BPI Sports, and offers 5g of BCAAs per serving, combined with 1,000mg CLA and added agmatine.

Highlights:

  • 5g BCAAs (2:1:1 ratio)
  • 2.5g leucine
  • 1.25g valine
  • 1.25g isoleucine
  • 1g CLA
  • 250mg agmatine
  • Very affordable
  • Available in 5 tasty flavors

Who makes it: Best BCAA is made by BPI Sports, a new but rapidly growing sports nutrition company. Founded just 5 years ago in 2010, BPI Sports has quickly grown into a powerhouse in the industry, and is today known for developing high quality, innovative and extremely efficient products – all at low, reasonable prices!

Bottom Line: BPI Best BCAA is a great product and one of our top recommendations. Its unique formula makes it easier to digest in the body, which means you’ll get the full BCAA benefits in each dose. Plus, it’s affordably priced.

Full Breakdown: BPI Sports Best BCAA

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3. Optimum Nutrition PRO BCAA

Optimum Nutrition Pro Bcaa

Pro BCAA is a powerful BCAA supplement made by Optimum Nutrition. Combining 8g of BCAAs per serving with added glutamine, electrolytes, and phytonutrients, Pro BCAA is a complete solution for your workout needs.

Highlights:

  • 8g BCAAs
  • 5g glutamine
  • Added electrolytes
  • Made by Optimum Nutrition, one of the best brands out there
  • Affordable

Who makes it: PRO BCAA is made by Optimum Nutrition. As one of the biggest and best companies in the industry, Optimum Nutrition has made a name for themselves producing innovative and highly effective health supplements. While best known for their Gold Standard product line, ON makes just about every type of fitness supplement you could think of.

Bottom Line: Optimum Nutrition PRO BCAA is one the top BCAA supplements on the market. It supplies a large dose of amino acids, as well as added electrolytes and glutamine. If you read this BCAA product’s online reviews, you’ll see that a lot of people love the fruit punch and raspberry lemonade flavors.

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2. Cellucor COR-Performance Beta-BCAA

Cellucor Cor Performance Beta Bcaa

Cellucor COR-Performance Beta-BCAA is one of the best BCAAs on the market. Combining 5g BCAAs in the 2:1:1 ratio with citrulline malate and beta-alanine, this product is the best all-in-one BCAA out there.

Highlights:

  • 5g BCAAs
  • 2.5g leucine
  • 1.25g valine
  • 1.25g isoleucine.
  • 2g citrulline malate
  • 1.6g beta-alanine
  • 750mg HICA – otherwise known as A-hydroxyisocaproic acid, HICA is a metabolite of leucine.
  • Affordable
  • Available in 3 tasty flavors
  • Easy to mix

Who makes it: Beta-BCAA is made by Cellucor, one of the best-known names in the supplement industry. Although known primarily for their incredibly popular C4 pre-workout supplements, Cellucor has a wide catalogue of helpful fitness supplements. With millions of loyal fans and one of the best research and development teams in the industry, Cellucor is truly a name you can trust.

Bottom Line: The solid dose of BCAAs is just the beginning; add research-proven dosages of citrulline malate, beta-alanine and HICA, and you’ve got yourself a powerful and highly effective supplement. While it’s not the cheapest option out there, Cellucor Beta-BCAA provides excellent value and is a great choice for just about anyone.

Full Breakdown: COR-Performance Beta-BCAA

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1. Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine is a new BCAA supplement that combines 8g BCAAs with 5g of glutamine per serving. And, like all Transparent Labs products, this supplement is completely free of dyes, unnecessary fillers, and harmful additives. Everything you need – nothing you don’t.

Highlights:

  • 8g BCAAs per serving (2:1:1)
  • 4g leucine
  • 2g valine
  • 2g isoleucine
  • 5g glutamine
  • 5mg coconut water powder for hydration
  • No unnecessary ingredients
  • Available in green apple or blue raz flavors
  • Ships worldwide*

Who makes it: CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine is made by Transparent Labs, a midsized supplement manufacturer that has grown exponentially in recent years. Transparent Labs is all about, well – transparency! Every product they make lists 100% of the ingredients used, and never includes anything unnecessary or potentially harmful. Transparent Labs has built a reputation for being one of the most honest and trustworthy names in the business.

Bottom Line: Tlabs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine is one of the best branch chain amino acid supplements out there. Not only does it include a large dose of BCAAs, it also offers a full 5g serving of glutamine, plus coconut water for hydration

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Final Thoughts

Just about anyone who works out on a regular basis can greatly benefit from adding a BCAA supplement to their diet. Now that you’ve read through this guide, you know more about these supplements, what they are, what they do, how to use them, and how to find a quality product. Now, all you need to do is make your decision and pick up one of our recommendations today!

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Austin Meadows

Written by Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows is an independent writer and consultant specializing in health and wellness topics. With more than 7 years of experience writing in the natural health industry, Austin strives to deliver accurate, concise and researched based information to his readers. You can find more of Austin's work at Olympic-Creative.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn.