Branched-chain amino acids are some of the most common supplements today among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. People laud them for their effectiveness in helping to build lean muscle mass while cutting back on fat, post-workout fatigue, and a host of other issues. Moreso, BCAA supplements are safe for practically everyone, so unlike some other fitness supplements, most people don’t have to worry about side effects with BCAA supplements.
If you do not know how helpful BCAA supplements are, you should know that the body cannot make the essential amino acids that make up this supplement. This is delicate because these amino acids comprise a large chunk of the body’s overall pool of essential amino acids, and their only source is through diet.
Also, they break down in the muscle, unlike other proteins in the liver. That is why many believe that BCAA supplements are essential for producing energy in the body. Research also shows that they increase overall body and muscle protein synthesis.
The motivation to create this list was to develop an unbiased review you could turn to in making your purchase. We considered the essential criteria a BCAA supplement should meet and used them as our yardstick for shortlisting our top four.
Top Picks Of The Best BCAA Supplements & Powders (2022)
- Transparent labs BCAA glutamine – Overall Best BCAA Powder, Editor’s Choice
- Kaged In-Kaged – Best BCAA Workout Drink
- Cellucor alpha amino BCAA powder – Most Popular Zero Calorie BCAA supplement
- Xtend original BCAA powder – Highly Recommended BCAA Supplement For Muscle Growth
#1. Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine – Overall Best BCAA Powder, Editor’s Choice
As the name implies, Transparent Labs is a company dedicated to having a sincere relationship with its customers. It does this by providing products that are sources of transparent manufacturing processes. The ingredient list of the products is also comprehensively and clearly stated, and the products contain no proprietary blends or undisclosed ingredients.
This transparent approach is laudable because the FDA does not require that dietary supplement manufacturers clearly state all their packaging ingredients. They also only use ingredients proven effective by independent testing and research. They have profiles and pictures for some of their reviewers and board members to further back their transparency claims.
Focusing on Transparent Lab’s BCAA glutamine, it ticks all the boxes necessary to feature on top of our list of best BCAA supplements. It is made by a reputable company, contains only fermented vegan BCAA, has a few other beneficial ingredients, comes in a variety of five flavors, is highly effective, and has tons of verified positive customer reviews.
Coconut Water Extract: This is a refreshing addition to the BCAA supplement. Manufacturers understand that exercise can get very intense at times. Even though the BCAA might give you some energy, it does not hydrate you, and staying hydrated when exercising is very important. As an extremely rich natural source of electrolytes, coconut water ensures that you stay hydrated throughout your workout.
Scientifically Backed Dosage: BCAA has a lot of studies proving and backing its effectiveness. However, this product does not just combine the three BCAAs and sell to you. They have calculated and carefully measured the dosing to ensure that the ingredients are in the right quantity to give you your desired effects. This is one thing that stands transparent labs BCAA glutamine as one of the best BCAA supplements on the market.
No Unnecessary Ingredients: Some BCAA supplement manufacturers try to outdo themselves by stuffing many ingredients into their supplements. Sometimes, they create a product that is not as effective as it ought to be or end up filling it with unnecessary ingredients. Transparent labs BCAA glutamine contains only five active ingredients that directly affect your health and fitness. They include leucine isoleucine and valine, coconut water extract, and glutamine. Coconut water helps to prevent dehydration from intense workouts, and glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that boosts protein synthesis.
Stevia Sweetener: Most BCAAs contain a sweetener to make the product’s taste palatable. This product opts for Stevia, a naturally occurring sweetener without any carbohydrates. Doing this ensures that the product remains vegan and low calorie,
Transparent ingredient list
- Fermented vegan BCAA supplement
- Generous refund policy
- Five different flavor options
- Highly effective
- No artificial additives
- Tastes weird due to Stevia
#2. Kaged In-Kaged – Best BCAA Workout Drink
In-Kaged was created to be a premium workout drink, and its ingredients work in line with that direction. It contains a fairly comprehensive list of ingredients you can find on the website with their descriptions and uses. The brand behind the product heavily advocates for a healthy lifestyle and believes its product to be the ultimate aid to that lifestyle.
The product comes in three flavors: blue raspberry, cherry lemonade, and watermelon. These flavors are designed to be as tasty as they are effective. Their website reveals hundreds of satisfied customer reviews about the brand and product. Many customers praise the quality of customer the brand offers, while many others are simply in awe of the effectiveness of the product In-Kaged.
Summarily, the In-Kaged, unlike many BCAA supplements, is an all-rounder for the everyday athlete. It will be great for active people as they will see the best results from using this product. Thankfully, the product is from fermented plants and contains nothing artificial except a harmless sweetener called sucralose.
Military Discount: We have to acknowledge that this brand has some great discounts and promos. This includes its rewards program for loyal customers and its military discount. The military discount gives up to 20% off every time you order from their store. Additionally, it covers first responders and family members of these groups of people.
All-Round Focused Ingredients: This product is designed to be the ultimate workout drink. In addition to the amino acids for keeping, it has ingredients like caffeine and taurine to keep your energy levels up. It also contains muscle growth amino acids like l-tyrosine and l-citrulline.
In addition, it has ingredients for endurance, mental alertness, cognitive performance, and hydration. You can find all of the ingredients and their uses on their website.
Lab-Tested Products: Their ingredients are scientifically proven effective, and the resulting products are all lab-tested. Their amino acids are tested for impurities despite being derived the best way, i.e., from plants through fermentation.
Beyond impurity, the products are tested for effectiveness. According to their website, they always want to ensure they are putting out something that works for their customers. These tests are conducted by third-party labs that have the relevant certifications.
Mobile App: A supplement brand owning a mobile app is not something you see daily, and this shows how dedicated they are to all their customers as they have made an effort to become as accessible as possible. Their mobile app is available on Android and iOS devices for effortless shopping.
Furthermore, on close inspection of the app, one will find the app seamless to use. Just as the website is easy to navigate with plenty of information, the app is also user-friendly and efficient. You will find it a helpful mobile partner on your muscle growth journey.
- Dosages are effective
- Healthy and science-backed ingredients
- Pleasant taste
- Fuels workout energy
- Highly effective
- Lab-tested post-production
- Caffeine content might not be suitable for everyone
#3. Cellucor Alpha Amino BCAA Powder – Most Popular Zero Calorie BCAA supplement
This packed BCAA powder is manufactured by a company that aims to be the best sports nutrition brand in the world. They aim to help their customers achieve their dreams of getting fit regardless of whether their lifestyle allows them to be fully committed or not.
One great thing about the products is that they contain no sugar and are zero-calorie products; they taste amazing. The Cellucor Alpha Amino BCAA powder comes in five different flavors that are well pronounced on the taste buds. Customers commend the product extensively on their website as verified reviews are posted there.
According to the product’s web page, it has three major uses. The first is great for muscle recovery during and after exercise. The ingredients are shared in the right ratio to maximize this effect. The second thing is that the powder is immensely hydrating, mainly due to its coconut water powder content.
The flavors are capable of quenching thirst, and it has great mixability meaning that it easily dissolves in water. You can take it any time, and be sure you won’t experience any negative side effects as long as you follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
Discounts: Cellucor offers great value when you purchase from them. There are so many ways you can save money while benefiting the same thing. First, they have a subscription plan which can allow you to save up to 30% on the price of this product for your first order. Subsequent orders attract a 20% discount, and the subscription comes with free shipping.
Even if you are not subscribing, you get free shipping for every product over $55 that you buy. They also have a rewards program that gives a lot of discounts and exclusive perks if you choose to participate. Finally, their refer-a-friend also gives $20 for every person you refer.
60-Day Money-Back Period: When you buy this product, there is no need to be skeptical because the brand’s confidence in itself is reassuring. They promise a 60-day money-back guarantee, which is more than most brands offer. Unlike other brands, their return policy is also quite transparent and lenient.
Warning On The Product Page: A sight you do not see daily is a product such as a dietary being advertised responsibly. On all the product pages, there is advice on who the product is suitable for and who is not. This is laudable because many manufacturers focus on selling their products without addressing this aspect.
The website points out an age restriction reminding underaged people not to use the product. It also advises people with special health conditions and pregnant or breastfeeding women the same thing. One can tell that Cellucor Alpha Amino BCAA Powder’s manufacturers care about the users.
Store Locator Tool: This product is available online as well as offline. A location tool on the product’s website helps you find stores within your area that sell it. That makes for extreme confidence and ease.
- Generous money-back period
- Flavors are great
- Responsible marketing
- Other fitness tools on the website
- No sugar
- Available offline
- Contains an artificial sweetener
#4. Xtend Original BCAA Powder – Highly Recommended BCAA Supplement For Muscle Growth
The Cellucor brand has two products on our list as a testament to the quality they are constantly dishing out. This product is the original BCAA powder of Cellucor and comes in 10 flavors. Its flavors include blue raspberry ice, glacial grape, Italian blood orange, mango madness, splash apple, watermelon explosion, splash ice, etc.
Its wide range of fruity flavors makes it the go-to dietary supplement for anyone who likes to enjoy the taste of their supplement. The experience of drinking it is almost as great as the joy of seeing its positive effects on your body. A portion of the positive customer reviews on the site come from people who need an extra boost of energy because they are old.
That shows that Xtend Original BCAA powder can cater to a large demographic of consumers who aim to keep fit and healthy. Furthermore, the powder dissolves very well inside water so that you don’t have residue that you will waste at the bottom of your cup. In addition to the various discount and value services that Cellucor offers, buying this product will give you massive value for your money.
Trustworthy: As the original BCAA product of Cellular, many customers have been using this product for a long time. According to their website, many have trusted and used it continually for over 15 years. If anything, this is a testament to the supplement’s effectiveness and good quality.
No-Sugar Flavor Burst: With this product, you will be tempted to buy one of each flavor to enjoy taking your supplements while keeping fit. The reason is that all of its flavors are mouth-watering and somehow don’t contain any sugar.
You will not find it hard to stick to your regimen of taking supplements with this product. Rather, you will likely anticipate your next dose due to the amazing taste and the fact that you are not adding calories by using it.
Excellent Reviews: If customers’ reviews and comments on and off the website are anything to go by, this product is of excellent quality. It has an impressive 4.9-star rating on the website from hundreds of customers. Our review of this product is that it is excellent simply because it delivers on two important things: effectiveness and taste.
Other Helpful Ingredients: XTEND original BCAA powder is full of other ingredients that give the BCAAs a lot of boost in effectiveness. These include sodium, potassium, other non-essential amino acids, and electrolytes. According to the website, this blend of heavy-weight ingredients is supposed to help fitness enthusiasts do three things: recover, hydrate, and repair.
- Zero calories
- No sugar
- Lots of fortifying extra ingredients
- Great flavors available
- Nice taste
- Top-rated by customers
- Not completely vegan
How We Made This List Of Best BCAA Supplements?
This article aims to be a definite go-to for people searching for the best BCAA supplements. As such, this list underwent a rigorous formation process, and we started with as many BCAA supplements as possible and began a knockout process.
We researched brands, effectiveness, and customer reviews to give us the best ten. At this stage, we tested the products individually, and our team members tested for effectiveness, taste, and first hand-customer service experience with these products and their owners. Ultimately, we picked the top four that stood out most. Below we explain some of the ranking criteria we used.
What We Looked For?
Here are some of the things we looked out for when making our list of best four supplements for men:
- Brand Reputation: This is important because you should not be patronizing a brand that is shady or not known to have integrity. Reputation matters considerably regarding dietary supplements because they are things you must ingest. Therefore, our number one priority was looking for a brand that said it was the best and was. We picked brands with the most transparent practices and ingredient lists.
- Source: There are two significant ways manufacturers can get their BCAA. It is either from animals or plants. While not everyone is vegan or has to be, a vegan BCAA supplement is better than the animal-derived one. There are fewer chances of impurities entering the product, and it caters to a broader demographic.
- Effectiveness: At the end of the day, the product is useless if it fits the bill in every aspect except being effective. There are a bunch of ways we were able to confirm the product’s effectiveness. Some members of our team tasted selected products and recorded their experiences.
In addition, we checked customer reviews on verified platforms endorsing or denouncing the products. Finally, we researched the ingredient list of our products. We noted the ones that contained certain powerful and effective ingredients in addition to the BCAAs as these products are more likely to be effective.
- Affordability: Finally, we consider picking products within an affordable price range. We understand that quality comes first, but after that, we expect you to get the best value for your money. Therefore, we went for the best products that won’t break the bank and removed all overpriced products from our list.
Buying Guide: Factors To Consider Before Buying BCAA Supplements
Here are a few things to consider before you buy any BCAA supplement physically or online:
BCAA supplement manufacturers source these supplements from the strangest places. You will find that many brands derive their BCAA from things like animal skin and hair. This may not be concerning to you if you are not vegan or simply see nothing with that. But, many would agree that it seems rather bizarre and slightly discomforting.
We advise you to go for fermented sources like the brands in this review did. The products have a much higher chance of being pure, and they pass the benchmark for vegans who are worried about using this product.
Tablet Or Powder
If you are lucky, you may find a brand that comes in these two forms, but that does not mean their quality is great if they come in only one form. A lot of top brands offer their supplements in either powder or tablet. So before you make a purchase, you need to verify the type your favorite brand is selling and whether or not it suits you. This is unless you don’t mind using either tablet or powder supplement.
Generally speaking, the powder is the most common form and is absorbed into the body faster. So, it is more likely to take effect while you work out if you take it just before. On the other hand, a tablet might not start showing effects until after you have finished exercising.
Return Policy/ Guarantee
Most great products have a fairly long guarantee of at least 30 days. You may even get an occasional 60 days. The money-back guarantee can tell you a lot about how confident a brand is in its product. Beyond that, you should also check out the return policy of a brand you are trying for the first time.
No matter how good a product is, there is a tendency you might not like it, and you need to know beforehand if you can return it. If so, you’ll have to find out the terms attached to this; for example, you may not be able to get a refund on opened products.
Ingredient And Dosage
This is another crucial thing to check before buying a BCAA supplement. Luckily, buying online allows one to learn as much about a product as possible. You’ll want to check the amount of the major amino acids in it. They should ideally be in the ratio of 2:1:1.
Also, your product does not necessarily need to be carb empty. Up to 3% of your daily carb requirement is fine in the supplement. Just be mindful of the sweeteners in the product. White sugar and other artificial sweeteners are not good for health. On the other hand, natural sweeteners are completely safe but strange tasting. Unsweetened products may taste terrible, so you have to pick your poison.
FAQs Related To Best BCAA Supplements
What are the benefits of BCAAs?
The health benefits of BCAAs are numerous and research-backed. They include building lean muscle mass, reduced muscle soreness after intense workouts, fewer calories, body sugar regulation, and so on. In fact, many people even take such supplements to loose weight. Taking a BCAA pre- and post-workout can reduce the effect of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) on you.
Some research also proves that BCAAs may reduce muscle wasting. In this reagrds, you can try turmeric supplements which act like a natural remedy to ease numerous health conditions. Your muscle proteins are constantly built up and broken down. Muscle wasting occurs when you break down more protein than is being rebuilt. BCAAs show the ability to hinder the process of muscle breakdown.
Lastly, a non-fitness-related benefit of BCAAs is that they may improve liver health. The scientific community recommends BCAAs for people suffering from liver disease. They seem to help prevent the development of liver cancer in people with cirrhosis.
When and how should I take my BCAA supplement?
According to a study, there seems to be no difference in results whether you take your BCAA supplement before exercise or after. Also, about taking it during exercise, it seemed to make no difference in the performance of the athletes in a particular study.
However, a recent study points out other factors that affect BCAA supplement effectiveness apart from the timing. The first is the amount you are consuming. The study revealed that you might need to take at least 91 mg daily for every pound of your body weight.
Also, regardless of timing during the day, you’ll need to use it as a long-term supplement to truly see results. In other words, you cannot take it only on the days you go to the gym if you want optimum results. Finally, splitting the supplement into smaller doses to use more frequently may have positive effects.
Are there any side effects of Branched Chain Amino Acids?
Most people know BCAAs for their relative safety and low likelihood of side effects. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, you should have no problem using BCAAs. Some side effects of BCAAs might include stomach upsets, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and rashes. Most side effects are not severe; consult your healthcare provider if you experience any of these. Also, there are rumors of studies linking BCAAs to more serious illnesses like heart disease. However, nothing conclusive has been found yet.
Who should take a BCAA supplement?
Most healthy people can take a BCAA supplement. If you are looking to build muscle or feel like you are not getting enough essential amino acids from your diet, BCAA is great for you. While BCAAs are safe for most people, a handful of people should avoid them.
Firstly, people with a rare inherited disease called Maple Syrup Urine Disease should avoid using BCAA supplements unless recommended by a healthcare practitioner. This is because the disease prevents the ability of the body to break down the three branched-chain amino acids.
Also, if you have specific health challenges like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc., you should avoid BCAAs. When in doubt, consult your physician. The same thing applies to pregnant or breastfeeding women.
How does a BCAA supplement work?
BCAAs consist of leucine, isoleucine and valine. Each of these branched-chain amino acids has been proven to have slightly different effects that encourage physical health. Research shows that leucine supports muscle growth the most. It activates a pathway for orchestrating muscle formation, AKA muscle protein synthesis in the body.
The other two, isoleucine and valine, have shown to be more effective in regulating the body’s energy and sugar levels. BCAAs also reduce muscle soreness and increase muscle recovery by preventing muscle damage during exercise. Finally, at the primary level, they help build lean muscle mass since your body can use them as building blocks.
Can I get BCAA naturally?
Yes, you can. BCAAs are essential amino acids that are available in abundance in certain foods. A benefit of natural BCAA is that the foods containing these three amino acids will usually contain some or all of the other essential amino acids. BCAAs are mostly found in high-protein foods like seafood, eggs, yogurt, chicken, and cheese. You can also get them from Soy and Whey Protein powders.
If you are vegan, you won’t be able to get BCAA from these top food sources. However, some plant sources contain BCAA to lesser degrees. They include nuts, legumes, and whole grains. However, each of these foods lacks at least one of the essential amino acids. So, to get the same nourishment you would get from animal sources, you have to eat a variety of these foods.
Can BCAA powder expire?
Yes, your BCAA supplement can expire. As with most supplements, they’ll usually come with an expiry date on the body of the product. This date could be an exact date after which the supplement will not be consumable, but several times, it’s an estimation based on how long the product is expected to stay fresh.
If you have a supplement pack nearing its expiry and you are not close to finishing, it does not mean you will have to dump it when it finishes. Several times, you may still be able to use your supplements days or weeks after their expiry date. This, however, depends on how well you store them.
General storage rules include keeping them in a cool, dry place and not leaving them open. You can continue to use your BCAA supplement, but as soon as you notice a change in the texture, smell, or taste of your supplement, you should discontinue it. With proper storage, a BCAA supplement is good for about 2 – 3 years after its production, which should be enough time for you to finish it.
Should I go for BCAA powder or tablets?
This is up to you to decide. It depends on your lifestyle and when you would take your BCAA supplement. For people who may not like the idea of swallowing tablets too often, it makes sense to go for the powder if you use the supplement several times a day. Also, you can mix the powder with a nice sports drink or water, and the body absorbs them faster than tablets.
On the other hand, tablets are much more portable than powder. It is harder to lug BCAA powder around than to put a couple of tablets in your pocket. Furthermore, you don’t require anything when taking tablets. You only need the supplement and maybe a bottle of water to swallow. You don’t need to mix them with water in a cup or a drink like powders. This makes them easier to use when you are on the go. Lastly, tablets might be the way to go if you are not looking for something with an instant effect.
Are BCAA supplements worth it?
Supplements containing branched-chain amino acids are worth it. They are low-risk, high-gain supplements. This means you have little to lose from using them but a lot you could gain. If you are on a calorie-restricted diet, watching your weight while gyming, or working as an endurance athlete, you will feel the effects of using a quality BCAA supplement.
The good thing about these products is that their effects are scientifically backed, so as long as you use one produced under good quality standards, you have nothing to fear. Moreso, as has been observed anecdotally and through research, very few people react negatively to these supplements. So, unless you fall into a category of people earlier defined in this article, the best BCAA supplements are worth it.
Conclusion: What Are The Benefits Of BCAAs?
Using a dietary supplement is a great way to boost the effects of your workout and healthy lifestyle. You can refer to this to know more about “which supplement should i take to promote my overall health”? Everyone knows BCAA supplements are great, but it is not so easy to find the best ones on the market. In choosing the right supplements, you’ll need to ignore the clout and hype to focus on what is important.
These important factors are what we have highlighted to you throughout this article. Beware of prices that are either too high or too low as well. Overpriced products may not necessarily be the best, and very cheap ones are likely substandard. A great rule of thumb would be to compare the prices of quality products such as those recommended in this article to get a general sense of the average acceptable price.
BCAA supplements alone can give you 3 of the nine essential amino acids, and other benefits are proven scientifically. Therefore, you can be sure that you will achieve your fitness goals with the right ones. However, you can get BCAAs from your diet, so you should be mindful not to allow them to take the place of a good diet in your regimen. Fitness is a culmination of many things, and you cannot rely on only supplements to achieve your goals.
In other words, while BCAA supplements may prevent muscle breakdown and support muscle growth, weight loss, and overall body health, other lifestyle choices also matter. You might purchase a good quality product but find that the results are not evident because of your other life choices.
Research proves that BCAAs are more effective in the presence of other muscle-building amino acids. Therefore, besides BCAA supplementation, a good and healthy diet and regular exercise will do wonders. Even if you are vegan and have limited protein sources, other healthy foods and your BCAA supplements will ensure you have enough supply of the essential and non-essential amino acids you need to stay fit and healthy.