With the increasing demand for weight and heavy lifting comes the popularity of the Branched-Chain Amino Acids supplements, or commonly known as BCAA. These supplements come in different brands and forms, like powder and capsules, which make it even harder to decide on what will be the best and most beneficial for your body needs. But before taking any of these supplements, what is this Branched-Chain Amino Acids for anyway?
Technically speaking, Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) is an amino acid that promotes protein synthesis, transfer of nutrients and helps in glucose metabolism. It helps in increasing the oxidation process of fatty acids and plays an important role in fighting obesity. Aside from metabolism, BCAAs can also enhance the immune system by signaling enzymes to increase lymphocytes and improve the immune system. It is also important in maintain healthy brain functions as protein synthesis helps in organizing neurotransmitters and increase energy as well.
TOP 10 BCAAs for Men
BCAAs are commonly found in meat, fish, poultry products like chicken and eggs, and even in whey protein supplements. However, consuming BCAA-rich foods may take time to properly absorb the nutrients in the bloodstream and feel its effects. BCAA found in supplements does not require digestion and enters the bloodstream way faster and has more amount of BCAA for optimum results. In this article, we listed down the top 10 BCAA supplements to help you decide on what will cater you fitness goals best.
Keep your energy up from morning to afternoon with AminoLean Energy Formula. This supplement contains Caffeine from Green Tea to sustain and enhance your energy for the whole day. It contains BCAAs and Essential Amino acids to build leaner muscles and recover tired muscles before and after a heavy workout. AminoLean is also a weight management supplement that guarantees fat loss with its active ingredients like Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), L-Carnitine, Green Tea Extract and Green Coffee Bean Extract – an all-natural approach to burn fats.
Instead of taking in-between coffee sessions, it is recommended for you to take 1-3 servings, customizing the serving size from 2 scoops up to 6 scoops, depending on the amount of energy that you are going to need for a day of workout. This supplement claims to have no calories, no sugar and no carbohydrates making it pure and clean energy, weight loss and recovery supplement for all lifters and active individuals.
- An all-in-one energy, fat-burner and recovery supplement
- Tastes great with its strawberry and kiwi flavors
- Gives no “shaky’ or “jittery” feeling
- The powder is grainy and difficult to dissolve in water
- Some users have experienced bad headaches after consuming the product
Almost all the workout supplements promise to enhance your energy and stamina for a workout, but how about faster recovery from fatigue and body sores? BCAA Elite+ is a safe and effective solution for sore and tired muscles and gradual gains. This supplement is used by some famous bodybuilders namely Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane and even Lou Ferrigno.
What’s good about BCAA Elite+ is that it displays the full facts and details on its ingredients with its actual dose per serving, making it comprehensive and certainly high quality. Aside from BCAAs, this supplement also contains Citrulline Malate which is a caffeine-free energy booster and fatigue-fighting ingredient that will certainly power you up through your exercises. To ensure slow and leaner gains, Glutamine and Betaine work wonders together with the BCAAs. Glutamine is a vital amino acid that specializes in giving you better pumps and leaner muscle gain while Betaine sustains your stamina to push through your limits in the gym. Its unique Black pepper extract helps in better absorption of all the nutrients in this supplement.
- Nutritionally dense aside from just branched chain amino acids
- Transparent with its ingredient profile so you are sure what you get inside your body
- Can be added with protein shakes
- Makes you feel bloated
- Has an unpleasant aftertaste and has a distinguished smell
Best BCAA is an effective bodybuilding and recovery sports drink that not only helps with the repair and recovery of the muscle but it can also prevent your muscles from breakdown and produce leaner muscle mass. This supplement contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid that aids in building lean muscle, protecting lean muscle mass from deteriorating, and lowering body fats. People who are aiming to lose weight and burn fat, Best BCAA is the great sports drink to consume because it helps prevent the loss of muscle mass while lowering the calorie intake but will not suppress or compromise the energy needed to supply the whole day of workout.
- Utilizes Oligopeptide-Enzymatic Technology that helps in faster absorption of the nutrients and faster recovery
- Great to consume as a workout recovery drink
- Though it tastes great however it seemed to be way too sweet for a sports drink
Natura BCAA capsules naturally support lean muscle building and aids in faster recovery against muscle fatigability by increasing protein synthesis within the lean muscle. Natura blend achieves the 2:1:1 ratio between L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine, to ensure maximum gains. BCAAs have been proven to improve endurance to achieve longer time set for exercise sets and reps. Not only helps in building more muscle mass, but also aids in faster weight and fat loss as your body converts your fats to a naturally defined and toned muscles.
- Some users achieved healthier and younger looking skin because of its CLA content
- Best for people with Diabetes as it does not contain sugar
- Best supplement to take for people on a low-carb diet
- A bit costly
- Some users experienced stingy chest pain while taking the supplement
Boost your protein synthesis with the No Bull BCAA Tablets that contains extra strong branched-chain amino acid (1000mg) that will certainly burn fat while building lean muscles. Made from all vegetable sources that undergone natural fermentation instead of the “acid extraction” method. This supplement has no added sugar, gluten and was derived from vegetable or plant-based amino acids.
BCAA aids in the muscle build up while suppressing the appetite thus reducing fats. It metabolizes the energy more efficiently enough for an intense workout in the gym or even at home. This tablet supplement is very handy that you can take anywhere and anytime you need it.
- Ideal supplement for vegans
- Can lower the dose by cutting the pill in half
- Gives out shorter recovery time because of the high-dose of BCAA in it
- Can cause nausea
- Gives out bad aftertaste
Scivation Xtend claims the title of being the leader in BCAA supplements producers as they are the pioneer in creating intra-workout drink mixes. They have over 10 years of conquering the BCAA market and with their extensive research and technology, they have already perfected the formulas with expanding flavors.
Their watermelon flavor is the most popular and best-selling product. It is recommended for pre, during, and after a workout to improve building and preserving of muscles. It contains 7 grams of hypercritical BCAAs (Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine) along with Glutamine and Citrulline Malate. These ingredients will surely help you on those grueling workout sessions for your ideal body sculpture. It will let you train for long hours with more intensity. Only 2 servings per day are suggested but you can consume as much as you want with its delicious taste.
- Price is economical as the effectiveness is considered top-notch by thousands of users
- Aids in recovery after a workout
- Sugar-Free, Carbohydrate Free and has 0 calories
- Reduces fatigue during workout
- Some users report a mild tingling sensation although it’s not that serious
- Contains artificial coloring ingredients
- The Citrulline Malate is underdosed
O.N. is one of the most well-known muscle supplement providers in the market. It boasts of containing Beta Alanine for improving athletic performance, building lean muscle mass, and improve physical functioning. Those who are building their muscles looking for an extra kick must consider this product as it has a blend of caffeine, green coffee bean extract, and green tea extract.
Its other ingredients are Wellmune for immunity, electrolytes for hydration and performance, and Rhodiola for endurance. It contains 5 grams of BCAA in 2:1:1 ratio. Those BCAAs are L-Leucine, L-Valine, and L-Isoleucine. One of the trusted brands in the market, Optimum Nutrition is not going to disappoint you on your journey to achieving your maximum potential.
- Comes in different flavors from – Berries, Kiwi, Strawberry, and Grapes
- Contains a wide variety of amino acids
- Helps increase your endurance so you will be ready to hit your next workout with the same energy
- Has an effective dose of Rhodiola to attenuate fatigue
- A little expensive compared to other brands
- Some users complain of the tropical flavors being too sour
- Contains soy and sucralose
JYM Supplement Science creates this trio of products (JYM SYSTEM) to give you BCAAs before and after a workout. They are the Pre JYM (pre-workout), Pro JYM (protein blend) and the Post JYM (after workout). The red Post JYM is by far more popular as it delivers to its promises of boosting repair, building more muscle and maximizing recovery after a workout. It has the same ingredients as that of the Pre-workout powder such as beta-alanine, creatine HCI, betaine, and taurine.
The Post JYM product also contains carnitine and glutamine which are vital for quick recovery. It contains 6 grams of BCAAs in 3:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine to valine. Experience lesser feeling of soreness from training by only consuming 1 scoop of the powder with water within 30 minutes after workout.
- Users say it tastes delicious but are low caloric; has tropical flavor but not super sweet
- Improves muscle retention
- The creatine HCL appears to be absorbed faster than the standard creatine
- Promotes hypertrophy and greatly reduces muscle cramps
- Good combination of ingredients
- Users observe it is not as easy to mix as other BCAA powders
- There are some reports of stomach discomfort
- Can cause water bloating
The Amino X BCAA is non-stimulant yet it is designed to increase your energy and aid in muscle recovery so you can do a more intense workout for getting that dream body and achieving overall health. It features 10 grams of BCAAs plus the essential amino acids – ingredients that will help you recover from today’s workout and prepare you for tomorrow’s.
It also contains ingredients such as citric and malic acid, sodium bicarbonate, and cholecalciferol – all these for endurance and having recommended intake of Vitamin D. It may also contribute to bone strength and hormone production. There is also a presence of electrolyte sodium so you will be extra hydrated.
- Mixes easily with water, absolutely no clumping
- Large serving size with a lot of ingredients
- Some users complain that flavor is too strong or too sour so they have to add 2 extra cups of water to neutralize the taste
- Contains soy and artificial sweeteners
Kaged Muscle is a relatively new company in the BCAA world but it’s quickly gaining attention most especially when it became Amazon’s Choice. The goal of the company is to have the ultimate hydration and endurance sports drink in the market. They believe that when you are properly hydrated during those tough workout sessions, you will have a clearer mind.
It contains 14 grams of premium ingredients that is why a lot of buyers say that they felt the difference in their performance even after just the first dose of this product. 5 grams of BCAAs at 2:1:1 ratio, fermented, 3 grams of L-Citrulline, 1.6 grams of Patented Carnosyn, beta-alanine, 500mg of Tender Coconut Water powder, 1 gram of taurine, 500mg of L-Tyrosine, and 124 mg of PurCaf – caffeine.
- No artificial flavors or colors
- Powder rapidly dissolves in water
- Improves endurance
- Supports focus
- Highest graded ingredients
- Well-rounded formula
- Users observe there is a chemical aftertaste
- Poor mixability
How Do BCAAs Affect Workout?
There are three types of BCAAs necessary (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) which kind of like replaces glycogen when it’s used up during or after a workout. Your body can’t produce BCAAs on its own that is why supplements or these powders are beneficial. When taken during a workout, the BCAAs when broken down promote muscle growth and repair and greatly reduce muscle soreness.
The BCAA leucine also helps you feel more full so it aids in weight loss as well. It increases your sensitivity to hunger and improves burning of fat and balancing of your sugar levels. When you’re working out, your muscle tends to break and then repair with much stronger ones and that’s when you need BCAAs.
Can BCAA Be Acquired Thru Food?
Yes. Foods with a decent amount of BCAAs are chicken breast, lean beef, flank steak, canned tuna, wild salmon, cod, trout, turkey breast, eggs (3), 1 cup of low fat Greek yogurt, brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, whole wheat, peanuts, brazil nuts, and almonds.
If you don’t eat a lot or any of these on the list then getting supplements will be your best option for your intake of BCAAs. Also, if you choose powders then they are much quickly absorbed by the body. Supplements are also helpful if you do not like to eat that much especially before or after working out.
How Long Can I Take BCAA?
There is no limit as to how long you can take BCAA powders. They are generally safe and helpful for your workout routine.
It is a good idea to continue taking BCAA supplements or drinking the mixes especially if you do not eat a lot of protein-rich food.
Things to Keep in Mind before Starting BCAA Supplementation
Suggested Intake and Timing of BCAA Supplementation
BCAA sports drink can be taken as a substitute for your morning coffee as it naturally increases your energy for a whole day of workout. These supplements can be taken before a workout to sustain the energy and endurance in the gym. If taken post-workout or recovery, BCAA aids in the muscle recovery thus reducing muscle soreness and fatigability. For individuals who are lowering the calorie and carbohydrate intake, it is recommended to take 4grams of BCAAs in between meals to avoid low levels of blood sugar and maintain energy as it suppresses the appetite as well.
BCAA Side Effects
Branched-chain amino acids can be taken continuously for 6 months without harmful effects. Most common side effects to expect during BCAA supplementation are fatigue and loss of coordination. It is highly advised that taking BCAA supplements before driving must be avoided to prevent accidents as BCAA can affect or slows down motor coordination sometimes.
Special Warnings and Precautions
- For safety, pregnant and lactating women must avoid and should not use BCAA supplements. There has been no enough study to support the effect of BCAA on the developing fetus and to breastfeeding.
- Branched-chain ketoacidosis is a fatal effect of BCAA. It can be a result of overdosing this supplement. Symptoms of this condition are seizures, mental retardation and severe loss of motor and physical coordination.
- If you have been suffering from chronic alcoholism, it is recommended to stay away from any BCAA supplements. Liver damage or disease can easily lead to severe brain damage if branched-chain amino acids are taken in large amount following alcoholics.
- People with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) must not take branched-chain amino acid supplements has been linked to lung failure and may cause death.
- Since branched-chain amino acids help in glucose metabolism, people with hypoglycemia must take precautionary measures when taking BCAA supplements. Signs and symptoms to observe are shakiness, palpitations, overly sweating even in a cold environment, dilated pupils, extreme hunger, headache, nausea and vomiting and some unexplained discomfort.
When you’re trying to build lean muscles you tend to cut on your dietary intake and thus your body will be in a catabolic state. This means your body will be breaking down more muscles than making it. BCAA powders or supplements are here to help you with muscle building and retention as your body also is not able to produce these amino acids on its own.
Three out of the nine amino acids are called the BCAA and they are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. When you exercise your body greatly oxidizes these components so drinking a BCAA mix is helpful – by the way, taking BCAA in liquid form is quicker to be absorbed in your body than capsules or tablets.
BCAAs not only helps with muscle building but it also reduces tiredness and muscle soreness making you ready to do your workout routine day after day. As with any other medicinal products, it does have precautionary words to it such as regulating intake to avoid overdosing. Women who are pregnant or lactating and those who will have surgery are at higher risk for experiencing side effects.
When utilized correctly and under regulation, BCAAs are a powerful supplement to your workout routine. They function both in adding muscle mass as well as muscle retention.