Amino acids… what are they? Basically, they’re the building blocks of protein molecules. Think of a wall as your protein and a pile of bricks as your amino acids.
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are the special amino acids that have been shown to boost muscle building. They’re highly researched and proven to kickstart muscle growth. They are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
But BCAAs go beyond muscle building. Unlike whole proteins, they bypass the liver, going straight to the muscles. This means they’ll act as both ingredients for muscle building and a source of energy during and after your workout.
Going back to the wall and the pile of bricks — you’d agree that it’s far quicker to use the bricks to make something than to first have to break the wall down and then build from the pieces, right?
About Ergo BCAA
Ergo have three products on the market, their BCAA, a pre-workout and a multivitamin. On the surface they seem to know what they’re doing, but their website comes across a little clunky and the only way to contact their customer service is a generic email address.
But on the outset, Ergo BCAA looks to be a pretty solid BCAA product. Available in four fruit flavors, Ergo push their “fermented” amino acids to deliver…
- Recovery: increasing your capacity to exercise and reducing your fatigue
- Endurance: boosting muscular endurance and physical performance
- Hydration: replenish minerals and salts and maintaining electrolytes
Ergo BCAA Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 scoop, 8.6 grams
Servings Per Container: 30
|Ingredients||Amount Per Serving|
|Vitamin C (as Calcium Ascorbate)||160mg|
|Calcium (as Calci-Kâ, Calcium Ascorbate)||40mg|
|Magnesium (as Magnesium Lactate, Magnesium Glycerophosphate)||26mg|
|Sodium (as Sodium Citrate, Sodium Glycerophosphate)||57mg|
|Potassium (as Potassium Chloride, Potassium Glycerophosphate)||91mg|
|Fermented BCAA Blend (2:1:1)
Fermented Leucine, Fermented Isoleucine and Fermented Valine
|Ergo BCAA Directions:||Mix 1 scoop with a minimum of 8 ounces of water|
A simple but promising list of ingredients. The BCAAs make up 92.5% of the overall weight of the supplement which is a great sign, and they appear to be fermented, naturally produced instead of synthetically. An even better sign.
However, there may not be any proprietary blends, but with the other ingredients — the vitamins and minerals — we only get an overall weight of each and not a direct breakdown of their component forms.
But let’s jump into the formula and see what’s going on.
Vitamin C (as Calcium Ascorbate)
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant and oxidant, depending on the body’s needs, and is an essential vitamin for health.
It’s always a welcome vitamin to see in a sports supplement. This is because, even though it’s easy to get your daily recommended (100-200mg) vitamin C and healthy people supplementing vitamin C see no benefit on health beyond this, athletes taking up to 2,000mg a day of vitamin C can support their immune system into reducing the duration of a cold.
Calcium ascorbate is a decent quality form of vitamin C that’s often taken as a supplement for vitamin C deficiencies in those with acid reflux as it’s far gentler on the stomach than other forms.
So, this might sound like a positive point for Ergo… but despite all the above, they’ve only included 160mg. Which, sure, might help you towards your daily requirements (if you’re deficient), but it’s going to do nothing at all for healthy individuals.
Calcium (as Calci-Kâ, Calcium Ascorbate)
Vital for bone, joints and cardiovascular health, calcium seems all important for working out, right?
The recommended daily intake of calcium changes throughout your life, but between the ages of 19 and 50, you need about 1000mg per day. This is from all dietary sources, like dairy and vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Thing is, Ergo Labs have not only underdosed us with only 40mg, they’ve split the dose and confused the ingredient list. Calcium coming in calcium ascorbate (vitamin C with calcium) and a branded complex called Cali-K®. Cali-K®. is nothing special, it’s a blend of ingredients designed to fortify food and drink, it contains calcium (18%); potassium (15%), and phosphorus (9%).
Phosphorous is not listed as an ingredient, probably because the Cali-K® is provided at such a tiny amount, the phosphorous is in trace amounts. To put it into perspective, the amount of calcium in this BCAA is around 10% of the amount in a 28g scoop of your average why protein.
But it is an electrolyte, and this dose is appropriate for replenishing lost calcium through sweating.
Magnesium (as Magnesium Lactate, Magnesium Glycerophosphate)
Magnesium is another vital dietary mineral and electrolyte, and deficiencies are pretty common. Not to mention that magnesium deficiencies are related to lower testosterone levels. Low testosterone means low energy and reduced muscle mass/ growth, which directly contributes to why we’re supplementing with BCAAs — to grow our muscles and boost recovery.
For those who are deficient, magnesium also reduces blood pressure and increases insulin sensitivity. All good stuff.
Both the forms included by Ergo are more than acceptable, but lactate especially has been shown to be superior to magnesium oxide and sulfate that is often seen in cheaper supplements. But it would still be good to have an individual breakdown of these two weight by weight.
So, the dose. Recommended daily intake of magnesium is 200-400mg, and in Ergo BCAA, there is 26mg. Another huge under-dose for anything other than replenishing electrolytes. This is not enough to supplement you if you’re deficient in magnesium.
See The Top Rated
– BCAA This Year –
Sodium (as Sodium Citrate, Sodium Glycerophosphate)
Sodium, or salt, has been included to hit the hydration target that Ergo set out. As you know, when we sweat we lose electrolytes and salts through our skin, replenishing these is important for many roles in the body, including the sending of electrical signals.
Although the dose is tiny at 57mg, this is probably enough to do the job at replenishing the salt lost after a workout, assuming you’ll take more than one dose a day. But if you’re sweating a lot or eating a low sodium diet, then make sure to supplement your sodium and other electrolytes elsewhere as this is not enough on its own.
Potassium (as Potassium Chloride, Potassium Glycerophosphate)
Another electrolyte, potassium is also an essential dietary mineral found in high amounts in some fruits and vegetables, but it is a relatively common deficiency in the 1st world. It is associated with bone health, insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular health.
As mentioned, it’s also another electrolyte, which is why it’s included here, to replenish those lost in intense exercise. So, although the dose is low at 91mg, it serves its purpose here.
Fermented BCAA Blend (2:1:1)
The main event, and although I’ve been tough on Ergo, this is where the supplement really lands its punches.
BCAAs on the cheaper end of the market like this can be synthetically made from all sorts of nasty ingredients, like pig fur and duck feathers. So, seeing these more expensive plant-based, fermented forms is comforting, and shows that Ergo does care about quality.
The three BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine can be found in all sorts of ratios that attempt to increase the amount of leucine per isoleucine, and valine, like 8:1:1. This is because leucine is the ‘main’ amino acid with the strongest action on promoting muscle growth, and it does this through stimulating mTOR, an activator of muscle protein synthesis.
But 2:1:1 is the most researched tried and tested ratio by a long shot. Also, taking leucine on its own instead of with isoleucine and valine is nowhere near as effective at sustaining muscle protein synthesis throughout the day post workout. BCAAs taken in this ratio also act as energy source for your muscles during exercise and reduce fatigue.
In a BCAA supplement, I would want to see between 5-10g of BCAAs per serving, Ergo hit the nail on the head with 5g per serving.
See The Top Rated
– BCAA This Year –
It might look like I’ve been a little bit harsh on the extraneous ingredient breakdown above, but this is a decent product, especially for the price.
The promises set out by Ergo are recovery, endurance and hydration. I’d go out on a limb and say they’ve achieved these three aims.
The doses of sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium, although low for other purposes, will provide the electrolytes that would otherwise be lost in intense exercise through sweating. Sure, they could have provided more bioavailable forms like chelates that mirror more naturally occurring forms of the minerals, but the these are decent at this price.
Ergo missed the mark when it comes to providing a synergistic approach, mainly when it comes to magnesium’s link to testosterone and recovery, which strongly influences muscle growth. But this is not what they promised, so yes, I’m nit-picking.
The only real let down is the vitamin C. Its inclusion opens up the promise of a supplement that cares about your inter-workout recovery, but it falls short with a pointlessly low dose. Ergo doesn’t need this to be an all-round supplement, and it’s not advertised as one, but if you’re not going to provide a useful dose of an ingredient… then just don’t include it.
In all other regards, this is a solid example of a staple BCAA, and that is thanks to the BCAAs. Ergo promised a quality BCAA product that provides endurance, recovery and hydration, and this delivers.
Ergo BCAA Benefits
5g of plant-based BCAAs per serving is what you’re looking for. They’ll provide enough of a BCAA hit to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, to fight fatigue and fuel you throughout an intense workout.
The electrolytes included will replace those lost through sweat and help keep you hydrated.
Who Takes It?
This is for anyone working out, in the gym, in the park, who’s looking to improve performance and recovery. It’s also a solid supplement for people in the gym looking for a quality, staple BCAA to add to their supplement regime and kickstart muscle building.
See The Top Rated
– BCAA This Year –
Any Side Effects?
At the stated doses you shouldn’t experience any side effects with this product.
Ergo BCAA Summary
- Branched chain amino acids: High quality plant-based BCAAs
- Dose: 5g of BCAAs per serving
- Highly researched ratio: 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs is proven and effective at stimulating muscle building and recovery
- Electrolytes: included to aid in hydration during and after intense exercise.
- Great Price: at $9.99 this is a high-quality product for your money.
- Vitamin C dose: 160mg of vitamin C will not provide any benefit.
- Confusing labeling of doses: by splitting the doses of electrolytes it makes for a confusing table, not to mention not breaking down the amount of each type of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
- Out of stock: seems like it could be hard to purchase online at the time of writing.
Pricing and Where to Buy
- 1 tub of powder (30 servings): 258 grams
- Available from their own website and through Amazon at $9.99
Final Word on Ergo BCAA
Despite bashing Ergo for the low doses, this is a great value BCAA.
Plant-based, fermented BCAAs coming in at 5g per dose is a really strong start, then the inclusion of the electrolytes elevates it above the competition in this price bracket.
I mentioned the let down in the low magnesium for testosterone and the unnecessary vitamin C, but this would only be an issue if this was 2X the price it currently retails at.
Sure, a testosterone-aware dose of magnesium would work, and a high dose of vitamin C to help the athletes and hard-workers among us reduce the duration of the common cold would be great, but it isn’t needed.
This is a simple, well-done BCAa…quality plant based, fermented branched chain amino acids that will stimulate muscle growth and recovery, and boost performance.
The only potential bad thing is that you might not like the taste of it, due to being a powder. This is one of the reasons why we personally prefer BCAAs in capsule form.