Although they once existed on the fringe of the nutritional world, branched-chain amino acids have come to the fore in recent years as science has uncovered their significant role in physiological processes like muscle development and recovery.
As more and more information has become available, nutrition-conscious people from all walks of life have begun clamoring for effective, dependable BCAA supplements.
The problem is that with awareness comes a rush of opportunists trying to cash in with products that are little more than flour and flavoring.
To help clear away some of the doubt and confusion, we've done the legwork and assembled the best BCAA supplements for men currently available on the market.
There are many BCAA supplements on the market these days and if you want to be sure you’re getting a quality product, you would do well if you select one of the following in this review.
Our Top BCAA Supplements for Men (2021 Updated)
1 - Performance Lab BCAA (Editor's Choice)
The one thing that stood out most for me with this dietary supplement is that Performance Lab has put in a lot of effort to ensure all ingredients are natural and plant-based. That makes it suitable for vegans, but it also means that it’s not filled with completely unnecessary chemicals.
Performance Labs makes the claim that the “branched-chain amino acids are also naturally fermented from sunflower lecithin for easy digestion and high bioavailability.”
One study has shown that sunflower lecithin does indeed have positive digestive impacts, and plant-based proteins are generally more bioavailable.
- 3000 mg dose of BCAA is ideal for muscle protein synthesis
- Contains only natural ingredients with no additives
- Claims to be one of the easiest to digest supplements
- Suitable for vegan athletes
- To get the full dose, you’ll need to swallow 4 pills
While you do need to take up 4 pills to get the full benefits of these essential amino acids, I have experienced good results with my recovery time.
2 - Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine
For a BCAA that promotes muscle repair while helping to enhance your workout, CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine by Transparent Labs should be considered on the list.
This BCAA helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis, reduces muscle fatigue, and increases post-workout muscle growth.
With active ingredients such as amino acids leucine, isoleucine, valine, glutamine, and coconut water extract, this BCAA supplement is a good selection for muscle repair and recovery.
- Packed with 8g of effective & powerful BCAAs
- Supports muscle mass growth & recovery
- Better endurance during workouts
- The flavor can be strong
The fact that the CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine is gluten-free and non-GMO will make you feel even better post-workout.
Combine it with the lack of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives, you've got yourself a reliable BCAA supplement.
3 - Scivation Xtend Original BCAA Powder
Scivation Xtend Original BCAA Powder contains an extra-large dose of essential amino acids to help ensure that you're getting what you need to optimize your workouts.
The company goes a step further as well by including electrolytes in their formula. Electrolytes are crucial compounds that help maintain muscular integrity both during and after extreme exertion.
Every delicious serving of this BCAA powders contains zero sugar, zero carbs, and zero calories, making it a perfect post-workout drink.
- Packed with 7g of effective & powerful BCAAs
- Supports muscle protein synthesis
- Facilitates fat loss
- Better endurance during workouts
- Keeps you well-hydrated
- It would be nice if there were more flavors
And - just as importantly - it provides the electrolytes you need to fend off cramps, dizziness, and fatigue.
4 - Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Powder
Optimum Nutrition is a highly regarded supplement producer, renowned for their exacting standards and rigorous quality control.
Their Instantized BCAA Powder provides 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids in every serving.
They use the three most essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) to provide your body with the help it needs to recover from strenuous activity, and build the larger, leaner, and more durable muscles.
- Promotes muscle build-up & recovery
- Can be stacked with other supplements
- Easily mixed with any liquid
- Not the cheapest BCAA supplement out there
5 - Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy Powder
Whether your workout consists of 2 hours in the weight room or 10 miles on the track, you’re going to need to provide your muscles with the nutrients they need to deliver and recover.
The best BCAAs are the way to do so, and Evlution Nutrition's Energy powder is one of those BCAA powders that you can rely on.
To help put some wind in your workout sails, Evlution includes the greatest all-natural stimulant every discovered: caffeine.
It also includes the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, valine, and green tea for cleaner energy and antioxidants.
- Helps suppress appetite
- Enhances cognitive functions
- Increases muscle endurance
- Includes caffeine
- Contains sucralose
Evlution also helps increase blood circulation, which in turn helps increase mental acuity.
6 - BulkSupplements BCAA 2:1:1
BulkSupplements has to be in contention for top BCAA supplement on the market.
It’s considered one of the purest and dependable BCAA powders available.
The powder is very fine and mixes well with whatever liquid you have in mind. It comes in a couple of different flavors or with no flavor.
While none of the flavors make for the best tasting BCAA, you're not buying this powder for the taste.
You're buying it to help increase the size, strength, and durability of your muscles and perhaps to enjoy some secondary benefits like shorter recovery and clearer mind.
- Helps ramp up your workout performance
- Easily mixes with the liquid of your choice
- More affordable than some others
- Simple and durable packaging
- Some will want a better flavor
When it comes to those things, BulkSupplements is considered one of the top BCAA for men around.
7 - Dymatize BCAA Complex 2200
Dymatize's BCAA Complex 2200 leverages the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, valine, and tosses vitamins C and B6 into the mix to bolster not just your pecs but your immune system as well.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that targets the free radicals that undermine cell integrity while B6 helps bolster the effectiveness of even the best BCAAs.
Taken together these amino acids and nutrients provide a well-balanced package that jacks up your energy levels, increases endurance, strengthens immune response, and ensures you achieve better overall health as well.
- Addresses a wide range of nutritional needs
- Enhances stamina and shortens recovery times
- Allows your body to make the most of the BCAAs
- Aids in the fight against free radicals
- May cause upset stomach in people with sensitive systems
8 - Battle Ready Fuel BCAA
Working hard to maximize muscle growth is a true battle against stamina and willpower. And Battle Ready Fuel has created a really good selection of products to help you with that process.
One thing that stood out from the online reviews and conversations I had at the gym, is that their BCAA product doesn’t just speed up the recovery process.
Many people commented on how it really helped reduce muscle soreness, especially after very intense workouts.
- Contains 4:1:1 BCAA ratio
- Focuses on muscle gain and recovery
- Minimizes muscle breakdown
- Keeps you energized during workouts
- Not available as an unflavored option
If you need something to help on those high-intensity days or weeks, then Battle Ready Fuel is something you need to try.
What are BCAAs?
Of the 20 amino acids known to science, nine are essential, and three of those are branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs.
The 3 BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are crucial to muscle development, particularly muscle protein synthesis, but the body cannot synthesize them on its own.
As such, we must obtain them from outside sources. You might ask how; no worries. We got you covered! Here are two ways to do this:
Either through the foods we eat - such as meat, legumes and dairy products - or via supplements and powders like the ones profiled above.
If you engage in strenuous exercise, you are likely not getting enough amino acids from food sources and should seriously consider BCAA supplementation.
BCAAs are considered essential amino acids because, unlike non-essential ones, your body cannot make them. Therefore, it is essential to get them from your diet.
- Alina Petre MS, RD
What are the Benefits of BCAAs?
The best BCAAs produce any number of benefits including:
- Enhanced muscle growth - This is probably the most well-known benefit of BCAA brands and the number 1 reason people use the kinds of supplements profiled above. These stimulate protein synthesis that in turn support muscle growth and facilitate muscle repair after workouts.
- Faster recovery - Anyone who works out needs to allow stressed muscles to repair themselves before they hit the gym again. BCAAs help speed up the process of muscle recovery and prevent muscle soreness.
- Reduced fatigue - Sometimes after a workout, fatigue can hit you like a ton of bricks. This is because as BCAA levels decrease, tryptophan levels increase. With the best BCAA supplements, you help stabilize these and ward off fatigue.
- Prevents wasting - If you work out, you need to maintain healthy muscle tissues. As people get older, however, they naturally become more sedentary. Trips to the gym become less frequent, and the exercise machines in the basement start to gather dust. This trend toward inactivity means your muscles don't have much to do anymore and begin to waste away. BCAAs can help to counteract the natural drift toward muscle wasting.
What to Look For in a BCAA Supplement
Branched-chain amino acids are what they are. That said, there are still a few things you should be looking for when shopping for the best BCAA powder for you.
- Leucine, isoleucine, valine - These are the only three branched-chain amino acids in existence, and so the first thing to look for is whether the supplement you're thinking of taking contains them. If it doesn't contain these amino acids, then it's definitely playing with you.
- Correct balance of leucine, isoleucine, and valine - In most cases, most people will want to look for a balance of 2:1:1 (leucine, isoleucine, valine) in their amino acid supplement. While some recommend a much higher concentration of leucine, there is precious little science to back up the idea that it's necessary, or even desirable.
- Energy boosters - Since most people who take the best BCAA supplements are doing so to ramp up their performance in the gym they also want to see some form of energy boosters mixed into the supplement. The most common and natural remains caffeine. But not all the best BCAAs for men contain caffeine. So if it’s important to you make sure you check the label before buying.
- Absorption rate - The best BCAA supplement is typically absorbed by the body in a couple of hours. This absorption process can be hastened, however, with the addition of vitamin B6 which helps facilitate the absorption of all the amino acids.
Side Effects and Risks
The best BCAA supplement is not some synthetic chemical compound created in a laboratory that you would be introducing into your system.
It is an absolutely essential nutrient your body craves in order to repair and replace muscle tissues.
Therefore, taking a BCAA supplement is unlikely to cause any kind of significant or even noticeable side effects in the vast majority of men.
The only likely exceptions are:
- Men with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) who have been known to suffer lung failure after supplementing with BCAAs (the exact causal mechanism is not entirely understood).
- Chronic alcoholics who often have damaged livers and whose condition may be exacerbated by consuming a BCAA supplement.
In addition, it may affect blood sugar levels in some individuals, which could - theoretically at least - pose some potential risks to people both during and after surgery.
Again, however, hard scientific data is wanting in this regard.
The bottom line is that, unless you fall into one of the above categories, it’s highly unlikely that BCAAs will pose any type of threat to you.
Are BCAAs worth it?
Yes, BCAAs are absolutely worth it as it will actually form a vital role in your bodybuilding efforts. BCAAs are a set of essential amino acids that your body will need to repair and build new muscle tissues. The harder you work out, the more of these amino acids you’ll need to try and consume.
Which is better: creatine or BCAA?
Creatine is better than BCAA if you’re looking to improve your strength, endurance, and growth from training. However, some studies are pointing towards BCAA being better for muscle recovery, which will put you in a better position to go training again a lot sooner.
Should I take creatine with BCAA?
Yes, you should take BCAA and creatine to maximize your muscle growth, strength, and recovery. The two supplements will complement each other and will give your body everything it needs to speed up muscle fiber recovery. It’s an excellent way to get everything you can out of your time at the gym.
Do BCAAs make you gain weight?
No, BCAAs won’t make you gain weight. Their main benefit is helping your muscles repair, especially after a high-intensity training session. They are not necessarily a designated fat burner supplement, but you shouldn’t expect to be gaining any weight from taking them.
Should I drink BCAA every day?
No, you don’t need to take BCAA every day, unless you have a very intense workout plan scheduled for every day of the week. For the average low-intensity or cardio session, you won’t need to take BCAA, as your body will not be so reliant on a boost in those cases.
How much BCAA should I take daily?
You should take about 5 to 10 grams of BCAA daily as long as you’re on a high-intensity workout day. To calculate this more accurately, the nutritional guidance is to aim for about 80 mg per pound of body weight. Most supplements will be in that range, but if you need more than average, then it may make sense to find a more concentrated one.
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Our #1 Recommended BCAA For Men
Branched-chain amino acids are essential in muscle repair and recovery. They can also aid the body in building lean muscle mass.
When it comes to BCAA supplements, you should consider choosing Performance Lab BCAA. This BCAA delivers what your muscles need to help you recover from a workout and build up larger and stronger fibers.
I’ve been testing it myself for several months now, and I can always tell when I happen to forget to take it after a trip to the gym. The next morning, I just feel that little bit stiffer, which can also impact my next training sessions.
It’s definitely worth giving a try.