We test and review fitness products based on an independent, multi-point methodology. If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Read our disclosures.

If your goal is to build muscle, you have to cover all the basics: train consistently, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and control your stress, right? You may have considered supplements like the best creatine, the best protein powder, or the best BCAAs to kick things up a notch and boost your results.

Amino acid supplements are go-to products due to their supposed performance-enhancement and recovery-promoting properties. Some people swear by BCAA supplements, though the research on their benefits is inconclusive and sometimes conflicting. In any case, we know that fitness enthusiasts (like ourselves) will use these products. So we researched roughly 50 products and then ordered and tested more than 20 BCAAs to find the best BCAA supplements.

Our team of certified personal trainers, competitive triathletes, competitive weightlifters, and certified nutrition coaches performed taste and solubility tests on each product. We also consulted with nutritionist, registered dietitian, and supplements expert Bob Iafelice to asses factors such as:

  • Formulation: What dosage of BCAAs are you getting?
  • Ingredients: Are there artificial or otherwise problematic ingredients?
  • Third-party testing: Can we verify that what’s on the label is actually what’s inside?

Using a rating system, we arrived at the list below, reflective of the best BCAA supplements.

11 Best BCAA Supplements 

Best BCAA Supplements Video Review

What Are BCAAs?

We’re glad you asked. Let’s start at the beginning. 

Amino acids are the foundation of protein. Of the hundreds of amino acids your body makes, there are 20 that you need to function optimally. Nine of these cannot be made by your body and therefore must come from the foods you eat—these nine are called essential amino acids (EAAs).

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are a group of three EAAs—leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine and valine play an important role in protein synthesis, while isoleucine plays a role in immunity, glucose transportation, and more. Research has demonstrated that the ideal ratio of these BCAAs is 2:1:1—two parts leucine, one part isoleucine, and one part valine. All of the BCAA supplements on this list follow that ratio.

Many BCAA supplements will also include other ingredients like l-glutamine, beta-alanine, taurine, citrulline malate, and caffeine, all of which can potentially support performance or recovery as well.

Best BCAA Supplement Overall: Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Good for: Someone looking to integrate a quality BCAA supplement into their routine

Best Overall

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Available in 5 flavors, BCAA Glutamine supports post-workout recovery and a reduction of muscle breakdwon
  • No artificial colors, sweeteners, or coloring
  • Sweetened with Stevia
  • Each serving has 5 active ingredients designed to promote protein synthesis, reduce muscle fatigue, improve post-workout muscle growth, and enhance performance
  • Ingredients include vitamin C, fermented vegan BCAA 2:1:1 (L-leucine, L-valine, and L-isoleucine), and glutamine

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Transparent ingredient list
  • 5 flavor options
  • Uses fermented vegan BCAAs
  • Gluten-free and non-GMO
  • No artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives
  • 60-day money-back assurance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Contains Stevia, which can cause digestive issues
  • Taste is not appreciated by all

Bottom Line

If Stevia does not cause you any stomach issues, Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is a well-formulated supplement worth considering.

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is our pick for the best BCAA powder for a few reasons. For one, it contains an 8-gram serving of BCAAs per scoop, which provides a lot of bang for your buck.

“This potent and naturally sweetened product delivers a relatively large 4-gram dose of the all-important leucine per scoop, which is more than enough than the research-backed 2.5-gram dose to trigger muscle protein synthesis1,” says Bob Iafelice, R.D.

A hefty 5-gram dose of the non-essential amino acid glutamine is an added bonus. “While I often recommend glutamine to support immune and gut health, some evidence suggests that glutamine may help expedite muscle recovery after exercise2,” Iafelice continues.

transparent labs glutamine

You’ll also get 1.5 grams of Vitamin C per serving, as well as 1 gram of coconut water powder, which is a source of electrolytes. Several flavor options are available, too—just mix with water and enjoy.

Our team rated this low for taste but a perfect 5 out of 5 on solubility. I personally tried the Strawberry Lemonade flavor and I’ll be honest, the taste was not my favorite. It seems like I’m in the minority though, based on customer reviews. The powder dissolves well, which is appreciated in my book.

If you’re looking for the best BCAA for women, you’d also want to pick Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine due to the inclusion of l-glutamine for muscle recovery and better immunity.


Price per serving
$1.33
BCAAs8 g (L-Leucine: 4 g, L-Isoleucine: 2 g, L-Valine: 2 g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsSour Green Apple, Tropical Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, Blue Raspberry, Orange
CertificationsThird-party tested, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free
Calories Per Serving10
SweetenersStevia

Best BCAA Supplement With Carbs: XWERKS Motion

Good for: Adding extra ingredients into your diet to keep you moving during your workout 

Best with Carbs

XWERKS Motion

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Backed by clinical trials 
  • Designed to help you perform longer
  • Includes BCAAs and cluster Dextrin
  • Replaces energy levels fast

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Doesn’t cause stomach discomfort
  • Multipurpose formula
  • Backed by science
  • Sugar free
  • Gluten and dairy free

Cons

  • Hard to mix
  • Contains artificial sweetener

Bottom Line

XWERKS Motion is an electrolyte mix that has BCAAs and cluster dextrin, meaning it can fuel you through a workout and also help you recover. With a mid-range per serving cost, this product may be worth a try for those looking for a multipurpose supplement.

If you want a BCAA supplement with some added fuel for your workout, XWERKS Motion features a blend of 3 grams of BCAAS at the clinically-backed 2:1:1 ratio; important hydrating electrolytes (e.g., sodium and magnesium); and 28 grams of carbs that come from cluster dextrin. Cluster dextrin is also known as highly branched cyclic dextrin, which has been shown to potentially improve athletic performance3 compared to other carbohydrate sources.

RELATED: Best electrolyte drink

Kate Meier, GGR’s head of content and competitive weightlifter, used XWERKS Motion before several longer lifting sessions, and gave it a 4 out of 5 for its effects.

“While I wouldn’t say it had noticeable effects in terms of an energy boost or superhuman strength, I did notice that I felt good during the workout,” Kate says.

Pouring XWERKS Motion into a cup

We should point out that Motion does not have the standard 5 grams of BCAAs we typically look for in these supplements. However, this is product isn’t intended to be a BCAA supplement so much as a workout supplement that features BCAAs. If you are looking for BCAAs alone, we suggest picking another, higher-dose product on this list.

There is only one flavor of XWERKS Motion available: Raspberry Lemonade. “I think there are hints of that taste for sure; more berry than lemonade, which I like,” Kate says, giving the overall taste a 5 out of 5. “It’s not overly sweet at all. It’s actually a very refreshing taste – I could drink this all day!”

Another important note: Some carb-based drinks have solubility issues. However, cluster dextrin is known for its solubility. Kate put this to the test, mixing Motion into plain water in a shaker cup. She said it dissolved perfectly, earning a 5 out of 5 in this area.

XWERKS Motion in a gym

Note that the price per serving of Motion is $1.63, making it one of the more expensive products on this list.


Price per serving
$1.63
BCAAs3 g (2:1:1 ratio of L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine)
Dosage1 scoop (34 g)
FlavorsRaspberry Lemonade
CertificationsNone
Calories Per Serving110 cal
SweetenersSucralose

Best BCAA Supplement for Endurance: Transparent Labs Intra

Good for: People who are looking to go the extra mile or get that last rep

Best for Endurance

Transparent Labs CoreSeries Intra EAAs

Product Highlights

  • Delivers a balanced ratio of essential amino acids (EAA) designed to reduce muscle breakdown when training
  • Contains naturally occurring electrolytes from added coconut water powder
  • Each 18.7-gram scoop provides 6,700 milligrams of EAA, 2,000 milligrams of citrulline malate 2:1 ratio, 2,000 milligrams of taurine, 1,250 milligrams of BetaPure betaine anhydrous, 1,000 milligrams of coconut water powder, 150 milligrams of ElevATP, and 50 milligrams of AstraGin

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Sweet taste
  • Good mixability
  • Added electrolytes
  • Users report feeling more energized
  • Contains several clinically studied ingredients
  • Uses clinical doses

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Settles after mixing
  • Some clumps present after mixing

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs CoreSeries IntraWorkout Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) offers a balanced ratio of easily digestible EAAs formulated to reduce muscle breakdown and encourage muscle growth.

Transparent Labs Intra Workout is a supplement meant to help prolong training sessions by providing essential minerals and amino acids—more specifically, you get 5,000 milligrams of branched-chain amino acids in the standard 2:1:1 ratio (l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine), along with other essential amino acids needed for improved endurance.

GGR writer and triathlete Amanda Capritto said she liked the Blue Raspberry flavor but only after adding more than the recommended amount of water because she found it too sweet at first. “It’s also kind of tart, which I do like,” she adds, giving it a 4 out of 5 for taste.

a shaker cup of transparent labs intra

There are also three sources of electrolytes, which are vital for people who engage in intense endurance or strength for longer than an hour. In addition to sodium and potassium, there’s also coconut water powder, a natural source of electrolytes. The addition of L-Tyrosine, an amino acid that plays a vital role in brain wave function, may help some people concentrate on their workouts for as long as they need.

True, this is not necessarily a BCAA supplement, but it has the same amount of them as some of the other options on this list, plus a lot more to offer those looking for a quality product. Transparent Labs Intra is $1.47 per serving, making it one of the pricier supplements on this list, though that falls in line with what we would expect a product like this to cost because it is not BCAAs alone.

Like all Transparent Labs products, Intra is third-party tested.

Price per serving$1.47
BCAAs5 g (L-Leucine: 3 g, L-Isoleucine: 1 g, L-Valine: 1 g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsBlue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade
CertificationsThird-party tested, Non-GMO, No artificial sweeteners, Gluten-free, No artificial coloring
Calories Per Serving5
SweetenersStevia Extract

Best Budget BCAAs: Nutricost BCAA Powder

Good for: Those who want to save some cash on their BCAAs and aren’t picky about flavor

Best Budget

Nutricost BCAA Powder

GGR Score: 4.7 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Under $1 per serving
  • Research-backed doses of BCAAS to help with lean muscle mass
  • 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 serving options
  • Nine flavor options, including unflavored

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Less than $1 per serving
  • Clinically-recommended dose of BCAAs
  • Nine flavors, including unflavored
  • Multiple serving options
  • Third-party tested

Cons

  • Customers say some flavors are bitter

Bottom Line

Nutricost BCAA powder is the most affordable BCAA supplement that also provides research-backed doses of BCAAs to help with building and preserving lean muscle mass.

If you’re looking for a BCAA supplement that doesn’t break the bank, look no further than the unflavored version from Nutricost. This powder will only run you about $0.25 per serving, which is a steal comparatively, and earns the product a 5 out of 5 in price. Although some people may not like that this is unflavored, others may prefer the versatility and being able to add it to sports drinks, pre-workouts, or even a protein shake. 

However, our tester, GGR Senior Director of Content Kate Meier, says that this powder isn’t truly unflavored—when mixed with just water she described it as having an earthy taste. However, when she mixed it with pre-workout, “you can’t taste it at all.” Plus, it dissolves really well with no granularity. This leads us to rate it a 5 out of 5 for taste and solubility. 

An image of mixing Nutricost BCAA powder

Nutricost BCAA powder offers an ideal 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, which is optimal for building lean muscle mass. “The 3 grams of leucine in this product are essential for triggering muscle protein synthesis as well,” says registered dietitian Perry Nix. “Studies indicate that a dosage ranging from 2 to 3 grams of leucine could be most efficient in maximizing muscle protein synthesis.” This, plus the overall 6-gram dose, earns Nutricost BCAA powder a 5 out of 5 in formulation. 

Nutricost products are also third-party tested, which is a plus for us as well. Overall, for the value this BCAA supplement provides, you can’t beat it. 

Price per serving$0.25
BCAAs6 g
Dosage1 scoop (6 g)
FlavorsUnflavored
Calories per serving5
SweetenersNone
Third-party tested?Yes

Best BCAA Supplement For Recovery: 1st Phorm BCAAs

Good for: Someone who’s mostly interested in BCAA supplements to promote recovery

Best For Recovery

1st Phorm BCAAs

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Available in 7 different flavors
  • Each serving costs $1.07
  • No added sugar but reviewers report great-tasting flavors
  • Has research-backed doses of all branched-chain amino acids
  • Can subscribe for monthly delivery to save money

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 7 great-tasting flavors
  • Research-backed doses
  • Can put on a subscription to save money
  • 40 servings per container

Cons

  • Uses a proprietary blend of amino acids and electrolytes
  • May not be able to be stacked with other supplements

Bottom Line

Great-tasting BCAA supplement with research-backed doses.

1st Phorm BCAAs blend a combination of muscle-recovery nutrients into a post-exercise drink. This unique product contains a 7.5-gram dose of BCAAs, plus a good helping of electrolytes like potassium and sodium—which have been shown to support reduced muscle damage and ease the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Kate Meier, GGR’s head of content and competitive weightlifter, tested the 1st Phorm BCAAs. While it’s hard to credit BCAAs with recovery (Kate says she makes a point to stretch and hydrate religiously), she did note that she didn’t have any adverse effects. The best part of these? The taste.

“The blue raspberry tastes almost like blue Kool-Aid,” she states in our 1st Phorm BCAA review. “This is an easy 5/5 for taste from me.”

Scoop of 1st Phorm BCAAs going into a cup

1st Phorm packs potassium and sodium into their supplement for electrolyte replenishment. Electrolytes are often thought of in terms of the energy they provide, but they play an equally important role in recovery, according to researchers4 who said, “if rapid recovery (under 24 hours) is desired…aggressive drinking of fluids and consuming electrolytes should be encouraged to facilitate recovery for subsequent competition.”

In other words, if you want to train or compete as hard as possible every single day you need to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes throughout the day. 1st Phorm makes it easy with seven flavors: Apple Juice, Blue Raspberry, Fruit K.O., Green Apple, Lemonade, Pineapple Mango, and Strawberry Candy.

This is a little more expensive than other BCAAs we have on this list. However, part of that reason is because 1st Phorm products are third-party tested. Therefore, we know what’s on the label is what’s inside the product.

Price per serving$1.12
BCAAs7.5 g (Leucine: 3.5 g, Isoleucine: 2 g, Valine, 2g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsApple Juice, Blue Raspberry, Fruit K.O., Green Apple, Lemonade, Pineapple Mango, Strawberry Candy
CertificationsThird-party tested
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersSucralose

Best Tasting BCAAs: Alani Nu BCAA

Good for: Those who place a premium on taste

Best Tasting

Alani Nu BCAAs

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan BCAAs offered in a variety of 5 unique flavors
  • Intended to improve recovery, support muscle mass, and enhance performance
  • Key ingredients include sodium, potassium, L-leucine, L-isoleucine, L-valine, and L-glutamine
  • Each serving costs about $1.39

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Tasty flavors
  • Vegan BCAAs
  • Mixes well
  • Aids in hydration

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Made with artificial sweeteners including sucralose
  • Too sweet for some

Bottom Line

While Alani Nu BCAAs are one of the more costly BCAAs on the market, their flavor options reign supreme.

Often the anticipation of drinking a great-tasting recovery drink can get you through a tough workout. With a variety of cult-favorite flavors such as Sour Peach Rings and Hawaiian Shaved ice, Alani Nu BCAA is hard to beat when it comes to taste.

“I tried the Rocket Pop flavor and thought it was pretty good but had a slight aftertaste,” says Erin Chancer, GGR senior editor and certified nutrition coach. “I tend to go lighter on the scoop because I don’t like my post-workout BCAAs overly sweet, so others may prefer a heftier scoop.”

We have an in-depth Alani Pre-Workout review and an in-depth Alani Nu Super Greens Powder review, so we are intensely familiar with how the brand’s products are crafted and how they taste. We are big fans of the flavors of those products as well.

Alani Nu BCAAs getting mixed in a glass

Erin rated Alani Nu high for its solubility, giving it a perfect 5 out of 5: “I mixed it in a regular glass with a spoon and it seemed to dissolve pretty quickly,” she says. “There was also no residue left in the glass after drinking.”

In terms of formulation, we’re happy to report that this recovery BCAA formula supplies the requisite 2.5 grams of muscle-triggering leucine1 per serving as well as immune-enhancing glutamine5 and hydrating electrolytes.

Alani Nu products are not third-party tested, which is something to keep in mind when choosing your supplement. Additionally, this does come in a little higher in price than other options.


Price per serving
$1.33
BCAAs5 g (L-Leucine: 2.5 g, L-Isoleucine: 1.25 g, L-Valine: 1.25 g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsHawaiian Shaved Ice, Rocket Pop, Sour Gummy, Sour Peach Rings, Strawberry Kiwi
CertificationsGood Manufacturing Practices, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersSucralose

Best BCAA Pills: Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules

Good for: Those who prefer swallowing a capsule over chugging a drink

Best BCAA Pills

Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules

GGR Score: 3.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Provides 600 milligrams of free-form BCAAs per capsule
  • Vegetarian ingredients and hypoallergenic
  • Intended to promote lean muscle mass, performance, and recovery
  • To get maximum benefits, it is recommended to take 2 to 4 capsules a day in between meals
  • Key ingredients: L-leucine, L-isoleucine, L-valine

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No need to worry about taste
  • Convenient
  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Made with high-quality vegetarian ingredients

Cons

  • Not as potent as powder
  • Need to take more than one capsule to reap the benefits

Bottom Line

Pure Encapsulation BCAA Capsules are a good way to add BCAAs into your routine if you prefer capsules over powder form.

If you prefer BCAA capsules over powders, Pure Encapsulations BCAA is unrivaled. Pure Encapsulations is a well-respected brand with reputable products. Plus, its supplements are all third-party tested to look for contaminants heavy metals, and potency.

“In general, compared to tablets, capsules are more easily and rapidly absorbed and contain fewer additives,” explains Bob Iafelice, R.D. “While multiple capsules are still needed to supply enough BCAAs for muscle protein synthesis and recovery, Pure’s BCAAs furnish a comparatively large amount of amino acids per capsule, lessening the number of capsules required.”

Person holding pure encapsulations bcaa capsules

Although the serving size is two capsules, that will only provide 1.2 grams of BCAAs. To get the standard 5-gram dose, you’d have to take approximately eight capsules—that’s a lot to swallow, literally and figuratively. In our testing, we had no issues swallowing these pills.

Price per serving$0.60
BCAAs1.2 g (L-Leucine: .6 g, L-Isoleucine: .3 g, L-Valine: .3 g)
Dosage2 capsules
FlavorsNone
CertificationsCertified Gluten-Free, GMO-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersNone

Best Pre-Workout BCAAs: Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy

Good for: Someone who wants to combine their BCAAs into their pre-workout drink 

Best Pre-Workout BCAAs

Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 5 grams of BCAAs per serving
  • 2:1:1 BCAA ratio
  • May support muscle growth and recovery
  • Improve energy, focus, and endurance 
  • Available in 13 flavors
  • 110 milligrams of 
  • Contains taurine, L-alanine, beta-alanine, vitamin B and C

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Large variety of flavors (13)
  • Has vitamins and antioxidants
  • Taste
  • Natural caffeine
  • Mixes well

Cons

  • Artificial ingredients
  • Contains sucralose

Bottom Line

Available in 13 tasty flavors, Evlution Nutrition’s BCAA Energy powder combines 5 grams of BCAAs, naturally occurring caffeine, vitamins, and antioxidants into one product.

When you need that extra boost of energy to kickstart your workouts, Evlution Nutrition BCAA Lean Energy may deliver the goods. In addition to 5 grams of BCAAs (including an adequate 2.5-gram dose of leucine) for post-workout recovery, BCAA Lean Energy furnishes energy molecules that include caffeine from coffee bean and green tea extract (equal to about a cup of coffee), beta-alanine, and maca powder.

According to the label, this has 110 milligrams of “natural energizers.” Unfortunately, there is no breakout of exactly how much caffeine and green tea extract you’re getting.

Kate Meier, GGR’s head of content and certified personal trainer, tested the Evlution Nutrition BCAAs. “I do think this gave me some good energy and focus,” she says in our Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy review. “If I have much more than two cups of coffee, or take a pre-workout loaded with caffeine, I’m miserable. I didn’t have any negative side effects with this drink.”

Related: Best Pre-Workout for Men

Scoop of Evlnutrition BCAAs

We like the inclusion of maca powder, and so does registered dietitian Bob Iafelice.

“Maca is a Peruvian plant used for centuries to support energy (and mood)6, while beta alanine7 can combat muscle fatigue,” says Bob Iafelice, R.D. “Many of my clients use this product for an anytime pick-me-up.”

As far as taste goes, Kate sampled the Blue Raz flavor. “This has a fantastic taste,” she says, rating it a 5 out of 5 in this area. “I could literally sit here and drink this during the work day for a slight energy boost.”

We should point out that it doesn’t appear that Evlution Nutrition is third-party tested. We found other reviews sites that made the claim that the brand does have its products tested, though we couldn’t find any evidence of this on the brand website or on the packaging.

Price per serving$0.80
BCAAs5 g (L-Leucine: 3 g, L-Isoleucine: 1 g, L-Valine: 1 g)
Dosage2 scoops
FlavorsFurious Grape, Blue Raz, Cherry Limeade, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, Lemon Lime, Orange Blast, Peach Mango, Pink Lemonade, Pink Starblast, Acai Berry, Vanilla Iced Coffee, Watermelon
CertificationsN/A
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersSucralose

Best Vegan BCAA Supplement: Naked BCAAs

Good for: Vegan or plant-based exercisers who need a BCAA supplement

Best Vegan

Naked Nutrition BCAAs

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Free from any artificial additives 
  • Formulated with pharmaceutical-grade BCAAs
  • Quickly dissolves and absorbed 
  • Vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO
  • Incredible price point at $0.35 a serving
  • Key ingredients are just pure BCAAs with a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Only ingredients are pure BCAAs
  • Vegan
  • Serving size is just one teaspoon
  • 100 servings per container
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Smells bad
  • Taste is bitter

Bottom Line

Naked Nutrition BCAAs are the highest-grade amino acids and free from any additives but the taste leaves much to be desired.

If you’re looking for a simple, high-quality BCAA product, Naked BCAAs should be on your list. 

“Naked BCAAs are a very clean vegan product free of chemical additives and made from various non-GMO carbohydrate sources,” says Bob Iafelice, R.D.

Naked BCAAs in a shaker cup

Each serving of Naked BCAAs provides the sufficient 2.5-gram dose of leucine necessary to drive muscle protein synthesis and contribute to muscle gains and muscle recovery. It comes unflavored, so it will easily mix into a post-Each serving of Naked BCAAs provides the sufficient 2.5-gram dose of leucine necessary to drive muscle protein synthesis and contribute to muscle gains and muscle recovery1. It comes unflavored, so it will easily mix into a post-workout drink, and at only 35 cents per serving, you can’t beat the price.

I tried these BCAAs and yes, the powder does smell, which is just inherent to BCAAs themselves. Although it’s marked as unflavored I did find it slightly bitter—again, inherent to BCAAs—but I think it mixed in fine with a flavored drink. 

Price per serving$0.35
BCAAs5 g (L-Leucine: 3 g, L-Isoleucine: 1 g, L-Valine: 1 g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsUnflavored
CertificationsGluten-Free, Certified Vegan
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersSucralose

Best BCAA Supplement for Muscle-Building: Huge EAA

Good for: People who are looking to pack on the muscle

Best for Muscle-Building

Huge EAA

Product Highlights

  • 2:1:1 dosage of branched-chain amino acids
  • $1.33 per serving
  • Has some electrolytes
  • Good customer reviews

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Proper dose of BCAAs needed for muscle growth
  • Affordable
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Only two flavors
  • Not third-party tested

Bottom Line

Huge EAAs provide many of the essential and branched-chain amino acids needed for muscle growth, and can help you stay hydrated during intense training sessions.

When it comes to muscle-building expressly, Huge EAA leads the way. We gave it a 4.5 out of 5 for its formulation. Unlike most other BCAA products, Huge EAA not only supplies the three essential BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine), but the other six essential amino acids (EAAs) as well.

“Only a complete protein composed of all nine essential amino acids will maximize muscle protein synthesis8 and subsequent muscle gains,” explains Bob Iafelice, R.D.

With all the essentials that include a significant 8-gram dose of BCAAs, Huge EAA certainly fits the bill as a potent muscle-builder. Two flavors are available, but we should note that it is sweetened with sucralose if that’s a dealbreaker for you. *

Although we haven’t tried this specific product, I tried the Kiwi Blueberry flavor in the now-discontinued Huge BCAAs. I didn’t find it overly sweet, plus I like that its unique flavor profile—I definitely got the kiwi taste. The powder also dissolves well and doesn’t feel gritty in your mouth.

Huge EAAs also gets our vote as one of the best BCAA for men because of its large serving size (8 grams) and electrolytes.


Price per serving
$1.60
BCAAs8 g (L-Leucine: 4 g, L-Isoleucine: 2 g, L-Valine: 2 g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsKiwi Blueberry, Bomb Popsicle,
CertificationsFDA-registered facility, Good Manufacturing Practices
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersSucralose

Best Unflavored BCAA Supplement: Kaged Muscle BCAA

Good for: Exercisers who want a powder that easily mixes into other drinks

Best Unflavored

Kaged BCAA 2:1:1

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Kaged BCAA powder uses high-quality, fermented, and non-GMO BCAAs
  • Mixes easily with water 
  • Mix your own system allows you to stack this supplement with your favorite pre-workout drinks
  • Informed Sport-certified so safe for athletes
  • Each 5.5 grams serving contains 5,000 milligrams of ultra-pure BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio 
  • About 42 cents per serving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Mixes well
  • Vegan
  • Informed Sport-certified

Cons

  • Taste

Bottom Line

With 5,000 milligrams of ultra-pure BCAAs per serving, Kaged offers a high-quality and fermented supplement that meets vegan criteria.

Kaged BCAA 2:1:1 is an unflavored powder, meaning you can mix it into an intra- or post-workout drink of choice. This is especially nice for people who are taking a number of different supplements and prefer not to have six drinks to cover all the bases. There are also, obviously, no artificial sweeteners to worry about.

“When I mix together various nutritional powders, different flavors can often clash,” says Bob Iafelice, R.D. “For myself and my clients, Kaged BCAA offers a convenient way to combine post-workout BCAAs with a delicious green powder drink and not compromise taste.”

Scooping Kaged BCAAs

This vegan product has a 5-gram dose of BCAAs per serving, and it cleared Iafelice’s expectations for a quality product. We also love that Kaged is Informed Choice certified, so it’s safe for athletes to take. 

“The BCAAs are unflavored, so I was expecting not to taste anything, but there’s a slight ‘uncanny valley’ where it tastes like water…but not water,” says Erin Chancer, certified nutrition coach and GGR senior editor. “It was a little off-putting on its own, but should mix fine into a smoothie pre-workout for extra aminos.”

Erin also noted that in terms of solubility, it’s not perfect, earning just a 3 out of 5 in this area. “When mixed in a glass with a spoon, it was a bit clumpy and formed tiny “pearls” of powder on the top,” she says. “I tried mixing it again using a shaker bottle with a mixer ball and that made a slight difference.”

clumps of Kaged BCAAs

One big upside to these unflavored, straight-forward BCAAs is that they are incredibly affordable at just 42 cents per serving. On top of that, if you subscribe to receive the product every 4, 6, or 8 weeks, you can save 10%.

Price per serving$0.42
BCAAs5 g (L-Leucine: 2.5 g, L-Isoleucine: 1.25 g, L-Valine: 1.25 g)
Dosage1 scoop
FlavorsUnflavored
CertificationsInformed-Sport, Gluten-Free, Third-Party Tested
Calories Per ServingN/A
SweetenersN/A

Other BCAAs we Researched and Tested

There are lots of BCAA supplements on the market, and of course, not all of them made our list. Here are a few that we also researched.

  • BPI Sports Best BCAA: This product contains CLA, which has been researched for its properties in supporting fat loss. Because the research is still discordant, we left this product off.
  • Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000: This capsule form of BCAAs was on our short list, but it only contains 1 g of BCAAs per serving, so Pure Encapsulations capsules beat it out.
  • Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy: This is a good option if you want some caffeine along with your BCAAs. Read our Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy review for more.
  • Optimum Nutrition BCAA 5000 Powder: We found that this unflavored powder had a really bitter taste. You can read more about our take in our full Optimum Nutrition BCAA review.
  • Ghost BCAAs: In our Ghost BCAA review, you’ll see that while we like this supplement—particularly the taste—it’s not third-party tested so we left it off the list.
best bcaa supplement

How We Picked and Tested the Best BCAA Supplements

Choosing the best BCAA products in this exploding category was no easy feat, but we narrowed down our list by taking into account a number of factors. We also worked closely with nutritionist, registered dietitian, and supplements expert Bob Iafelice to develop a rigid testing methodology that involves the following factors:

Formulation

There are some key components to recognizing a quality BCAA. We rated the products on this list by answering the following questions:

  • How many grams of BCAAs are in each serving? We look for at least 5 grams per serving.
  • What’s the ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine? The ideal ratio is around 2:1:1.
  • Are there a lot of artificial ingredients? We favor products that omit those.

We also look at dosages of key ingredients to make sure they are scientifically-backed to be effective.

Third-Party Testing

This is an important factor, because we have athletes on our team at GGR, and they have to know that what they put in their bodies is free from contaminants. Therefore, we evaluate if the product been tested by Informed Sport, NSF, or Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG) for banned substances.

Outside athletes, people with allergens may rest easy knowing that the product has been tested to verify its contents.

If a product has not been third-party tested, it will not receive a 5 out of 5 rating from our team. However, if we feel the brand is trustworthy and has a transparent label free from proprietary blends, it can still rank high.

Serving Size and Price Per Serving

There are a few factors we take into account with it comes to servings and costs. How many scoops (or capsules) would you need to hit the recommended 5-gram per day allotment? Are there at least 30 servings in the container? Is the cost reflective of the value you’re getting?

Taste and Flavor Options

A BCAA supplement is no good if you can’t stand to swallow it. We asked members of our team (fitness enthusiasts themselves) to taste each powder and rate it on a scale of 1 to 5. We also looked to customer reviews sections, as we know that taste is subjective. We assessed if flavor names were accurate. And if the powder is unflavored, is it actually unflavored?

Another item we score for is flavor options. While we don’t knock a product if there is only one flavor, we do like to see brands giving customers options.

Solubility

One test we run on all powder supplements is their solubility. We will put products in a glass of water and stir it with a spoon, we will throw it in a blender, we will toss it in a shaker cup. Our testers evaluate if the product dissolves completely or if it leaves a noticeable residue.

ON Amino Energy 9

Benefits of BCAAs

BCAAs are known to have a few potential benefits, including supporting muscle growth, performance enhancement, and post-exercise recovery. We worked with Bob Iafelice, R.D., to outline some reasons you might consider using this supplement.

Muscle-Building

It is well-documented that BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis in muscle tissue when ingested following resistance training. However, BCAAs lack the full range of essential amino acids necessary to sustain maximal muscle protein synthesis.

“A complete, high-quality protein food such as whey that furnishes all of the essential amino acid building blocks to drive muscle gains is the preferred choice for a post-workout beverage,” says Iafelice.

The verdict: BCAAs have limited usefulness as a post-exercise supplement to support muscle growth (particularly when compared to whey protein).

Performance Enhancement

Among the essential amino acids, BCAAs have the unique ability to serve as an energy source during endurance exercise once carbohydrate stores (glycogen) become depleted. Research9 has shown that BCAAs can also act to support decreases in brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that causes central nervous system fatigue during sustained, moderate-intensity exercise.

“These fatigue-resistance properties of BCAAs are supported by recent studies showing that BCAA supplementation increases exercise capacity and endurance performance in prolonged physical activity carried to exhaustion,” says Iafelice. “However, since other studies showed negative results, the ergogenic effects of BCAAs remain open to question.”

The verdict: BCAAs can be used to improve exercise performance, but only in prolonged endurance events that cause glycogen depletion. Moreover, carbohydrates can alternatively be used to achieve the same benefits. *

Post-Exercise Recovery

“This is where BCAAs shine!” Iafelice says. “Systematic reviews of clinical trials provide convincing evidence that BCAAs lower markers of muscle damage and reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following resistance training or exhaustive endurance exercise.”

Muscle breakdown caused by intense workouts can lead to declines in muscle function such as power output and endurance performance. Supplementation with 10 grams of BCAAs before and after an intense strength training session has been shown10 to mitigate a decrease in power-producing ability experienced by weight-trained males compared to a placebo group.

The verdict: BCAAs can be effective for speeding the recovery of injured muscles (low-to-moderate damage) after high and frequent training loads.

An image for best time to drink a Klean Isolate Protein 4 Shake

Do BCAAs Really Work?

According to Iafelice, the answer to this question depends on your goals. As discussed, the potential benefits of BCAAs include muscle-building, performance enhancement, and post-exercise recovery, but the only true home run benefit can be in post-exercise recovery. 

And as with other supplements like creatine or the best greens powders, they should be used as just that—a supplement to eating adequate amounts of protein in a well-balanced diet, training at an appropriate frequency and intensity, and ensuring you recover fully as well.

Potential Side Effects of BCAAs

According to Iafeliece, BCAAs are considered safe for most people when taken in recommended dosages. 

“While some studies have linked high blood levels of BCAAs with type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, levels of BCAAs in the blood do not necessarily correlate with dietary BCAA intake,” Iafelice says. 

They are also safe to take daily and do not need to be cycled on or off for any period of time, Iafelice adds. Of course, if you experience any unexplained side effects, discontinue use immediately and talk to your doctor. 

How to Choose the Best BCAAs

Before you commit to a BCAA supplement, consider these factors.

Ingredients

Does the supplement only have BCAAs, or are there other ingredients, like glutamine or electrolytes, as well?

When you’re looking at the formulation, note that the ideal ratio is 40 milligrams of leucine, 20 milligrams of isoleucine, and 20 milligrams of valine per kilogram of bodyweight.

So for a person who weighs 150 pounds, that’s about 2.7 grams of leucine, and 1.4 grams of both isoleucine and valine. This means that the 5-gram dose of BCAAs contained in most of the products on our list is right in line with the seemingly effective dosage. 

Pill or Powder?

Are you OK with mixing BCAA powder into a drink, or would you rather swallow a few pills every day? Pills tend to be easier to take on the go, but you’ll probably have to swallow quite a few to get the same dose of BCAAs as you would get in a powder.

Taste

This is an important one, because if you can’t stomach the flavor, you won’t take the workout supplement consistently—and that’s key to see any potential results. Do research on the flavor options available and see if you can try a few samples.

Value

Consider not only the price and serving size, but also the amount of BCAAs per serving to decide what’s the best value for you and your needs.

Customer Feedback

Reviews from actual customers should weigh into your purchasing decision. Check out Amazon or the manufacturer websites for insights into the experience. 

Banned-Substance Testing

Look for Informed Sport, NSF, or BSCG logos on the products to see if they’ve been batch-tested for banned substances. This is especially important if you’re an athlete. 

Final Verdict on Best BCAA Supplements 

Although the research on BCAAs is not definitive, there are some potentially positive benefits around athletic performance and recovery. If you’re training hard and eating well and have the money to spend, trying out a BCAA supplement could support your results and other goals, like weight loss.

Best BCAAs FAQs

Which brand is best for BCAAs?

The right BCAA supplement for you will depend on plenty of factors, including your budget and other personal preferences. That being said, we recommend: 

Best BCAA Supplement Overall: Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine 
Best BCAA Supplement With Carbs: XWERKS Motion
Best Unflavored BCAA Supplement: Kaged Muscle BCAA
Best BCAA Supplement for Endurance: Transparent Labs Intra Workout
Best BCAA Supplement for Muscle-Building: Huge EAAs
Best BCAA Supplement for Recovery: 1st Phorm BCAAs
Best Tasting BCAAs: Alani Nu BCAA
Best BCAA Pills: Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules
Best Pre-Workout BCAAs: Evlution Nutrition BCAA Lean Energy 
Best Budget BCAAs: XTEND Original BCAA Powder
Best Vegan BCAA Supplement: Naked BCAAs

Are BCAAs worth taking?

Again this depends on plenty of factors. They’re certainly not necessary to see results, especially if you’re focused on strength training and proper nutrition. However, if you have these dialed in and have the extra money to spend, it could be an option to explore.

Do BCAAs really make a difference?

It depends on what your goals are. If you’re focused specifically on muscle-building, there’s not much research to support BCAAs’ definitive effects. If you’re looking for better performance in the gym or quicker recovery, BCAAs may have more to offer. It’s worth reiterating though that the quality of your training and nutrition will make much more of a difference on your results than consuming a BCAA supplement will.

When Should I Take BCAAs, And At What Dosage?

There is mixed research available on when the most effective time to consume BCAA supplements is. But, because BCAAs have potential performance-enhancing and post-workout recovery effects, taking them intra-workout, or right after, seems to be the most promising.

A minimum and maximum dose of BCAAs hasn’t really been established, but research14 seems to indicate that the ideal ratio is 40 milligrams of leucine, 20 milligrams of isoleucine, and 20 milligrams of valine per kilogram of bodyweight. So for a person who weighs 150 pounds, that’s about 2.7 grams of leucine, and 1.4 grams of both isoleucine and valine. This means that the 5-gram dose of BCAAs contained in most of the products on our list is right in line with the seemingly effective dosage. 

What are the side effects of BCAAs?

There are no side effects for moderate BCAA consumption, though some studies have found that excess BCAA consumption can lead to fatigue and loss of concentration.

Should I take BCAAs every day?

If your main goal is to improve your recovery, then yes. Studies have shown that BCAA supplementation may speed up recovery, but if your main goal is to build muscle then there is no reason to take BCAAs every day.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References

  1. Phillips, S.M., D. Paddon-Jones, and D.K. Layman, Optimizing Adult Protein Intake During Catabolic Health Conditions. Adv Nutr, 2020. 11(4): p. S1058-s1069.
  2. Legault, Z., N. Bagnall, and D.S. Kimmerly, The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2015. 25(5): p. 417-26.
  3. Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin and its Ergogenic Effects in Athletes: A Brief Review . (2021). Journal of Exercise and Nutrition4(3). https://doi.org/10.53520/jen2021.103100
  4. Shirreffs SM, Sawka MN. Fluid and electrolyte needs for training, competition, and recovery. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S39-46. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.614269. PMID: 22150427.
  5. Cruzat V, Macedo Rogero M, Noel Keane K, Curi R, Newsholme P. Glutamine: Metabolism and Immune Function, Supplementation and Clinical Translation. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1564. Published 2018 Oct 23. doi:10.3390/nu10111564
  6. Brooks NA, Wilcox G, Walker KZ, Ashton JF, Cox MB, Stojanovska L. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181732953. PMID: 18784609.
  7. Berti Zanella P, Donner Alves F, Guerini de Souza C. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance and muscle fatigue in athletes and non-athletes of different sports: a systematic review. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017 Sep;57(9):1132-1141. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06582-8. Epub 2016 Jul 5. PMID: 27377257.
  8. Church DD, Hirsch KR, Park S, et al. Essential Amino Acids and Protein Synthesis: Insights into Maximizing the Muscle and Whole-Body Response to Feeding. Nutrients. 2020;12(12):3717. Published 2020 Dec 2. doi:10.3390/nu1212371
  9. Kephart WC, Wachs TD, Thompson RM, et al. Ten weeks of branched-chain amino acid supplementation improves select performance and immunological variables in trained cyclists [published correction appears in Amino Acids. 2018 Oct;50(10):1495. Mac Thompson R [corrected to Thompson RM]]. Amino Acids. 2016;48(3):779-789. doi:10.1007/s00726-015-2125-8
  10. Gee TI, Deniel S. Branched-chain aminoacid supplementation attenuates a decrease in power-producing ability following acute strength training. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2016;56(12):1511-1517.

Further reading

Weight It Out Plates 2024: The Thinnest Plates On the Market Cover Image
Weight It Out Plates 2024: The Thinnest Plates On the Market

If your goal is to build muscle, you have to cover all the basics: train consistently, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and control your stress, right? You may have considered supplements like the best creatine, the best protein powder, or the best BCAAs to kick things up a notch and boost your results.Amino acid supplements are go-to products due to their supposed performance-enhancement and recovery-promoting properties. Some people swear by BCAA supplements,  » Read more about: Best BCAA Supplements (2024): These Nutritionist-Approved Supplements Are Worth It  » Read more

How to Survive the Month-Long, Knee-Bending Party Known as Squatober Cover Image
How to Survive the Month-Long, Knee-Bending Party Known as Squatober

If your goal is to build muscle, you have to cover all the basics: train consistently, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and control your stress, right? You may have considered supplements like the best creatine, the best protein powder, or the best BCAAs to kick things up a notch and boost your results.Amino acid supplements are go-to products due to their supposed performance-enhancement and recovery-promoting properties. Some people swear by BCAA supplements,  » Read more about: Best BCAA Supplements (2024): These Nutritionist-Approved Supplements Are Worth It  » Read more

Vulcan Absolute Power Bar V2 In-Depth Review Cover Image
Vulcan Absolute Power Bar V2 In-Depth Review

The Vulcan Absolute Powerlifting Bar V2.0 is one of the strongest barbells currently being made. It's comparable to the best on the market including the Rogue Ohio Power Bar and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a Powerlifting-specific barbell. Read more

Are You Feeling Creative? Check Out Our DIY Gym Equipment Glossary (2024) Cover Image
Are You Feeling Creative? Check Out Our DIY Gym Equipment Glossary (2024)

If your goal is to build muscle, you have to cover all the basics: train consistently, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and control your stress, right? You may have considered supplements like the best creatine, the best protein powder, or the best BCAAs to kick things up a notch and boost your results.Amino acid supplements are go-to products due to their supposed performance-enhancement and recovery-promoting properties. Some people swear by BCAA supplements,  » Read more about: Best BCAA Supplements (2024): These Nutritionist-Approved Supplements Are Worth It  » Read more