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- Best flavored powders:
- Thorne Amino Complex
- Designs for Health BCAA Powder with L-glutamine
- Klean Athlete BCAA + Peak ATP
- Best unflavored powder:
- Pure Encapsulations BCAA Powder
- NOW Sports Branched-Chain Amino Acid Powder
- Best capsules:
- Jarrow Branched Chain Amino Acid Complex
- Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules
- Life Extension BCAA Capsules
- NOW Sports BCAA Capsules
- Best vegan:
- Naked BCAAs
Branched-chain amino acids, more commonly known as BCAAs, include the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
BCAAs differ from other amino acids because they have a branched structure and are the only amino acids that are broken down in skeletal muscle. They’re considered essential because you must consume them through your diet (
Athletes and gym-goers commonly take BCAA supplements to enhance performance, reduce soreness, and prevent muscle fatigue (
There are many products on the market, which may leave you wondering which are best. This article lists BCAA supplements that meet the following criteria:
- strict manufacturing standards regarding quality and purity
- no unnecessary ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners or colorings
- trusted by healthcare professionals like doctors and dietitians
Here are the 10 best BCAA supplements of 2020.
A note on price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($ to $$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.
Generally, prices range from $0.35–1.83 per serving, or $14.62–$55.00 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
Serving sizes are generally 1–2 scoops for powdered supplements and 2–4 pills for capsule supplements.
- $ = under $0.50 per serving
- $$ = $0.50–$1.00 per serving
- $$$ = over $1.00 per serving
Best flavored powders
Most BCAA supplements are sold in powder form and should be mixed with water or other liquids. The following products are also flavored.
This product is packed with essential amino acids, including the three BCAAs. It’s sweetened with stevia and gets its color from fruit and vegetable juice. Thorne Amino Complex comes in lemon and berry flavors.
Thorne is a supplement manufacturer that’s widely trusted and recommended by healthcare professionals — and for good reason.
This product is NSF Certified for Sport, which is a third-party testing certificate verifying that it’s free of over 270 substances banned by major athletic organizations. This certificate is recognized by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and Major League Baseball (MLB).
Thorne also adheres to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), which are regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that ensure safe supplement manufacturing and processing (
What’s more, Thorne was given an A rating from the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), an Australian regulatory agency that sets strict requirements for supplement manufacturing.
This product combines the three BCAAs with L-glutamine, an amino acid that is concentrated in muscle tissue and has been shown to reduce muscle fatigue when taken as a supplement (
Designs for Health BCAA Powder with L-glutamine is sweetened with stevia and has a natural orange flavor.
What’s more, the company is cGMP certified, and its supplements are free of gluten, soy, and artificial sweeteners, making it a trusted brand among health professionals.
This product combines branched-chain amino acids with Peak ATP, which is a form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound that provides your cells with energy.
Some research indicates that ATP may help improve exercise performance when taken as a supplement (
Klean Athlete BCAA + Peak ATP is cGMP certified and NSF Certified for Sport, making it a great choice for athletes.
It’s sweetened with xylitol, monk fruit, and stevia, and it has a natural orange flavor.
Best unflavored powder
For those who prefer unflavored powdered supplements, there are many high quality ones to choose from.
Pure Encapsulations BCAA powder is an unsweetened, unflavored supplement that only contains BCAAs. This powder is gluten-free, GMO-free, and vegetarian.
The company is cGMP certified and exceeds the standards of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), an independent organization that sets standards for supplement manufacturing.
Plus, all of the company’s supplement ingredients are tested for purity by independent laboratories.
This unflavored product contains only BCAAs and is free of gluten, soy, tree nuts, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
NOW Sports Branched-Chain Amino Acid powder is Informed-Sport certified, meaning that every batch is independently tested for banned substances before being sold.
NOW is also certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), a nonprofit that ensures good manufacturing practices.
Although most BCAA supplements are powdered, numerous high quality capsules are available for those who prefer taking pills.
This product contains the three BCAAs, as well as L-glutamine and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is needed for the breakdown of amino acids in your body (
Jarrow is cGMP certified, and its products undergo extensive in-house laboratory testing to ensure quality and safety.
Jarrow Branched Chain Amino Acid Complex is free of wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, fish, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts.
Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules contain only the three BCAAs in vegetarian capsules made of water and cellulose, a substance found in plant cells.
As mentioned above, Pure Encapsulations is cGMP certified, and its products are independently tested for quality.
Life Extension BCAA capsules deliver BCAAs in a vegetable cellulose capsule.
Life Extension is cGMP certified, and all products are rigorously tested to ensure quality.
In addition to its BCAA powder, NOW Sports offers BCAAs in capsule form.
The capsules contain the three BCAAs alongside gelatin and stearic acid, a fatty acid used as a binder in nutritional supplements.
Like NOW’s BCAA powder, its BCAA capsules are Informed-Sport certified.
If you follow a vegan diet, you should ensure that the supplements you buy are free of animal products. The following BCAA supplement is one such product.
Research suggests that BCAA supplements may improve athletic performance, so they may be useful for athletes (
If you’re unsure about proper dosage or timing, consult a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition.
Supplementing with BCAAs may also help those with certain liver diseases like cirrhosis, a condition characterized by liver scarring. If you have cirrhosis, consult your healthcare provider before taking BCAAs to ensure safety (
When shopping for a BCAA supplement, only purchase supplements from trusted brands that adhere to safety and quality standards, such as third-party testing and cGMP certification.
Keep in mind that some supplements may contain added sugars, gluten, soy, and artificial sweeteners. Be sure to read ingredient lists if you want to avoid any of these ingredients.
Lastly, consider the type of BCAA supplement that works best for you. For example, powders are a good choice if you have a hard time swallowing pills.
BCAA supplements are generally considered safe. However, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement if you have a medical condition.