10 Best BCAA Powders Tested And Fully Reviewed
No pain, no gain. A common enough exercise expression but none the less accepted a universal truth of exercise. In pursuit of gaining strength and muscle you are going to experience soreness. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if there was a supplement that could counteract the muscle pain that comes with strength training.
BCAA powder is a supplement made of branch-chain amino acids. Athletes can use this powder before, during, or after their workout in order to improve their efficiency or to reduce the post-workout stress on their body. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine, the acids found in BCAA powder, are used to reduce muscle fatigue and breakdown and to increase muscle growth.
Branch-chain amino acids are usually provided by our diets, commonly found in meat, dairy, and legumes. Using a supplement can help guarantee that a runner receives all that they need for optimized muscle growth during training. Below we have the very best BCAA powders on the market along with exactly how assessed their placement on our list.
- Optimum Nutrition
- Highly rated
- Evlution Nutrition
- Great taste
- Boosts metabolism
10 Best BCAA Powders
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Performs well at kick-starting protein synthesis
- Highly rated by third-party testers
- Mixes easy
- Not the best tasting option
- Might need to also take pre-workout for added energy
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Will increase energy
- Highly effective
- Tastes great
- Slight aftertaste
- Might have to shop around for best flavor
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Pure BCAA formula
- Effective at increasing muscle growth
- Boosts metabolism
- Aids well in recovery
- Taste is bitter
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.
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
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.
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.
- 7g of BCAAs
- Can have an aftertaste
- Can be harsh on sensitive stomachs
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
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.
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.
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.
- Great price
- Unique 3:1:2 BCAA ratio
- Not the best tasting
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Great for repair and recovery
- Unique Oligopeptide-Enzymatic technology
- More for recovery than for feeling pumped up
- Fruit Punch flavor can taste too sweet
BSN Amino X
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Great for reducing soreness
- Various flavor options
- Very affordable
- Can be too sweet
Rich Piana 5% Nutrition All Day You May
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Packed with leucine and other amino acids
- Contains creatine and beta alanine for extra endurance
- Great taste
- Can be too sweet for some
- Runs out quickly when adding to gallon of water
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Pure BCAA with no other ingredients added
- Bad taste
Cellucor Alpha Amino
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.
This option features 5000mg BCAA 2:1:1 blend, 1750mg alpha amino hydration Blend, 3750mg performance amino acid complex. 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.
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.
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.
- Ideal BCAA ratio
- Packed with electrolytes
- Many taste options
- May not last hardcore gym goers long
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best BCAA Powders
The supplement market can be especially difficult to sort out. Not only are there a lot of options with similar features, there are plenty of others with pseudoscience or exaggerated claims that try and take advantage of naive athletes. We not only weeded out the supplements that work, we specifically had to narrow the list down to only the very best of the ones that did.
The ratio of how the amino acids break down is the first thing we look at when selecting powders for this list. The ratios can range from 2:1:1 all the way up to 12:1:1. Conclusive studies have only been done on BCAA powders featuring a 2:1:1 ratio of amino acids along with some minor studies on a 4:1:1 ratio. We tend to favor 2:1:1 ratio powders for this list since they have the most evidence supporting their ability to aid the athlete.
We take a close look at the construction of the BCAA powders outside of their amino acid content. Some powders contain sugar for flavor which can be a poor addition to certain diets. Many powders also add caffeine as a means of providing additional energy. We also go through and check out the other additives that are added to the base BCAA powder to assess what combination is best for athletes.
The effectiveness of the powder is, of course, something we are in invested in determining. We want to include only the most effective powders on this list. There is also the timing of ingestion to consider. What powders work best when used beforehand? What ones work best post-exercise?
Taste isn’t any less important but our assessment is a bit limited. There is often little that can be done to avoid flavoring issues when using supplement powder and it technically doesn’t affect the powder’s performance. We do well to avoid putting powders on this list whose flavoring is too unpleasant or simply isn’t worth the benefits they may provide.
We research to look for any recorded negative side effects of certain BCAA formulas. If a powder has too much negative feedback it will not make to the list and if even minor side effects exist it is something we believe is worth mentioning.
Our assessment of the price of the powder comes down to a couple of key factors. Is everything the powder provides worth the price? Is the amount of powder your getting worth the price your paying? If we feel that you are being unfairly charged then we won’t include that BCAA powder on the list.
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.
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.
Q: What are the side effects of BCAA supplements?
A: Taking too many branch-chain amino acids can reduce the number of certain hormones that make it to the brain, such as serotonin. This is can limit how good you feel post exercise. These sort of side effects should only occur when a BCAA supplement is taken inappropriately.
Q: Can I use BCAA powder with pre-workout supplements?
A: Some report adverse effects when mixing pre-workout supplements such as elevated heart rates. You should read extensively about the content of both supplements before combining anything. We recommend avoiding any combination that contains a stimulant, such as caffeine, before a workout.
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: Usually, this depends on the brand of powder. Since powders that do not mix well tend to leave a chalky aftertaste and texture, we recommend avoiding powders that don’t destroy well. This list won’t feature many powders with this issue.
Q: Is there an aftertaste?
A: Some powders do have an aftertaste. We recommend selecting flavored powder that is intended to be mixed with water or mixing the flavorless powder into a smoothie or a shake to avoid flavoring issues with your BCAA powder.
Q: Does the powder result in stomach issues?
A: The more potent powders can cause cramps and other issues with sensitive stomachs. The best way to combat this is to closely read the ingredient list. You can make sure to avoid powders containing any allergens such as gluten, soy, or dairy, as well as powders with stimulants which can also cause stomach problems.
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- Foods High in Branched-Chain Amino Acids, Informative Health Website, Oct 03, 2017 ,
- The Interaction Of BCAAs & Glutamine Metabolism, Informative Fitness Website, Aug 17, 2017 ,
- Side Effects of Amino Supplements, Informative Health Website, Oct 03, 2017 ,