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Best BCAAs for 2018

Best BCAAs for 2018

When you've had an intense workout, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) help your body to recover in a timely manner so you can go harder next time. Some of the post-workout benefits of BCAAs are muscle growth, reduced soreness, less fatigue, and possibly even enhanced fat burning. BCAAs also have pre-workout benefits. Since your body doesn't make BCAAs on its own, you must get them from food and/or supplements. We have created a list below of some of the best BCAA supplements on the market.

Our Top BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) Picks for 2018

Product

Scivation 
Xtend BCAA Powder

Info


The Best BCAA Powder for a Diet

  • 17 flavors
  • 20, 30, or 90 servings
  • One 13,860 mg scoop contains:
    • L-Leucine 3500 mg
    • L-Isoleucine 1750 mg
    • L-Valine 1750 mg
  • Also has 2500 mg of L-Glutamine, 1000 mg of Citrulline Malate, and 1170 mg of an Electrolyte Blend

Rating


#1 Rated in BCAA Powder for a Diet


Optimum Nutrition
Gold Standard BCAA

The Best Mid-Range BCAA Powder

  • 24 flavors
  • 15, 28, 45, 68, 71, and 144 servings
  • One 3550 mg scoop contains:
    • 500mg of L-Leucine
    • L-Isoleucine and L-Valine together
  • Also has 250mg of Wellmune, 200mg of Rhodiola, and 220mg of Electrolytes


#1 Rated in Mid-Range BCAA Powder


BulkSupplements
BCAA Powder

The Best Purest BCAA Powder

  • 1 flavor
  • 3.5 oz, 8.8 oz., 17.6 oz., 2.2 lbs., 1l lbs., 55 lbs.
  • One 1500 mg scoop contains:
    • L-Leucine 750 mg
    • L-Isoleucine 375 mg
    • L-Valine 375 mg
  • This product is pure BCAAs so it doesn't have any other ingredients.


#1 Rated in Purest BCAA Powder


BPI Sports
Best BCAA Powder

The Best BCAA for Pain Relief

  • 14 flavors
  • 14, 30, and 60 servings
  • One 10,000 mg scoop contains:
    • L-Leucine 2500mg
    • L-Isoleucine 1250mg
    • L-Valine 1250mg
  • Also contains 100mg of a proprietary CLA matrix blend and 250mg of Agmatine


#1 Rated in BCAA for Pain Relief


BSN
Amino X Post Workout

The Best BCAA + Energy Boost

  • 11 flavors
  • 30 and 70 servings
  • One 10,000 mg scoop contains a 10,000 mg blend of L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine
  • Also has 2000mg of an Efforsorb Endura Composite blend and 12.5mcg of Vitamin D


#1 Rated in BCAA + Energy Boost


MusclePharm
Combat BCAA + Recovery

The Best Mid-Range BCAA Powder

  • 2 flavors
  • 30 lbs.
  • One 16,000mg scoop contains:
    • L-Leucine 3500mg
    • L-Isoleucine 1700mg
    • L-Valine 2330mg
  • This product is pure BCAAs so it doesn't have any other ingredients.


#1 Rated in Mid-Range BCAA Powder


MuscleTech
Amino Build Next Gen BCAA Powder

The Best Value BCAA

  • 8 flavors
  • 30 servings
  • One 9000 mg scoop contains:
    • L-Leucine 2000 mg
    • L-Isoleucine 1000 mg
    • L-Valine 1000 mg
  • Also contains 500 mg of Taurine, 500 mg of L-glutamine, and 500 mg of alanine


#1 Rated in Value BCAA




Picking the Best BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

A Little Information About BCAAs

BCAAs are essential amino acids that comprise around 35% of your muscles[1]. Since your body doesn't make BCAAs on its own, you must get them from other sources such as the supplement powders discussed in this article.

BCAAs can help you achieve your workout goals by helping to repair and restore your muscles after a workout. They can also maximize your gain from an intense workout if you take/drink them beforehand.

BCAAs work by increasing your glycogen stores. By doing this, your body is able to pull more energy from your glycogen stores to power through a workout. This also prevents your body from pulling energy from your protein stores, which are needed for muscle-building.

Scientifically speaking, what is a BCAA?

In order to understand what BCAAs are, you need to understand the AA part of the acronym, or amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds that are the building blocks of proteins. Around 20 percent of the human body is made of proteins so it is very important for your body to get a steady supply of amino acids in order to promote muscle growth and repair.

There are nine essential amino acids, and BCAAs make up three of them. BCAAs are a part of a group of amino acids known as proteinogenic amino acids. What separates BCAAs from the rest of the amino acids in that group is the "BC" part of BCAAs which stands for branched chain. The primary function of branched chain amino acids is to aid in muscle growth and prevention of muscle breakdown.

Thomas DeLauer from SixPackAbs.com has some great information clarifying what BCAAs are and how they help us lose body fat. It's always awesome to hear how he explains these kinds of concepts:

What are the three BCAAs?

The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine is one of two of the ketogenic amino acids in the human body. In addition to promoting muscle growth, leucine also helps to control blood sugar levels and helps promote wound healing[2].

Isoleucine is a ketogenic as well as a glycogenic amino acid. It has similar functions as leucine, but one of its major functions is proteinogenesis, meaning that it creates the basic structure of the proteins in the body. Isoleucine also creates the basic structure for antibodies and certain hormones[3].

Valine is the third BCAA. It is a glycogenic amino acid. Valine helps promote mental clarity, balance and coordination, energy, and tissue growth[4].

Who should use BCAA supplements?


The short answer to this question is everyone. Since BCAAs are essential amino acids, meaning that the body doesn't make them, you have to get them from food and supplements, and since they are required for the body to function properly, everyone needs them. Most people get enough of BCAAs from foods that they eat, but people who exercise or train a lot can benefit from additional BCAA supplements.

One major benefit of BCAA supplements (especially powder supplements) for people who exercise a lot is that they tend to get routed directly to your muscles and other tissues that need it instead of making a pit stop in your liver first. This means that it works faster and more efficiently than BCAAs from food sources. BCAAs from food sources my even be converted to energy by the liver before your muscles get any benefit from them. For people who exercise a lot, having a muscle boost as quickly as possible can increase the effectiveness of exercising.

Chris Jones from Physiques of Greatness has some great information to share about how he personally uses BCAAs in his routine and whether or not other people should:

How to Choose a Good BCAA Supplement

There are a lot of BCAA supplements on the market and while most of them will provide some type of benefit, there are a few that are just simply better. Just like with any other product for sale, some products are the best quality, some are average, and a few are not so great. To help you navigate through the good and the bad, here are some qualities to look for in a good BCAA supplement:

● You will want to look for a supplement that is composed mostly of amino acids, electrolytes, and other beneficial ingredients. Otherwise you will just be ingesting unnecessary calories.

● You also want to make sure that the supplement has more leucine than it does isoleucine and valine. Leucine is the most important BCAA and your body uses more of it than the other two. In general, most BCAA powder supplements come with a 2:1:1 ratio with the amount of leucine being twice the amount of the other two BCAAs.

Don't get caught up with genders. The supplement may say "for women" or "for men" but they will usually contain the same ingredients. The difference is that the women's version may contain less of the ingredients than the men's version.

The brand of the BCAA can give you a clue to whether or not the product is of high quality. Certain brands are well-known and well-respected, have great reviews, and have been around for decades so chances are that their product is of excellent quality. This doesn't mean that newer brands aren't good. It just means that older brands may be more reliable.

Don't be fooled by prices. In general, you get what you pay for. However, there are some lower priced BCAA supplements that provide you with all the BCAAs you need. Some of the higher priced supplements may be hyped up but essentially contain the same amount of BCAAs as a lower priced supplement.

● Another great tip is to see what other benefits the BCAA supplement can provide. For example, some supplements have electrolytes. Electrolytes serve many purposes within the body and do this by using small electrical impulses to automate many of the body's functions. Some of the functions can include moving fluids throughout the body, regulating blood pressure and acidity, and repairing damaged muscles. Without electrolytes, your body would not be able to function so having an added dose of electrolytes along with your BCAA supplement can be beneficial and efficient.

Out of all of these tips, the most important one is making sure that the supplement contains a good amount of BCAAs. You don't want a supplement with a bunch of fillers. This will defeat the purpose of taking the supplement. On average, the recommended daily intake of BCAAs for men is 12,000mg and for women is 9,000mg[4]. For people who do intense workouts, you could increase these numbers.

In the next section, I have listed some great BCAA powders.

Quick Review of the Seven Great BCAA Powders

The Best BCAA Powder for a Diet

Scivation Xtend BCAA Powder 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

This is one of the best selling BCAA powders on the market. It contains 7000mg of BCAAs in the classic 2:1:1 ratio, an average amount compared to other brands. It also has a proprietary blend of electrolytes (proprietary is a term used when the manufacturers don't display exactly how much of each ingredient is in a product). If you are looking for a powder at a great price to promote muscle growth, help repair damaged muscles, and provide you with energy, Scivation is a good choice.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    It has no sugar, calories, or carbs.

  • check
    It comes in a lot of great flavors.
  • The flavors can be overpowering and it is loaded with artificial sweetener.
  • It has sodium.

The Best Mid-Range BCAA Powder

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

This BCAA powder supplement is an award winning product that is frequently used by body builders. It contains 5000mg of BCAAs in the classic 2:1:1 ratio. ON Gold Standard products have been on the market for quite a while. The brand is trusted and well-respected and the products are usually of high quality. This product is no exception. Not only will you get a healthy dose of BCAAs, but you will also get a dose of vitamins and minerals and it will boost your energy.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    It has no sugar.

  • check
    The powder comes in 23 flavors so it is easy to find a taste you like.
  • check
    The powder also has vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.
  • The BCAA content is listed as a proprietary blend, so it isn't clear if the amounts are the classic 2:1:1 ratio.

The Purest BCAA Powder

BulkSupplements BCAA Branched Chain Essential Amino Acids Powder 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

If you are looking for a potent BCAA powder supplement, this is a great choice. This powder is 100% BCAAs. It gives you 1500mg of BCAAs per serving in the classic 2:1:1 ratio. Although this is less BCAAs per serving than many other BCAA powder supplements, the purity of this product is something to be desired. This powder has no frills about it, but it is powerful and will help boost your workout performance so you can get the maximum results.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    The powder is soy free, dairy free, gluten free, and yeast free so it is suitable for many different types of diets and/or lifestyles.

  • check
    It is very potent and will work fast.
  • check
    The granules are very fine and it dissolves well in water.
  • It has an extremely bitter taste, so you may want to put it in something that taste good like fruit juice.
  • It is advertised as having no fillers but actually has corn (a filler) as one of the ingredients.
  • There is only one flavor which is unflavored.

The Best BCAA for Pain Relief

BPI Sports Best BCAA Powder 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

This is a good BCAA powder that has an added CLA Matrix. This helps to promote fat burning as well as muscle growth and recovery. It includes Agmatine, a derivative of an amino acid that may aid in pain relief of sore, aching muscles. It comes in a lot of great flavors which the company states is due to a patented flavoring technology. It has oligopeptide-enzymatic technology which creates a bond between the BCAAs and possibly allows them to work faster and more efficiently in the body.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    It features Agmatine, the technology that bonds the BCAAs together.

  • check
    The flavor is great, and reported to be a lot better than most BCAA powders.
  • Even though the flavor is great, the formula is over-the-top sweet which may not appeal to many people.

The Best BCAA + Energy Boost

BSN Amino X Post Workout 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

If you are looking to get a huge dose of BCAAs in one serving plus a fair amount of other amino acids, then BSN Amino X is probably a very good choice. This powder has a whopping 10,000mg of BCAAs per serving in the classic 2:1:1 ratio. Although it isn't listed, this means that you get 5,000mg or leucine, 2,500mg of isoleucine, and 2,500mg of valine. It also has other necessary amino acids such as taurine, L-alanine, and L-citrulline. This is very easily the full recommended amount that you would need for an entire day. It is designed for endurance to push through the toughest workouts and for efficient recovery after the workouts.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    It has enough BCAAs so that one serving per day is sufficient.

  • check
    It is very affordable being in the lower price range compared to other BCAA powders.
  • check
    You get a healthy dose of other amino acids besides the BCAAs.
  • It has a high sodium content of 170mg per serving.
  • The flavors are not that great and have a bit of a "chemical-like" aftertaste.

The Best Mid-Range BCAA Powder

MusclePharm Combat BCAA + Recovery 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

If you are an athlete looking for a BCAA powder that is guaranteed not to have banned substances, then MusclePharm Combat BCAA is a great choice. It is certified by Informed-Choice and contains all nine of the needed amino acids. It has a good amount of leucine and features a 3:2:1 ratio of BCAAs. When adding the amount of all the amino acids in the formula together, you get 10,000 mg of amino acids (including BCAAs) in one serving, making it easy to achieve the recommended daily intake.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    It has electrolytes, including potassium which helps to counteract the effects of sodium, helping you to maintain a level blood pressure.

  • check
    The flavors are actually pleasant as stated in many reviews.
  • check
    There is no sugar, no calories, and no artificial dyes.
  • It is only available in one size.
  • There are only two flavors available.
  • It has a high sodium content (240mg).

The Best Value BCAA

MuscleTech Amino Build Next Gen BCAA Powder 

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Mixability

This is a great performance-enhancing BCAA powder supplement. It helps you to benefit more from your workouts and to build more lean muscle. This was designed with athletes in mind and contains a strength enhancing compound called Betaine Anhydrous. It also has 500mg each of Taurine, L-glutamine, and L-alanine for recovery after intense work out sessions. With the 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, this is a great formula for people who like to go hard in their workouts.

Pros

Cons

  • check

    Flavored by experts, this BCAA powder has some of the best tasting flavors on the market.

  • check
    It contains 4000mg of Leucine, the most important BCAA.
  • check
    It is fairly priced and would fit most budgets.
  • It only comes in one size.
  • It contains sodium.

The Best of the Best

Out of the seven BCAA powders listed above, my favorite and number one recommended is the BPI Sports Best BCAA Powder. Not only is it fairly priced, but it has a good amount of all three BCAAs per serving and features the oligopeptide-enzymatic technology to help you reap the benefits faster. It has great flavor options and they are all generally pretty good for a BCAA powder. It also has different size options which is great if you are trying to stretch your budget, or just want to start with a smaller size first. All the BCAA powder supplements discussed in this review are great choices so we hope you pick one as your favorite!

Sources:
[1]
http://www.gnc.com/health-articles-tips/sports-performance/what-are-bcaas.html
[2]
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/L-leucine#section=Top
[3]
https://www.livestrong.com/article/435085-the-function-of-isoleucine-amino-acids/
[4]
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/L-valine#section=Top
[5]
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/bcaa#section9
[6]
https://www.aminoacid-studies.com/amino-acids/what-are-amino-acids.html

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