For those chasing after peak fitness and sculpted muscles, the path often traverses the landscape of nutritional supplements. Among these, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have risen to prominence, providing a targeted approach to support muscle health and help reach the basic intake needs of the three essential amino acids.
Comprising leucine, isoleucine, and valine — BCAAs are fundamental building blocks important for protein synthesis and energy production. Whether you hit the gym regularly or engage in occasional exercise, understanding the benefits and selecting the right supplement can be pivotal.
In this article, we dive into the world of BCAA supplements illuminating the factors that, in our judgment, set apart the best BCAA supplements for muscle growth in today's saturated market.
Best BCAA supplements: shortlist
- MTN OPS — best BCAA supplement with vitamins and minerals
- Transparent Labs — top rated BCAA supplement with vitamin C
- Kaged — best unflavored BCAA supplement
- Swolverine — best BCAA supplement for sustained hydration
- Cellucor — best tasting BCAA supplement
- Naked Nutrition — best USA-made BCAA supplement
- Myprotein — best BCAA supplement with an extensive flavor profile
- BulkSupplements — best BCAA capsules
How did we compile the list of the best BCAA brands?
In the search for the best BCAA supplement brands, we honed in on four fundamental criteria. These criteria serve as yardsticks to guide you in selecting the brand that best complements your fitness strategy. We go into more detail below:
|2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine
|Powdered or encapsulated
|Either flavored or unflavored
|Trusted with a track record
- Ratio. While there are formulations on the market, such as 4:1:1 or even 8:1:1, which contain higher levels of leucine, a key catalyst in stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS), we favored supplements with a 2:1:1 ratio. This ratio is more extensively documented and widely adopted.
- Form. Mindful of your convenience and consumption preferences, our line-up of the best BCAA supplements includes both powdered forms — versatile for mixing in shakes or water — and capsule forms, offering a convenient, no-fuss alternative for those on the go.
- Taste. Since BCAA supplements are usually best when taken consistently, a palatable taste is paramount. With personal preference at play, we have decided on different brands offering BCAAs in either flavored or unflavored varieties.
- Brand reputation. As a reflection of its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, the brand's consistent track record in delivering reliable BCAA supplements became our priority.
Best BCAA supplement in 2024: provider reviews
If you are wondering what is the best BCAA supplement on the market, look no further — our research findings have guided us in gathering the best BCAA for men and women today.
1. MTN OPS — top rated BCAA supplement with vitamins and minerals
Deemed a fitness ally for all activity levels by its makers, MTN OPS BCAA supplement claims the top spot on our list, thanks to its ingredient profile abundant in vitamins and minerals.
Standing as a promising option among its featured alternatives, this BCAA offering can be enjoyed by anyone aspiring to build muscle and recover more efficiently. Not to mention, MTN OPS is a seasoned brand synonymous with quality supplements for the active crowd.
The creators of this amino acid supplement recommend mixing 1 scoop with 10–16 ounces of water. For the best results, they advise taking MTN OPS BCAA either during your workout or within 30 minutes after it.
You can secure your tub of MTN OPS at today's price of $39.95. Choose from flavors like grape, mango-peach, strawberry-dragonfruit, pineapple, and tropical punch.
2. Transparent Labs — best BCAA supplement with vitamin C
Formulated to support muscle recovery, endurance, and strength, Transparent Labs' BCAA Glutamine is a dietary supplement comprising scientifically-backed ingredients. These include the essential 2:1:1 ratio of fermented vegan BCAAs, as well as L-glutamine and vitamin C.
Mind you, the vitamin C content in this product is close to the upper tolerable level. Going over the use of this supplement with a healthcare practitioner before integrating it into your routine to avoid any potential adverse effects would be a good idea.
Quality is paramount for Transparent Labs, and to uphold this standard, all products, including this BCAA offering, are subjected to third-party lab testing.
To get the best results, the manufacturer recommends consuming two servings daily, each serving being 1 scoop. These should be mixed with 10–12 ounces of water or any beverage of your choice and taken approximately 30–45 minutes before, during, or immediately after training.
A month's worth of supply of the Transparent Labs BCAA supplement is priced at $39.99 as a one-time purchase.
3. Kaged — best flavorless BCAA supplement
Kaged's BCAA 2:1:1 dietary supplement is a compelling option for those committed to vegan diets. This plant-based supplement ranks high on our list of top rated BCAAs, especially appealing to those searching for an unflavored BCAA supplement.
Kaged amino acids are deliberately created to be flavorless and have a color-free profile so that you can easily incorporate them into your protein shake, pre-workout drink, or hydration beverage.
It is worth pointing out that these BCAAs are Informed-Sport certified — meaning they are safe for athletes to use, as endorsed by the brand.
According to the creators, their supplement is formulated for rapid dissolution and should effortlessly blend into water, leaving no cloudy residue.
A container of Kaged's BCAAs, providing about 72 servings, is currently available at a reasonable one-time price of $29.99.
4. Swolverine — best BCAA supplement for rehydration after a workout
The BCAA 2:1:1 offering by Swolverine, rich in essential branched-chain amino acids, electrolytes, and L-glutamine, is designed to support intra-workout hydration, reduce fatigue, and accelerate the recovery process.
With quality assurance in mind, Swolverine relies on third-party testing performed by Lief and Micro Quality labs. These labs are not only accredited under ISO 17025 but also hold certifications from NSF and FDA.
On Swolverine's website, you can easily view the Certificate of Analysis (COA) for their amino acid product, reinforcing the product's safety profile through a quantitative analysis of contamination and foreign constituents.
Swolverine’s BCAA supplement, available in flavors of lemon-lime, pineapple-passionfruit, and pomegranate-acai, is currently priced at $49.99 as a one-time purchase.
5. Cellucor — best tasting BCAA
Cellucor, a sports nutrition brand with a history spanning over ten years, introduces its XTEND Original BCAA Powder. Crafted with a specific focus on muscle recovery and hydration, it flaunts a flavor profile that is hard to replicate.
Within every serving of a formula that includes added ingredients like glutamine, citrulline malate, and hydration-inducing electrolytes, you will find 7 grams of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio.
Free from carbs and sugars, this product is produced in a facility that strictly follows cGMPs, complies with food safety regulations, and is registered with the FDA.
At $27.99 for a one-time purchase, this BCAA supplement is available directly from the official Cellucor website. It is worth noting that the company offers discounts of up to 30% for those who subscribe.
6. Naked Nutrition — best BCAA supplement made in the U.S.
Naked Nutrition amino acid supplement, advertised as fast-dissolving and rapidly absorbed, is specifically designed to promote muscle development and speed up recovery after workouts.
Not only are these BCAAs third-party tested, but they are also processed and packaged in facilities certified by GMP and approved by the FDA — all within the borders of the United States.
With a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and GMO-free composition, this Naked Nutrition offering is made to accommodate different types of diets.
This BCAA supplement is up for grabs at a price of $34.99. For those looking to get the best bang for their buck, we recommend considering a subscription to unlock extra discounts.
7. Myprotein — best BCAA supplement with a wide flavor range
Myprotein — a prominent brand with nearly 20 years of presence in the current nutritional supplement landscape, presents its Essential BCAA 2:1:1 supplement as an everyday blend created to help prepare your body for your next training session.
Whether you are trying to gain muscle, tone up, or shed some extra pounds, it should not be difficult to integrate this Myprotein BCAA supplement into your daily routine, since it comes in distinct flavors like snow cone, gummy fish, and even rainbow sherbet.
The brand goes above and beyond to make sure that its customers always receive exactly what is stated on the ingredient list. To achieve this, they employ quality control measures, such as ultra-modern filtration systems, x-ray machines, and near-infrared testing.
People behind the making of this BCAA supplement recommend taking a single serving of 8 grams two to four times a day, preferably before, during, or after exercise.
For a relatively affordable price of $17.99, you can snag your bag of this BCAA powder straight from the official Myprotein website.
8. BulkSupplements — best BCAA capsules
Concluding our rundown of the best BCAA supplements, we have BulkSupplements. Setting itself apart from the alternatives covered earlier, the brand packages its BCAAs in capsule form.
Packed within every capsule from BulkSupplements is a blend of 500 mg of BCAAs, featuring 250 mg of leucine, 125 mg of isoleucine, and 125 mg of valine.
Quality is the cornerstone of BulkSupplements, and it is maintained through adherence to cGMP standards in manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and holding operations.
The makers of this product recommend a daily intake of 4 capsules, either once or twice a day, ideally 30 minutes before a workout session.
A single bottle of this BCAA product from BulkSupplements, containing a total of 120 capsules, is available for $17.96 as a one-time purchase.
Comparison of the best BCAA supplements
|Price per container
|Servings per container
|Price per serving
|11 grams — 1 scoop
|6 flavors to choose from
|19.4 grams — 1 scoop
|Sour green apple
|5.5 grams — 1 scoop
|6.5 grams — 1 scoop
|Lemon-lime, pineapple-passionfruit, pomegranate-acai
|7 grams — 1 scoop
|11 flavors to choose from
|5 grams — 1 scoop
|8 grams — 3 scoops
|6 flavors to choose from
* — prices may vary based on the number of servings per container
What is BCAA supplement, and why you should try it
BCAA supplements, short for branched-chain amino acids, consist of a trio of essential amino acids — leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Unlike other amino acids, the body cannot naturally produce these, making balanced nutrition or supplementation imperative.
These amino acids, present in all of the best BCAA supplements, are thought to play an important role in maintaining cellular energy balance and regulating muscle protein synthesis. The idea is that by promoting energy metabolism and triggering muscle protein synthesis, BCAAs may contribute to muscle growth. Besides, emerging evidence suggests that BCAA supplementation could assist in the recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.
Whether you are pushing your boundaries in the gym or simply striving for the optimal sense of feeling well, incorporating BCAAs in supplement form into your routine can not only help reach the basic nutritional needs of these three essential amino acids but also be a pivotal stride toward maintaining optimal muscle health.
Health benefits of BCAA supplements
Indeed emerging as a go-to choice among fitness enthusiasts and gym-goers, top rated BCAA supplements promise heaps of health benefits. We have put some of the major ones under the lens below.
Reduces muscle damage
Intense workouts often lead to muscle soreness, a soreness commonly referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can impede performance and deter consistent training. Research has shown that taking BCAA supplements may help alleviate post-exercise muscle damage, a primary contributor to DOMS. A meta-analysis of eight studies conducted between 2007 and 2017 revealed that BCAA supplementation decreased DOMS after exercise training.
Acts as an energy reservoir
During prolonged or intense workouts, it is not uncommon to witness the depletion of your body's carbohydrate stores, leading it to seek alternative sources of energy. This is where BCAAs come into play — potentially aiding in the delay of fatigue and improvement of endurance by serving as an alternative energy source. Many athletes do choose to supplement with BCAAs, and this could be one of the reasons why.
At the heart of the many benefits of the best BCAA supplements lies their capacity to stimulate MPS. See, when you engage in physical activity, be it resistance training in this instance, your muscle fibers experience micro-tears. BCAAs then act as a signal to kickstart MPS, initiating the repair and regeneration of these micro-tears. This repair process not only restores the damaged fibers but also strengthens them, thereby contributing to the growth of muscle tissue.
Prevention of muscle atrophy
In situations where there may be a risk of muscle atrophy, such as during aging or extended periods of bed rest, BCAAs emerge as valuable allies in the fight against muscle loss. Regulators of MPS, these essential acids can potentially help shift the balance in favor of muscle preservation. In such cases, the best BCAA supplements can become strategic tools, not only for athletes looking to optimize their performance but also for those struggling to maintain muscle mass and overall strength throughout different stages of life.
Choosing the right BCAA supplement for you
When navigating the sea of what is labeled the best BCAA supplements, consider these factors to be sure in your selection of the most suitable option that is just right for you.
- Optimal ratios. The amino acid ratio, particularly the balance between leucine, isoleucine, and valine, is pivotal for effective muscle protein synthesis. A widely accepted and scientifically supported standard is the 2:1:1 ratio.
- Transparent labeling. Brands that prioritize transparency, provide clear information about the ingredients, dosages, and any additives. This allows consumers to be sure of what they are putting into their bodies.
- Flavor variety. Simply consider your taste preferences. Some BCAA brands offer a variety of flavors, while others stick to unflavored options. At the end of the day, choose the one that aligns with your preferences.
- Quality control measures. Prioritize brands that implement stringent quality control measures, such as third-party testing. Third-party testing, in particular, adds an additional layer of credibility, offering independent verification of the product's quality.
The best time to take BCAA
As of today, there is no consensus in the scientific literature regarding the optimal time to consume BCAAs, making it challenging to provide definitive recommendations. However, certain studies indicate that taking BCAAs before a workout might postpone muscle fatigue in certain individuals.
A pilot randomized control study found that repeated BCAA supplementation before exercise had a more positive impact on reducing DOMS and other parameters of exercise-induced muscle damage compared to repeated supplementation after exercise.
Another meta-analysis published in 2021 concluded that BCAA had a beneficial effect after exercising by reducing DOMS and improving muscle recovery in trained individuals and that BCAA should not be administered only after the workout session for optimal effects.
We must note, however, that while the best BCAA supplements can be helpful for individuals not consuming enough high-quality protein, the beneficial effects beyond adequate amino acid intake via whole foods are still being researched.
Explore alternative supplement options to support your fitness goals
To gain more muscle, think about giving the best supplements for muscle growth a try.
To support muscle health, check out the best supplements for muscle recovery.
If you want to stay focused and motivated, take a look at the best energy supplements.
Check out the best BCAA for women who are looking to improve their endurance.
To enhance hydration and endurance, consider trying the best electrolyte powder.
What is the best BCAA brand?
Personal judgment matters. The best BCAA brands excel in transparent labeling, optimal amino acid ratios, and positive feedback from their customers. Before deciding, consider factors like ingredient quality, flavor preferences, and customer reviews. Based on our research, we deem MTN OPS the best BCAA supplement brand, offering a blend enriched with vitamins and minerals, all while consistently receiving positive feedback.
Can BCAA help with muscle growth?
Yes, they can. BCAAs, consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are thought to contribute to protein synthesis, an instrumental process in muscle development. Consuming them, whether through supplements or dietary sources, may contribute to overall muscle growth and improved athletic performance.
Are BCAA supplements safe to take?
They are. BCAA supplements are generally safe for most individuals when taken as directed. However, one should always try his best to adhere to recommended dosages, consider potential interactions with medications, and prioritize high-quality supplements, all to avoid adverse effects.
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- Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. The effect of branched-chain amino acid on muscle damage markers and performance following strenuous exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness. Effect of BCAA supplement timing on exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage: a pilot placebo-controlled double-blind study.
- Nutrients. Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Function by Amino Acids.
- Annual review of physiology. Branched Chain Amino Acids.
- Frontiers in physiology. Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans.
- Nutrition and skeletal muscle. Chapter 17 - Branched-Chain Amino Acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) and Skeletal Muscle.
- Amino acids. The use of BCAA to decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness after a single bout of exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis.