The 7 Best BCAAs of 2020

Speed up recovery time with these top-supplements

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Our Top Picks

Best Powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA at Amazon

"Easy to mix, one serving contains 5 grams of BCAA and just 10 calories."

Best Capsule: SHEER BCAA Capsules at Walmart

"Packed full of 1,950 milligrams of BCAA, these easy-to-swallow veggie capsules only contain leucine, valine, and isoleucine"

Best Caffeine Free: BSN Amino/Post Workout Recovery at Amazon

"This caffeine-free formula from BSN will give you all the BCAAs you need without keeping you up at night."

NOW Sports Amino Powder at Amazon

"No artificial colors, flavors, or other ingredients often added to sports supplements."

Best-Tasting: Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy at Amazon

"Packed with 5 grams of BCAA, it also has green tea, green coffee bean, and vitamin C."

Best for Women: BCAAs For Women at Amazon

"Each serving delivers 5 grams of BCAAs but zero calories and zero carbs."

Best Vegan: Truth Nutrition Naturally Fermented at Amazon

"This vegan-friendly, 100 percent plant-based BCAA powder from Truth Nutrition is free from milk and many other non-vegan friendly ingredients."

When you perform intense workouts, it’s important to allow enough time for rest and recovery, as well as fueling your body with the right nutrients. While you can meet most—if not all—of your needs through proper nutrition, sometimes athletes or advanced exercisers choose to supplement with branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs.  

BCAAs represent three essential amino acids: valine, leucine, and isoleucine. Although you can get these essential amino acids from protein-rich food, they are commonly bundled together in a powder form and sold as a dietary supplement. Here, our experts review the top picks for BCAA supplements.

Our Top Picks

Best Powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA

From ramping up your recovery post-workout to helping you overcome a plateau, exercise enthusiasts give this BCAA supplement high marks all around. Easy to mix, one serving contains 5 grams of BCAA and just 10 calories. It also boasts Wellmune for immunity, Rhodiola for endurance, and electrolytes for performance. It’s designed for use before, during, or after your workout. It comes in four flavors, including watermelon, strawberry kiwi, fruit punch, and cranberry lemonade. 

Best Capsule: SHEER BCAA Capsules

SHEER BCAA Capsules - #1 Best Branched Chain Amino Acids Post Workout Supplement Builds Muscle and Burns Fat Fast - Full 30 Day Supply
Courtesy of Walmart

Powder formulas are not for everyone. Fortunately, BCAA’s also come in a capsule, like this one from Sheer Strength Labs. Packed full of 1,950 milligrams of BCAA, these easy-to-swallow veggie capsules only contain the big three: leucine, valine, and isoleucine. Plus, they have a 100 percent money-back guarantee. No questions asked. Three capsules equal one serving. And they’re a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t like the taste of the BCAA powder.

Best Caffeine Free: BSN Amino X Post Workout Muscle Recovery & Endurance Powder

Whether you hit the gym in the evening or like to avoid a jolt of caffeine before you workout, this caffeine-free formula from BSN will give you all the BCAAs you need without keeping you up at night. Amino X has 10 grams of BCAA per serving, with a 2:1:1 ratio, and comes in a variety of flavors including grape, blue raspberry, and green apple. For optimum results, they recommend two servings (1 scoop in 6-8 ounces of the beverage of your choice) per day.

Best Unflavored: Pure BCAA: NOW Sports Branched Chain Amino Acid Powder

If you’re not a fan of all the fruity flavors of other BCAA powders, this 100-percent pure, unflavored version from NOW Sports may be more your taste. Not to mention, it only has BCAAs in it. No artificial colors, flavors, or other ingredients often added to sports supplements. The recommended dosage is 1-3 teaspoons per day, which you can mix into a beverage of your choice—anything from juice to protein shakes.

Best-Tasting: Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy

If you want a BCAA that not only works well but tastes great, then Evlution Nutrition is the way to go. Packed with 5 grams of BCAA, it also has green tea, green coffee bean, and vitamin C. And with zero carbs and zero sugar, this gluten-free BCAA powder is worth considering. Choose from a variety of flavors, including blue raz, cherry limeade, pineapple, pink star blast, lemon-lime, and so many more. A serving is two scoops and can be taken up to four times a day, before, during, or after a workout.

Best for Women: IdealLean, BCAAs For Women, Orange Paradise

While most BCAA powders are appropriate for both men and women, IdealLean is formulated specifically for women. Each serving delivers 5 grams of BCAAs but zero calories and zero carbs. It also contains green tea extract, CLA, glutamine, and a few B-vitamins, among other ingredients. 

One scoop equals a serving, which you combine with water and drink during your workouts. You can also drink throughout the day on days you’re not training. It comes in five flavors, including green apple, orange paradise, and peach lemonade.

Best Vegan: Truth Nutrition Naturally Fermented BCAA 2:1:1 Powder

This vegan-friendly, 100 percent plant-based BCAA powder from Truth Nutrition is free from milk and many other non-vegan friendly ingredients. Their formula is also non-GMO, gluten-free, and all-natural. Plus, it’s full of ingredients that can help you increase strength, speed, endurance, and reduce recovery time. It comes in a variety of flavors, including red raspberry, watermelon, blood orange, and pink lemonade, which are all flavored with Stevia. Each serving contains 5 grams of BCAAs, which you can take up to three times a day: before, during, or after a workout.

What to Look for in a BCAA Supplement

Mixability and flavor: Nothing says yuck like a powder supplement that won’t mix. When shopping for a BCAA powder, look for a product that mixes well in water. You should also consider the flavor. You can find BCAA powder unflavored or in flavors like fruit punch, grape, and lemon-lime. Depending on your taste buds, you may want to take the safe route and opt for unflavored.

Other ingredients: In addition to valine, leucine, and isoleucine, several BCAA products include extra ingredients. Be on the lookout for artificial flavors, sweeteners, fillers, and artificial coloring. One way to avoid some of these not so pleasant additions is to go with an unflavored product. Also, pay attention to other dietary supplements they may include such as caffeine, glutamine, and citrulline malate. If you only want BCAA, make sure there are no other supplements listed on the label. 

Pills vs. Powder: BCAAs come in a powder and capsule. BCAA powder seems to be the top choice, especially since companies can pack more BCAA into each serving. However, some people prefer swallowing a pill. Just know that you may have to take quite a few pills to equal the same amount of BCAAs found in powder. 

What the Experts Say

“Seventy percent of the amino acid pool that makes up muscle tissue is BCAA’s. One of the BCAA’s, leucine, is the key amino acid that drives the muscle protein synthesis (MPS) pathway, which means better recovery and a greater anabolic response from exercise.”—Shawn Wells, MPH, LDN, RD, CISSN, FISSN

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