Best BCAA Supplement 2023

A silver container featuring black branding on the front on a purple label.
Credit: Cellucor

A silver container featuring black branding on the front on a purple label.
Credit: Cellucor

Unlocking the potential of your post-workout recovery and supercharging muscle growth has never been easier with the aid of the best BCAA supplement.

This is because BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, contain three of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need to function optimally. These three amino acids include leucine, valine, and isoleucine, all three of which our bodies can't produce independently, resulting in BCAA supplements rapidly gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts to the point where they rival the popularity of some of the top-tier protein powders on the market.

Ultimately, BCAAs can make for a valuable addition to your daily supplement regimen, capable of not only stimulating protein synthesis but also mitigating fatigue. However, with a plethora of options on the market, selecting the ideal blend for your training goals can be a daunting task. Fortunately, we've curated a comprehensive list of top picks based on criteria such as ingredients, price, and user reviews, to simplify your search.

Whether you prefer a powdered mix like Xtend's BCAA Powder or opt for the convenience of capsules like OPALFITNESS BCAA+ tablets, our list has you covered. To demystify the world of BCAAs and supplements in general, we've also addressed common questions surrounding their usage, ensuring that you can make an informed decision about incorporating them into your training diet. Without further ado, here's our list of top picks.

Best BCAA supplements

  1. Xtend Original BCAA Powder
  2. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA
  3. MYO Plant Nutrition Essential Amino Acids Powder
  5. MusclePharm Essentials BCAA Powder
  6. Cellucor Alpha Amino EAA & BCAA Powder
Xtend The Original BCAA Powder product image of a white container with mangos depicting the flavour
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Credit: Xtend

1. Xtend Original BCAA Powder

Best BCAA supplement overall

Brand: Xtend
BCAAs: 7g* Per Serving

Xtend BCAA Powder is a top-tier supplement packed with an impressive 7g of BCAAs per serving, following the scientifically backed 2:1:1 ratio for optimal protein synthesis.

The 2:1:1 ratio refers to the precise amounts of leucine, isoleucine, and Valine, the three essential BCAAs, in relation to each other. In this particular supplement, you'll find 3.5g of leucine for every 1.75g of isoleucine and Valine. Moreover, this blend also includes 2.5g of glutamine, which serves as a key energy source for your intestinal and immune cells.

With a wide range of flavours to choose from as well, this supplement stands out as one of the top powdered BCAA supplements currently available on the market.

Read More: Best EAA supplements

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA product image of a black container with gold details
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Credit: Optimum Nutrition

2. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA

Best budget BCAA supplement

Brand: Optimum Nutrition
BCAAs: 5g* Per Serving

Optimum Nutrition, a brand we have previously featured in our list of the best multivitamins, has a well-renounced reputation for producing some of the finest supplements on the market, this BCCA powder included.

A single serving of Gold Standard BCAA contains a total of 15 calories. Among these, 4g are derived from carbohydrates, while the optimal 2:1:1 ratio provides 5g of essential BCAAs. The remaining 0.5g of the serving includes additional ingredients like Rhodiola, a herb associated with fatigue-reducing and focus-enhancing properties.

Another noteworthy component of this blend is Wellmune, which is included to deliver beta-glucans. Multiple studies, including one of note by Wang et al., have suggested that beta-glucans can positively impact mood and strengthen the immune system.

On the whole, this BCAA blend from Optimum Nutrition is a comprehensive combination of ingredients specifically formulated to elevate your workout experience.

Read More: Best taurine supplements

MYO Plant Nutrition Essential Amino Acids Powder product image of a two-tone white and green container in a range of flavours
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Credit: MYO Plant Nutrition

3. MYO Plant Nutrition Essential Amino Acids Powder

Best vegan BCAA supplement

Brand: MYO Plant Nutrition
BCAAs: Unspecified* Per Serving

This MYO Plant Nutrition blend is the perfect supplement to accompany your vegan protein powder as part of a plant-based diet. It contains the full 9 essential amino acids to supplement all areas of your diet as opposed to just the 3 BCAAs.

This vegan blend is also high in electrolytes like potassium and calcium. This is to help maintain your body's balance of fluids both during and after exercise. Calcium also plays a role in maintaining strong bones to potentially benefit your body even further.

Away from the blend itself, it comes in a plastic-free and biodegradable container as MYO Plant Nutrition believes in elevating sustainability with its products.

As BCAA supplements go, this vegan powder is up there with the best in our opinion and, therefore, earns a spot on our list.

Read More: Best pre-workout supplements

OPALFITNESS BCAA+ product image of a small white container with blue details and a target on the front
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Best BCAA capsules

BCAAs: 2.4g* Per Serving

If you prefer to take BCAAs in tablet form, then these OPALFITNESS BCAA+ tablets could be for you.

OPALFITNESS recommends taking 2 to 4 tablets a day, with 4 tablets providing a 2.4g serving of BCAAs in the optimum 2:1:1 ratio. Moreover, each tablet contains Vitamin B6, more commonly found in the best beef live supplements, which is required by the body to produce red blood cells and for amino acid metabolism in the muscles, thus contributing to the absorption of BCAAs

This helps make these tablets ideal for quick consumption either pre or post-workout. On the whole, if you prefer taking supplements as tablets then make sure you check out these BCAAs from OPALFITNESS.

Read More: Best creatine supplements

MusclePharm Essentials BCAA Powder product image of a white container with a green lid containing a Fruit Punch flavour.
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Credit: MusclePharm

5. MusclePharm Essentials BCAA Powder

Best-tasting BCAA supplement

Brand: MusclePharm
BCAAs: 6g* Per Serving

While taste is subjective, we feel the range of fruity flavours on offer for this MusclePharm Essentials BCAA Powder means there's likely a flavour in there that will suit most tastebuds.

MusclePharm's range includes Blue Raspberry, Grape, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango, Watermelon, and finally Fruit Punch as featured above.

In terms of the ingredients, you get the 3 amino acids in a rather unique 3:1:2 ratio, with each serving containing an impressive 6g of BCAA's.

It's also worth pointing out there's an unflavoured option if none of the aforementioned flavours suits you, thus making it a great supplement to consider adding to your collection.

Read More: Best protein bars

Cellucor Alpha Amino EAA & BCAA Powder product image of a silver container with purple and black details.
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Credit: Cellucor

6. Cellucor Alpha Amino EAA & BCAA Powder

Best BCAA supplements for recovery

Brand: Cellucor
BCAAs: 5g* Per Serving

This BCAA blend from Cellucor looks to be a particularly great supplement to aid your recovery post-training.

What we like about this powdered supplement is that it features electrolytes to aid hydration on top of the impressive 5g of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio it already contains. You also get 3.75g of EAAs to further help your recovery by covering all the essential amino acids you need to supplement your training.

Overall, Cellucor's Alpha Amino Powder looks to be an excellent choice to add to your supplement collection, helping you hit PBs with ease, whatever amazing gym equipment you like using.

Read More: Best vegan protein bars

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

People tend to have a lot of questions regarding BCAAs, especially considering there are a few common misconceptions, but we're here to clear up some of the more typical queries you may have.

What do BCAA supplements do?

Of the 9 essential amino acids, 3 of them are branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, which refer to their chemical structure.

Our body uses these BCAAs to stimulate the building of protein in muscle tissue, and possibly reduce muscle breakdown as part of protein synthesis.

As a result, BCAA supplements work by essentially stimulating protein synthesis, which is vital as a gym-goer as your muscles are in a constant state of breaking down and repairing during your workouts.

The synthesis element is continuously occurring to replace protein lost, thus benefitting your muscle growth and training.

A study by Song-Gyu Ra et al. supports this. 15 young men were given either BCAAs or a placebo before and after performing 30 reps of a non-dominant arm exercise. Results showed, in the days following the session, delayed onset muscle soreness, upper arm circumference, and elbow range of motion all improved compared to the control and post-workout groups.

What ingredients should you look for in BCAA supplements?

Although some of the additional ingredients may vary, all BCAA supplements will include Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine as these are the 3 essential branched-chain amino acids.

Leucine is typically the main component, being the 2 in the 2:1:1 optimal ratio, as it stimulates protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and other tissues.

Other ingredients you may find include Glutamine as an energy source and electrolytes to help regulate your fluid levels and keep you hydrated.

When should you take BCAA supplements?

BCAAs are effective inter and post-workout supplements so they should ideally be consumed either during your gym session or immediately after.

The reason for this is that BCAAs mostly help muscle recovery and alleviate soreness, so you'll likely feel the benefits best if you take them during or after your workouts.

However, you can ultimately take BCAAs at any time of day, even during exercise and between meals, it really comes down to what works best with you and your schedule.

Can you take BCAA supplements on an empty stomach?

As touched on above, BCAAs can be taken at a time that suits you, which extends to consuming them on an empty stomach.

If you choose to take BCAAs pre-workout though, we'd perhaps advise making sure you digest some food before training.

Although training on an empty stomach can help burn fat, you'll no doubt lack the energy needed to perform to the best of your ability.

Can you take BCAA supplements every day?

Supplemental BCAA intake is widely regarded as safe for everyday consumption if you get the right dose per your body weight.

You may need to consume a daily dose of at least 91mg per lb (200mg per kg) of body weight for BCAAs to be effective, with long-term supplementation (over 10 days) recommended to see significant benefits.

This may vary from person to person, so it's worth exploring different doses, with safe limits, based on your own research to work out the best daily intake for your needs.

Should you take BCAA supplements on a rest day?

Since BCAAs are essential amino acids and can't be made by your body, they must be obtained from food or supplements.

As a result, taking BCAAs on rest days shouldn't cause any problems with overconsuming if taken as per the instructions.

However, you may not see as many benefits from taking BCAAs on rest days due to the factors that lead to improved fitness levels after exercise – the damaged muscles, and the exhausted energy stores – not being as present as they are right after you exercise.

How do BCAA supplements differ from creatine?

While both are supplements used to benefit your training, the way they work differs drastically.

As previously mentioned, BCAA's stimulate protein synthesis which is important as you need to be in a positive protein balance to gain muscle. As a result, BCAA's can help support muscular hypertrophy, plus improve recovery.

Conversely, creatine plays a critical role in cellular energy production or ATP which, in simple terms, means it supplies the energy needed for intense exercise sessions or heavy lifting, whereas BCAA's help you recover quicker.

Do you need to take BCAA supplements if you take protein?

At a molecular level, BCAAs and protein are essentially the same, the key difference being protein contains all twenty amino acids, while BCAAs contain only the essential three. In short, BCAAs are just proteins in their most simplistic form.

As a result, the two supplements complement each other and are, therefore, perfectly okay to take together.

You don't necessarily need to though. In fact, people tend to just opt for BCAAs when they're trying to maintain a caloric deficit as they usually contain next to no calories.

The choice is yours though, with some opting to take BCAAs almost as a snack to keep muscle protein synthesis elevated. Taking both isn't essential for training though which is always worth keeping in mind.

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