In 2018, changing trends and scientific advancements are elevating some BCAA supplements above others. This Best BCAA Supplements 2018 Buying Guide reveals how to pick the right product for muscle growth, training intensity, physical energy, endurance, muscle recovery and more.
Quick List: Best BCAA Supplements 2018 Edition
|#1. Performance Lab SPORT BCAA – Clean, bioavailable BCAA only, from fermented sunflower. Uses vegan Plantcaps, with prebiotics that boost absorption. Best quality BCAA on the market right now. Performance Lab website|
|#2. Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules – A quality BCAA supplement which uses AJIPURE® amino acids; a Japanese company that has long been a global amino acid leader. Do Vitamins website|
|#3. Labrada BCAA Power – 7 g of BCAA plus amino acids and hydrating factors from an industry leader in sports nutrition. Labrada website|
|#4. KAGED Muscle BCAA – Straight-up BCAA supplement, no extras, no nonsense. A standout for its microencapsulation, which makes it flavorless. Kaged website|
|#5. GAT Sport FLEXX BCAAs – Powder supplement delivers easy to absorb, high-quality fermented BCAAs in 4 wacky flavors, if that is your thing. GAT Sport website|
Why Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) supplements are hot right now
BCAA are the ultimate sports nutrition supplements. In fact, if you were to take a single sports nutrition supplement, a good quality BCAA product would be your best bet.
These amino acids are the one starting point for all strength and fitness programs. Taking them can provide across the board benefits for power and endurance, making them uniquely qualified to support strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and everything in between.
There are three main amino acids in BCAA supplements:
BCAAs are considered to be the most important basic fundamentals for muscle growth and performance.
Few other sports nutrition supplements can match BCAAs versatility. Among other benefits, BCAAs have been shown to
- Contribute to protein synthesis, for building-block muscle support
- Energize muscles during intense training sessions for greater power
- Stimulate anabolic activity and muscle for faster growth via muscles’ mTor pathway
- Enhance both strength and endurance at the same time
- Reduce muscle aches after training and improves muscle recovery
Thanks to BCAAs, by taking one supplement you can get a lot of great benefits at one time.
And, because it is so versatile, a good BCAA supplement can help with all sorts of fitness programs: high intensity interval training (HIIT), crosstraining, strength training, fasted training, long-distance running, bodybuilding and more.
Pretty much any program involving sports, cardiovascular fitness, and strength will benefit from BCAA supplementation.
For all these reasons, BCAAs are one of the most popular and revered sports nutrition supplements of all time.
However, over time we have learned more about the many different types of branched chain amino acids.
They may seem simple, but there are a lot of different variations on the BCAA theme that are available in supplements in 2018.
What are people looking for in a BCAA supplement in 2018?
BCAA – and Just the BCAA
Branched-chain amino acids are great standalone amino acids to put in a supplement. But for some reason, in the past BCAAs were put in crazy complex supplements that include a lot of other ingredients, like pre-workout, fat burners, stimulants – all sorts of different non-BCAA nutrients, usually sports nutrition-oriented.
In 2018, it seems like consumers are more appreciative of the sheer awesomeness of straight-up BCAA supplements. They don’t want their BCAAs mixed together with a lot of other nutrients, which drives down the dosage of each amino acid.
Instead, these days consumers are instead seeking out the purest BCAA they can find. No crazy combinations. Just L leucine, L isoleucine and L valine in the cleanest, highest quality product available.
Over BCAAs long history of use as a sports nutrition supplements, it’s three amino acids have been presented in a lot of different ratios.
Science is always evolving on this issue, backspace. There are a lot of opinions and a lot of debate as to which ratio is the best.
The 2018 ratio trend is 2:1:1 BCAA – L leucine to L isoleucine to L valine.
This ratio seems to be emerging because it matches the ratio that is naturally found in human muscle tissue.
Since most people are taking BCAA to improve their muscles, the 2:1:1 ratio seems to check out. Keep in mind though, there are many interpretations of what the ideal BCAA ratio is, and other top-rated BCAA supplements may offer different ratios that are good for different benefits.
Consumers are increasingly aware that supplements can sometimes include a lot of pointless junk.
Artificial preservatives, synthetics colors, artificial fillers, harsh stimulants and other ingredients and supplements increase side effect risks and may even be unhealthy.
In addition, gelatin capsules are sometimes of sketchy quality. So as part of overall cleanliness, people will look for a vegan capsule instead.
In other words, the best BCAA supplements 2018 has to offer seem to be focusing on these “clean label” features a lot more these days.
Along those same lines, in 2018 consumers want supplements that are easy to absorb. This can apply to quality ingredients, but also to the way it is supplied.
For example, softgels, capsules, liquids and powders may all be absorbed a little differently. The more you absorb, the greater the chance that your supplement will actually have a chance to work.
In the context of BCAA supplements, in 2018 consumers are looking for quality BCAA sources and advanced delivery forms that are easier to absorb.
As a side benefit, easy to absorb forms are generally believed to be easier on the stomach, with less chance of gas, indigestion, bloating, etc.
Quality BCAA sources
Some modern trends are making people more aware of where their BCAA supplements are sourced.
BCAAs are naturally found in animal products. As a result, a lot of BCAA supplements have animal origins.
A lot of those, especially the cheap crappy supplements, will be getting their BCAA from animal parts and species that are so sketchy you don’t even want to think about it.
A lot of other BCAA supplements are sourced from corn. This doesn’t sound too bad. However, with many of these corn-derived BCAA powders coming from China, you have to worry about toxins, cleanliness, and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Just because it’s corn doesn’t mean it’s good.
Much like the clean label priority in 2018, people are now looking for clean sources of BCAAs. The good stuff, which comes with a lot of quality control.
- One example of a clean source is fermented BCAAs, especially BCAAs that are fermented from sunflower and other non-GMP plant origins
In general, fermented BCAA are considered a clean and premium form in 2018, noted for high bioavailability and easy digestibility.
A lot of BCAA formulations on the market come in powder form. This is good for some people.
Powders mixed in water are generally easy to absorb as supplements. Also, some people like drinking their supplements especially if they find one that tastes good.
However, in 2018 powder BCAA supplements are slipping a little bit. By nature, they are usually way dirtier because they will include artificial colors to make them look good, weird synthetic flavors, and other fillers, flow agents and preservatives that you don’t need in pills and capsules.
In addition, powders aren’t really that convenient, since they have to be mixed and carried around.
In 2018, capsules are emerging as a new favorite form of BCAAs.
There aren’t that many BCAA capsules on the market, at least not yet. But capsules have advantages in that they are super convenient. You can carry them in your pocket and take them with water pre-workout, intra-workout, post-work out, whenever.
In addition, BCAA capsules – at least the really good ones – are (sometimes) way cleaner. They don’t need flavors or colors, and if they are delivered in good-quality capsules, well, that’s about as pure a BCAA experience as you can get.
How Best 5 Rated and Ranked our Best BCAAs
Picking out superior supplements, including in the BCAA category, is easier if you check out our Best 5 How to Buy A Good Supplement Guide.
In addition to the above features and forms, check out the criteria we used in picking our best BCAA supplements:
- Health – The best BCAA supplements are designed to maximize muscle in a natural and healthy way
- Quality – The sad reality is that low-quality, cheap BCAA supplements may not work as well
- Side effect free – Some BCAA’s with a lot of additives may have side effects; cleaner, quality BCAAs take steps to ensure tolerability
- Service – Good return policy, shipping, customer service, etc. goes a long way in making a great BCAA supplement.
- Value – “Cheap” can be deceiving. The best value is found in BCAA supplements that your body can absorb and utilize, so you actually get some bang for your buck.
Editor’s Note: The BCAA that is right for you depends on personal preference. Here at Best 5, we recommend pure BCAAs in clean delivery forms with no extras. The reason being, BCAAs are powerful enough to stand on their own and do not need to be mixed in with a lot of other unrelated nutrients or flavors. However, some people prefer flavored powders and prefer some extras in their BCAA supplement. For that reason, we have included a range of options in our 5 Best BCAA Supplements 2018 list below.
We also consider a manufacturer’s reputation, online presence, business rating, and relationship with consumers. These companies stand behind their supplements.
Best BCAA supplements – 2018 Edition
With all of the above points in mind, here are five of the best BCAA supplements to buy in 2018:
#1 – Performance Lab SPORT BCAA
SPORT BCAA supplies bioavailable, sunflower lecithin-fermented BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio. The fermented sunflower form of BCAA is popular right now, apparently because they are very easy for the body to absorb and use for building muscle. Performance Lab SPORT BCAA is a super-clean BCAA capsule supplement. A unique feature here is the use of Plantcaps®, a vegan capsule that is complexed with prebiotics for better BCAA digestion and absorption. SPORT BCAA earns top honors because it is just about the cleanest, purest BCAA supplement on the market in 2018. Also, it has a surprisingly low price considering the quality of this BCAA product — big muscle returns for the money.
Performance Lab SPORT BCAA Summary
|Ingredients: BCAA 2:1:1 (fermented from sunflower lecithin) 3000 mg (l-leucine 1500 mg, l-isoleucine 750 mg, l-valine 750 mg)|
|Clean Label: Yes. Performance Lab SPORT BCAA is probably the cleanest BCAA supplement on the market in 2018.|
|Advanced Delivery: Yes. Performance Lab SPORT BCAA’s use of Plantcaps® Pullulan Capsules (with prebiotics) helps boost absorption for better overall results.|
|Price: $25 for one box (12o capsules; 30 servings)|
|Any Deals? Yes. Two boxes (240 capsules) sell for $47.50 (five percent savings); three boxes (360 capsules) sell for $67.50 (10 percent savings)|
|Service: 24/7 customer service (e-mail inquiry response within 30 minutes), seven-day returns policy|
|Official Website: www.performancelab.com|
|Read our in-depth Performance Lab SPORT BCAA review|
#2 – Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules
Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules is one of the highest-quality supplements of its kind on the market today. No animal products and no fillers, just pure pharmaceutical-grade vegetarian amino acids from a reputable source: AJIPURE®. Like SPORT BCAA, Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules are straightforward and direct, which is what we like to see in a BCAA supplement these days. No nonsense, no over-the-top complexes. Just the BCAAs in a clean, safe form you can trust. That’s why it’s one of our best reviewed overall, beyond 2018.
Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules Summary
|Ingredients: L-leucine (Ajipure®) 1050 mg, L-isoleucine (Ajipure®) 525 mg, L-valine (Ajipure®) 525 mg, Vcaps® Plus vegetarian capsule (hypromellose)|
|Clean Label: Yes. Many BCAA capsule supplements boast of clean labels. Fortunately, Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules is one of them.|
|Advanced Delivery: Yes. Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules’ Vcaps® Plus vegetarian capsules help optimize delivery and maximize performance.|
|Price: $24.95 for one 90-capsule bottle|
|Any Deals? Yes. Free shipping on U.S. orders over $75, $5 gift card valid on first order upon sign-up for company newsletter, military and other service discounts|
|Service: Customer support e-mail, returns with full refunds (depending on customer’s situation)|
|Official Website: www.dovitamins.com|
|Read our in-depth Do Vitamins BCAA Capsules review|
#3 – Labrada BCAA POWER
Labrada BCAA POWER is a good quality BCAA supplement by a reputable manufacturer. With 7 grams of fermented (BCAAs) per serving, it is calibrated to the ideal 2:1:1 BCAA ratio for muscle. Although it’s a powder, it’s not too bad in terms of cleanliness — it uses natural beet for color, natural flavor and coconut water powder for hydration. A little glutamine, magnesium and electrolytes give it some extra pop for athletic men and women who engage in intense physical training in the gym, and need additional recovery factors.
Labrada BCAA POWER Summary
|Ingredients: Calcium 35 mg, Magnesium 4 mg Sodium 15 mg 1% Potassium 30 mg 1% Fermented Branched Chain Amino Acid Complex 2:1:1 7 g Fermented Leucine 3.5 g Fermented Isoeleucine 1.75 g, Fermented Valine 1.75 g, Fermented L-Glutamine 3 g Coconut Water, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Coconut Oil Creamer|
|Clean Label: No. It has artificial sweeteners sucralose and ACE-K, as well as tree nuts.|
|Advanced Delivery: No. Powder form.|
|Price: $27.99 for 30 day supply|
|Any Deals?Yes. Buy direct from Labrada for the $27.99 price; Subscribe and Save for an extra 5% off (autoship program)|
|Service: Get an answer within 24 hours. Note: You can only get your money back on unopened items from Labrada. You may contact Labrada Nutrition here.|
|Official Website: www.labrada.com|
|Read our in-depth Labrada BCAA Power review|
#4 – KAGED MUSCLE BCAA
This No-fuss, no-frills BCAA is just right for bodybuilders. It uses fermented BCAA from sunflower lecithin in a 2:1:1 ratio. These BCAA are delivered in a microencapsulated powder form that is easy and quick to absorb, but also helps mask the bitterness of fermented BCAA. This makes it tasteless, which means it doesn’t have any dumb artificial flavors or synthetic sweeteners. KAGED MUSCLE BCAA deserves high praises for its cleanliness and quality; it is 98% pure BCAA..
KAGED MUSCLE BCAA 2:1:1 Summary
|Ingredients: L-Leucine 2.5 g, L-Isoleucine 1.25 g, L-Valine 1.25 g|
|Clean Label: Yes. No extra ingredients, just BCAA.|
|Advanced Delivery: No. Regular BCAA powder only.|
|Price: $28.99 for 30-day supply|
|Any Deals? No, but possibly at third-party retailers from time to time|
|Service: If you are not fully satisfied with your purchase from www.kagedmuscle.com they provide a 30 day money back guarantee or exchange. If for any reason you are dissatisfied, please contact the Kaged Muscle Customer Support Team here.|
|Official Website: www.kagedmuscle.com|
|Read our in-depth Kaged Muscle BCAA 2:1:1 review|
#5 – GAT Sport FLEXX BCAAs
Made by the popular sports nutrition supplements manufacturer GAT Sport, FLEXX BCAAs is a powder BCAA supplement for athletes delivering 7 g of amino acids. The BCAAs in this form are plant-based and fermented, for good absorption. The unique advantage here is there flavors: cotton candy, jelly bean, orange burst, and sour ball. If you like flavored BCAA in powder form, this might be the right supplement for you.
GAT Sport FLEXX BCAAs Summary
|Ingredients: Carbohydrate 3 g, Vitamin B6 3 g, Vitamin B12 7 mcg, Sodium 40 mg, Potassium 56 mg, BCAA Matrix 2:1:1 7 g, L-Leucine 3.5 g, L-Isoleucine 1.75 g, L-Valine 1.75 g, L-Carnitine 500 mg, Coconut Water Powder 500 mg|
|Clean Label: No. Other ingredients include: Natural and Artificial Flavor, Malic Acid, Maltodextrin, Sucralose, Silicon Dioxide, Acesulfame-K.|
|Advanced Delivery: No. Flavored powder only.|
|Stimulant Free: Yes|
|Price: $37.99, 690-gram Bottle (60-Day Supply)|
|Any Deals? None|
|Service: The customer must return the item purchased to the store where purchased pursuant to the terms of the retailers return policies. You may also contact GAT Sport customer service here.|
|Official Website: www.gatsport.com|
|Read our in-depth GAT Sport FLEXX BCAAs review|
In 2018, there are more options for branched-chain amino acid supplements than ever before. You have capsules, unflavored powders, flavored powders, and many other supplements in other nutritional supplement categories that throw in some BCAAs.
Today’s advanced BCAA supplements are great news for anybody who is trying to build muscle in a safe natural way.
The 5 best BCAA supplements 2018 that we have listed above are all good choices. Depending on what you are looking for, at one of these BCAAs supplements will probably meet your needs.