In this article, Ultimate Sup will reveal BCAAs - one dominant bodybuilding supplement that holds plenty of myths. We will also suggest a list of the best five BCAAs in 2021 tested and evaluated, along with detailed and complete instructions to help you select your own supplement.
BCAAs are composed of three powerful amino acids - leucine, isoleucine and valine - perfect for any tough training athlete as they serve as the main building blocks for muscles.
First of all, this list references BCAAs quality rankings from independent organizations that evaluate reputable fitness products’ quality. After purchasing and testing these supplements carefully, these companies have made judgments based on several factors. Let's find out the top five best BCAA supplements and the reason why they are on the list!
Scivation Xtend BCAA
The product's always at the top of the BCAA chart with its delicious flavor, enriched nutrition, and reasonable price. Xtend BCAAis a three-type Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement produced by Scivation, a North Carolina-based food supplement company. As a large corporation using modern production technology, Scivation has devoted high-quality products, especially the BCAA Xtend line.
Ingredient amounts in Xtend BCAA are incredibly remarkable. The product delivers 7g BCAA and several additional elements such as citrulline, glutamine, and electrolytes. Besides, the supplement has such diverse flavors that you can easily choose and enjoy.
Xtend BCAA has a gold ratio of 2:1:1 that many BCAA products do not match. This is the perfect ratio for quick muscle recovery and increased endurance. If compared to other products, Xtend BCAA will be regarded the best with the BCAA content of 7000mg. Each amino acid component in BCAA has its own mission, in which Leucine plays the most critical role in building muscle.
MusclePharm BCAA Essentials
This product provides BCAA in a 3:1:2 ratio to help muscles absorb quickly, restore and develop muscle. Besides, it reduces pain after each exercise and increases lean muscle mass. To be specific, MusclePharm BCAA Essentials is suitable for those who are following a Hypertrophy muscle mass increase regimen. Per serving, you can get 3g Leucine, 1g Isoleucine, and 2g Valine.
The supplement contains a high percentage of amino acids. Especially with higher amounts of Leucine and Valine, this product supports muscle recovery, reduces fatigue, and relieves muscle pain better. The product purity has reached 90%, while its ingredient safety hit 97-98%. Besides, the pure ratio of BCAAs in one serving is 95%, and its efficiency is expected to be 75%.
BPI Sports Best BCAA
Best BCAA is pretty well-known among the fitness community worldwide not only for its delicious taste but also for its perfect aid.
BPI Sports has been creating the best tasting amino acid products for ten years. BPI Sports Best BCAA award-winning formula, powered by 5g of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), supports muscle growth, fat loss, athletic performance, and recovery. These three amino acids play a particularly vital role in muscle growth by stimulating protein synthesis and preventing protein catabolism. Regardless of your goals, you can count on the best BCAA for the best result. The hardest part will be your choice among all the delicious flavors of BPI Sports Best BCAA.
MuscleTech Platinum Amino Energy
Another best BCAAs is MuscleTech Platinum Amino Energy. Platinum Amino + Energy boosts energy and performance from the very first dose. It contains free-form branched-chain amino acids for rapid absorption, plus taurine, L-glutamine, L-arginine, and electrolytes with coconut water and watermelon juice.
With the correct dosage of caffeine, Platinum Amino Energy can be taken either before or during a workout to deliver an instant boost in energy, focus, and intensity. Furthermore, experts rated it as more delicious than any other amino acid powder on the market. Unlike other products that offer EAAs (Essential Amino Acids) hidden behind proprietary blends, the product has 5g of fully revealed BCAA to promote post-workout recovery, fight muscle destruction, and enhance protein synthesis!
California Gold Nutrition BCAA
In comparison with other brands of powdered BCAAs, California Gold Nutrition BCAA has no bad smell. The supplement is sourced exclusively from Ajinomoto and features AjiPure Amino Acids that are produced via their patented Ferment-A-Pure Technology. These are Pharmaceutical Grade, contain no animal products (hair or feathers), and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are important components constituting various proteins. They are responsible for functions in your body’s activities. In other words, amino acids are the most basic unit of protein. Many amino acids link together into short polymer chains called peptides or polypeptides, then continue to transfer into a complete protein molecule. Also, amino acids have the effect of synthesizing necessary hormones and neurotransmitters to support biochemical processes.
Amino acids associated with each other in certain sequences in different bonds will form different molecules in both composition and properties. Thus, the nutritional value of protein is determined based on the quantity and quality relationship of the various amino acids that make up that protein.
Protein is the most important component in building and repairing muscle. It is composed of amino acids. Amino acids are also classified into essential and non-essential amino acids.
In addition to protein, there are many tips to include various amino acids to assist your muscles with recovering and growing.
Amino acids are found in protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. After protein from food enters the body, it will be broken down into many different amino acids. Then, they participate in some particular body processes such as neurotransmitter transportation and biosynthesis.
There are many ways to classify amino acids. But we only consider the most common classification based on the body's need, namely essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.
Your body consists of 22 types of amino acids. These amino acids are divided into three smaller groups: essential amino acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acid
Essential amino acid
Essential amino acids : The ones that your body cannot synthesize. They must be added to the body through foods.
Conditional essential amino acids: The ones must be added to the body through foods and need some specific conditions to be synthesized.
Non-essential amino acids : The ones that the body can synthesize.
In general, amino acids will have effects such as:
Anti-Inflammatory And Analgesic
In a study, amino acids such as L-isoleucine, DL-isoleucine, and L-leucine are useful for anti-inflammatory effects while DL-isoleucine could inhibit edema.
Support Muscle And Physical Development
According to this study, supplementing with amino acids develops lean muscle mass and strength and improves your body’s physical performance. Besides, taking amino acids belonging to the BCAAs group also limits muscle catabolism and promotes protein synthesis in the muscle.
Several research studies regarding BCAA amino acid supplementation before and after exercise can improve post-workout muscle recovery. This is because the supplements increase the bioavailability of amino acids to enhance protein synthesis.
Support Fat Loss
Amino acids, especially BCAAs, have been shown to help athletes burn more body fat, especially belly fat. In a study conducted by the College of Charleston, BCAA intake resulted in the loss of body fat 2.5 times faster than athletes who drank carbohydrates and 50% more than those who consumed whey protein.
Limit Muscle Loss
You are at risk of losing muscle during exercise, especially if you have no pre-workout routine.
Taking an amino acid supplement 30-60 minutes before training will prevent this because amino acids can repair muscles through protein synthesis.
Increase Stamina, Reduce Fatigue
According to a study published in the Journal of Sports and Exercise Medicine, supplementing amino acids, such as BCAAs, reduced fatigue by more than 17%. This has been implicated in the activation of transaminases to enhance lipid oxidation in glycogen-depressed athletes.
Relieve Muscle Aches And Pains
A post-workout pain called "delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS) occurs immediately after strenuous exercise and lasts up to several days. When you take in pre-workout amino acids, your body will begin synthesizing protein to start repairing muscles faster. These substances can also decrease muscle protein breakdown. This can reduce soreness and improve muscle recovery time.
What Are BCAAs?
This is a group of 3 essential amino acids that the body cannot synthesize: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Among them, the most important amino acid in this trilogy is Leucine.
BCAAs make up the majority of amino acids. Specifically, these amino acids reach 35-40% of the total amount of essential amino acids in your body, 14-18% of which is in the muscle.
Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are synthesized directly in the muscle, not in the liver. Hence, they are able to fuel the muscles and restore them during exercise.
BCAAs are able to deliver advantages such as:
Synthesized into proteins to build muscle mass.
Regulate blood sugar by stimulating the cells to take sugar from the bloodstream for energy, especially Isoleucine and Valine
Preserve the sugar amount stored in the liver and muscles.
Reduce fatigue by producing Serotonin in the brain.
Influence muscle building thanks to Leucine.
This is the most critical amino acid of the group. It supports maintaining energy levels by improving blood sugar stability over a long period of time. Leucine also helps build muscle by processing, increasing protein synthesis, and reducing muscle protein loss during intense exercise. In one study, Leucine alone was able to increase protein synthesis by up to 25%.
The way Isoleucine works is similar to that of Leucine. They differ only in how Leucine is metabolized through fat, while Isoleucine can be metabolized via starch and fat.
Similar to Isoleucine and Leucine, Valine brings more glucose into the muscles for an energy boost during exercise.
Furthermore, Valine also works to improve the immune system and brain function. If you are insomnia, you may find valine beneficial to sleep quality. However, when taken alone, Valine is not helpful for muscle growth and recovery as it must be combined with these other two amino acids in the BCAAs group to be effective.
Food Supplement With BCAAs
It is possible to enhance BCAA intake through your complete diet. The following foods are considered to be the best natural sources of BCAAs:
Poultry and fish meat: 3-4.5g BCAAs/ 84g
Legumes: 2.5-3g BCAAs/ 1 cup
Milk: 2g BCAAs/ 1 cup (237ml)
Tofu: 0.9-2.3g BCAAs/ 84g
Cheese: 1.4g BCAAs/ 28 g
Eggs: 1.3g BCAAs/ 1 fruit
Pumpkin seeds: 1g BCAAs/ 28 g
Nuts: 0.7-1 g BCAAs/ 28g
You can consume all of the above foods regularly in your daily meals to be able to provide your body with an adequate amount of BCAAs each day.
How To Choose The Best BCAAs
However, in this article, we will show you how to choose a supplement that provides BCAAs.
The Amino-Acid Ratio
As mentioned before, the three amino acids in BCAAs, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are the most important. Products that provide specific BCAAs usually have an amino acid ratio of 2:1:1 (Leucine: Isoleucine: Valine). For example, if the nutrient content says 8g of BCAAs with a ratio of 2:1:1, the content of substances will be 4g Leucine, 2g Isoleucine, and 2g Valine. The 2:1:1 is the standard ratio of many manufacturers. However, if you are focused on building muscle mass, some products with a higher Leucine ratio will be the right choice.
There are two common types of BCAAs, powder, and capsule. BCAAs are difficult to dissolve in water. When using powdered BCAAs, it is very difficult to drink, and there is sediment when mixed. That means you should take into account while choosing the dosage form of BCAAs. It can be more convenient to use capsules as they can be taken before or during exercise. With powdered BCAAs, best timing will probably be during exercise when you mix it with drinking water.
The BCAA Amount Per Serving
It depends on the products you use with BCAAs. If whey protein or other foods already have a certain amount of BCAAs, you can calculate the amount of BCAAs you get in one serving. Typically, one serving will provide you with about 2-10g BCAAs.
According to experts in the nutrition field, the best time to take BCAAs is 30-60 minutes before and during exercise. At the time of pre-workout, if you take BCAAs along with pre-workout drinks, they will energize your muscles, promoting the cells to draw energy from blood sugar, not from the liver and muscle. During exercise, muscle is likely to be converted to energy. Therefore, supplementing with BCAAs at this time prevents catabolism and muscle loss while maintaining exercise efficiency.
Since BCAAs can be partially taken through diets, you can get 15-20g of BCAAs from supplements per day on average. If you have a heavier exercise regimen, you might consider taking another 5-10g per day.