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These are the best BCAA supplement brands to add to your fitness routine

The supplement that supports athletic performance and recovery

Man drinking from shaker bottle.
Andres Ayrton / Pexels

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential nutrients that play a pivotal role in muscle recovery and athletic performance. There are three BCAAs in human nutrition: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They help repair and grow muscles, regulate energy and metabolism, and even help the body create hemoglobin, which transports oxygen through the blood to the cells. 

Among the myriad of supplements available, finding the best BCAA supplements can be a game-changer for fitness enthusiasts. This guide highlights some of the top BCAA supplement brands to consider incorporating into your regimen.

XTEND Original BCAA Powder

XTEND BCAA powder.
XTEND / XTEND

XTEND Original BCAA Powder is a popular choice among athletes. Most reviews are split on taste, with some people liking it and some disliking it. Therefore, there’s really no good way to know until you try it, but with a wide number of flavor options, you can easily find something you like. 

Pros

  • It contains seven grams of BCAAs per serving in the preferred 2:1:1 ratio.
  • There are zero calories in a serving, making it suitable for those on calorie-restricted diets.
  • It includes an electrolyte blend for improved hydration.
  • There are over 20 different flavors.

Cons

  • It is artificially sweetened.
  • Some people didn’t like the taste.

Ingredient analysis

XTEND’s formula is designed around the 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which is considered optimal for muscle protein synthesis. This ratio mirrors the body’s natural requirement, making it highly effective for athletes. This formula also has no calories and includes electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to help you stay hydrated during a long workout. Not everyone appreciates the use of artificial sweeteners, though, especially people avoiding synthetic additives.

Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules

Optimum Nutrition BCAA capsules.
Optimum Nutrition / Optimum Nutrition

Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA Capsules offer a convenient way to consume BCAAs in a portable pill form. They’re also potent and all-natural. Unfortunately, though, they’re not vegan. 

Pros

  • It provides a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs.
  • It is easy to transport and use on the go.
  • It contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors.

Cons

  • You have to take two at once.
  • The gelatin capsules are not vegetarian.

Ingredient analysis

Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA Capsules maintain the same 2:1:1 ratio, ensuring a balanced supply of these essential amino acids. This means there is twice as much leucine as isoleucine or valine because leucine is more important for muscle recovery. Some studies have found that BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio help your muscles to be less tired after working out, so you can do more with the rest of your day. The main downside of this product is that the capsules are made of gelatin, which is not vegetarian. That’s not something you need to worry about with powders. 

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs BCAAs.
Transparent Labs / Transparent Labs

Transparent Labs is known for its vegan, clean-label products. This one contains glutamine, another amino acid, along with the BCAAs. 

Pros

  • It contains eight grams of BCAAs and five grams of glutamine per serving.
  • It is free from dyes and additives.
  • It is vegan.

Cons

  • It has a higher price point compared to other BCAA products.
  • It is artificially sweetened with stevia.

Ingredient analysis

Glutamine is an amino acid as well, though not branched chains like leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It supports your immune system and digestive health and helps with recovery. Unlike the BCAAs, your body naturally creates glutamine, but sometimes it needs more, such as when you’re sick or injured. Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is also non-GMO, with no artificial colors or preservatives. However, it is artificially sweetened with stevia, which can actually cause digestive issues in some people. 

XWERKS MOTION

XWERKS MOTION BCAAs.
XWERKS / XWERKS

XWERKS MOTION is designed to support endurance and recovery with its blend of BCAAs and carbohydrates. This makes it essential for those who regularly exercise.

Pros

  • It includes three grams of BCAAs per serving.
  • It contains cluster dextrin carbohydrates for sustained energy.
  • It is free from dairy and gluten.

Cons

  • It contains more calories than some similar products.
  • There are fewer flavor options.

Ingredient analysis

XWERKS MOTION’s inclusion of cluster dextrin provides a slow-releasing carbohydrate source, ideal for long-duration activities. That makes it a good match for BCAAs, which help maintain your muscles’ energy and strength during long workouts. This product also contains beta-alanine, which can help delay muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise. However, a potential downside is the presence of sucralose. Although it’s zero-calorie and improves the taste, it’s still an artificial sweetener that some may wish to avoid.

1st Phorm BCAAs

1st Phorm BCAAs.
1st Phorm / 1st Phorm

1st Phorm BCAAs come in a variety of flavors and are formulated to support muscle growth and hydration. The product includes a custom blend of other necessary amino acids as well as electrolytes for hydration. 

Pros

  • It has great-tasting flavors without added sugar.
  • Other amino acids are also added.
  • Electrolytes have been included for hydration.
  • Subscription options are available for convenience.

Cons

  • It is a proprietary blend.
  • It may not stack well with other supplements.

Ingredient Analysis

1st Phorm BCAAs’ proprietary blend includes a variety of other necessary amino acids as well as the BCAAs, including glutamine. The electrolyte blend ensures that users stay hydrated, which is crucial for performance and recovery. However, the lack of transparency in the proprietary blends of amino acids and electrolytes can make it difficult to determine whether you’re getting as much of these nutrients as you need.

Editors' Recommendations

Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
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