Our bodies need amino acids to function properly. Amino acids are found in proteins, which are vital to the human body’s health. Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are essential amino acids, meaning our bodies are unable to produce them.
This means we must get BCAAs into our bodies by some other means, either through the foods we eat or via supplementation.
What Are BCAAs?
According to research, 20 amino acids are common to all life forms, with nine of these being compounds human bodies are unable to synthesize. Of these nine amino acids, three are referred to as ‘branched-chain amino acids' or BCAAs. These are isoleucine, leucine, and valine. Each of these BCAAs has its special functions in the body.
Isoleucine is recognized in the scientific community as being able to repair torn muscle tissue. It participates in hemoglobin synthesis, and it helps to regulate blood sugar. Leucine also aids in the recovery of both muscle tissue as well as bone, and it aids in the production of growth hormone.
Valine is vital to nervous system and blood-brain barrier functions. It also plays a major role in the growth of healthy muscle tissue and proper immune system function.
How Can I Get BCAAs?
Branched-chain amino acids can be found in some of the foods we eat, including eggs, quinoa, chia seeds, beef, fish, chicken, soy, and whey.
However, there are problems with obtaining enough of them in the foods we eat. For example, when we exercise or are ill, our bodies tend to need more branched-chain amino acids due to fatigue and muscle wasting.
One of the major problems with obtaining BCAAs through our food is what’s known today as the ‘standard American diet,’ or SAD. The typical American's diet includes too many fats and sugars and not enough nutrient-dense foods.
Another problem with relying on our diets for obtaining the proper nutrients is that many of our once-trusted sources of nutrients have been depleted of their nutritional value. For instance, agricultural soil in the US is not as rich with nutrients as it used to be due to overuse.
This is why it’s beneficial to include BCAA supplementation into your diet to ensure you’re getting the proper amounts your body needs. And it’s why we’ve embarked on creating a list of the 5 best options available in today’s health and nutrition industry.
Top 5: BCAAs Review
Product Image & Rating (Out Of 10)
Optimum Nutrition has been a leading seller of nutritional products for over 30 years. They offer this ‘instantized’ formula, which in the food and supplement industry means it’s instant or easy to prepare.
Their lactose-free, ‘mega-size’ capsules have been formulated as anabolic and anti-catabolic muscle support. If used before endurance training, this branched-chain amino acid product is designed to help spare muscle mass.
If used after training, they work to help ‘kick start’ protein synthesis in order to optimize muscle building and toning.
Optimum Nutrition touts this supplement as the ‘preferred level’ of a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which is designed to take the training efforts of users to the next level. They work to support recovery and endurance, and they help you build an active lifestyle. These capsules deliver 1000 mg of BCAAs per serving.
Known as the ‘global leaders in sports nutrition innovation,’ Cellucor maintains international partners throughout the world for their cutting-edge products and devotion to fitness. Their Alpha Amino EAA & BCAA Recovery Powder delivers ‘a legacy of excellence,’ befitting of Cellucor’s mission to offer products as a journey toward optimum health and fitness.
The company works to promote lifestyle improvement by ‘transforming alongside’ its customers with a dedication to building the ‘best sports nutrition brand in the world.’
This sugar-free ultimate performance powder’s premium formula contains 14 amino acids with a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio, which research shows is the ideal ratio. It’s formulated to deliver high quality that is effective at replenishing and recharging the bodies of those who use it, from beginners to advanced body builders.
Cellucor’s claim is that its formula works to replenish fluid balance and fuel muscles. Their proprietary blend features ‘HydroMax,’ which is a novel ingredient they proclaim as one that can increase tissue fluid concentration in order to fight muscle breakdown during workout recovery.
Plus, it comes in all these ‘mouth-watering’ flavors: watermelon, fruit punch, grape, icy blue razz, and lemon lime.
When it comes to sports fitness and nutrition, it’s tough to beat a competitive bodybuilding medical doctor who also is his own customer. Dr. Emil Hodzovic holds an MD from Cardiff University in Wales. His passion for the nutrition industry led him to create this product for enhanced recovery.
These pills are formulated with optimal 2:1:1 ratio BCAA as well as a high dose of L-glutamine, which in studies has shown to enhance metabolism. Dr. Emil touts his product as creating the ‘ideal synergy’ for growth stack and recovery.
Goliath by Dr. Emil is made from all-natural herbal extracts, vitamins, and minerals. It is also a non-GMO product that is free of hormones and gluten, and it contains no other harmful additives (which includes all of the top eight allergens).
‘Pump up fast!’ is the epigram of BulkSupplements.com, a leading distributor and manufacturer of ‘clean and pure supplements’ that they business-to-business as well as direct to consumers through their online base. They offer this ‘instantized’ formula, which in the food and supplement industry means it’s instant or easy to prepare.
This product is designed to kick-start metabolism and muscle growth with its optimal 2:1:1 ratio of the three branched-chain amino acids. It’s a potent blend that works so well that bodybuilders, cross-fit trainers, and power lifters will notice results shortly after taking it. This product is lab-tested for purity, as are all BulkSupplements.com products.
Sheer Strength Labs is a name well-known in the sports nutrition industry. Their capsules makes our list because they help users see results quickly. This branched-chain amino acid product works well to reduce fatigue for faster recovery and less muscle soreness.
Its formula is designed to help bodybuilders look bigger and feel more ‘ripped’ than ever before.
We chose the products on our top five list because they all contain high-quality ingredients designed to optimize training with proper ratios of isoleucine, valine, and leucine. Though some are more potent than others, all of these products can work well for anyone, from beginners all the way up to serious bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Additionally, each one of these products has an excellent price point that can fit into nearly all budgets.
However, only one product can be chosen to be named our #1 pick for best branched-chain amino acid product on the market.
So what is our #1 pick? OPTIMUM NUTRITION Instantized BCAA Capsules
This product is rated best of the best by reviewers. In fact, we could locate only one negative comment from one reviewer (listed above). Hats off to Optimum Nutrition for creating yet another great sports nutrition product about which his loyal customers rave.
And hats off to all the branched-chain amino acid supplements that made our top five list!
Naturally, you have more questions regarding BCAA supplements. Here are some things to consider if you’ve never supplemented with branched-chain amino acids before.
What Are the Benefits of Supplementing with BCAAs?
Because we all need branched-chain amino acids in our bodies, there are many benefits to supplementing with a BCAA product. This is particularly true of those whose diets are lacking in the necessary foods to obtain these nutrients. Following are the top five proven benefits of BCAA supplementation:
What Should I Look for in a BCAA Supplement Product?
Following are some of the features to consider when shopping for a BCAA supplement:
Proper Ratio of Leucine to Isoleucine and Valine
The ideal ratio of these three BCAAs is 2:1:1. This is the ratio studies have found to be optimal for increasing energy and aiding in protein synthesis.
A few of the products on the market today contain a higher incidence of leucine. This ratio is not supported by scientific research.
Optimal Time to Ingest BCAA Supplements
Because this can vary depending on the person and the time/type of workout, always follow directions of any product you purchase.
Though taste is a subjective factor, BCAA supplements tend to have fruity flavors that aren’t hard to swallow.
Those that are more potent generally are the ones that will taste bad. Still others can have a chalky taste. Read reviews to learn what other users are saying about a BCAA supplement's flavor.
The great news about BCAA supplements is that most of the products available are budget-friendly. But remember, higher price does not necessarily mean better quality.
Always read reviewers’ comments to gain perspective on a product’s use before purchasing.
Do BCAA Supplements Have Side Effects?
There is no science-backed research that shows supplementing your diet with BCAAs within reason can produce negative side effects. However, as with anything that is to be ingested, overuse and excess ingestion of these supplements can have side effects.
If overused, side effects can include fatigue, headaches, nausea and other gastrointestinal upset, loss of coordination, and type 2 diabetes. Always consult with your physician before beginning any supplementation regimen.
Branched-chain amino acids are vital to your health. They work to stimulate protein synthesis, build muscle, reduce fatigue, and help you recover more quickly from strenuous workouts.
For a healthier lifestyle that includes better workout recovery, less tiredness, and a leaner body with more streamlined muscle tone, consider supplementing with a BCAA product.