10 Best BCAA Powders Tested And Fully Reviewed

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Anyone who works out frequently knows that after some more intense workouts or heavy lifting comes the dreaded soreness.

It may feel good working up a sweat, but the next day our muscles feel like they needed time off to recover. But there doesn’t have to be a feeling of pain when getting our gains—that is, if you start using BCAA powder supplements.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are essential for fueling the body when glycogen starts to run low. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine— the three “essential” BCAAs—play a huge role for athletes since they improve performance, prevent fatigue, stimulate protein synthesis (the process where cells build their specific proteins), and reduces muscle breakout.

While BCAAs are especially important for those who workout often, interestingly enough, the body does not produce these amino acids. Instead, they are obtained in the diet from meat, dairy, and legumes.

For some, this is not enough. And because we sometimes need a little more energy when going hard, and less time to recover to be able to get back in the gym, it’s time to invest in the supplement.

Last Updated: March 31, 2018
By Brian Price:

During our recent round of updates, we have added some more useful information, as well as updates to our top 10 picks.

Optimum Nutrition
  • Optimum Nutrition
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Highly rated
  • Price: See Here
Evlution Nutrition
  • Evlution Nutrition
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Great taste
  • Price: See Here
BulkSupplements
  • BulkSupplements
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best BCAA Powders

 

Optimum Nutrition

With its easy mixing formula, this option has 5 grams of BCAAs per serving with a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine. It is stimulant-free, to be used either before endurance training or after strength training to help with muscle building. This is a high quality option that is known for its ingredient purity and overall efficacy.
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Effectiveness

Those who hit a plateau should try this BCAA powder. It performs extremely well and its effects really seen when in the gym. Because it works well at aiding in recovery, consumers can get right back to working out and then see a improvement with their own performance, as well as with their muscle definition. Expect to have less muscle fatigue and post-lifting pain.

Ingredients

This option has 5 grams of BCAAs per serving with a 2:1:1 ratio, and is ranked high by labdoor.com for its product party and ingredient safety. However, it does contain soy for those who have an allergy.

Taste

Optimum Nutrition’s powder comes in both flavored and unflavored options. However, it is not known for its taste. The unflavored option is chalky and many recommend mixing it with a shake or smoothie (or even flavored whey protein powder) to help mask the taste. The flavored options might be the better bet for most.

Value

One container includes 60 servings per container, and it can be added to a drink before, during or after strength and endurance training. It does a great job at reducing soreness and building muscle without added stimulants to make the athlete feel jittery. Plus, it’s sold for an affordable price.
Pros
  • Performs well at kick-starting protein synthesis
  • Highly rated by third-party testers
  • Affordable
  • Mixes easy
Cons
  • Not the best tasting option
  • Might need to also take pre-workout for added energy

Evlution Nutrition

This option is for those looking for a BCAA powder that gets them pumped during a workout. With no calories and no carbs, it features natural energizers to boost endurance and to improve recovery. It does its job at muscle repair and recovery, is easy to mix and comes in 13 different flavor options.
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Effectiveness

This powder can be taken before, in-between or after a workout. True to its name, it does boost energy and endurance to aid in powering through intense workouts. Afterwards, the recovery time is shortened thats to the beta alanine that supports the buffering of lactic acids. It helps to make the athlete feel refreshed after their sweat session. Think of it as being a substitute for coffee, with the extra muscle building and repair properties. And with all that energy you won’t even need a pre-workout powder.

Ingredients

Evolution Nutrition BCAA Energy has a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio of L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine It also includes beta alanine, L-alanine for energy and endurance, taurine for boost in metabolism and increase in focus, as well las green coffee and green tea natural energizers. The powder also has Vitamin B and C complex for added energy, antioxidant properties and immune system support.

Taste

This powder is available in 13 different flavors, so there is most likely an option for everyone. They are sweet without being too much, and is overall praised for tasting good.

Value

There is 30 servings per containers, with 2 scoops advised to be added with each use. Because of its performance and taste, it is a must buy. The best part is that it costs under $20.
Pros
  • Will increase energy
  • Highly effective
  • Tastes great
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Slight aftertaste
  • Might have to shop around for best flavor

BulkSupplements

Boosting and maintaining muscle mass is made easy when using this pure BCAA powder. With the optimal 2:1:1 ratio of L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine, this powder helps consumers see fast results in muscle growth and even faster recovery time.
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Effectiveness

Because of its pure and patent BCAA formula, this is the ideal powder for CrossFit, bodybuilding or powerlifting. That’s because athletes can see results fast when it comes to building lean muscle thanks to the boost in protein synthesis that also minimizes tissue damage from heavy lifting or intense training. Those who drink before working out can expect an increase in energy to train harder or longer. It’s also great for recovery and reducing inflammation.


Ingredients

BulkSupplements powder features a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. It contains no sugar, dairy, soy, yeast, gluten or additives. It is among the top ranked BCAA supplements by labdoor.com for its purity and ingredient safety.

Taste

This isn’t an option known for its taste. It can be pretty bitter, but at least it doesn’t have added sugars. It’s a good idea to add the powder into a smoothie to help get it down.

Value

It’s suggested that the consumer take 1500 mg (rounded 3/4 tsp) three times daily. For the best results, take 20-30 minutes before exercising. This powder is effective at building muscle, is all about a fast recovery post workout, and even boosts metabolism. And for a reasonable price, it is well worth buying.
Pros
  • Pure BCAA formula
  • Effective at increasing muscle growth
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Aids well in recovery
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Taste is bitter

Scivation Xtend

Scivation Xtend
With 7g of BCAAs at a 2:1:1 ratio, this option features electrolytes to keep the athlete hydrated while also supporting muscle growth. Can be used as a pre-workout, during or post workout and is calorie free.
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Effectiveness

With 7 g of BCAA, the amino acids really get to work when it comes to supporting muscle growth and maintaining muscle mass, as well as in recovery. This is a fan favorite for those who like to train heavily, and many immediately feel the results when working out. Expect to be able to extend workouts like cardio, but it is the best when it comes to weightlifting to be able get more reps in.

Ingredients

This powder has 7 grams of BCAAs at a 2:1:1 ratio. There is 3.5g of leucine, 2.5 grams of l-glutamine (for added strength and stamina), and 1 gram of Citrulline Malate. It also contains sodium, potassium, Vitamin B6, and an electrolyte blend for hydration. This includes: trisodium citrate dihydrate, potassium chloride, sodium chloride

Taste

If you want a good tasting BCAA powder, then this is one of the best options. It comes in a few different flavors, with Green Apple, Pineapple and Blue Raspberry being one of the popular ones. They are flavorful without being overly sweet.

Value

Mixing well and tasting great, a container has 30 servings and it is recommended to ass one scoop into 8-10 fl oz. It is sold for an affordable price, is effective and packed with BCAA and electrolytes. Plus is has no sugar, carbs or calories.
Pros
  • 7g of BCAAs
  • Effective
  • Affordable
  • Flavorful
Cons
  • Can have an aftertaste
  • Can be harsh on sensitive stomachs

MusclePharm

MusclePharm
Highly ranked by the lab tested third-party website, Labdoor.com, this option is all about increasing lean muscle, while prevent muscles from breakdown by jumpstarting protein synthesis. It has a patent pending ratio that consists of: 3 g of leucine, 1 g isoleucine, and 2 g valine. It is unflavored and used best in a post-workout drink.
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Effectiveness

It’s best to drink this powder after mixing between meals, 30-45 minutes before a workout and/or right after a workout to get the best results. It does its job at supporting lean muscle growth and delaying muscle fatigue. It will give the user a boost in focus and energy expenditure

Ingredients

MusclePharm’s powder features a paten pending BCAA been of 3:1:2, making it a different formula than other brands. It does include sugar and soy, as well as magic acid and natural and artificial flavors.

Taste

This product comes in Fruit Punch, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple and Strawberry Ice flavors. While all sound delicious, many report that the flavoring is bland and some need to even add extra scoops to enhance the flavor in their water. There is also a slight aftertaste.

Value

Even though its not the most tasty option, it does perform, helping motivate during sluggish workouts and really aiding in recovery. It has 30 servings, and the consumer is instructed to add two scoops into their beverage. It is extremely affordable, great for those who are using a BCAA powder for the first time.
Pros
  • Great price
  • Unique 3:1:2 BCAA ratio
Cons
  • Not the best tasting

BPI Sports

BPI Sports
This option supports lean muscle growth, enhances performance and promotes muscle recovery effectively. It uses “Oligopeptide-Enzymatic Technology” for a better absorption, and comes in 10 delicious flavors.
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Effectiveness

Because of its “Oligopeptide-Enzymatic Technology,” which refers to the brand’s bond of the three amino acids, it has been reported to be effective at helping power through intense workouts to aid in fat loss while reducing protein catabolism. The company also claims that the technology may aid in faster absorption. Many can feel a huge difference in decreased muscle soreness.

Ingredients

The main ingredients include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, along with agmatine and BPI Sports’ CLA Matric blend that includes sunflower and coconut oil powder that aids in fat loss and lean muscle building.

Taste

This powder is available in 12 different flavors, so there may just be an option for every kind of palette. The company uses a new flavoring technology to create a sweet product that doesn’t contain added sugars and fillers. Watermelon and Fruit Punch are among the popular flavors.

Value

There are many claimed benefits of using this powder including increase metabolic rate, increased energy and faster repair post-workout. This high-performance formula is a good value for the results it provides.
Pros
  • Great for repair and recovery
  • Unique Oligopeptide-Enzymatic technology
Cons
  • More for recovery than for feeling pumped up
  • Fruit Punch flavor can taste too sweet

BSN Amino X

BSN Amino X
This caffeine-free option can be used anytime, is easy to mix and is great tasting. With a BCAA ratio of 2:1:1, and 10 g of amino acids per serving, this powder works well when aiding muscle recovery and enhancing endurance.
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Effectiveness

Although this is stimulant-free, consumers will be pleased at how well to helps amp them up when in the gym thanks to its BCAA blend. It is praised for how effective it is when it comes to muscle protein synthesis, muscle sparing and recovery from training, speeding up healing time of the muscles. Many also report how lean they notice themselves getting when working out consistently when adding this powder into their routine.

Ingredients

AMINOx features a 10 gram BCAA blend that contains L-alanine, taurine, L-citruille and the essential amino acids. It also features 500 IU of Vitamin D. It does contain sugar, as well as natural and artificial flavors.

Taste

This powder comes in five different flavor options, with watermelon and blue raspberry being among the most popular. Most importantly is the fact that is is no chalky and mixes very easily.


Value

It’s recommended that the athlete mix one scoop in 6-8 fl ox of any water before, during or post-workout. It’s beast to do this twice per day to reap all its benefits. And at just under $20, this is an option to pick up. There is 30 servings per container, and is recommended to add one scoop per drink. At about $25, it’s also reasonably priced.
Pros
  • Great for reducing soreness
  • Various flavor options
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • Can be too sweet

Rich Piana 5% Nutrition All Day You May

Rich Piana 5% Nutrition All Day You May
This recovery powder has everything an athlete needs, with its 10:1:1 BCAA ratio that has essential amino acids, creatine, beta-alanine, and more to really help muscle building. All Day You May is truly the motto here, allowing consumers to spend more time working out and less time sore.
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Effectiveness

ADYM powder can be drank before, during and after a workout. Many report feeling energized all throughout the day—without crashing— when adding this powder to their water. It is a blend that enhances muscle stamina for sure, and recovery is a breeze with this option.

Ingredients

It has a BCAA ratio of 10:1:1, making it a powder that is loaded with leucine and other amino acids. It also contains creatine and beta alanine for added strength benefits, glutamine and carnitine for endurance and recovery, as well as electrolytes to hydrate. There is also a joint support blend. Just keep in mind that this powder contains sugar.

Taste

Combine with water and this powder really tastes like a cup of sweet tea. Customers praise this powder for how good it taste, making it easy to sip all day long.

Value

There is 30 servings per container, with it suggested to add one scoop into 8-12 fl oz of water, or four scoops in a gallon of water. Since it contains creatine and beta alanine, consumers don’t have to waste time with their shaker cups, making it an all-in-one option that is worth its less than $40 price tag.
Pros
  • Packed with leucine and other amino acids
  • Contains creatine and beta alanine for extra endurance
  • Great taste
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Can be too sweet for some
  • Runs out quickly when adding to gallon of water

NOW Sports

NOW Sports
This is an option for those looking for pure BCAA. It also no added sugars, making it a healthier option. That also means it has an unflavored bitter taste. However, it does the job to increase energy during workouts. This BCAA powder is for the no nonsense, tough and strict health conscious athlete.
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Effectiveness

Although there is no jittery or stimulant feeling when taking this powder, many still report to feel results. It will give a little extra oomph to workouts, and recovery time isn’t as bad as opposed to not using the powder.

Ingredients

This option has a BCAA ratio of 2:1:1, with the leucine, isoleucine and valine all being free-form. It features no other ingredients whatsoever.

Taste

This option does not dissolve well, so expect it not to have that sports drink vibe. It is also unflavored, so expect it to taste pretty bitter. Many add Stevia or chase it with apple juice to help get it down.

Value

It’s suggested that the athlete takes 2 tsp. up to three times per day/workout. The bottle has a serving size of about 65, so it will run out quickly. Luckily, it’s sold for an affordable price.
Pros
  • Pure BCAA with no other ingredients added
  • Affordable
  • Effective
Cons
  • Bad taste

Cellucor Alpha Amino

Cellucor Alpha Amino
Designed to be taken during a workout, this powder will give that extra push to get through a workout. It has a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio, and also includes 11 essential amino acids. It is also contains electrolytes for hydration. This is a sugar-free option that is still packed with flavor.
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Effectiveness

Cellucor’s Alpha Amino BCAA powder has the popular 2:1:1 ratio that is favored for optimal performance. It also is packed with an additional 11 essential amino acids to aid with muscle recovery and fight muscle breakdown. Many report increased energy levels, making it ideal to add to water during an intense workout. It is effective when it comes to preventing soreness during recovery.

Ingredients

This option features 5000mg BCAA 2:1:1 blend, 3750mg performance amino acid complex, 1750mg alpha amino hydration Blend. Premium ingredients are used to ensure performance and effectiveness. This includes betaine and coconut water to support hydration, betapwoer to improve strength, power and performance. It also includes phosphorus, magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Taste

This powder comes in various flavors that are easy on the taste buds. Among the most popular include watermelon (which tastes like a jolly rancher), the blue raspberry and lemon options. However, the consistency can be a bit chalky for some.

Value

Consumers are instructed to mix one scoop of the power in 8-12 fl oz. Since there is 50 servings per container, it will last for some. However, those who use multiple times a day or often may need to buy more sooner than others. Still, it’s at a decent price making it worth the purchase.
Pros
  • Ideal BCAA ratio
  • Packed with electrolytes
  • Many taste options
  • Affordable
Cons
  • May not last hardcore gym goers long

 

The Criteria We Used To Find The Best BCAA Powders

Since there are so many different brands on the market selling BCAA supplements, it can be taxing to find the best option. The most important aspect of choosing a good option is to make sure it has the optimal ratio. Studies have found the ratio that has the best effect on jumpstarting muscle protein synthesis to be a 2:1:1 ratio (2 leucine for every 1 isoleucine, 1 valine).

But there is more than its ratio that determines whether or not the supplement is among the best or not. We took care of all the heavy research to uncover which BCAA powders are the ones we can proudly stand behind. Each of the key factors uses in creating our list of the Best BCAA powders are explained below.

Ratio: How the branch chain amino acids are broken down to is the most important factor when looking at BCAA powders. Studies have shown that BCAA’s in the 2:1:1 ratio results in the optimal muscle protein synthesis.

Ingredients: Since BCAA come from our diet, adding a powder is ideal for athletes. But other ingredients like sugars can make some options less healthy than others. Does the powder contain caffeine? Does it feature glutamine? (Studies found that glutamine helps promote protein synthesis and prevent muscle stresses associated with overtraining.)

Effectiveness: How well does this powder work? Is it easily absorbed in the body? Is it best to be used as a pre-workout, during, or post working drink?

Taste: Many options feature added sugar or natural flavors to enhance the flavor of the powder to prevent a “chalky” taste. How goes each option taste? Is it drinkable? Is there an aftertaste?

Toleration: Does the powder have any negative side effects? Will it give the consumer an upset stomach, gas, or other issues? Some options may feature caffeine, which can result in side effects for those with a sensitivity. Will it make the consumer jittery?

Price: Does the value of the supplement justify its price? Supplements range in price points, and when used regularly or every day, the cost can add up. How many servings does the consumer have to take per dosage in relation to the number of servings provided? Is this a quality product that performs well to make the consumer okay with spending money on it?

Other Important Factors To Consider

There are many benefits to adding BCAA powder supplements into an athlete’s regimen. However, many may be wondering if it is necessary to start using the supplement at all?

As mentioned above, leucine, isoleucine, and valine are three (out of the eight) essential amino acids that are not made in the body. Because they give that extra energy to the muscles and prevent muscle breakdown, it is important for those who lift, run or do any other physical activity to make sure they are getting these amino acids somehow.

Diet

It’s recommended to get leucine is 42 milligrams,19 milligrams of isoleucine, and 24 milligrams of valine. for every 2.2 pounds of your body weight.  According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, the best sources of BCAA from our diet include eating meat, chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs.  Women who get their daily protein of 46 grams and 56 grams for men will get enough BCAAs from their diet. However, those who are sick, injured may want to increase their BCAA intake.  And since BCAAS help promotes muscle growth and repair muscles to decrease soreness post intense workouts, those who workout often should also make sure they get more than their recommended daily serving—which is where BCAA supplements come in.

BCAA and Glutamine Combo

Many BCAA powders also feature glutamine, making it a powerful combo. Glutamine is an amino acid that differs from the branch-chain ones but is also important when it comes to muscle repairing. After a workout, glutamine levels are low and take time before they are back to their levels.  The two kinds work extremely well together to help ease strain and stresses of the muscles when working them hard. When with BCAAs, glutamine helps to further prevent overtraining, aids with promoting protein synthesis (and thus muscle growth), and even supports immune system function.

Powder vs Capsules

All of the BCAA supplements on this list are specific powder options. However, BCAA supplements are also available in capsule form. So what is the difference and which one is better?

Keep in mind that the best form really depends on each specific consumer. Some simply do not like swallowing pills, which makes powder the perfect option. Others already take other vitamins and/or supplements and might not want to or may forget to take their BCAAs. Powders are believed to be better absorbed in the body since they don’t have that barrier capsules have. Capsules also don’t have the capacity to be packed with other vitamins or amino acids because there is only so much room. Think of whey protein as a good example here. The taste might not be ideal for some when it comes to powders, but brands offer various flavors to help with this problem.

FAQ

Q: What are the side effects of BCAA supplements?

A: When taken properly, there are no harmful side effects. Taking high levels of branched-chain amino acids can reduce the number of other amino acids the body makes from being transported to the brain. This can cause a decreased amount of neurotransmitters produced by those amino acids such as the “feel good” hormone serotonin.

Q: Can I use BCAA powder with pre-workout supplements?

A: Some report having elevated heart rates when combining both before working out. Some powders feature ingredients that help to increase energy, and some contain stimulants, so should not be stacked with pre-workouts.

Q: When should BCAA supplements be taken?

A: Because of its benefits, BCAA supplements can be taken before, during or after a workout. Many prefer to add to water and drink before and then after an intense workout for peak performance and recovery.

Q: Does the powder dissolve easily?

A: This depends on each brand. Some powders are reported to be more chalky, but most of the options on this list mix well—just make sure to read the full review of all details.

Q: Is there an aftertaste?

A: Most people typically add the powder to water, so make sure you buy a flavor you enjoy. While this is all preference, most options on this list have little to no aftertaste. If the taste is too much, try adding the powder to a smoothie.

Q: Does the powder result in stomach issues?

A: This depends on each brand and the formula they use. Some blends are more potent and could hurt more sensitive stomachs. Make sure to read the ingredient list for those who have allergies to gluten, soy, or dairy. Some options that boost energy can make the consumer more jittery or nauseous, so avoid those options.

Sources

  1. COLLEEN DE BELLEFONDS, What Are BCAAs—and How Do They Affect Your Workouts?, Informative Health Website, Aug 02, 2016
  2. SANDI BUSCH , Foods High in Branched-Chain Amino Acids, Informative Health Website, Oct 03, 2017
  3. Derek Beast Charlebois, The Interaction Of BCAAs & Glutamine Metabolism, Informative Fitness Website, Aug 17, 2017
  4. SANDI BUSCH , Side Effects of Amino Supplements, Informative Health Website, Oct 03, 2017
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