The best BCAAs for fantastic muscle growth

Improve muscle gain, reduce fatigue and prevent muscle wasting with the best BCAAs of the year

Man drinking the best BCAAs in a drink

by Ryan Houghton |
Updated on

Boost muscle growth, prevent fatigue and support your immune system with the best BCAAs on the gym supplement market for a reasonable price.

Don't waste time with small doses, poor-quality BCAAs that have no noticeable effect on performance, or overpriced tablets that barely last a month - invest in your health and gains wisely with some of the most potent BCAAs available anywhere.

The best BCAAs at a glance:

• Best BCAA supplement: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA - View at Amazon
• Best value BCCA tablet supplement: Xellerate BCAA Tablet 1000mg - View at Amazon
Best energy-boosting BCAA supplement: Applied Nutrition BCAA Powder - View at Amazon
Best long-term BCAA supplement: XTEND Original BCAA - View at Amazon

Regardless of whether you're looking to reduce fatigue, build muscle mass, or prevent muscle wasting - there's the perfect BCAA supplement for you amongst our ranking of the best BCAAs of the year so far.

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The best BCAA supplements to buy right now

Best BCAA supplement

Few fitness brands in the modern gym-going world have even a fraction of the renowned quality of Optimum Nutrition - a brand used by professional athletes, body-builders and newbies alike.

Regardless of what supplement you're looking for, if there's an Optimum Nutrition logo - you're in good hands - and its BCAA strawberry kiwi supplement is far from the exception.

Bursting with electrolytes, vitamins and Rhodiola - a herb proven to boost energy and alleviate post-workout fatigue, Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard BCAA supplement is the perfect way to boost muscle-building in a healthy and enjoyable way.

Our only issue with Optimum Nutrition's BCAA is that it's only about a month's supply - making it a fairly expensive monthly cost.

Pros

  • Packed with Rhodiola and electrolytes to fight fatigue
  • Fantastic flavour
  • High-quality ingredients

Cons

  • Expensive for a month's worth of servings
Number of Servings:28
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:5g
Additional Nutrients:374mg electrolytes, 200mg Rhodiola, enriched with Magnesium and Vitamin C
Total Weight:266g
Suitable For:Vegans and vegetarians
  • Customer review: "Been using this Optimum Nutrition BCAA for 3 months and really feel the difference, I like the fact it contacts magnesium and even if it’s psychological, I feel to have more energy and better muscle recovery. My partner also uses and agrees - and it’s without the fake caffeine pre workout effect (which I don’t like!)"

Best value BCAA tablet supplement

BCAA Tablet 1000mg, 425 Tablets, 3000mg Daily Serving
Price: £24.97

For those who already have enough pre-workout supplements to drink before a gym session, BCAA tablets are a fantastic alternative to avoid bloating and sickness.

Simply take three BCAA tablets throughout the day (ideally, at least one pill immediately before and after a workout to boost muscle repair and prevent muscle atrophy), and you're pretty much set up for a pain-free rest day.

Not only that but with plenty of BCAA, you'll notice greater muscle gain and performance improvement week by week, making those intense workouts count all the more.

Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Great quality
  • Huge supply

Cons

  • Not as much BCAA as competitors
Number of Servings:141
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:3g
Additional Nutrients:Vitamin B6
Total Weight:502g
Suitable For:Vegetarians and vegans
  • Customer review: "I’ve been running numbers for a while now, and I must say: the Xellerate BCAA Tablets are awesome value for money. I really hope they won’t increase the price because I have plans to keep buying this one. Quality is excellent, these tablets are now a crucial part of both my pre and post-workout. You can definitely see the results of this supplementation, especially if you’re on a low carb diet. Highly recommend."

Best energy-boosting BCAA supplement

For the perfect intra-workout pick-me-up, Applied Nutrition's BCAA powder has an impressive 7.2g of BCAA per serving while also containing 1g of citrulline - making it perfect for that mid-workout boost to keep you pushing yourself to the absolute limit without burning out.

Applied Nutrition's BCAA powder is simply added to 500ml of water and taken either before, in the middle of, or after a workout - working effectively as an energy booster and as a quick post-workout supplement for muscle repair - so those days spent sore and lethargic are numbered.

Of course, it's not all upsides - some people, for example, dislike the sweetness of the flavour and find it overpowering - but for some, some sweetness is perfect for reinvigorating yourself and recovering from a tough workout.

Our main gripe with Applied Nutrition's BCAA powder is the sheer amount of water needed to dissolve the BCAA effectively, 500ml seems somewhat excessive to drink prior to or during a workout.

Pros

  • Great source of BCAA
  • Perfect for intra-workout re-energise

Cons

  • Some users find the flavours too sweet
Number of Servings:32
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:7.2g
Additional Nutrients:Vitamin B6
Total Weight:450g
Suitable For:Vegetarians, vegans
  • Customer review: "The mango Applied Nutrition flavour is very tasty. Dissolves with no issues and I definitely feel like it's powering me through my workouts and perhaps helping a smidge with soreness, I think it has to be a combination of this and diet that helps the soreness."

Best long-term BCAA supplement

To keep yourself stocked up on BCAA powder without having to grab a new tub every month, XTEND'S BCAA blue raspberry is perfect for keeping stocked up on those essential amino acids - so you never lose your gains.

With enough to take two servings per day for maximum muscle saturation - the pain of the upstairs post-leg day struggle will largely disappear, and your muscle growth should improve almost immediately.

Our major gripe with the XTEND BCAA supplement is the lack of information on whether or not it's vegan or vegetarian, for that matter - there's very little information online as to the source of the amino acids, which typically are derived either from soy or animal gelatin - so we'd suggest plant-based eaters avoid it.

Pros

  • Huge amount of servings for a solid price
  • Perfect for bulking
  • Great amount of BCAA per serving

Cons

  • Not many flavours currently available
  • Potentially not suitable for vegetarians or vegans
Number of Servings:90
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:7g
Additional Nutrients:Vitamin B6, magnesium, cirtrulline
Total Weight:1.33kg
Suitable For:Non-vegetarians/non-vegans
  • Customer review: "Included in each serving is huge 7g of BCAAs in the known most effective proportion of 2:1:1 of the key aminos. This is achieved by not including a lot of fillers and only including the essential things with known benefits to training such as 2.5g if Glutamine and 1g of Citrulline Malate.

    "Now lets talk a little about the flavour. I have personally tried about half of the offered flavours in the past 9 or 10 months and haven't had any terrible experience. The best flavour so far in my opinion was the Watermelon and the worst the Strawberry and Kiwi which I found to be overly sweet for my palette but not unbearably so.

    "Did I see any difference while using this product? The short answer is Yes! I definitely saw my recovery time reduced and as I am using this intra-workout I am seeing the benefits of increased longevity and small strength increases too. I would also say that I have seen size gains too but how much this can be attributed to the use of this supplement alone is certainly debatable.

    "To conclude my overall opinion of this product is highly positive and I do recommend it to friends. If you are reading this review trying to decide whether to try Scivation Xtend BCAAs I would say go for it."

Best plant-based BCAA supplement

Vivo Life Perform Raw Cacao Flavour Vegan Protein Powder
Price: $64.99

For vegans and vegetarians looking to improve their muscle growth progression and find a great source of essential amino acids - Vivo Life's Perform Raw protein powder is the perfect source of power that can be taken at any time of the day.

Using fantastic natural ingredients such as raw cacao, peas, hemp, mushroom, and a huge range of herbs for a quick energy boost - Vivo Life's Raw cacao flavour BCAA and protein powder is a delicious, natural and guilt-free way to keep healthy and fatigue-free throughout your most intense work out sessions.

Pros

  • Perfect for vegans
  • Great for fantastic muscle growth
  • Delicious taste

Cons

  • Some reviewers found the seal on the bag didn't work so the powder had to be decanted into a different container or bag
Number of Servings:26
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:6g
Additional Nutrients:25g of raw plant protein
Total Weight:988g
Suitable For:Vegetarians and vegans
  • Customer review: "I am intolerant to gluten & dairy products. So, I tried the Vivo Life Perform Raw Plant Protein & BCAA Acai & Blueberry. It tastes fine and goes down really well. I have found that not only am I gaining muscle faster than before, but also that my digestion seems to be getting stronger. Onwards and upwards!"

Best amount of BCAA per serving

Reflex Nutrition BCAA Intra Fusion Intra Workout
Price: $39.99

For optimum muscle repair and growth - Reflex Nutrition's intra-workout BCAA supplement is quite easily one of the best powders on the market.

Each serving has an astounding 10g per serving - ensuring your muscles are fully stimulated and aren't remotely breaking down post-workout.

BCAA also fuels your hard-working muscles during training - ensuring that you're pushing yourself to your absolute limit and getting the best workout possible, and they're perfect for taking with some phenomenal zinc supplements.

Pros

  • High BCAA per serving
  • Great flavour
  • Fantastic quality

Cons

  • Smell is very strong
Number of Servings:20
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:10g
Additional Nutrients:L-Glutamine, vitamin B6
Total Weight:400g
Suitable For:Vegetarians
  • Customer review: "I love the Reflex Nutrition BCAAs! It is really easy to mix and tastes great. It is quite sweet (I've only tried the watermelon flavour) but when you are having a tough workout it is amazing to sip at - oh and when you are on poverty macros it's great too! It doesn't leave any horrible after taste, it usually leaves me wanting more. I don't notice a 'massive' boost but that's not really the aim of it!

    "What I have noticed is the times I have really not felt like training it seems to have made a huge difference in terms of getting the workout done and lifting the weights I need to. It's almost like you notice afterwards in a kind of, 'yeah I did it' way!"

Best BCAA with all 9 Amino Acids

Whether you're trying to bulk up, looking for that burst of energy without taking caffeine pills, or just simply looking to create a healthier morning routine - LLS's Essential Amino Acids contain all the necessary macronutrients for great muscle repair to really make those workouts truly count.

Ingest these easy-to-swallow pills between 5-10 times a day (dependent on just how much BCAA you're looking to absorb. This may sound like a huge amount of tablets to take per day - but the sheer benefits of BCAA almost certainly outweigh the ultimately minor convenience of taking some nutrients.

For vegans and vegetarians who may struggle to get all the BCAA they need from a non-meat diet, BCAAs are a fantastic method of seeing far more progress.

Pros

  • Loaded with essential amino acids for muscle growth and immune support
  • Explosive pre-workout
  • 1-2 month supply

Cons

  • Taking a lot of tablets per day isn't for everyone
Number of Servings:60
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:5-10g per serving
Additional Nutrients:All 9 EAAs
Total Weight:340g (approx)
Suitable For:Vegans/vegetarians
  • Customer review: "Found that LLS had changed the formula for their Essential Aminos, so emailed the company on this as have been using this excellent supplement for a number of years. LLS responded to my email very quickly answering all my questions in detail. From the information LLS have provided I am now even more impressed by the effectiveness of this supplement than before, and for anyone who is looking for a vegan protein supplement that gives the highest protein utilisation of any protein supplement vegan or not, then this is to my mind the very best one on the market, and at a price that is exceptional value for money."

Best BCAA for choice of flavours

Keep stocked up on great-tasting, energy-packed BCAA perfect for before, after or mid-workout. An easy-to-consume, flavourful drink made of excellent natural ingredients with plenty of servings to cover up to three months - there's just no denying the sheer value of Bulk's BCAA.

What's more, Bulk's instant BCAA can be consumed up to three times per day for rapid muscle growth and repair, along with the best creatine powder, giving you a huge boost to your exercise performance and the comfort of your rest days.

For some users, however, certain flavours were too sweet for their taste - so pick wisely.

Pros

  • Good variety of flavours to choose from
  • Solid 8g per serving
  • Easy to mix

Cons

  • Some of the available flavours are too sweet for some
Number of Servings:100
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:8g
Additional Nutrients:leucine, isoleucine, valine
Total Weight:1kg
Suitable For:Vegans, vegetarians, halal
  • Customer review: "So refreshing to find a BCAA’s that is actually nice to drink! Purchased the smaller bag to try out and very quickly ordered the 500g two days later!"

Best value BCAA Powder

For a solid and affordable BCAA supplement from a renowned brand, Grenade's Defend BCAA powder is the perfect choice for you.

Made of high-quality, high-dose BCAA - Grenade's Defend BCAA is simply incredible for maximising your gains and keeping muscle loss down to a minimum.

Simply mix two scoops of Defend BCAA with 240ml of water and drink before or after intense exercise - but you can also drink it throughout the day if that's preferred.

Pros

  • Fantastic quality ingredients
  • Solid price
  • Good flavour

Cons

  • Not a lot of additional macronutrients
Number of Servings:30
Amount of BCAA Per Serving:7g
Additional Nutrients:Vitamin B, C, Leucine peptides
Total Weight:390g
Suitable For:vegetarians
  • Customer review: "I LOVE that this Grenade Defend BCAA Powder comes with a funnel scoop. What great extra attention to detail. Means if you need to get a scoop into a narrow bottle it's no hassle at all. 5 star from me. Oh and tastes awesome too."

What are BCAAs?

BCAAs stands for Branch Chain Amino Acids - which are essential proteins for the body involved in a multitude of functions, in particular muscle growth and repair.

The primary BCAAs are known as leucine, isoleucine and valine - all of which are involved in the promotion of muscle growth for the entire body.

BCAAs are found in everyday foods such as beef, chicken, and fish, as well as soy and most legumes - but BCAAs can be taken alongside high-protein diets to boost muscle growth even further.

How do BCAAs work?

BCAAs work in a multitude of ways - the most essential amino acid, leucine, works by stimulating enzymes that increase muscle growth whilst also being used by muscles as energy to be burned.

What are the benefits of BCAA?

BCAAs are essential for building muscle while working out, so an increased amount of BCAA increases the speed of muscle growth throughout the body, making those intense pumps even more worthwhile.

The boost in muscle protein synthesis during exercise also helps prevent muscle breakdown; the loss of muscle mass during rest days or even amidst exercise - helping you consistently gain muscle.

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What are the symptoms of low BCAAs?

Having low BCAAs, or amino acid deficiency, can lead to many negative side effects such as lethargy, hypotonia (a loss of muscle tone that makes it especially difficult to stand up), gastric and intestinal complications, and even seizures - making it absolutely crucial to intake as part of your diet.

How much BCAA should I take per day?

This is entirely dependent on your goals with BCAA intake - if you live a very active lifestyle and are looking to gain considerable muscle mass, take between 4-20g per day, the higher, the better.

If, however, you're looking to reduce muscle wasting and fatigue - a smaller 4g dose may be absolutely perfect for you.

Are the best BCAAs worth it?

In our opinion, BCAAs are almost certainly worth investing in, if not for the sheer fact that BCAAs are known to build muscle, promote repair, and reduce fatigue, then for the reassurance that you are getting sufficient BCAAs in your diet - a factor particularly important for vegans and vegetarians.

Are there any side effects of BCAAs?

Some users experience stomach pain, nausea and bloating when ingesting BCAAs, alongside potential fatigue - if you do experience this, consider consulting your GP for additional dietary advice, as well as looking for alternate sources of BCAAs.

How are BCAA supplements made?

Modern BCAAs are largely vegan and are derived through a fermentation process using soy and corn, among other plants and vegetables.

Non-vegan BCAAs, however, are often, rather controversially, made of keratin derived from swine fur, bird feathers and even human hair on occasion if they're particularly cheap - hence why it's very important to do your research before buying.

When should I take BCAAs?

BCAAs are a very versatile supplement, taking them at different points of the day will have varying effects. Taking them before a workout will increase muscle energy - reducing fatigue and improving rapid repair.

Taking BCAAs, intra-workout can also boost rapid energy intake and is great for a pick-me-up.

And a post-workout BCAA supplement is a great way to prevent muscle breakdown and improve repair - so it's entirely up to you.

Ryan Houghton is a tech writer and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in PCs and gaming. He is a keen PC gamer and an avid reader.

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