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Thorne Amino Complex is our top pick for overall branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation. See which other vetted brands round out our list and why.

Branched-chain amino acids, more commonly known as BCAAs, include the essential amino acids:

  • leucine
  • isoleucine
  • valine

BCAAs differ from other amino acids because they have a branched structure and are the only amino acids 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
  • prevent muscle fatigue

While more research is needed, some studies suggest that BCAA supplements may be beneficial for:

  • people who don’t consume enough protein in their diet
  • older adults
  • those with certain liver diseases, like cirrhosis, which is characterized by liver scarring

While BCAAs aren’t necessary for everyone, they might be helpful for certain people, including athletes. If you’re interested in trying a BCAA supplement, we rounded up the eight best.

Many products are on the market, which may leave you wondering which are best. This article lists BCAA supplements that meet the following criteria:

  • Quality: BCAA supplements produced in facilities that adhere to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs). They’re also tested for purity and accuracy, ideally by a third-party organization.
  • Ingredients: BCAA supplements free of artificial additives, including sweeteners, colorings, and flavors
  • Reputation: BCAA supplement products trusted by healthcare professionals like doctors and dietitians
  • Vetting: The BCAA supplements on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) 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 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.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $0.50 per serving
  • $$ = $0.50–$1 per serving
  • $$$ = over $1 per serving
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Best overall BCAA supplement

Thorne Amino Complex

Price: $$$

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 from over 270 substances banned by major athletic organizations. This certificate is recognized by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Major League Baseball.

Thorne also adheres to CGMPs, 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.

Thorne Amino Complex is free of:

  • gluten
  • soy
  • dairy

However, the manufacturer doesn’t disclose whether the ingredients are sourced from animal products, so the supplement isn’t suitable for people following a vegan diet.

Thorne Amino Complex at a glance

Who it’s best for: competitive athletes and people looking for a rigorously tested, more natural BCAA powder

Who should skip it: people who prefer an unflavored powder or follow a vegan diet


  • NSF Certified for Sport
  • TGA rated
  • CGMP certified

Pros: NSF Certified for Sport, zero added sugar

Cons: expensive

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 1-scoop (7.7-g) serving:

  • Calories: 25
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 1.25 g
    • Isoleucine: 0.625 g
    • Valine: 0.625 g
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Best BCAA supplement with L-glutamine

Designs for Health BCAA Powder with L-glutamine

Price: $$$

This product combines the three BCAAs with L-glutamine, an amino acid that’s concentrated in muscle tissue and may help reduce muscle tissue breakdown when taken as a supplement.

Designs for Health BCAA Powder with L-glutamine is sweetened with stevia and has a natural orange flavor. It’s also free of:

  • gluten
  • soy
  • artificial sweeteners

The company is also CGMP certified and adheres to strict standards throughout the manufacturing process to ensure:

  • quality
  • accuracy
  • purity

According to the company, the majority of Designs for Health’s raw materials and final products are third-party tested by an an external, ISO 17025 laboratory. They also note that Designs for Health’s BCAA powder with L-glutamine is third-party tested for purity and potency, and certificate of analysis (COA) are available to customers upon request.

Designs for Health BCAA Powder with L-glutamine at a glance

Who it’s best for: people looking for a minimal-ingredient BCAA product with the added benefits of L-glutamine

Who should skip it: competitive athletes, since it’s not certified for sport


  • CGMP certified
  • third-party tested for purity and potency

Pros: contains glutamine, no added sugar, third-party tested

Cons: expensive

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 1-scoop (9-g) serving:

  • Calories: 0
  • Carbs: 0 g
  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 2.5 g
    • Isoleucine: 1.2 g
    • Valine: 1.2 g
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Best pre-workout BCAA powder

Klean Athlete BCAA + Peak ATP

Price: $$$

This powder from Klean Athlete combines BCAAs with Peak ATP, a form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is a compound that provides your cells with energy. Some research indicates that ATP may help improve exercise performance when taken as a supplement. As such, this product is meant to be taken 30 minutes before a workout.

Klean Athlete products are produced in facilities that are NSF-CGMP registered and ISO certified.

The BCAA powder specifically is also NSF Certified for Sport, making it a great choice for athletes. It’s also:

  • vegan-friendly
  • GMO-free
  • gluten-free
  • is made without artificial colorings and flavorings

The powder has a natural orange flavor and is sweetened with:

Klean Athlete BCAA + Peak ATP at a glance

Who it’s best for: competitive athletes or someone looking for a pre-workout BCAA supplement that may help boost energy and improve performance

Who should skip it: people looking for an unflavored powder or people who are sensitive to xylitol


  • CGMP certified by NFS
  • ISO certified
  • NSF Certified for Sport

Pros: NSF Certified for Sport, no added sugar

Cons: expensive

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 1-scoop (8.6-g) serving:

  • Calories: 10
  • Carbs: 2.5 g
  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 2 g
    • Isoleucine: 1 g
    • Valine: 1 g
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Best affordable BCAA supplement

NOW Sports Branched-Chain Amino Acid Powder

Price: $

This unflavored product contains only BCAAs and is free of:

  • gluten
  • soy
  • tree nuts
  • wheat
  • fish
  • shellfish

It’s also vegan-friendly.

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 organization that ensures good manufacturing practices.

NOW Sports Branched-Chain Amino Acid Powder at a glance

Who it’s best for: someone who’s looking for an affordable or unflavored BCAA supplement

Who should skip it: people who prefer a flavored powder


  • UL certified
  • Informed Sport certified
  • CGMP certified

Pros: Informed Sport certified, UL certified, zero added sugar, affordable

Cons: unflavored

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 1.5 teaspoons (5.2-g) serving:

  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 2.3 g
    • Isoleucine: 1.1 g
    • Valine: 1.1 g
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Best unflavored BCAA supplement

Pure Encapsulations BCAA Powder

Price: $$

Pure Encapsulations BCAA powder is an unsweetened, unflavored supplement that only contains BCAAs. The powder is also:

The company is CGMP-certified and exceeds the standards of the United States Pharmacopeia, an independent organization that sets standards for supplement manufacturing.

Plus, all of the company’s supplement ingredients are tested for purity by independent laboratories.

Pure Encapsulations BCAA Powder at a glance

Who it’s best for: someone looking for an unflavored BCAA powder that’s third-party tested

Who should skip it: people who prefer a flavored powder


  • ingredients are third-party tested
  • CGMP certified

Pros: third-party tested, zero added sugar

Cons: a bit pricey

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 1-scoop (3.3-g) serving:

  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 1.5 g
    • Isoleucine: 0.75 g
    • Valine: 0.75 g
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Best vegan BCAA supplement

Naked BCAAs

Price: $

Naked BCAAs powder contains just the three BCAAs and sunflower lecithin — nothing else.

Naked products are tested by a third-party lab in the United States.

Naked BCAAs powder is certified vegan and gluten-free. It’s also free from soy and GMOs.

Naked BCAAs

Who it’s best for: people following a vegan diet or anyone looking for a supplement with minimal ingredients

Who should skip it: people interested in a flavored product or a supplement containing additional ingredients, such as electrolytes


  • third-party tested
  • certified vegan
  • certified gluten-free

Pros: third-party tested, affordable

Cons: unflavored

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 1-scoop (5-g) serving:

  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 2.5 g
    • Isoleucine: 1.25 g
    • Valine: 1.25 g
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Best BCAA capsules

Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules

Price: $$

Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules contain only the three BCAAs in capsules made of water and cellulose, a substance found in plant cells.

However, the amounts of each BCAA are lower than in our top BCAA capsules pick. That said, these capsules differ from Life Extension’s below, because they’re vegan-friendly.

Plus, you only need to take two capsules daily instead of four.

As mentioned above, Pure Encapsulations is CGMP certified, and its products are independently tested for quality.

Pure Encapsulations BCAA Capsules at a glance

Who it’s best for: people who prefer pills to powdered supplements and are following a gluten-free or vegan diet

Who should skip: anyone who experiences difficulty swallowing capsules


  • certified gluten-free
  • ingredients are third-party tested
  • CGMP certified

Pros: third-party tested

Cons: a bit pricey

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 2-capsule serving:

  • BCAAs:
    • Leucine: 0.6 g
    • Isoleucine: 0.3 g
    • Valine: 0.3 g
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Best affordable BCAA capsules

NOW Sports Branched-Chain Amino Acid Capsules

Price: $

In addition to its BCAA powder, NOW Sports offers BCAAs in capsule form.

The capsules contain the three BCAAs, along with a vegetarian capsule made from hypromellose 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 and vegan-friendly.

NOW Sports BCAA Capsules

Who it’s best for: people who don’t enjoy powdered supplements and are looking for an affordable capsule alternative

Who should skip it: anyone who has difficulty swallowing capsules


  • UL certified
  • CGMP certified
  • Informed Sport certified

Pros: Informed Sport certified

Cons: large dose required

Vegan-friendly: yes

Nutrition facts per 4-capsule serving:

  • Total BCAAs: 2.6 g
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Here’s a quick look at how our picks compare:

Thorne Amino ComplexDesigns for Health BCAA Powder with L-glutamineKlean Athlete BCAA + Peak ATPNOW Sports BCAA PowderPure Encapsulations BCAA PowderNaked BCAAsPure Encapsulations BCAA CapsulesNOW Sports BCAA Capsules
Price per serving$1.43$1.95$1.79$0.38$0.76$0.35$0.54$0.38
Available flavors• lemon
• berry
Leucine1.25 g2.5 g2 g2.3 g1.5 g2.5 g0.6 gnot disclosed (2.6 g total BCAAs)
Isoleucine0.625 g1.2 g1 g1.1 g0.75 g1.25 g0.3 gnot disclosed
Valine0.625 g1.2 g1 g1.1 g0.75 g1.25 g0.3 gnot disclosed
Other ingredientsEAAsL-glutaminepeak ATP
Sweetenersteviastevia• xylitol
• monk fruit
• stevia
Safe for sportyesnoyesyesnononoyes

Note that safe for sport products include those that are NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Sport certified.

If you’re interested in taking a BCAA supplement, there are a few things to consider while you’re shopping for a product.

  • Quality: When shopping for a BCAA supplement, you can buy supplements only from trusted brands that adhere to safety and quality standards, such as third-party testing and those that follow CGMPs established by the FDA.
  • Dose: Dosing of BCAAs depends on many factors, including what you’re taking the BCAAs for and your body weight. Most supplements contain between 3 g and 10 g of total BCAAs per serving and can be taken several times daily. If you’re unsure about proper dosage or timing, it’s best to consult a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition or a doctor if you’re taking BCAAs for a health condition.
  • Ingredients: Some BCAA supplements contain added sugars, gluten, soy, and artificial sweeteners. Be sure to read ingredient lists if you want to avoid any of these.
  • Form: 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 a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement, especially if you have a health condition.

Some people, including those with health conditions that interfere with the breakdown of BCAAs, like maple syrup urine disease, should avoid taking BCAA supplements.

Additionally, BCAA supplements are not recommended for people who are pregnant or nursing.

As with many supplements, you may be wondering about the benefits of taking BCAAs and how effective they are. Below are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about BCAAs.

What are branched-chain amino acids good for?

While most studies suggest that BCAAs are unlikely to improve exercise performance or muscle growth, they have been shown to decrease muscle soreness when taken before or after a workout.

They may also have benefits outside of exercise performance, such as for cognitive and liver health and for improving cancer-induced cachexia. However, these benefits are still being studied, and more solid evidence is needed.

Do branched-chain amino acids really work?

Studies suggest that BCAAs may be beneficial for certain populations, such as athletes and people with some liver conditions, like cirrhosis.

Keep in mind that dosing and frequency change depending on what the BCAA supplement is being used for. For example, an athlete taking a BCAA supplement to support performance and recovery may require a different daily dose than someone using a BCAA supplement to improve a liver condition.

This is why it’s always best to get advice from a healthcare professional to ensure you use BCAA supplements effectively and appropriately.

Lastly, keep in mind that BCAA supplements aren’t necessary for everyone. BCAAs are found naturally in food sources of protein, and most people get enough through a well balanced diet.

What are the side effects of taking BCAA supplements? Are they safe?

Generally, BCAA supplements are safe for healthy individuals to take and haven’t been shown to cause serious side effects.

However, some people shouldn’t take BCAA supplements, including people who are pregnant or nursing or people with maple syrup urine disease, a condition in which the body cannot break down BCAAs.

It’s always a good idea to run any new supplements by a healthcare professional before starting, especially if you’re taking medications.

When is the best time to take BCAA supplements?

For athletes, it’s usually recommended to take BCAAs shortly before or after a workout, though there’s no set time on when to take them.

Studies suggest that BCAA levels peak around 30 minutes after ingestion and drop to their initial level after 180 minutes.

If a healthcare professional recommends a BCAA supplement for a health condition, be sure to follow their dosing instructions.

Should you take BCAA supplements every day?

Research suggests that it’s safe for most people to take BCAAs daily for extended periods.

However, for most people, taking BCAAs every day isn’t necessary. If you have questions regarding the safety of BCAA supplements and whether you should be taking them daily, you can talk with a trusted healthcare professional.

Do BCAAs contain calories?

Studies show that BCAAs contain around 4.65 calories per gram. However, the calorie content isn’t always listed on supplement labels due to different regulations regarding the calorie content of whole proteins and individual amino acids.

BCAA supplements are popular among those looking to boost exercise performance.

Many types are available, including capsules and flavored or unflavored powders. You may also want to consider factors, such as:

  • ingredient quality
  • testing
  • cost before purchasing

BCAA supplements may not be safe for all people, so be sure to talk with a healthcare professional before taking any of the products listed above.