Branched-chain amino acids are some of the most researched supplements on the market. In recent years they have seen increases in use due to their ability to support other supplements and improve your workout. As well as helping you to maintain mass when cutting, BCAAs are also great to help you put on lean muscle mass.
BCAAs help by stimulating protein synthesis in the body, allowing you to use more protein for muscle growth and repair. For this reason, small amounts of BCAAs are often found in protein supplements. BCAAs are also a benefit by reducing the rate at which protein in the muscles break down and so can help to reduce muscle loss. They do this by reducing the effect of several processes that contribute to protein breakdown.
When you are on a calorie restricted diet, your body breaks down muscles to use the amino acids for energy. When you are building & maintaining muscle, protein synthesis takes place. To prevent muscle loss you need to increase protein synthesis so that it is higher than the rate of protein breakdown. Taking BCAAs will increase the rate of protein synthesis in the body and therefore prevent breakdown of muscles.
BCAAs are made from three amino acids called Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine which usually come in a ratio of 2:1:1. They are usually taken during or after an intense workout. Some body builders like to have a BCAA drink with them during their workout, whereas others prefer to use them after with protein. The choice is yours as they will both be contributing to recovery from your workout. BCAAs are often found in a lot of other supplements as they are usually combined with the other supplements benefits. You can find BCAAs in protein, pre workouts, recovery shakes and many other supplements. BCAAs usually come in a powdered form that can be easily mixed into a shake.
Best BCAAs for 2021
We have compiled our list for the top ten Branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements of 2021 to share the best ones based on quality, price, value, ingredients and results. Take a look at our favourite BCAA supplements below.
The Bulk Powders Pro series contains some of the most premium quality supplements on the market. The challenge with the Pro series was to design the best supplements possible and that is exactly what they have done. Informed BCAA contains a high dosing of the best BCAAs on the market. Per serving there is a huge 18g of BCAAs including a huge ratio of 8:1:1, compared to most other BCAA supplements only offering a 2:1:1 ratio. Leucine, the most important BCAA is actually present in three different forms which are : Leucine Nitrate, Leucine Ethyl Ester and also Instantised Leucine.
Informed BCAA is rich in amino nitrates, which are far better than the standard BCAA molecule found in most supplements. The nitrate bound BCAA compounds are able to by-pass the intestinal wall which allows for faster absorption. Despite being the most superior BCAA supplement on the market, Informed BCAA is actually priced very well at £39.99 for 25 servings. There are two flavours available which are Orange & Mango and Black Raspberry. we used the Orange & Mango which actually tasted very nice and the taste reminded us of a sports energy drink. You can buy Informed BCAA directly from the Bulk Powders website and collect reward points towards your next purchase. I really like with Bulk Powders the transparency with all the ingredients listed clearly. Informed BCAA is the same and the Bulk Powders website features everything clearly labelled.
MyProtein is the leading UK supplier of protein and sports supplements. Their range has proved very popular for both high quality and low prices. We often use MyProtein for their great tasting Whey Protein supplements. These BCAAs come in the form of convenient tablets that can easily be consumed on the go or at the gym. Being in a tablet form, you do not need to carry around a shaker bottle with you. This BCAA supplement also has a higher ratio than many others at 4:1:1 which is superior to the standard 2:1:1 seen on the market these days.
Per tablet there is a 4500mg serving of BCAAs and you can take up-to five tablets a day to prevent muscle breakdown and help improve protein synthesis. These tablets come in an unflavoured form and are priced well at £13.99 for a 120 tablet pot. MyProtein often have many onsite offers so it is worth looking out for them and you can often get discounts on your purchases. The website allows you to purchase every supplement in one place which makes it extremely convenient.
The Protein Works has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years. They have a huge range of unique and powerful products that are great for anyone looking to get into shape. A lot of The Protein Works products stand out for their new and unique combinations, providing some of the best products on the market. BCAA Extreme is a new next generation product from The Protein Works.
This supplement contains the revolutionary Pepform technology which isolates the leucine-rich peptides from protein peptides. As with other products from The Protein Works, BCAA Extreme also tastes great using natural ingredients. There are a number of flavours available including Cherry Limeade Cooler and Watermelon Breeze. This supplement is available in a powdered form and is priced at £42.99 for 500g, making it great value for money. Despite being a new release, this product already has some great reviews for both its taste and also results.
Optimum Nutrition have a great reputation in the fitness industry for their high quality premium products. Gold Standard Whey Protein is often ranked top each year and Essential Amino Acid follows with its great quality. Essential Amino Energy also contains caffeine, as well as essential BCAAs, giving you the cutting edge in the gym and improving performance & alertness. There is 5 g of micronised amino acids per serving, making Essential Amino Energy a great choice for just before the gym to promote protein synthesis and provide you with a great workout. Optimum Nutrition supplements are always great tasting and these is a wide range of flavours available for this supplement including Fruit Fusion and Strawberry Lime. The price of optimum Nutrition supplements are often higher, being a big brand. The RRP of this supplement is £19.99 but you can purchase this for £17.99 from Discount Supplements.
Products from BSN often feature in our recommended products due to their great quality supplements. BSN Amino X is a stimulant free formula that is designed to allow you to push your performance to the next level. If you are participating in endurance training, this supplement makes a great choice. Each serving contains 10g of blended BCAAs and the essential amino acids, L-Alanine, Taurine and L-Citrulline. This will allow your body to repair from your workout and be ready for the next one. BSN Amino X is designed to prevent muscle breakdown and ensure you are prepared for a great workout with the need for stimulants. As well as containing zero calories, there are many great flavours available including Fruit Punch and Green Apple. A 1KG sub can be purchased for £41.99 and provides 70 servings.
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MusclePharm have some of the hardest hitting supplements on the market and BCAA 3:1:2 delivers exactly what your body needs. This supplement contains the exactly what your muscles need after a great workout, helping to promote muscle development and increase muscle mass. The superior quality will show in your superior results, ensuring your muscle get what they deserve. MusclePharm has previously won supplement brand of the year, proving their great products and customer experience. All MusclePharm products are designed for serious athletes and fitness focused individuals. You can purchase this supplement in a variety of flavours including Watermelon and Blue Raspberry.
CNP are a popular supplement company that have some great prices on their high quality supplements. Pro BCAA burst is a great tasting BCAA supplement that is ideal for before, during or after your workout. You can even use it on none training days to ensure you are topped up with BCAAs. There is also 11g of protein per serving, ensuring your muscles have everything they need for both development and maintentance. This supplement is low in calories and comes in both Pineapple and apple flavours. You only have to look at the reviews to see the great taste this product has to offer. The best place I have found to buy Pro BCAA Burst is at Discount Supplements where you can get 60 servings for £29.99.
PhD delivers premium quality supplements for people who are serious about their fitness. The unique intra+ formula from Phd Nutrition also contains Coconut Water and can be used at any time of the day, with any type of exercise. Per serving, there is over 7000mg of Branched-chain amino acids, as well as 2400mg of L-Glutamine and other amino acids. These have been derived from premium quality whey protein. There is also Vitamin C. This vitamin has shown in tests to reduce tiredness and fatigue, making it great for your workout and maximum results. There are three flavours available including Coconut & Lime. You can purchase BCAA Intra+ for 29.99 for 30 servings.
USN BCAA+ Power Punch is ideal for bodybuilders looking to increase their amino acid intake and muscle development. Amino Acids are the building blocks of our muscles and the Amino Pro Nano Stack can significantly increase your intake. As well as Amino acids, there is also Niacin which helps to contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, making it ideal for an intense workout. There is also Vitamin B6 which has many benefits including promotion of protein metabolism. This supplement comes in a variety of great flavours including tangerine and cloudy lemonade. It is also in a tablet form for convenience. You can purchase a 400g tub for £26.99.
Relfex Nutrition is one of them supplement brands that has been around for years. In fact, they have been producing supplements for over 20 years. During this time they have had chance to refine their products to some of the finest supplements available. Reflex Nutrition operate from their very own state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. This means they have full control over the highest standards of their supplements.
BCAA from Reflex Nutrition contains nine essential amino acids that are essential for building muscle. This includes L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine. These are the building blocks of muscles. This is an ideal supplement to be consumed before exercise. This supplement is available in a tub of 200 capsules. The capsules make it easier to consume compared with powder. The price direct from Reflex Nutrition is £23 but it can be purchased for less at other retailers.
2021 Update: New formulas in the best BCAAs
This list was originally compiled several years ago and there has been many revisions since. One of the most significant changes has been the rise in new blends and formulas. Where as BCAA supplements would be very similar a few years ago, there is now a lot more options. Firstly, the standard BCAA formulations are still available and are perfect for those looking for just Brand-chain amino acids.
However, many are now looking for blends that push further and achieve more. The advance in manufacturing capabilities has produced some great new BCAA supplements. My favourite is below:
One of my favourite supplement brands at the moment is The Protein Works. In fact, they have already featured on this post. Since launching in 2012, one of the standout features is their unique supplement formulations. Instead of just sticking with the standard supplements, they often try something new.
BCAA Ultra 5:1:1 is one of them unique products that really stands out. This supplement is manufactured with the finest BCAAs on the market today. Most supplements contain BCAAs at a ratio of 2:1:1. However, this supplement contains a ratio of 5:1:1 which provides a much higher level of Leucine. This helps to support the body’s mTor pathway to support protein synthesis. Therefore providing better ability for muscle growth and maintenance. BCAA Ultra 5:11 is ideal for both pre and post workout. The supplement is taken in capsule form and 90 capsules can be purchased for £12.99 from The Protein Works website.
Tips when picking the best BCAAs
As you can see, there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to picking the best BCAA supplement. With so many options it can often be difficult to decide which one to go with. There can be many factors to decide the best BCAA supplement for you, take a look at our top tips to look out for below.
There are many different supplement brands online. However not all of them are equal. Firstly, they are often targeted at slightly different users. For example, brands such as PhD are a premium supplement. These are usually more expensive. On the other hand, brands such as The Protein Works provide a more mainstream price point. When selecting a brand, you should have an idea of how much you are willing to spend. Also remember that if you are going to be using the supplement for a while, the price of BCAAs can add up.
I often like to stick with the same supplement brands for multiple different supplements. For example with Bulk Powders. This way it is more convenient to purchase everything at the same time. Furthermore you will often achieve cost savings when purchasing a lot of items together.
Unlike many other supplements, BCAAs come in both pill and powder form. The one wish is suited to you will depend on which you prefer. Powdered form generally means manufacturers can pack more into one serving. This is often better if looking for the best value. Another benefit of power is that you get to taste the flavour. Furthermore, you can consume the drink over a longer period e.g. through a workout. However, the issue with powder is that it is less convenient.
Pill forms are often preferred by those who favour convenience. The pills can easily be carried in your bag and consumed when convenient. For example if going for a workout after work. Also, for those who do not like the taste, the pill form is a good idea. There is no taste with the pill form and it is consumed instantly.
Many BCAA formulations often contain further ingredients, as well as BCAAs. This can include vitamins and also other amino acids. For many of us, we may prefer the standard supplement. However, for others the additional ingredients are welcome. For example some additional ingredients claim to maximise performance or reduce recovery time. When looking for a BCAA supplement, take a look at all the ingredients when making your decision.
Tips for building muscle with BCAAs
When trying to build muscle using supplements, follow these tips:
- Lift Heavy – The way to build muscle is to increase the weight that you lift. As you lift more weight, your muscles develop in order to keep up with the weight that you are lifting. Instead of lifting the same weights, you should be regularly increasing the amount that you lift. A top tip is to keep track of your lifts. There are various applications that can used to do this. You could also just use an old fashioned notebook to keep track.
- Eat Well – The energy for your workouts and muscle growth come from the food that you eat. You should be consuming a high protein diet, which will allow for muscle growth. Not eating enough will see you with less energy and your workouts not as heavy. The internet contains thousands of great recipe ideas that are both healthy and nutritious.
- Sleep & recover properly – Muscle growth and recovery happens more when you are sleeping. Ensure you are getting adequate sleep to let your body repair. Also give your muscles enough time to recover in-between each workout so that they are ready for your next workout. For example it would not be a great idea to workout the same muscles a day later. Adequate rest time is essential for muscle growth.
- Use The Right Supplements – As well as BCAAs, there are also other supplements that you should use to promote muscle growth. These include Whey Protein, Pre Workout and Casein. Whey protein is often the most popular and flexible supplement. This is an ideal choice to get protein to the muscles right after a workout.
Supplements should only be consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Summary: Best BCAA supplements
This was our list of the best BCAAs ( Branched-chain amino acids) for 2020. Using BCAA supplements will not allow you to see a big difference instantly. As with all supplements, it takes time and dedication to see serious progress. However BCAAs will help you see results if you stick with them. I like to use BCAAs in a drink whilst I am working out. This way I can benefit from the reduction of fatigue and also the promotion of muscle development. Let us know which supplements you will be using below.
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