When embarking on any kind of weight loss plan, there is a tendency to lose muscle mass along with the fat. If you’re looking to tone up and lose weight, or grow and keep lean muscle mass, you should know about branched amino acids. These are amazing macronutrients that can enable you to drop fat while at the same time keeping your muscles.
BCAAs are not only great tools for those looking to bulk up, but these branched amino acids also contribute key nutrients our bodies rely on to operate at its best. Nonetheless, it is true that modern products, with advanced absorption methods, have made these components key allies for anyone wanting to lose fat. Have we piqued your interest? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about branched amino acids.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best BCAA supplements on the U.S. market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about branched amino acids
- 4 What is the recommended dose of BCAAs?
- 5 What types of BCAAs are there and which one is the right one for me?
- 6 Purchase Criteria
- 7 Summary
- Branched amino acids, also known as “essential amino acids” or “BCAAs,” are a superb allies to those wanting to lose weight while growing and keeping lean muscle mass.
- Essential amino acids are micronutrients our bodies are not able to produce on their own.
- Because our bodies can’t produce BCCAs it is super important to get these essential amino acids through our diet. People with low-protein or highly restrictive diets would benefit from BCAA supplementation.
Ranking: The best BCAA supplements on the U.S. market
You will quickly notice that in North America when it comes to choosing a BCAA supplement, there will be no shortage of options. There are dozens of brands, blends, and formats available. To help you understand what to look for, in this section, we present you with the 5 best BCAA products currently available in the United States.
No. 1: BSN — Amino X Muscle Recovery and Endurance Powder (15.3 oz)
This amino acid dietary supplement by BSN will provide you with all your muscular power and endurance needs while you move and workout. This amino acid interfusion contains 10 grams of micro ionized amino acids per serving that allow the body to more effectively and efficiently take in the amino acids necessary for muscle growth and repair, promoting muscle recovery following bouts of exercise.
With this product, you will be able to push yourself harder during training due to the BCAAs infused formula which will help take your overall performance to the next level. It comes in a delicious fruit punch flavor that mixes easily into water or smoothies without clumping. It has 12.5 mcg of vitamin and contains no added sugars. This airtight container contains 30 servings of BCAAs to support you during your workouts for up to a month for a very reasonable price.
No. 2: Optimum Nutrition — Instantized BCAA Capsules (400 capsules)
The Mega-Size BCAA caps by Optimum Nutrition are an easy and quick way for you to get your intake of amino acids to support your body in the growth and recuperation of your muscles. Each serving is comprised of 2 BCAA capsules which provide you with 1 gram of quality branched-chain amino acids. Inside is a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine to Isoleucine and Valine. This supplement will help you take your training efforts to the next level by supporting endurance and recovery.
With these easy to swallow capsules, you won’t have to worry about taking the time before or after your workouts to make and drink a protein shake, that can often leave you feeling full and heavy before you go to complete your workout routine. In a matter of seconds, your body can have all the BCAAs it needs in order to support and enhance muscular generation.
No. 3: Scivation — Xtend BCAA Powder (14.8 g)
Each scoop of Scivations BCAA powder contains 7 grams of BCAAs. It is a 0 calorie, 0 carb, and 0 sugar product allows you to support muscle growth and enabling you to stick to your diet and calorie plan. This BCAA powder contains 2.5 grams of L-glutamine, 1 gram of citrulline malate and 1140 ml of an electrolyte blend to enhance muscle performance. The 2:1:1 ratio has been research-prove to helps support muscle growth and strength.
Scivation has created a 2 in 1 formula, combining protein and electrolyte action keep your endurance up and keep you hydrated pre, during and post-workout. It comes in a natural and artificial, delicious blue raspberry ice flavor that makes this blend refreshing and enjoyable to consume. It is a drink that is more beneficial to you during your workout than just plain water! Each container has 30 servings, keeping your stock for at least one month.
No. 4: Muscle Pharm — Essentials BCAA Powder (258 g)
The optimized branched-chain amino acid formula by Muscle Pharm Essentials has a patent-pended ratio that offers powerful muscle support for your body. The BCAA 3:1:2 ratio offers a blend of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine that delivers the ideal amounts of all three proteins through the body. It supports the growth of lean muscle mass by targeting the muscle development and maintenance post-workout and reducing muscle breakdown.
The convenient powder form is easily mixed into water and contains zero calories, zero carbohydrates and zero grams of sugar. It’s sold in a delicious blue raspberry flavor that it is refreshing and pleasant to drink. This powder is banned-substance tested and certified by Informed-choice. Those who see the Informed-Choice logo on the side of their product can assure it has undergone rigorous tests to ensure it is not contaminated with banned substances and is 100% safe.
No. 5: Evlution — BCAA 5000 (powder)
The BCAA 5000 formula by Evlution supports a number of physiological processes in the body including muscle repair, lean mass, endurance, protein synthesis, and recovery to enhance your overall fitness journey. This product makes recovering enjoyable with a mouth water taste and a handful of different flavors to choose from. This dietary supplement will help build lean muscle, boost recovery and enhance both endurance and strength.
BCAA 5000 has 5 grams of premium BCAAs to provide you with a proven 2:1:1 ratio to give your muscles the recovery they need to be ready for the next training session. Each purchase contains 30 servings to support at least one month of workouts, even if you consume it every day. Simply place one scoop of the powder inside your protein shaker at any time for enhanced performance. This product is great for women, men, athletes, and any recreationally active individual.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about branched amino acids
In order to choose the right BCAA supplement for your needs, it is important to know exactly what those needs are. To help you understand your needs better, in this section we cover the most relevant information concerning BCAAs and answer the most frequently asked questions consumers have before choosing a product.
What are branched amino acids or BCAAs exactly?
BCAAs are a great source of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are called this because our bodies can’t produce them on their own. Making it essential that we ingest them through our diet or by supplementing. Overall, anyone looking to increase muscle fiber or lose body fat can benefit from the use of BCCAs.
Fat loss or gaining muscle is achieved through the oxidation of these essential amino acids. To optimize the oxidizing effect, combining their intake with working out is recommended. After all, it is a well-known fact that the oxidation of BCAAs is boosted with physical exercise and energy expenditure.
The essential amino acids are:
Why are BCAAs useful to athletes?
Like we mentioned before, the oxidation of branched amino acids enables the growth and maintenance of muscle fibres. However, BCAAs have many more benefits, which we’ll go over below:
- Increase muscle endurance
- Support the tension of our moculature
- Supply energy to our muscles
- Favor protein synthesis
- Increase strength
- Favor weight and fat loss
Among the proteinogenic amino acids, there are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.(Source: Trojanowski:
Because BCAAs are metabolized in the muscles and not in our liver, our muscles are allowed to work in optimal conditions.
During the oxidation process, chemical glutamine is created. The presence of glutamine is a key component to prevent muscle tissue from being worn down and lost.
Should I consume BCAAs if I am following a weight loss program?
Even though branched amino acids have multiple benefits for anyone, supplementing with them should be of particular interest to those wanting to lose weight. This is because BCAAs allow you to boost your fat loss without losing muscle mass.
Weight management plans can have negative impacts on our muscles. This is because when our body enters a caloric deficit, it begins to eat up muscle mass to obtain caloric energy. More along these lines, BCAAs are also beneficial to athletes who practice intense cardiovascular exercises.
Who is likely to benefit from BCAAs supplementation?
Proper levels of essential amino acids provide many advantages and can be helpful in the prevention of many chronic illnesses. The list below includes those who would benefit most from supplementing with BCCAs.
- Those who want to increase muscle fiber
- Bodybuilders during competition
- Those who want to lose weight
- Athletes under an intense physical training regime
BCCAs also help reduce some of the normal aches and pains that occur after intense physical training, making for a faster and easier recovery.
What is the recommended dose of BCAAs?
The average dose for BCAAs is between 5 to 10 grams for adults. However, it is always advised that you consult the products description and recommendations. Another important criterion along the lines of dosage is timing, let us elaborate:
|Time of intake||Effect|
|Before training||More intense training.|
|Aids muscle regeneration.|
|During the day|| Reduces hunger and helps muscle
|Upon awakening (fasting)|| Stops muscle breakdown that occurs during
The standard dose, as mentioned above, is usually 5 to 10 grams. This will of course depend on your weight and particular needs.
Is it dangerous to exceed the recommended dose of branched amino acids?
Since a high concentration of amino acids can be toxic to our organisms, excess BCAAs are usually eliminated and excreted immediately. All human cells have a specialized system of enzymes that are responsible for breaking down these amino acids. For these reasons overdosing on BCAAs is not very common, however, it can happen in some cases.
It is important to note that when the body experiences an overdose, eliminating excess toxins becomes a priority. This takes energy away from other vital processes and could cause serious damage. Make sure not to surpass the recommended daily dosage. If you experience any problems, make sure to consult your doctor.
What types of BCAAs are there and which one is the right one for me?
If you look on Amazon or your local GNC, you’ll find there is a large selection of BCCA supplements at your disposal. Even though they are all branched chain amino acids, they can have different concentrations, ratios, absorption rates and methods of ingestion. Up next, we’ll go over the different formats you can find:
There are two types of branched amino acids available in the United States market:
- BCAAs in powder form.
- BCAAs tablets.
In the following table, we present you the different types of BCAAs, as well as their main
|Criterion||BCAAs tablets||BCAAs in powder|
tablets before or after training (varies by brand).
|5g mixed with water or juice before or after
training (varies by brand).
|Digestion||Slower absorption||Excellent absorption|
|Method of ingestion||May be difficult to swallow.||Soluble and easy to mix.|
|Price||Price varies by formula.||Price varies by formula (freeze-dried format is highly priced).|
|Purity||May contain caffeine.||Often contain artificial flavors.|
As far as their nutritional values go, there are no noteworthy discrepancies between the two types of presentations.
Like with any supplement you’ll ingest, it is important to make sure you get a quality product that will provide all the effects you’re looking for. To help you find the best product, we want to give you one last set of criteria to consider before you make your final purchase:
- Country of Origin
Most BCCAs supplements that come in the form of powder will have some sort of fruity or citric taste. Depending on your taste, these supplements will have a pleasant taste or not. If you’re sensitive to artificial flavors, opt for tablets, these don’t usually have any flavor since you take them in one gulp.
Choosing top-quality ingredients is the most important aspect to consider when shopping for products you will consume — We can’t stress this enough. Beyond the quality of the product, it is always preferable if the supplement contains other beneficial active ingredients that will support its function. You will get more from supplements that also contain vitamins or caffeine.
For instance, vitamins B12 and B6 will improve the body’s absorption of BCAAs. Finally, you should also consider the percentages of the amino acids present in the formula you choose. The amount of leucine, for example, should be the highest, as this is the one responsible for protein synthesis, and what enables you to maintain muscle mass.
- Studies show that the perfect concentration of amino acids is:
2:1:1: 2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine and 1 part valine.
If you know you duffer from allergies, the list of ingredients will be your most trusted ally.
Nonetheless, everyone can benefit from knowing the sugar content of the product they chose, or that it does not contain any artificial additives.
Furthermore, you should also pay close attention to the label if you need a product that is:
Overall, supplements that are vegan and fructose-free are ok for people who suffer from allergies. Nonetheless, vegans should be careful when taking pressed supplements, since they are often coated in gelatin. If you are vegan, keep an eye out for tablets coated in cellulose.
Country of Origin
It can be generalized that the quality of a product is often closely related to its country of origin. Developed countries often have strict standards and regulations that ensure companies produce high-quality products with good ingredients.
Most of the time, supplements made in Canada and the European Union adhere to rigorous health and safety standards. Unfortunately, most products made here in the United States lack strict quality control, which is reflected in the ingredients used.
By now you should understand why BCAAs are such great allies to those looking to build muscle and lose fat. Because the body is unable to produce these amino acids on its own, a proper diet and/or supplementation is very important.
Moreover, BCAAs actually offer endless benefits to many different processes in our organisms. The nutritional contribution of these amino acids, along with a balanced diet and physical activity is the perfect combination for athletes and those looking to burn more fat or increase muscle.
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(Source of featured image: Bulygin: 98113623/123rf.com)