While it’s true that some workout supplements are unnecessary, this isn’t true of BCAAs. BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids. These are the building blocks of proteins. And BCAA supplements, which contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are designed to support muscle growth and recovery. Ideally, you want a supplement with a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
When you buy your BCAA supplement, though, it’s important to know when to use it. Because BCAAs support muscle regrowth after breakdown, it’s best to take them during and after workouts. However, some people also choose to take them as a daily supplement, regardless of whether they work out that day. In many cases, it’s very difficult to get the right amount of BCAAS from a regular diet, so supplementation is necessary.
Before buying, you’ll also need to decide whether you prefer powdered BCAAs or capsules. Many supplements come in flavored drink powders, while others are unflavored powders that can be mixed into already flavored drinks. And still others come in the form of capsules–these are a great idea for those who prefer to avoid drinking their supplements.
In this list, we’ve brought together five of the top BCAA supplements. While you can’t really go wrong with any of these, we’ve included details to help you choose the right supplement for you.
1. Bulk Supplements BCAA Supplement
If you’ve been in the fitness industry for long, you probably have heard of Bulk Supplements. This manufacturer makes supplements and offers them at very affordable prices. And because all of their products are lab tested, you can rest assured that you’re getting exactly what’s on the label.
But what exactly is on the label? Bulk Supplements is known for very pure products, and this formulation is incredibly pure–there are no flavors or additives used. But the supplement contains a perfect 2:1:1 leucine/isoleucine/valine ratio. In a world where some supplements won’t even list their BCAA ratios, this is comforting.
That said, if you’re like many people who prefer to consume BCAAs as a drink, you’ll likely need to add some flavor. This is easy, though–you can mix your BCAAs in with pre-workout or simply add a little water flavoring.
2. Goliath by Dr. Emil BCAA Plus Glutamine
While some lifters prefer a pure BCAA mixture, others prefer some extras. With this Goliath by Dr. Emil formula, you get the optimal 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. You also get the added benefit of glutamine. For the unfamiliar, glutamine is an amino acid that’s especially good for supporting muscle recovery. It’s also useful if you’re prone to muscle soreness. If you’ve recently upped your training frequency, something with glutamine might be worth looking into.
This formula has a unique twist, too. Unlike most BCAA supplements, which are sold as powdered supplements, this formula comes in capsules. This is useful for those who dislike flavored drink mixes, but it also makes it more difficult to consume yoline ur BCAAs over a longer period of time. Since all of Dr. Emil’s products are made in the US at an FDA-registered lab, you can be confident that you’re consuming a top-quality supplement.
3. Cellucor Alpha Amino EAA and BCAA
You’ve probably seen Cellucor’s popular pre-workouts for sale online and even in major grocery stores. However, this brand’s uniquely complete amino acid supplement is one you might want to consider adding to your supplement regimen. If you consider BCAAs alone, this supplement has what you need–it has 10 grams of 2:1:1 balanced BCAAs per serving. But Alpha Amino is designed to be a comprehensive amino acid supplement. The EAA in the product name stands for “essential amino acids.” This means that, in addition to muscle-building BCAAs, this supplement includes amino acids that aren’t produced naturally by the body.
Since these aminos must be found in the diet, it can be hard to get all the amino acids you need while on a calorie-restricted diet (like when cutting weight). Thus, this is a supplement that can support both workout and nutritional goals. The included electrolyte blend for superior hydration rounds out this excellent choice of a supplement.
4. Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules
While some people prefer a BCAA supplement with extra benefits, others just prefer a no-nonsense approach. That’s what you get with Optimum Nutrition’s capsule formula. And if you have any concerns about absorption time with capsules, you don’t need to worry–this instantized formula quickly takes action.
These capsules have a no-nonsense formula with the ideal 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. And while capsules are somewhat difficult to take throughout your workout, the manufacturer suggests taking two capsules beforehand. If you need extra supplementation, you can always take an additional capsule or two. Essentially, Optimum Nutrition‘s BCAA offering is especially suited to those who prefer taking capsules and who want pure BCAA supplementation.
5. Sheer Strength Labs BCAA Capsules
This supplement from Sheer Strength Labs is another capsule-based BCAA supplement. And like a few others on this list, it has a relatively pure formulation–its active ingredients are only amino acids. However, Sheer Strength Labs departs from the traditionally accepted 2:1:1 ratio. These capsules have a 2.33:1:1 ratio, and it logically seems like it would help build muscle. Leucine alone has been shown to have excellent results when it comes to muscle growth and retention, so by upping leucine content, this formula may be on to something. As an added bonus, its capsules are vegetarian, meaning that this product is vegan-safe. If you prefer pure formulations and are willing to take a chance on a non-traditional amino acid ratio, it might be the right choice for you.
Generally speaking, it’s not really possible to say that a single BCAA supplement is the right choice for everyone. However, in this list, our recommended pick is Cellucor’s Alpha Amino. The reason is simple–it provides more than just BCAAs. By providing full amino acid support plus electrolytes, it’s clearly a supplement that will support improved fitness on a variety of levels. That said, if you’re someone who is looking for a pure, simple BCAA supplement, our recommendation is the Bulk Supplements powder. It’s affordable and mixes easily, so you can add it to a pre-existing supplement mix.
Of course, before you buy, it’s important to do your own research. Decide what you need in a BCAA supplement, read reviews, and make your choice. With some thought, you’ll be able to choose a supplement that helps you excel at your workouts and reach your fitness goals faster.