The Best BCAAs of 2022

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Protein | Pre-Workouts | Creatine | Multivitamins | Vitamin B12 | Collagen | Testosterone Boosters | Greens Powder | Fish Oil | BCAAs

To build muscle and recover from intense exercise, our bodies require sufficient dietary protein. You see, proteins are made up of amino acid building blocks that link together to form complete proteins. When we eat proteins, they are broken down into amino acids and reassembled to form various tissues throughout the body.

Out of the 20 total amino acids we require, there are nine essential ones that we cannot make on our own and therefore must get from our diet. Three of these essential amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are referred to as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) due to their chemical structure.

There's some research to show that these particular amino acids may have a number of potential benefits for athletes when consumed around workouts. These include:

  • Promoting muscle building under certain conditions
  • Decreasing muscle soreness
  • Increase energy during workouts
  • Prevent muscle breakdown

What to Look For in BCAAs

When shopping for a BCAA supplement, there are a few key factors that you should look for. These include:

  • Ratio: This refers to the ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine, 2:1:1 is the most common and sufficient to support most people's goals.
  • Dosage: Look for a BCAA that provides at least 5 grams of total BCAA per serving to maximize potential benefits.
  • Price: Consider how much you are willing to spend per serving as the cost can add up over time.
  • Additional Ingredients: Some BCAAs include additional ingredients such as electrolytes, glutamine, and caffeine. Think about if such added ingredients will help support your goals.
  • Flavors: Most BCAAs come in a flavored version though some brands come unflavored so you can mix them with a drink of choice. Investigate the available flavors each BCAA supplement comes in to see if they suit your tastes.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE.com's readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming supplements, we prioritize products that are independently tested by a third party. Additionally, we consulted with ACTIVE's Advisory Board, which includes nutritionists, competitive athletes, coaches, and certified trainers to make certain that the products we feature are of the highest standards. The ACTIVE Reviews Team is passionate about bringing you products we trust and would personally use.

Our Rating Scale

Price/Affordability:

Prices depend on a number of factors, and tend to fluctuate over time, so we’ve kept our affordability rating scale simple so you can easily see how products compare.

$ = under $1 per serving
$$ = $1-2 per serving
$$$ = over $2 per serving

Flavor Options:

When it comes to dietary supplements that you take frequently, or even daily, options are important. And while your supplement doesn’t have to taste good to be effective, having several flavors to choose from can make it easier to stick with your fitness and health goals.

N/A = Unflavored
1 = 1-2 flavor options
2 = 3-4 flavor options
3 = 5 or more flavor options

The Best BCAAs - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall BCAA Supplement - XTEND Original BCAA

XTEND Original BCAA

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: BCAA supplement
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (14g)
  • Calories per serving: 0
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • BCAAs per serving: Leucine - 3,500 mg, Isoleucine - 1,750 mg, Valine - 1,750 mg

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To maximize performance and recovery, most athletes are willing to spare no effort. While the research shows that BCAAs are most useful when your protein intake is low, there may be a marginal benefit for high-level athletes regardless of protein intake. If you are an active individual looking to boost muscle building and recovery, including a BCAA supplement may be a good idea. With so many BCAA supplements on the market it can be difficult to select a good one. XTEND Original BCAA is a brand that has been around for decades in the BCAA space and has made a name for itself in terms of quality, and thus it's our top pick for the best overall BCAA supplement.

While labeled as a BCAA supplement, XTEND Original also provides a whopping 1,140 milligrams of electrolytes to help promote hydration during intense exercise. Additionally, their formula includes 1,000 milligrams of citrulline malate to help promote blood flow to working muscles. Last but not least, they include 2,500 milligrams of L-glutamine, an amino acid that can help prevent muscle breakdown and reduce fatigue in some people. It's also third-party tested to ensure safety for users.

PROS

  • Includes science-backed doses of BCAAs
  • L-citrulline and L-glutamine for additional performance-enhancing effects
  • Available in 10 flavors
  • Comes in 2 sizes
  • Third-party tested

CONS

  • Doses of L-citrulline and L-glutamine may be too low to have an effect
  • Contains artificial sweeteners

BUY: XTEND Original BCAA

Best BCAA Supplement for Runners - Honey Badger BCAA

Honey Badger BCAA

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: BCAA plus EAA supplement
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (5g)
  • Calories per serving: None noted
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • BCAAs per serving: Leucine - 800 mg, Isoleucine - 400 mg, Valine - 400 mg

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Running is a highly demanding sport that puts a great deal of stress on the muscles of the lower body. Considering that many runners exercise for over an hour at a time, they are at a particularly high risk of muscle protein breakdown. Sipping on a BCAA plus electrolyte supplement throughout your run may be a great way to stay hydrated, prevent muscle loss, and support the recovery process. One product that was created with endurance athletes in mind is Honey Badger's BCAAs.

Providing a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine, this product provides sufficient BCAAs to meet most runners' needs. Their amino acid blend also includes other essential amino acids that may also prevent muscle protein breakdown. This supplement is produced in a GMP (good manufacturing practice) facility and undergoes third-party testing to ensure the highest quality and safety for athletes. In addition, this product is vegan-friendly and comes in six tasty flavors so your taste buds will never get bored.

PROS

  • Provides BCAAs plus additional EAAs
  • Contains electrolytes for hydration
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Naturally sweetened

CONS

  • BCAA doses are on the lower side
  • Some users report odd aftertaste

BUY: Honey Badger BCAA

Best BCAA Supplement for Triathletes - Cellucor BCAA Sport

Cellucor BCAA Sport

To be successful, triathletes must perform at a high level in three endurance sports: running, cycling, and swimming. The training required to be competent in all three can really take a toll on an athlete's body. In order to jump-start the recovery process, supplements like protein powders and BCAAs can be used to help promote muscle recovery. When it came to selecting the best BCAA supplement for triathletes, we found Cellucor's BCAA Sport to be ahead of the rest due to their comprehensive ingredient panel and inclusion of electrolytes.

Including a blend of 4,000 milligrams of combined leucine, isoleucine, and valine, this product can help support muscle protein synthesis both during and after triathlon training. In addition to the BCAAs, it also contains a blend of other essential amino acids, as well as glutamine to support muscle recovery. On top of the amino acids it provides, they also include 110 milligrams of sodium and 35 milligrams of potassium for hydration support. At an affordable price point, Cellucor's BCAA Sport may be a worthwhile investment for triathletes looking to maximize their recovery.

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Type: BCAA plus electrolyte supplement
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (11g)
  • Calories per serving: None noted
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose, acesulfame potassium
  • BCAAs per serving: 4,000 mg

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PROS

  • Includes EAAs to support muscle recovery
  • Third-party tested
  • Provides electrolytes to aid in hydration support

CONS

  • BCAAs are contained in a blend, disguising their individual amounts
  • Only available in 1 flavor

BUY: Cellucor BCAA Sport

Best BCAA Supplement for Cyclists - Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes

Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Type: BCAA, Electrolytes, and Energy supplement
  • Serving size: 2 scoops (9.5g)
  • Calories per serving: 5
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose, acesulfame potassium
  • BCAAs per serving: 5g amino acid blend containing BCAAs

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Cycling is a high-intensity sport that requires sustained energy levels for an extended period of time. While cyclists become adapted to the energy demands placed on the body over time, supplements such as BCAAs and caffeine can help provide an extra kick when you are dragging. In fact, both aforementioned supplements have been shown to reduce fatigue. One brand that includes both of these ingredients, plus electrolytes, is Optimum Nutrition's Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes, making it our top choice for the best BCAA supplement for cyclists.

This product includes a 5,000-milligram blend of amino acids containing BCAAs and other essential amino acids to help support muscle recovery and prevent fatigue. For an energy boost during training, this supplement provides 100 milligrams of caffeine from green tea leaf and green coffee bean extract. That said, make sure not to take it close to bedtime if you are caffeine sensitive. On top of those ingredients, they also provide 115 milligrams of sodium and 45 milligrams of potassium to keep you hydrated even on the hottest of days.

PROS

  • Includes BCAAs and other essential amino acids for muscle recovery
  • Contains 100mg of caffeine from natural sources for energy
  • Sodium and potassium provide electrolytes to keep you hydrated

CONS

  • BCAAs are contained in a proprietary blend hiding the individual amounts of each
  • Contains artificial coloring, flavoring, and sweeteners

BUY: Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes

Best BCAA Supplement for Recovery - NUUN Recover BCAA

NUUN Recover BCAA

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Type: BCAA and electrolyte supplement
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (17g)
  • Calories per serving: 50
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • BCAA per serving: 5g of combined leucine, isoleucine, and valine

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Regardless of your sport of choice, recovery is key when it comes to maintaining a high level of performance. Without proper recovery it's unlikely that you'll be able to consistently give your best effort in practice or competition. The main areas of recovery include proper diet and hydration, soft tissue work, quality sleep, and supplementation. In the supplement category, BCAAs are a common choice for promoting muscle recovery. Pair them with electrolytes and you have a perfect post-workout concoction.

Containing a 5-gram blend of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, NUUN's recovery beverage provides the quick-digesting amino acids your body requires following intense exercise. On top of the BCAAs, it also provides a solid dose of 500 milligrams of sodium, 154 milligrams of chloride, and 250 milligrams of potassium—three important electrolytes for replenishing your hydration. Lastly, this supplement also contains 1 gram of glutamine, another amino acid that can provide immune support.

This trio of impactful post-workout recovery ingredients makes NUUN Recover BCAA a great option for athletes looking to get the most out of their recovery routine.

PROS

  • Provides 5g of BCAAs for muscle recovery following exercise
  • Contains 900mg of combined electrolytes for hydration support
  • Third-party tested by Informed Sport
  • No artificial colors or sweeteners

CONS

  • On the expensive side at over $1.50/serving
  • Uses a BCAA blend so amounts of each amino acid are not disclosed

BUY: NUUN Recover BCAA

Best-Tasting BCAA Supplement – Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: BCAA and electrolyte supplement
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (19.6g)
  • Calories per serving: 10
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • BCAA per serving: Leucine - 4,000 mg, Isoleucine - 2,000 mg, Valine - 2,000 mg

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When it comes to flavoring, some supplements fall flat on their face. You shouldn't have to "choke down" a product just to yield the potential benefits it provides. The same applies to BCAA supplements, which may not always taste the best. Thankfully there are some brands that take pride in their flavoring, creating tasty flavors that you don't mind consuming. One such is Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine, which comes in five appealing flavors.

One serving of this product contains a whopping eight grams of BCAAs, which is more than enough to support muscle protein synthesis during and after your workouts, whether it be strength training or conditioning. In addition to that, they provide a science-backed five-gram dose of glutamine, an amino acid that can help promote muscle maintenance and immunity. To top it off, their formula provides 1,000 milligrams of coconut water powder, a high electrolyte-containing compound. For athletes who are bored of the subpar flavored supplements on the market, an option such as Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is certainly worth trying.

PROS

  • Provides a high dose of BCAAs per serving
  • Includes glutamine for immune and muscle support
  • Fully transparent labeling
  • Comes in 5 flavors

CONS

  • More expensive than some other BCAAs on the market
  • Unable to distinguish amount of electrolytes in coconut water powder

BUY: Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Best BCAA Supplement for Energy - Klean BCAA + Peak ATP

Klean BCAA + Peak ATP

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Type: BCAA supplement with Peak ATP
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (8.6g)
  • Calories per serving: 10
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • BCAA per serving: Leucine - 2g, Isoleucine - 1g, Valine - 1g

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Whether you are an elite athlete or recreational gym-goer, there's nothing worse than gearing up for your workout to realize your energy levels are in the toilet. To see meaningful results from training you have to give it your all, and this is tough to do when you're feeling fatigued. While getting proper sleep is likely the biggest factor, supplements such as pre-workouts and BCAAs can also go a long way toward boosting your energy levels. Some BCAA supplements even include additional ingredients to prevent fatigue and support energy levels. One such supplement is Klean BCAA + Peak ATP. This puts it at the top of our list for the best BCAA supplement for energy.

Klean BCAA + Peak ATP provides a respectable BCAA dose of two grams of leucine, and one gram each of isoleucine and valine—more than enough to play an energy-supporting role. In addition, this product includes a unique ingredient called Peak ATP, a patented form of Adenosine 5-triphosphate disodium, the fuel source our bodies use to make energy. Research suggests that this compound may prevent declines in performance following repeated intense training bouts.

PROS

  • Provides sufficient BCAAs to support energy levels
  • Contains Peak ATP for additional energy boosting
  • No artificial flavors or sweeteners
  • Utilizes transparent labeling

CONS

  • Contains sugar alcohol, which may not agree with some people
  • On the expensive side at over $1.50/serving
  • Only comes in 1 flavor

BUY: Klean BCAA + Peak ATP

Best Affordable BCAA - Bulk Supplements BCAA 2:1:1

Bulk Supplements BCAA

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): N/A
  • Type: Unflavored BCAA
  • Serving size: 3/4 tsp (2,000 mg)
  • Calories per serving: None noted
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • BCAA per serving: Leucine - 1,000 mg, Isoleucine - 500 mg, Valine - 500 mg

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Not everyone is a professional athlete with a multi-million dollar contract. For the rest of us, the cost of supplements can really add up over time. One way to control this cumulative cost is to purchase supplements on sale or turn to more affordable brands. That said, when searching for more budget-friendly options, it's important not to sacrifice quality. Bulk Supplements BCAA 2:1:1 strikes a sweet spot between cost and quality that makes it the best affordable BCAA in our eyes.

Supplying a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine, this supplement provides an ideal ratio of BCAAs for everything from promoting muscle growth to increasing energy levels during workouts. With an extremely simple ingredient panel, there are no added fillers, so you can rest assured that you are paying for only BCAAs. While the suggested dose only provides 1,000 milligrams of leucine and 500 milligrams of isoleucine and valine, you can certainly adjust the dose to provide your desired amount of BCAAs.

This product contains no sweeteners or flavoring making it a great option for adding to other beverages. Providing a great balance between price and quality, Bulk Supplements BCAA 2:1:1 is a fitting choice for those looking to get the most for their money.

PROS

  • Simple ingredient panel with no fillers
  • Provides a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs
  • Provides excellent value
  • Available in different sizes

CONS

  • Unflavored, so must be added to another beverage
  • Bulk packaging may be cumbersome for some users

BUY: Bulk Supplements BCAA 2:1:1

Best Vegan BCAA - Truth Nutrition Fermented Vegan BCAA

Truth Nutrition Fermented Vegan BCAA

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Source/type: Vegan BCAA supplement
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (7.3g)
  • Calories per serving: 35
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • BCAA per serving: 5g of combined BCAAs

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Generally speaking, not all nutrition supplements are particularly vegan-friendly, with most containing several ingredients derived from animal sources. That said, in recent years with the rise in popularity of the vegan diet, many brands are now coming out with more vegan-compatible options. BCAAs were typically derived from a number of animal byproducts, though now with advances in technology, they can be made through a plant fermentation process that yields the same end products. One such fermented BCAA supplement is Truth Nutrition's Fermented Vegan BCAAs.

Providing users with 5 grams of combined leucine, isoleucine, and valine fermented from non-GMO corn, this supplement compares well with other animal-derived BCAAs. They also include 85 milligrams of sodium and 45 milligrams of potassium for hydration support, and this product is third-party tested and produced in a GMP (good manufacturing practice) facility to ensure safety for its users.

PROS

  • Provides high potency BCAAs sourced from fermented non-GMO corn
  • Contains sodium and potassium for electrolyte support
  • Available in 4 appealing flavors

CONS

  • BCAAs are contained within a blend on the label hiding the individual amounts
  • More expensive than some other BCAA options on the market

BUY: Truth Nutrition Fermented Vegan BCAA

FAQs About BCAAs


Are BCAAs worth taking?

Considering that BCAAs are fairly inexpensive and have been shown to help promote muscle recovery in some populations, they are likely a good investment for athletes looking to optimize their performance and recovery. That said, they certainly aren't necessary to reach high levels of performance. Simply eating a diet that is high enough in protein can provide many of the same benefits.

Who should take BCAAs?

BCAAs have been shown to be most impactful for those completing long endurance training sessions or those with a low dietary protein intake. However, others can certainly benefit from taking them. If you are an athlete who completes high-intensity training multiple times per week, BCAAs may help support your recovery.

How do I use BCAAs?

Many people choose to drink BCAAs during their workout to maintain a steady flow of amino acids to the muscles and to help stay hydrated. Most manufacturers will have you mix one to two scoops of BCAAs with eight to 12 ounces of water and drink it around a workout. However, they can be taken any time of day to help support performance and recovery.

Do BCAAs build muscle?

When combined with resistance (strength) exercise, research shows that BCAAs may support muscle building—though this is usually only when you are consuming a fairly low protein diet of less than 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. That being said, BCAAs can reduce muscle soreness following exercise, prevent fatigue, and prevent muscle breakdown. Therefore, they are most useful when you are trying to prevent muscle protein breakdown as opposed to building muscle.

Should I take BCAAs every day?

BCAAs are safe enough to be taken every day, in fact some people sip on them throughout the day as a tasty way to stay hydrated. However, they will typically be most beneficial when taken on days that you are completing a strenuous workout. But if you have the budget to consume them on a daily basis, there really is no downside to it.

Do BCAAs have any side effects?

Considering that BCAAs are amino acids commonly found in many of the foods we eat, they are typically very safe to consume and don't really have any acute side effects. However, if you have a condition that affects protein metabolism, you may experience certain side effects. In this case it would be best to check with your healthcare provider before starting to take them.

Protein | Pre-Workouts | Creatine | Multivitamins | Vitamin B12 | Collagen | Testosterone Boosters | Greens Powder | Fish Oil | BCAAs

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.

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