Supplementing with BCAAs will enhance muscle growth, recovery, and overall performance.
Branch chain amino acids, or BCAAs, have long sat on shelves as popular supplements for athletes of all experience levels to boost their training and improve all aspects of a workout and recovery regimen. Working to enhance muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness and exercise fatigue, and prevent muscle wasting, BCAAs hold a variety of benefits for your health and performance.
When it comes to muscle growth, protein is necessary to see increased hypertrophy and keep the muscle fueled for recovery and that next workout. Amino acids are organic compounds which provide the foundation for protein. There are 20 amino acids that make up protein, but of those 20, nine are considered essential amino acids which are not produced by the body but are essential for muscle growth. Three of these essential amino acids are branch chain amino acids (BCAAs): isoleucine, leucine, and valine. Differing in their chemical structures, BCAAs work to stimulate protein synthesis and increase that much desired muscle growth.
Key Benefits of BCAAs:
- Increase muscle growth: Repair, grow and add new muscle tissue and aid in the process of protein synthesis (1).
- Reduce fatigue: Decrease levels of tryptophan in the brain and raise levels of serotonin.
- Decrease muscle soreness: Lowers levels of key enzymes that play a role in exercise-induced muscle damage to improve recovery (2).
- Prevents muscle wasting: Restores lost amino acids in the muscles to keep them primed.
We put together a list of the top BCAA supplements out there to give you the best chance at finding one that works for you and all of your performance goals. From reputable and high-quality brands, these will surely work for your muscle-building and performance enhancing goals.
Here are the 10 best BCAA supplements for 2020.
Best Overall: Enhanced Labs Anabolic IV
Enhanced Labs Anabolic IV is a great BCAA supplement for those serious about muscle gains. Providing everything you need from a muscle-building and recovery supplement, Anabolic IV ensures you get all of those critical BCAAs as well as additional essential amino acids. BCAAs will promote protein synthesis (3) and the added EAAs will actually build the tissue on top, adding strength and size. Other great benefits of Anabolic IV are increasing fat burning, supporting optimal hormone balance, and decreasing fatigue while elevating endurance performance.
Made from 23 highly effective ingredients, each serving delivers 10.25 grams of clinically dosed EAAs to maximize muscle growth. With six blends, it is a top of the line BCAA supplement:
- Clinically Dosed Amino Acid blend: Maximizes protein synthesis.
- Nitric Oxide blend: Increases blood flow for better endurance and recovery.
- Non-stimulant nootropic blend: Enhances memory and cognitive function.
- Electrolyte blend: Moves fatty acids into cells for fuel.
- B Vitamin blend: Improves energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism.
- Fat Oxidation and Muscle Insulin Sensitivity Blend: Regulates blood sugar levels, decreases appetite and fights off chronic illness.
With great ingredients and these six high quality blends, Enhanced Labs Anabolic IV is the best overall BCAA supplement.
Pros: Effective ingredients and great blends make this product really useful. Containing EAAs as well really encourages that muscle growth will occur and the price is good.
Cons: There are a lot of ingredients for a BCAA product so diligent research is required.
Price: $54.99 for 60 servings
Best For Performance: Performance Lab SPORT BCAA
Performance Lab SPORT BCAA is a versatile performance and muscle boosting supplement in the convenience of a capsule. SPORT BCAA can elevate strength and endurance, block muscle breakdown and soreness, and optimize muscle growth and recovery. For healthy daily use, it can support immune defenses and is a safe, natural way to support your overall training regimen. Performance Lab’s NutriGenesis technology is innovative and mirrors the natural processes found in nature in their lab to produce high quality and easily absorbed nutrients.
With a solid ratio of 2:1:1 of L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine, it makes this supplement very easy to absorb and makes it versatile for all athletes. L-leucine works with protein synthesis and muscle growth, L-isoleucine helps transport oxygen to muscles and support healing, while L-valine optimizes muscle tissue growth and repair (4). As a result of the easy absorption and ability to refuel quickly, Performance Lab SPORT BCAA is a great supplement for that boost in performance.
Pros: Great ratio of BCAAs and 5 ingredients total. Clean and vegan friendly formula is nice. The NutriGenesis process is innovative and ensures all of those nutrients are properly absorbed.
Cons: This is a premium priced option for the number of servings and you can only buy directly from their website.
Price: $35.10 for 30 servings
Best For Repair and Recovery: Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine
Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine offers all the benefits of a BCAA supplement with the added benefit of L-glutamine in the formula. Designed for the best BCAA for repair and recovery, Transparent Labs has crafted a 100% clean formula with a transparent label so you know exactly what you are getting. With active ingredients both clinically researched and dosed, there are zero harmful additives to this BCAA supplement. Each serving of 14 grams is designed to stimulate protein synthesis, reduce muscle fatigue, and enhance your overall performance, all while aiding in recovery and repair.
With 5 active ingredients, CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine works with a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs for all of the intended effects and benefits. The added bonus of this supplement is 5,000mg of glutamine. Glutamine is a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid and is the most abundant free amino acid in human muscle. It plays a major role in protein synthesis, inhibiting protein breakdown and muscle degradation, and reducing fatigue while providing immune health (5). Placed into this great formula is coconut water powder which is a rich source of electrolytes with a host of other overall health benefits. Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine is a solid option for all of your recovery and repair needs.
Pros: Fully transparent label from a reputable company provides clinically dosed ingredients with no harmful additives. The high amount of glutamine and additional coconut water powder put into this formula are great additions.
Cons: This is a premium priced option only available through their website and you must mix it well to avoid grittiness.
Price: $39.00 for 30 servings
Best For Fatigue Reduction: National Bodybuilding Co. Pro Contest BCAA
National Bodybuilding Co. Pro Contest BCAA is one of those supplements you need to upgrade strength, endurance, and recovery faster than before. Naturally sourced ingredients and a side effect free guarantee, this formula will work to build muscle and recovery, stop muscle breakdown, boost athletic performance, and is great for all types of training. Tested and formulated from clinical studies, this supplement is safe for all your performance and recovery needs.
A great ratio of the BCAAs L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine will work for muscle endurance and hypertrophy in the gym. Containing 1,000mg of glutamine, this will prove to be more than beneficial in repair, recovery and fighting off inflammation. The added bonus of this BCAA supplement is vitamin B6, one of the key players in muscle growth. It can promote red blood cell count, boost the amount of oxygen in your muscles, and enhance nitric oxide for performance and endurance (6). By elevating your overall athletic lifestyle and keeping you going, National Bodybuilding Co. Pro Contest BCAA is the best for reducing fatigue and keeping you going strong.
Pros: A clean ratio of BCAAs with 45 servings is appealing as well as the added glutamine and vitamin B6. Non-GMO and gluten free with no harmful additives really makes this a great product.
Cons: It only sells directly from their website and only ships to American and Canadian customers. The only flavor at the moment is fruit punch.
Price: $38.00 for 45 servings
Best For Lean Muscle Support: Allmax Aminocore BCAA
Allmax Aminocore BCAA offers a zero filler and sugar free BCAA supplement designed to support increased lean muscle mass. Aminocore feeds your muscles during diet and exercise and allows for that hard-earned muscle to stay on. With the addition of B vitamins, this product will enhance metabolic power and improve energy levels. With a healthy dose of BCAAs, your muscle-building and preservation needs are taken care of.
Along with the three BCAAs, the ingredients list includes vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12. Among the many benefits of vitamin B3, the main ones include the production of energy (7) and the regulation of both good and bad levels of cholesterol. Vitamin B6 can boost brain performance and allow for proper cognitive functioning while vitamin B9 produces more red blood cells to improve circulation and heart health. Vitamin B12 improves performance and endurance to keep you working longer and harder in the gym (8). Alllmax Aminocore BCAA is a great supplement for lean muscle support and one to keep you healthy overall with a great B vitamin complex.
Pros: Large amounts of BCAAs with each scoop and added B vitamins provide for great benefits. For the number of servings, it is also inexpensive.
Cons: There are some added ingredients that don’t really need to be in there for exercise performance and there is sucralose but no stimulants.
Price: $54.99 for 90 servings
Best For Bioavailability: Dymatize Athlete’s BCAAs
Dymatize Athlete’s BCAA is a gluten and dye free BCAA supplement that is tested for banned substances to really enhance your performance with no risks. Aside from the great benefit of muscle support, this product works to provide the best ingredients for pure and fast absorption. Known for quality and proven performance, Dymatize has become a popular supplement with athletes and trainers who work to stay in peak shape. This product has been designed for athletes to keep endurance high without excess sugar and carbs.
With a simple ratio of straight BCAAs, this product is easy and effective for whatever intra-workout needs you are looking for to enhance muscle growth, recovery, and performance. It also contains vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12 and pantothenic acid. Thiamin encourages positive mental attitude and increased energy while pantothenic acid is essential for breaking down and using food while aiding overall metabolic support so those nutrients hit you much faster (9). For this reason, Dymatize BCAAs is great for bioavailability with its pure and proven formula.
Pros: This is a great product geared towards athletes from a reputable company. Pantothenic acid makes this really great for absorption so nothing goes to waste.
Cons: It does contain sugar so for some diets this may not work and other artificial flavors may ruin an otherwise good product.
Price: $19.99 for33 servings
Best For Muscle Pumps: Kaged Muscle In-Kaged
Kaged Muscle In-Kaged is solid intra-workout supplement to fuel even your toughest workouts. Formulated to maximize endurance, provide unstoppable energy, and provide for muscle pumps, this product will keep you going strong all the way through training. As a health forward brand, Kaged Muscle keeps performance in mind for both men and women who want results with a clean product. Award winning and third party tested, this supplement is accurate and comes from a reputable company.
No artificial additives or fillers is matched with 9 ingredients each placed in one of three powerful matrix mixes. A ratio of 2:1:1 BCAAs powers the Muscle Fuel Matrix to give you all the growth and strength gains you hope to see. The Endura-Pump Matrix contains L-citrulline, beta-alanine and coconut water powder, while the Neuro-Energy Matrix consists of taurine, L-tyrosine, and caffeine.
L-citrulline will increase exercise capacity and decrease fatigue and muscle soreness while beta alanine does the same with the added benefit of serving as an immune booster. Taurine supports your metabolism while protecting your musculoskeletal system and L-tyrosine provides (10) for hormone balance and cognitive performance. With a clean formula and solid ingredients to fuel your muscles, Kaged Muscle In-Kaged is a great BCAA supplement for muscle pumps.
Pros: Solid ingredients have great effects on your muscles and provide for those big muscle pumps and unstoppable energy. Three matrices are nice to effectively use the ingredients.
Cons: Price is slightly higher compared to others and often times doesn’t mix the best. The label doesn’t fully disclose any added ingredients.
Price: $27.99 for 20 servings
Best For Endurance: MuscleTech Amino Build
MuscleTech Amino Blend is a strong supplement for recovery support, lean muscle growth, strength building, and a great endurance boost. MuscleTech has fueled athletes for two decades and seeks to provide consumers with effective, clinically dosed ingredients to increase strength and performance. Offering innovative supplements, they ride the line of cutting-edge products for serious athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
With 7 grams of BCAAs, this provides a solid foundation for rapid recovery and strength building. It also contains 4 grams of leucine which will increase muscular endurance to increase max reps and 2.5 grams of betaine to build muscle and increase strength. Rounding out with 1 gram of taurine, this essential amino acid can enhance performance and endurance (11) making MuscleTech Amino Build a solid BCAA supplement for endurance.
Pros: Reputable company and good product in terms of intended effects. Taurine is great for enhancing performance and endurance.
Cons: Smaller serving size and some of the claims cannot be fully verified.
Price: $24.99 for 40 servings
Best For Women: IdealFit Ideallean BCAAs For Women
IdealFit Ideallean BCAAs for Women is a solid women’s BCAA supplement to provide high quality BCAAs with a great fat loss blend. Zero carbs, fat, or calories is a great benefit to this supplement to keep you dedicated to your fitness journey. Specifically designed for women, this BCAA supplement will maximize weight loss and kickstart lean muscle growth and is perfect for those looking to improve muscle recovery, burn fat, and build that lean muscle.
Full of vitamins and minerals, as well as those desired BCAAs, the Fat Loss Blend consists of 8 ingredients including CLA, L-citrulline, and L-glutamine. CLA works to aid in weight loss as well as improve exercise performance (12), while L-citrulline can decrease fatigue and muscle soreness while also increasing exercise capacity. L-glutamine has a huge role in protein synthesis for that lean muscle growth and also stops muscle degradation and reduces fatigue. With great ingredients and proven results, IdealFit Ideallean BCAAs For Women is a great supplement designed for her.
Pros: This product has a good ratio of BCAAs and great dose of B vitamins. Designed specifically for women, the benefits of weight loss and improved circulation are an added bonus.
Cons: The price is okay but some of the ingredients are under-dosed leaving some disappointed.
Price: $26.95 for 30 servings
Best For Muscle Maintenance: Betancourt Nutrition Plus Series BCAA
Betancourt Nutrition Plus Series BCAA is the ultimate BCAA supplement for muscle maintenance designed for intra-workout use to feed your muscles and provide for stronger recovery. Sugar-free and instantized means that this powder won’t froth when shaken so all of those nutrients fill your body for optimal performance. Betancourt Nutrition seeks to offer the best bodybuilding and sports supplements to consumers and is a premier wellness destination for all of your supplement needs.
Containing valuable vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, and potassium, it contains all of those desired BCAAs as well as taurine and sustamine. Taurine can enhance performance and endurance to bring your workouts to the next level. Sustamine is a blend of glutamine and alanine which allows for greater workout performance (13) and recovery by helping to produce energy and also allowing for greater absorption allowing your muscle to stay fueled and recharged so they maintain size and strength without degradation. If you are looking for muscle maintenance out of your BCAA supplement, Betancourt Nutrition Plus Series BCAA has you covered.
Pros: This may support other benefits like testosterone function and a healthy dose of B vitamins and electrolytes is great. A 4:1:1 ratio of BCAAs pumps you full of them.
Cons: Price is okay but there is no nutritional information in terms of calories. It also contains sucralose and acesulfame potassium.
Price: $26.99 for 30 servings
Supplementing with BCAAs will really work to enhance your overall performance as an intra-workout tool. With benefits like muscle growth, maintenance, and preservation, increased recovery, and reducing muscle soreness, BCAAs can work to improve your overall strength and performance to keep you seeing great gains and staying on top of your game. Check out these 10 BCAA supplements from great companies who produce high quality products for your personal growth and development and watch your muscle-building and performance enhancing goals elevate to new levels.
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- Perez-Guisado, Joaquin; Jakeman, Philip M. (2010). “Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness”. (source)
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