Branch chained amino acids (BCAA’s for short) is a supplement that is quite often overlooked; I suggest reading “Why Dieters Need to be Taking BCAA’s” for some basic info. You’ll find out why they are important to incorporate into any training style, program and why everyone should take them. Supplementing with 10-15grams of BCAA’s intra workout will increase protein synthesis, increase muscle recovery, fight fatigue during your training, spare muscle wasting while on a caloric deficit, promotes anabolism and metabolic recovery.
Let’s recap quickly so when we dissect the ingredient profiles below, we can all understand the vocabulary. The body has 21 amino acids; three of them you have to obtain through diet are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The body uses BCAA’s to help muscle recovery and drive nutrients into the muscle tissue, allowing all the above benefits to be reaped such as restoring nutrients lost during training, fight muscle fatigue, etc. Not all BCAA’s are equal which is good and bad, below I will show you which one make my top five and why.
Pill vs. Powders
You’ll notice that each BCAA product in my list will be powders. The reason I prefer powders is it is more cost effective (pills cost more to make) and I can mix my BCAA’s in a 1 gallon jug or water or my shaker cup; allowing me to consume them at my own rate and keep hydrated at the same time. The problem I have with BCAA tablets is you would need to down4-8 tablets per a session which is costly and the absorption rate isn’t ideal, however tablets do have their benefits but for this list we will prefer mixable powders.
Colby’s Top 5 BCAA Supplements List
5. Optimum Nutrition Amino Last
Coming in at number 5 is Optimum Nutrition Amino Last. ON is a tried and true brand, famous for their success in the protein field with 100% Gold Stand Whey. This supplement makes my list because it is a lot more than just a BCAA – so read closely:
This product contains many micronized free form amino acids as well as the three essential amino acids we discussed above. The formula also includes a healthy dose of Beta Alanine, (patented form found also in Jack3d), Citrulline and Taurine. We don’t know the exact amount because it is part of their “amino blend” (5g), Amino Energy also contains an energy blend that contains green coffee extract, green tea extract and caffeine. This would be a great “one and done” product to sip on during your workout to support recovery before, during and after exercise and also supports nitric oxide synthesis leading to a “pump”. It would be wise to note that this product does contain a small amount of stimulants so I would not recommend stacking with a pre-workout like Jack3d or C4- Hemavol could be used.
4. Universal Nutrition Atomic 7
At number four we have Universal Nutrition Atomic 7. I am very fond of Universal/Animal products because I believe they have a outstanding product line, quality and price point for any consumer.
Atomic 7 packs a punch in the BCAA game, each scoop is 13g compared to ON’s 5g (little under dosed in my opinion) and delivers 4g of L-Leucine a key amino acid that is the “main player” if you will in the above benefits of taking a BCAA product. Atomic 7 also contains Citrulline Malate, L- Glutamine and L-Taurine, vitamin B6, which in my book is something I look for in an intra workout BCAA product.
3. Cellucor COR
As we head up the list it is no surprise to see Cellucor’s new COR line BCAA product climbing to the top. Cellucor is an outstanding company that knows what they are doing. Each scoop delivers 2.5g of L-Leucine, 2g Citrulline Malate, and 1.6g Beta Alanine. This another one of the “tried and true” companies which deliver high quality products you can trust.
2. Scivation Xtend
At number two we have a product that has stood the test of time and is one of the best known BCAA supplements on the market, I am referring to of course, Scivation Xtend. Xtend is sugar free and carbohydrate free, and contains the research validated 2:1:1 blend of BCAA’s. Something the separates Xtend from the pack is the electrolyte blend-Potassium, Chloride and Sodium which help to optimize cell hydration and muscle contractile function during the most intense training sessions.
Like many of the above products Xtend boasts a healthy ingredient profile containing Vitamin B6, L-Glutamine, Citrulline Malate and of course the BCAA’s which help stimulate and support muscle protein synthesis, metabolic energy, rapid ATP turn over, and support the ability to train at a higher volume (fight fatigue and get the acid out of the muscle, that “burning feeling”).
1. USPlabs Modern BCAA
And at the top of the mountain, alone, stands USPlabs Modern BCAA/Modern BCAA+. Modern BCAA makes the top of my list for many reasons; first off I usually don’t give two seconds thinking about “taste” but damn! Modern BCAA tastes amazing it is very refreshing to sip between sets. The second reason is the value, each tub contains 70 5g servings for an unbeatable price (Nutraplanet sells the bulk form which is a steal). Another reason I believe Modern to be above the rest of the competition is because it contains an 8:1:1 ratio of BCAA’s with mTOR activation in mind (see write up referenced at the beginning of the article).
Modern BCAA also contains an electrolyte blend, L-Gluamine (Sustamine). The Modern+ addition contains additional amino acids such as L-Alanine, L-Taurine, L-Glutamine like the above supplements do.
To recap why I believe Modern BCAA/+ earned the #1 on this list-
- BCAA Ratio formulation with mTOR activation in mind 8:1:1
- Mix Clean
- No Artificial Colors
- Refreshing Taste
- No Regular L-Glutamine (Micronized aminos with Sustamine, advanced glutamine compound)
- Added Electrolytes
- Amazing flavor selection!