Best Amino Acid Supplements Reviewed
Amino acids are a compound we can’t live without. Literally. Amino acids are required for every metabolic process that occurs in the human body, and therefore are the basis of all life processes. Two of the most important functions of amino acids are the transport and storage of nutrients, such as water, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and proteins.
Another extremely important role of amino acids, especially for runners and other athletes, is serving as the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids in total, but the human body can only produce 10 of them. The other 10 we must get through eating a healthy and balanced diet of foods that provide us with them, or else we risk the degradation of protein in our bodies.
1. Cellucor Alpha Amino
Users report that this product is most effective as a post workout amino acid supplement. They especially felt improvements in recovery time and decreased soreness after intense leg workouts.
Although there is no sugar in this amino acid supplement, users report that all flavors taste great. Cellucor Alpha Amino Performance BCAAs provides a higher-than-average dose of BCAAs, with 2,500mg of leucine, and 1,250 mg each of isoleucine and valine. It also provides you with hearty doses of phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. The 11 essential amino acids it that comprise its Essential Performance Amino Acid Complex are glutamine, taurine, alanine, citrulline, arginine, lysine, phenyalanine, threonine, methionine, tyrosine, and histidine. One unique feature of this amino acid supplement is its Alpha Amino Hydration Blend, which helps you rehydrate after a workout with electrolytes and coconut water.
This is a slightly higher priced amino acid supplement.
- High concentration of BCAAs
- 11 essential amino acids
- Hydrating formula
- Slightly expensive
2. RARI Amino Mend
Users report that this amino acid supplement has drastically improved their recovery time and has even put a stop to headaches caused by a lack of proper hydration. The taste is reported as delicious but too sweet, and users recommend diluting the powder with a few extra ounces of water to balance out the sweetness.
RARI Amino Mend has 5 grams of BCAA with a ratio of 2:1:1 (Leucine/Isoleucine/Valine). Two mg of glutamine helps prevent the breakdown of muscle, and 1 mg of taurine helps regulate the flow of nutrients and water in the bloodstream. Coconut water powder is known for its super hydrating properties, and potassium helps improve nerve function and muscle contraction. This amino acid supplement also contains sodium chloride to replenish what you lost during your run, and vitamins B6, B12, and C to help replenish your energy.
RARI Amino Mend is priced slightly above average for an amino acid supplement.
- Tackles muscle recovery and hydration
3. BSN Amino X
Users report that this amino acid supplement reduces muscle soreness and speeds healing time after a tough workout. It was also reported that users experienced noticeable increases in strength when taking this amino acid supplement before working out. It is also reported to taste great and be easily mixable, even without a blender.
Following the 2:1:1 ratio rule for BCAAs, this supplement contains 10 mg of an “Amino Acid Interfusion Blend” which contains leucine, isoleucine, valine, alanine, taurine, and citrulline. Alanine helps your body move nitrogen from tissue to the liver and helps you use blood sugar as a source of energy. Taurine is known for its fat burning and energizing capabilities, and citrulline helps improve blood flow and gives a boost to your immune system. There is no caffeine or sugar in this amino acid supplement.
This is a lower priced amino acid supplement, especially because a little bit of this high dose goes a long way.
- Lots of flavors
- High dose of BCAAs
- Easy to mix
- May need to adjust dose based on body weight
4. Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules
Users report that they experienced quick recovery and overall increased feelings of wellness when taking this amino acid supplement. One user also mentioned that he cannot take many BCAA supplements because of a variety of allergies, but Do Vitamins BCAA capsules have not caused him any reaction, so they are really safe for people with ingestion-related sensitivities.
Even though this amino acid supplement is plant-based, it still supplies users with the 2:1:1 recommended BCAA ratio. Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules contain 1050 mg of leucine and 525 mg of each isoleucine and valine. The capsule is made of VCaps Plus, and there is a long list of ingredients these capsules do not contain, including wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, or artificial flavors.
These are an average-priced amino acid supplement.
- Vegan and allergy friendly
- Users report as effective
- May be too low a dose of BCAAs for some users
5. Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules
Users noted that their muscle recovery is more efficient and gains in muscle mass are notable. However, users with more advanced or intense workout routines do not believe this is a high enough dose of BCAAs to meet their training needs.
Two capsules of Optimum Nutrition BCAA contains 500 mg of Leucine, and 250 mg each of Isoleucine and Valine. This fits the recommended 2:1:1 ratio for BCAA supplements. This combination will help promote muscle synthesis and help control protein breakdown.
This is an average-priced amino acid supplement.
- Easy to swallow
- No funky powder taste
- Low dose of BCAAs for some
6. Diet Standards AminoHD 1000
Users report that they have had no negative effects from taking this amino acid supplement, but also that the results are not huge. They do report slight increases in energy and feelings of productiveness while working out. Users also report that there are unclear guidelines as to how many capsules to take in a day. According to the bottle, it could range from 2 capsules to 10 capsules per day.
Since you have already read what BSN Amino X doesn’t contain, let me tell you what it does contain: 500 mg of leucine; 250 mg of isoleucine; and 250 mg of valine. Yup, you guessed it… the 2:1:1 ratio!
This is a low cost amino acid supplement. Users expressed much satisfaction with the fact that one bottle can last a few months!
- Low cost
- Safe for most diets and allergy concerns
- Not reported as highly effective
- Unclear dosage guidelines
7. Sheer BCAA
Users have reported noticeably quicker recoveries after taking regular doses of this amino acid supplement for about 2 weeks. Older adults especially report not only quicker recovery but also maintained muscle mass when including Sheer BCAA as a regular component of their training regimen.
Three capsules of Sheer BCAA will provide you with 1050 mg of leucine, 450 mg of isoleucine, and 450 mg of valine. These amino acid supplement capsules are made with gelatin, so they are not vegan friendly.
This is a low cost amino acid supplement.
- Easy to swallow capsules
- Effective for older adults
- Not vegan-friendly
8. Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy
Most users report that this amino acid supplement is best used as a pre-workout supplement. It reportedly increases the amount of energy you have, enabling you to tackle tough workouts even when your body is tired or you have had a sleepless night. Some users report that they have been able to stop drinking coffee while taking Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy because it contains caffeine but doesn’t cause them to “crash” later in the day.
Two scoops of the amino acid supplement has 10 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates. It has grams of an “amino blend,” which contains a long list of amino acids including taurine, glutamine, leucine, alanine, isoleucine, valine, tyrosine, histidine, lysine, phenylalanine, threonine, and methionine. It does not include a 2:1:1 ratio of the three main BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) like many other amino acid supplements. The energy component of Amino Energy comes from its “Energy Blend,” which is 160mg of a combination of caffeine, green tea extract, and green coffee extract. This product does contain artificial ingredients, like sucralose and food coloring.
This amino acid supplement is at the high end of the price spectrum.
- Users report noticeable increases in energy
- Contains artificial ingredients
9. MET-Rx BCAA 2200
Most users report decreased soreness and quicker recovery when taking this amino acid supplement. Users also report that these capsules are very large and a little difficult to swallow.
The amino acids provided in a four capsule serving of MET-Rx BCAA 2200 are 1200 mg of leucine, 500 mg of isoleucine, and 500 mg of valine. This amino acid supplement also includes 8 IU of Vitamin E and 16 mg of Vitamin B6, which help support your metabolism. According to MET-Rx, the NitroGel Technology maximizes the delivery of the BCAAs to the muscles.
These are at the lower end of the price spectrum for amino acid supplements.
- Provide muscle and metabolism support
- Large, hard-to-swallow pills
- One serving is 4 capsules
10. Dymatize Super Amino 6000
Users report that they did not experience a change with these amino acid supplement capsules. The tablets are extremely large and difficult to swallow, and one user reported that they did not even break down in her digestive system (I will spare you all of the gory details!).
This amino acid supplement does not utilize the 2:1:1 ratio that is recommended for BCAAs, as it contains 575 mg of leucine, 313 mg of isoleucine, and 356 mg of valine. Dymatize Super Amino 6000 also contains 15 other essential and non-essential amino acids. One unique feature is that this amino acid supplement supplies users with 3 grams of protein through a whey and casein protein complex, so this is not a vegan-friendly supplement.
This is a very inexpensive amino acid supplement.
- Extended release formula
- Large pills are hard to swallow and may not digest
- Users report little positive effect
- Not vegan friendly
What is the function for amino acids in the body?
Amino acids make up the protein in food, and when we eat and digest protein, it is once again broken down into amino acids. The amino acids are then organized by our body to perform different functions, including making up most of the solid matter of the body including the eyes, skin, organs, bones, and of particular importance to runners, muscle.
Although each amino acid has a specific function and benefit to the body, the three major players for athletes are BCAAs, or branched chain amino acids. The amino acids that make up BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The combination of amino acids in BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis, increase cell capacity for protein synthesis, and reduce the rate of protein breakdown. So, not only are BCAAs beneficial for body builders, they are great for all athletes, even those that want to maintain a lean physique, because it helps you maintain the muscle that you have, even if you are operating on a calorie deficit.
How do amino acids benefit runners?
More specifically for runners, amino acids help your muscles recover from the wear and tear of your runs. Amino acids help repair tiny rips and tears in your muscles that happen naturally while running, helping you to recover more quickly and prevent injury. For the greatest benefit, ingest amino acids shortly after a run, through either a food-based source or a supplement. Since it is not always convenient to have food readily available, an amino acid supplement is a quick, easy, and transportable way to get amino acids into your body after a workout. Most amino acid supplements come in ready-to-mix powder form or as a pill.
If you are interested in boosting your body’s protein-related processes through the use of an amino acid supplement, you’ve come to the right place. This guide of the Best Amino Acids Supplements will give you a rundown of the top BCAAs on the market and what they have to offer you as a runner.