As bodybuilders and strength trainers, we are in a never-ending quest to consume proteins. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, are an essential part of this journey.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) have long been a favorite of bodybuilders and strength athletes. The three essential amino acids are comprised of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which collectively form about 1/3 of the aminos within muscle tissue. BCAAs are used to increase protein uptake within the muscle cells as well as to boost both intra and post workout energy and recovery. Suffice to say, BCAAs are critical cogs in the muscle-building process.
Because BCAAs are harder to find in our everyday diet, an effective BCAA supplement can really go a long way to help you get the essential aminos that your body needs. In short, if you’re not using BCAA’s to support your muscle building efforts them, you are missing out on a vital ingredient for your training efforts.
If you would rather skip the details, our pick for the best BCAA supplement is Muscle Pharm Amino 1. Amino 1 boasts a 3:1:2 BCAA ratio and is incredibly effective in preventing muscle soreness and fatigue. We noticed solid muscle gains, increased endurance, and quick recovery times using this BCAA product. Continue reading below for the rest of our picks for the best amino acid supplements on the market today.
|Muscle Pharm Amino 1
||BSN Amino X
||Muscle Pharm BCAA
||Gaspari Nutrition BCAA 6000
||Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000
Benefits of BCAAs
- Increases Energy: Decreases perceived workout exertion allowing you train harder and longer
- Potent Performance Enhancer: BCAAs provide energy directly and also allow you to train longer and harder without fatigue
- Increases Metabolism: BCAAs are metabolized through muscle tissue, meaning that your muscles can use them to produce energy
- Promotes Fat Loss: Studies have shown that ingestion of BCAAs are associated with lower bodyweights and help maximize fat loss
- Quicker Recovery: Leaves muscles less sore and speeds up recovery process
- Prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue
- Prevents muscle cramping
Best BCAA Supplement – Our Top 10
#1. Muscle Pharm Amino 1
Muscle Pharm has established themselves as power players in the supplement market in a relatively short period of time. Amino 1 is a prime example why. It’s amino acid profile comes in a 3:1:2 ratio of Leucine 1500mg, Isoleucine 500mg and Valine 1000 mg. Leucine is essential for sustaining nitrogen balance, protein synthesis and helps preserve glycogen used for muscle contraction. Isoleucine acts as fuel for muscle cells and is a precursor for glutamine and alanine, which are required for intense training. Valine assists in the growth and repair of muscle tissue. In addition, the blend contains aminos that are crucial to the formation of ATP, the body’s energy source – l-glycine, l-alanine, l-carnitine and co-enzyme Q-10.
The blend also includes a number of electrolytes designed to boost workout recovery. The two key ones are coconut water powder and taurine. We have found that Amino1 really quenches your thirst during your workouts and keeps you well hydrated. Amino 1 is one of the best tasting BCAA supplements and comes in 5 great flavors. It is very easily mixable. It is also great value for money, coming in at about $0.70 per serving. Bottom line, Amino 1 by Muscle Pharm provides great endurance and recovery both between sets and post workout. This is why we think it is the best amino acid supplement in 2015.
#2. BSN Amino X
BSN has a line of awesome workout supplements, including Syntha-6, NO Xplode 2.0, and True Mass. Amino X by BSN is another solid product that gets the job done consistently. We find it somewhat annoying that BSN uses proprietary blends and doesn’t reveal the ratios of their aminos. However, we do know the ingredient profile is solid. It contains 10g of an amino blend comprised of leucine, isoleucine, valine, citrulline, taurine, and alanine.
Amino X is not the best tasting powder if that is important to you, but it does mix easily. It provides a clean energy boost for intra and post workout recovery. We’ve found it to work really effectively as a pick-me-up during your workouts, especially when you’re feeling a little drained. It also really enhances your post-workout recovery time, and you’ll notice that you feel a lot more refreshed quicker than you would otherwise. Amino X also offers excellent value, coming in at about $.58/serving for a 70-serving container on Amazon.
#3. Muscle Pharm BCAA 3:1:2
Another pill product, but with the same BCAA ratio as Amino 1. The traditional wisdom says that the ideal ratio is 3:1:2 but this product seemed to deliver, both in terms of intra workout recovery and post workout recuperation. One minor downside is that it does take 8 pills to get your required dosage.
#4. Gaspari Nutrition BCAA 6000
Gaspari Nutrition has a solid BCAA with a 4:1:1 amino ratio. This is a leucine-heavy formula, and leucine is perhaps the most impactful of the three BCAAs when it comes to the protein synthesis process. It also contains Vitamins B6 and B12 as well, which is a nice bonus. This BCAA is also very competitively priced compared to the other top supplements on our list.
#5. Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000
This ON amino acid product comes in the form of pills, so there is no taste with it. Every two capsules will provide 1000 mg of BCAAs, hence the name. The 2:1:1 ratio consists of 500mg of leucine, 250mg of isoleucine and 250mg of valine. This is a little light and the product could benefit from a higher dosage. Still, it did provide a decent energy boost and allow for intra workout recovery. Post exercise muscle soreness was also reduced.
#6. USPLabs Modern BCAA
Many people, including us, are very high on USPlabs’ Modern BCAA. This product is micronized, allowing for quick absorption. It has a 8:1:1 ratio that includes 15g of BCAAs as well as glutamine and electrolytes. It isn’t overly sweet like other powders and mixes well. In particular, Modern BCAA provides for excellent endurance during workouts and recovery after workouts.
#7. Optimum BCAA 5000
A pretty potent blend that offers a mix of BCAA’s without any frills. This one was quite hard to dissolve and produced a foamy layer on top. However, it did provide a good extra energy to the workout. Post workout soreness did not seem to be reduced measurably. ON BCAA 5000 is on the more expensive side, coming in at about $.62/serving.
#8. Dymatize BCAA Complex 2200
Like many of the other workout supplements Dymatize produces, its BCAA supplement is an extremely effective and competitive one. Many users have reported noticeable muscle gains and increased endurance during workouts. One thing that is unique to this BCAA supplement is the timed release of the aminos. Finally, at around $.24/serving, this is one of the cheapest BCAA supplements out there.
#9. Universal Nutrition BCAA Pro
Universal Nutrition’s BCAA contains a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. It also comes with 2mg of Vitamin B6. This is a solid BCAA supplement that can be taken prior to or after a workout. UN’s BCAA is one of the most affordable BCAAs on the market at about $.18/serving.
#10. Cellucor Cor-Performance Beta BCAA
Like many of the other BCAAs on our list, Cellucor Cor-Performance BCAA contains a 2:1:1 ratio. Other notable ingredients include citrulline malate, beta alanine, and HICA. One thing that stands out about Cellucor’s BCAA is its superior taste. Also, the post-workout recovery time after taking this BCAA stood out even amongst the other top of the line BCAAs on the market. You can also stack this with Cellucor C4, which is their pre-workout formula.
- BCAA’s should be a part of any athlete’s pre-workout supplementation arsenal.
- BCAA’s are a great aid to fat loss.
- The ratios are important so do you homework to make sure that you are getting the best quality for your money.
- Combine BCAA’s with diet and exercise for optimal results. Take as an intra-workout or post-workout supplement. Also, consider stacking a BCAA with other supplements, like a pre-workout or protein powder.
- Our favorite BCAA supplement is MusclePharm Amino 1.
IT’S YOUR TURN! Do you use BCAAs? Which is your favorite one? Why? Let us know in the comments below!