Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are all the fashion these days, and not for the wrong reasons! Their benefits in maintaining a healthy lifestyle are widely known and documented.
When choosing a BCAA supplement for one, we must be sure of all the positive and negative effects of such products. India is a vast market for such products owing to the recent upsurge in the attitude of the population and their resolve to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
We have put together a compilation of the best BCAA brands and products for you to peruse and choose the best one for yourself.
- 1. Best for Bodybuilding: Naturyz Instantized BCAA Energy Blast with 7000 BCAA, Glutamine, Citrulline & Beta Alanine (Guava Flavor) – 450Gms
- 2. Best for Gym: MuscleXP Instantized BCAA 6000 with L-Alanine & Taurine – 400g (14 Oz) Orange – 44 Servings
- 3. Sinew Nutrition Instantized BCAA 2:1:1, 200gm/0.44lb (Tangy Orange) – 25 Serving
- 4. Most Rated: Grizzly Nutrition-Pure Bcaa – 4:1:1 Pro Ratio: Botanically Vegan Ferma Extracted – Flavour: Natural Lime Mojito – 6000mg Bcaa – 50 Servings
- 5. Best for Weight Loss: Healthvit Fitness BCAA 6000mg 2:1:1 with L-Glutamine & L-Citrulline Malate, 200g(Orange) (25 Servings) Tangy Orange
- 6. Best with Glutamine: MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro – 450 g (Watermelon)
- 7. Best under 1000: AS-IT-IS Nutrition BCAA 100% Pure Powder Pre/Post Workout Supplement – 250 Gms
- 8. Best for Women: MuscleXP BCAA PRO With L-Glutamine, Citrulline Malate and BCAA 7000, Orange, 400g (14 oz) – 30 Servings
- 9. Best with Caffeine: Grizzly Nutrition – BCAA Caffe Infume – 4:1:1 Ratio Branched Aminos 6000mg with 200mg Caffeine – Natural Lime Flavour
- 10. Best under 2000: MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro – 450 g (Fruit Splash)
- The Best BCAA Brands in India in 2019
- Best BCAA Supplements In India – The Buyer’s Guide
- 1. If I am exercising twice or thrice a day, can I take BCAA supplements as many times as necessary?
- 2. Will these make me gain muscle mass?
- 3. Will they help me lose weight?
- 4. Are cheaper brands bad in quality? Should I go for costlier ones?
- 5. Can BCAAs only be taken by bodybuilders and professionals?
- 6. Can BCAAs be taken if I am suffering from a chronic disease?
- 7. When should I take BCAAs? Before, or after the exercise?
- 8. Will I feel bloated?
- 9. Do BCAAs work?
1. Best for Bodybuilding: Naturyz Instantized BCAA Energy Blast with 7000 BCAA, Glutamine, Citrulline & Beta Alanine (Guava Flavor) – 450Gms
- Quantity: 450gms
- Flavour: Guava
- Is it vegetarian? Yes.
- Main Ingredients: BCAA, Beta Alanine, Glutamine and Citrulline
- BCAA Ratio: 2:1:1 Ratio
Naturyz BCAA is one of the best products to provide a blast of energy during intense workouts. It works like a fuel for reviving the body by building muscles and also helps in muscle recovery.
With rehydrating electrolytes, this is one of the most preferred energy drinks for professional bodybuilders, powerlifters, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, weight training enthusiasts and people who want to develop muscles and lead an active lifestyle.
The product can be mixed in a drink and the BCCA in a 2:1:1 ratio that helps to replenish the body with amino acids that the muscles lose during an intense workout section. The 2.5gm of Glutamine helps to speed up muscle recovery, in the case of muscle exhaustion.
Added to this product is the 1G Citrulline Malate for increasing the pump during a workout session. The 1G Beta Alanine helps to build endurance so that you can go for a powerful workout session and break all records.
You can mix one scoop of this Naturyz Bcaa, that’s around 15 gms of the energy blast with 350 ml of water or any cold beverage. The guava flavour adds a pleasant taste to the drink and makes it edible for the health-conscious workout freaks.
However, as per our testing, if you are under any medication or pregnant or nursing or suffering from a medical condition, then consult your doctor, in case there is any adverse reaction. The product is not for medical use and is a nutraceutical product.
- Builds muscle
- Gives more energy
- Packaging is great
- No muscle fatigue
- Boosts strength and endurance
- The smell is not pleasant
- Might taste like electrical powder for some
2. Best for Gym: MuscleXP Instantized BCAA 6000 with L-Alanine & Taurine – 400g (14 Oz) Orange – 44 Servings
- Quantity: 400g
- Flavour: Orange
- Vegetarian: 100%
- Main Ingredients: Vitamin C, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Alanine, Taurine
- BCAA Ratio: 2:1:1 ratio of L-Leucine to L- Isoleucine and L-Valine
When working out, our tissues and muscles undergo heavy damage and repairing the tears and damage can take a very long time. BCAA is a pre/after workout drink that accelerates the repairing process so that your body is ready for the next training.
When we compared it to other brands of BCAA, we found out that the 2:1:1 ratio is more useful than any other formulas, in repairing and healing the spare tissue damage. The L-Leucine compound helps accelerate muscle recovery, L-Valine is good for the proper function of the nervous system and the L-Alanine compound keeps the glucose under check. This combined with Vitamin C gives the MuscleXP Instantized BCAA 600 a powerful kick.
This BCAA formula can be had during the workout or pre/post-workout. The orange flavour is really smooth and even though the instructions say that it can be mixed with any beverage, it is best advised to mix one serving of the powder in 10-12 Oz of water.
We asked gym-goers and athletes the difference in their training regime and body after consuming this brand of BCAA and the responses were almost entirely positive. Consumers have commented that they have felt an increase in their stamina within 3-4 days and there is a noticeable change in their training capacity as well.
The general fatigue and exhaustion that sets in after a training session reduces to the extent that it almost disappears and since Taurine enhances the role of insulin in keeping the food intake in check, there are no heavy hunger pangs.
- Value for money
- Great taste
- Unique BCAA ratio
- Increases performance at the gym and stamina
- The fat quantity might be a cause of alarm among athletes and professionals
3. Sinew Nutrition Instantized BCAA 2:1:1, 200gm/0.44lb (Tangy Orange) – 25 Serving
- Quantity: 200gm
- Flavour: Tangy Orange
- Is it vegetarian? Yes
- Main Ingredients: Amino acids L-leucine, L-valine & L-isoleucine
- BCAA Ratio: 2:1:1
This Sinew’s BCAA product is a complete pre, post, and intra workout BCAA formula. It gets you massive 6gms of BCAA with ingredients that compromises of amino acids like L-valine, L-isoleucine, and L-leucine.
As per our testing, we found that amino acids are essential requirements for athletes and bodybuilders, and Leucine helps a lot in repairing muscle damage, and skin and bone injuries. It also helps in building more muscles by increasing the uptake of proteins and carbs.
The isoleucine of this composition also helps in boosting energy levels and increases the production of haemoglobin in the body that’s necessary for healing injuries and wounds.
The Valine in the composition helps in the maintenance of nitrogen in the body – that is important for developing muscles.
The three ingredients work together and help to protect the body muscles and also boosts up energy levels for a more intense workout. A daily serving of this drink mixed with water or any other cold beverage will help you perform intense activities without losing muscles.
With an increase in haemoglobin levels, the body is more energetic, and the muscle recovery process is also faster. Even after the intense activity, you will not feel fatigued and drained out – by taking this supplement regularly.
Take one heaped (8gms) spoon of this supplement with only 250gms of water or any protein shake you prefer and mix well with a shaker. With increased energy levels, your workouts will be more energetic and intense. The soreness of muscles will inevitably fade away with the intake of this supplement.
- Taste is good
- Packaging is good
- Great drink for intra workout
- Increased energy levels
- Muscle recovery within days
- Not tangy orange flavour. Simple orange flavoured supplement
- Too much consumption might lead to stomach cramps
4. Most Rated: Grizzly Nutrition-Pure Bcaa – 4:1:1 Pro Ratio: Botanically Vegan Ferma Extracted – Flavour: Natural Lime Mojito – 6000mg Bcaa – 50 Servings
- Quantity: 0.77 lb or 349.3 grams
- Flavour: Natural Lime Mojito
- Is it vegetarian? Yes
- Main Ingredients: Botanical fermented BCAA, Stevia, Natural lime extract, Critic Acid.
- BCAA Ratio: 4:1:1
The Grizzly Nutrition product has pure BCAA with no fluffs, added colours, or no fillers. The product is beneficial and a great source to rebuild and repair muscles and also trigger the building of lean muscle.
The health product can be taken at any point of the day, but it is most effective when taken during, before or after a workout session. It helps to recover fatigue muscles and boost muscle build.
As per our testing, we found that the product can help you tremendously to build muscles, but its bitter taste can be disappointing.
Although it should be noted that natural BCAA tastes bitter and is much healthier in the long run. Because stevia is mixed with the product along with the lime flavour, the BCCA wouldn’t be that sour to taste.
BCAA is hydrophobic and doesn’t mix easily. Therefore you need to use a shaker to mix the product entirely for making it soluble enough to drink. The product is excellent as it’s completely natural and no preservatives are used.
Once the seal is opened, it is essential to finish the content fast. Small lumps might develop if moisture seeps in, but that’s complexly normal and safe.
The product is potentially perfect for reducing muscle soreness and also helps in reducing fatigue after an intensive workout. The product is the best quality among others, as it’s scientifically tested and very useful for weightlifters and bodybuilders.
- Feel the difference from day 1
- Boost energy levels
- Doesn’t taste bad
- 100% pure BCAA
- Improves performance and faster recovery
- Doesn’t mix easily
- Can make you bulky with muscles
5. Best for Weight Loss: Healthvit Fitness BCAA 6000mg 2:1:1 with L-Glutamine & L-Citrulline Malate, 200g(Orange) (25 Servings) Tangy Orange
- Quantity: 200g
- Flavour: Tangy Orange
- Vegetarian: 100% vegetarian
- Main ingredients: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Glutamine, L-Valine, L-Citrulline, Electrolytes
- BCAA ratio: 2:1:1
The Healthvit Fitness is one of the best health supplements to take for preventing muscle breakdown and helps in muscle recovery. The BCAA helps in the maintenance of lean muscle and works best if taken as a drink during intense workout sessions.
When we tested the supplement, we found that the powdered form enters the bloodstream faster and is very convenient for usage. This is because it allows you to control the dosage than taking in capsules or tablets as BCAA supplements.
Another thing we liked is that Indian athletes and bodybuilders will find this BCAA powder very useful to drink with before, after, or during the workout sessions. Take it with cold water or any chilled beverage of your choice and drink plenty of water throughout the workout session.
If you are a beginner, then only one scoop is recommended during a workout session, but bodybuilders can take in 2 scoops per day to gain more muscle and energy. However, it’s advisable to ask your trainer before deciding on the powdered dosage.
With zero added sugar, this supplement is excellent for weight loss and building lean muscle as well. The tangy orange flavour will make the drink edible, and you won’t be bothered by the bitter taste of BCAA. The amino-acids gets absorbed fast and helps the body to build and strengthen muscles.
If you are looking towards muscle recovery and repair of damaged muscles, then this BCAA supplement might be beneficial, if taken daily under the guidance of a body trainer.
- Good packaging
- Tangy Orange tastes good
- Excellent quality BCAA
- Increased energy and stamina
- Reasonable price
- Flavour is too sweet
- Takes time to show results
6. Best with Glutamine: MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro – 450 g (Watermelon)
- Quantity: 450g
- Flavour: watermelon
- Vegetarian: 100% vegetarian
- Main ingredients: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Glutamine, L-Citrulline, Electrolytes
- BCAA ratio: 2:1:1
MuscleBlaze specializes in nutritional and health supplements, and its BCAA pro is an intra-workout drink that speeds up the repair of the tissues and muscles. There are likely to be microscopic tears in our tissues and muscles while training and drinking BCAA certainly improves the healing process.
When we compared the MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro with the other BCAA formulas, we found that they use a branched-chain amino acid formula along with other electrolytes. Our body does not produce branched amino acids of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, so this BCAA Pro provides this formula to our bodies to replenish the damaged muscles.
The incorporation of Electrolytes further improves the product quality because they are vital enzymes that protect the body against muscle cramps and fatigue.
When we tested this product, we saw that all of the facts check out, and the consumers are pleased. Drinking this during a workout session has increased their performance and stamina. There is less cramping and exhaustion and more endurance. The post-workout burn and fatigue also get away much sooner than when they used to drink no BCAA or some other BCAA.
Every serving has 7g of BCAA with 2.5g of glutamine. Scoops and shakers are provided with the product, and one scoop of BCAA is to be mixed in 250-400 ml of water. The difference in taste varies according to the amount of water used. Beginners can mix one scoop, and heavy lifters and athletes can mix two scoops, for a better result.
- Value for money
- Unique taste
- Electrolytes enhance product quality
- Glutamine increases performance
- Forms lumps
- Increased fat content
- Artificial sweeteners added
- Taurine missing
7. Best under 1000: AS-IT-IS Nutrition BCAA 100% Pure Powder Pre/Post Workout Supplement – 250 Gms
- Quantity: 250 gms
- Flavour: Nil
- Is it vegetarian? Yes
- Main Ingredients: Branched Chain Amino Acids viz. L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine
- BCAA Ratio: 2:1:1
AS-IT-IS is an Indian brand that has conceptualized the idea of nutrition without empty calories. It emphasizes on and enforces the idea of “No added preservatives, additives, and flavours.” Since we all know that every health product is inadvertently loaded with calories in the name of flavours, this particular product comes as a breath of fresh air.
The AS-IT-IS brand is well within budget and is loaded with all the benefits of BCAAs with virtually no side effects. The product contains only the essential branched-chain amino acids viz. L- Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine in a ratio of 2:1:1.
The packaging is attractive with 250 gms units coming in black ziplock-esque packs. Each package contains a scoop capable of holding 5 gms of powder in it. 5 gms of powder contains 2500 gms of L-Leucine, 1250 gms of L- Isoleucine and 1250 gms of L-Valine. There are 50 servings per packet.
BCAAs are known to provide support to those who workout routinely or intermittently by enhancing muscle repair, during and after workouts. It reduces post-workout fatigue, muscle soreness, and prevents muscle wasting. It is not a weight gain or weight loss product.
If you can stomach the taste; on account of it being flavourless – since amino acids in their solitary form tend to be at the bitter end of the spectrum – you can definitely go for it. However, if you are suffering from any health condition at all, it would be wise to discuss with your physician or nutritionist before starting BCAAs.
For best effects, mix a single scoop in 200-300 mL of cold water or any beverage of your choice and drink 30 minutes prior or immediately after your workout.
- No preservatives, added flavours or additives
- Pure BCAAs
- Improved workout performance
- Long shelf life of 18 months from the date of manufacture
- Bitter taste
- Doesn’t mix well in glass, you will require a shaker
8. Best for Women: MuscleXP BCAA PRO With L-Glutamine, Citrulline Malate and BCAA 7000, Orange, 400g (14 oz) – 30 Servings
- Quantity: 30 servings
- Flavour: Orange
- Is it vegetarian? No
- Main Ingredients: L-Glutamine and Citrulline Malate
- BCAA Ratio: 2:1:1
The BCAA PRO from MuscleXP is a successful attempt at an advanced dose of supplements which breaks down protein for rapid muscular development. Citrulline bonded with malic acid boosts up energy and keeps fatigue at bay.
As it is stimulant-free, BCAA PRO is advertised for consumption during workouts. Granted, it retains beneficial qualities whether someone intakes it before or after a workout. You can adjust your time of consumption and intake as per your diet level. The zero sugar level and 0.02 g fat per serving ensure one stays lean and fit.
For beginner gym enthusiasts and amino acid consumers, in a 13g scoop, one can intake 7g of BCAA. Compared to other brands with the exact specification range, MuscleXP can boast on the affordability, use of natural ingredients, and a promise for long term results.
The prominent orange flavour can be mixed with any drink. A lot of the customers have compared the taste to Tang. It is recommended that one does not consume it with hot beverages. On an empty stomach, the ingredients are absorbed faster.
Gender isn’t a factor. It is equally suited for the training regime of men and women.
The company follows the guidelines implemented by World Class International Manufacturing Standards. As such, BCAA PRO should be consumed under 24 months from the manufacturing date.
If you’re someone with a low stamina level, and yet possess an all-consuming desire for a shredded body, this product is made for you. Your energy level will stay stable throughout the workout session.
- Washes away post-workout soreness
- Rapidly increases muscle growth
- Promotes a healthy liver
- Keeps one lean yet muscular
- Improves athletic drive
- Unsatisfactory flavour for some
- Overdose can cause nausea, anxiety, etc.
9. Best with Caffeine: Grizzly Nutrition – BCAA Caffe Infume – 4:1:1 Ratio Branched Aminos 6000mg with 200mg Caffeine – Natural Lime Flavour
- Quantity: 50 Servings
- Flavour: Natural Lime
- Is it vegetarian? Yes
- Main Ingredients: BCAA, Citric Acid, Caffeine, Lime Extract, Stevia
- BCAA Ratio: 4:1:1
In this Caffe Infume pack, you absorb the nutrition of 6g of BCAA infused with 200 mg of caffeine per serving. The best of both worlds in 4:1:1 ratio helps one pay maximum attention during training while raising the endurance.
For trainees with a heavy workout routine, the supplements take care of muscle growth and recovery time. Moreover, the fatigue one experiences during the exercise period is severely reduced. After an intense session, you won’t feel the weight of your bruised muscles if you intake the supplements before and after.
When consuming the BCAA pre-workout, the quantity for a day should not exceed two scoops or 14 gm at best. Overdose of caffeine can overtake the peaceful, attentive state and drive headfast into rapid heartbeat and restlessness.
Grizzly Nutrition recommends a shaker to mix the supplement in water as BCAA is hard to dissolve. Customer opinion suggests no one encountered such a problem during the preparation of the drink.
Artificial ingredients, taste enhancers, steroids, fillers, and colours were all avoided to keep the supplements as natural as possible. None of the ingredients in the product is from anything that isn’t by natural means.
Regularly maintaining your diet along with proper nutrition intake and a dose of BCAA Caffe Infume every day should see a marked improvement in muscle mass and the strength required to do the heavy lifting.
- Boosts Energy
- Spikes up the metabolism rate
- Raises endurance level
- Smooth texture
- The intensity of focus increases
- Bitter in taste
- Overdose can cause restlessness
10. Best under 2000: MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro – 450 g (Fruit Splash)
- Quantity: 450gm
- Flavour: Fruit Splash
- Is it vegetarian? Yes
- Main Ingredients: Branched Chain Amino Acids, Citrulline Malate, and Glutamine
- BCAA Ratio: 2:1:1
A potent BCAA drink, the powder is packed with powerhouse ingredients like 7g of BCAA, Citrulline Malate, and Glutamine in each serving along with electrolytes.
The glutamine speeds up catabolism and also helps to speed up the process of muscle recovery. As tested by us, this drink is a powerhouse of BCAAs can work effectively as an intra-workout drink for bodybuilders, and people interested in building muscles.
The branched-chain amino acids in the powder help replenish the body and muscles after an intense workout session. It will also help in keeping the energy levels high even after the workout is done.
The powder can help to build muscles and increase blood flow to the muscles for growth as you pump and train in the gym. The powder is a workout fuel that can be consumed with foods as well as supplements.
Fueling muscles with BCCA can help a great deal in muscle synthesis and also helps to reduce soreness of muscles and fatigue after intense workout sessions. This drink can help facilitate fat loss and increase muscle built in the body.
The powder mixed well with your preferred drink or water can be taken before a workout session or after the workout. To intensify your workout session, you can sip up a little during the workout session.
The BCAA supplement keeps your energy levels high every day and can benefit your body if taken regularly.
- Fast muscle recovery
- Tasty and soluble
- More strength, energy, and stamina
- No side effects
- Good packaging
- Taste is bland
The Best BCAA Brands in India in 2019
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are nutritional supplements designed to assist those who exercise; whether they are veterans or beginners. Like all healthcare-related products and over the counter supplements it is advised that one consults a sports medicine expert or a nutritionist before they take them up.
The benefits of BCAAs are mainly related to muscle fatigue resolution. They have been reported to reduce the fatigue that occurs during and post-workout. Apart from that, they also help in maintaining muscle mass.
We have compiled a list of some of the best brands that make the best Branched-chain amino acids. While these are economical, you should make an informed decision that suits your requirements with little repercussions. After all, it’s your health we’re talking about!
MuscleXP has been an old, trusted name in the fitness industry. They excel in nutritional supplements like whey proteins, pre/post-workout drinks, et cetera.
They pride themselves in meticulously going over each step, beginning from research to manufacturing and packaging. However, that is not all. The R&D team at MuscleXP conducts surveys and experiments to learn more about what the consumer is looking for. They even go through the ingredients carefully so as not to mistakenly use any banned substance.
MuscleXP products aim at improving strength, stamina, athletic performance, and rightly, they are the brand that a lot of athletes and trainers swear by.
Sinew Nutrition is famous for manufacturing sports nutritional supplements like whey protein, mass gainers, creatine, glutamine, and superfoods like flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, spirulina et cetera.
Sinew was launched as an in-house product of Healthgenie, which is one of India’s most highly-rated shopping chains. Healthgenie is a chain specializing in health and fitness products and nutritional supplements.
Sinew’s goal is to provide the Indian woman/man the best fitness and diet regime that is possible, through whichever product they choose.
Their headquarters and warehouses are located in New Delhi. They pride themselves in keeping their labs and storages clean and hygienic by running surprise checks.
Apart from nutritional supplements, Sinew offers specialty nutrition like in green coffee beans, wellness tablets based on Ayurveda et cetera.
3. Grizzly Nutrition
As of 15 January 2017, Grizzly Nutrition became a part of Vizva Idreamz Corp India, which is a giant industrial global healthcare in its own right. Before this acquisition, Grizzly carved out a name for itself as an expert in sports nutrition.
The company follows a mantra of pure, potent, and natural. The result can be seen in the products which are tested at all levels to produce the most excellent quality along with an innate emphasis on natural ingredients.
Additionally, their exclusive contract with Amazon has made it easy to locate and buy their products from one trusted source.
MuscleBlaze was founded in 2012 almost as a reaction to the surge of “fake supplements ” in the market. These “fake supplements” were copies of other expensive, high-end supplements and used banned or low-grade ingredients. It was also found that these supplements have a high-fat percentage that defeated the whole purpose of nutritional supplements among athletes.
So, MuscleBlaze was launched, keeping in mind the authenticity of ingredients and the dietary needs of athletes.
MuscleBlaze products have a wide price range and come in an array of flavours, catering to everyone’s needs and likes. They have introduced flavours like cookies n’ cream, chocolate fudge et cetera, in economical prices.
HealthVit is one of the leading brands for BCAAs in India. It also has the distinction of being made in India. The products are well priced and have won accolades from the populace in various age groups.
HealthVit BCAA is available in two types of formulations; Powder and Capsules. The products are vegetarian. They have been noted to aid in muscle synthesis to prevent post-workout fatigue and help with recovery and improve performance. They increase Nitric oxide levels in the blood, which in turn reduces blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. They contain Sucralose as the sugar substitute and food colouring. Not suitable for Diabetics and pregnant women and children.
The powder formula is available in three flavors viz — Watermelon, Tangy orange and Pineapple for palatability.
Naturyz specializes in food and dietary supplements, protein powders, health juices, mineral and protein complexes and protein powders. They have been instrumental in selling more than 200 different products all across India. They owe their success to the careful study, research and processing done by their specialists.
Naturyz is known to provide the purest ingredients in FDAA certified quantities and it is seen that not even international brands provide those main ingredients in such large degrees.
Thereby, picking Naturyz as your first brand of supplements or switching to Naturyz, seems to be a wise choice.
Best BCAA Supplements In India – The Buyer’s Guide
1. Introduction to Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
The fitness world is evolving. With the fitness bug infecting everyone (not in a bad way) around the world, we have workout routines from every corner of the planet. We have yoga, martial arts, plyometrics, weight training, and many more forms of exercise. There are some forms that combine two or more of these forms to give an edge.
To match the world of workout, the healthcare industry has researched ways to complement the work. And out of this intense research and many modifications later, we have what is known as “Ergogenic aids.”
These “Ergogenic aids” as the manufacturers call them, are made to enhance strength or endurance, increase exercise efficiency, better performance increase tolerance for intense training. These agents are used to provide relief from the exercise-induced discomfort and help with recovery.
When you are not looking to gain weight or muscle mass or lose weight; and your goal is increased performance and speedy recovery – you are looking at BCAAs as your friend. As the name suggests, these contain a few select amino acids designed to supplement your diet. The most common amino acid combinations available (and most necessary) is that of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
BCAA application is categorized broadly as Sports Nutrition, Pharmaceutical, and Others. Sports Nutrition is the primary application, with a market share of 93.09% in 2016. That’s what we are going to focus on here and help you pick the best one.
2. How do BCAAs work?
Effect of exercise on BCAA metabolism:
Exercise leads to energy expenditure and promotes protein and amino acid breakdown. BCAAs are oxidised in working muscles, and the breakdown is enhanced by training. BCAAs regulate the turnover of muscle protein by inhibiting degradation and improving protein synthesis.
Conditions that cause trauma (exercising can be loosely associated with it) cause protein loss, especially from muscles and supplementation of BCAA promotes recovery by mechanism mentioned earlier.
Of the three branched-chain amino acids, the most important is Leucine accounting for a majority of muscle repair and regeneration. That’s why all BCAA supplements contain this amino acid in a higher ratio compared to the other two, i.e., Isoleucine and Valine.
The importance of these three BCAAs has been proven in studies where a comprehensive amino acid supplement, without the BCAAs, provided to rats showed no effects on protein turnover.
It is proven that BCAAs also contribute to gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose from non- carbohydrate sources such as proteins and lipids. This is beneficial in maintaining blood sugar levels during exercise.
The study found that administration of oral BCAA (dose of 77 mg/Kg of body weight) before exercise increased blood levels of BCAAs and suppressed muscle breakdown.
Administration of BCAA in doses of 12 g/day over two weeks and 20gms each before and after exercising, suppressed the rise of muscle breakdown biomarker “Creatine Kinase” after the exercise. There was also evidence of diminished muscle soreness that accompanies a workout.
Acute and subacute toxicity studies have been done in animals to identify any potential harmful effects. The BCAA were administered in a ratio of 2.1:1:1 to Leucine: Isoleucine: Valine. No toxic effects were noted at a dosage of 2.5 gm/kg/day for three months or at 1.25 gm/kg/day for a year.
Medical and other uses: Apart from being used as supplements to accompany exercise, they have a role in the medical management of specific conditions as well. However, the use of BCAAs in disease conditions must be entirely left at the discretion of the treating physician.
3. Properties of BCAA supplements
This is a must! You don’t want a comprehensive medley of exotic amino acids with the most crucial bits missing. Don’t look at the label and be dazzled by a long list of ingredients.
What you must look for are three branched-chain amino acids which are: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Apart from these, the product may contain other amino acids which may or may not be necessary.
But do not be distracted, your aim is to supplement the three BCAAs mentioned above. Nothing on that label should deter you from this.
The three BCAAs mentioned earlier need to be present in a specific ratio (as quoted from a study above). The reason behind this particular ratio is simple, Leucine being the most valuable and active BCAA needs to be present in higher quantities.
Valine if present in higher amounts can lead to the production of a potentially toxic metabolic product. Hence the amount of this BCAA is controlled to act as a limiter.
The recommended ratio of these amino acids is 2:1:1 to 2.1:1:1 and most commercial products contain them in a ratio of 2:1:1.
Since you are the one who will be consuming these supplements, you must pick a formulation that suits you the best. BCAA supplements are available in two formulations. Powder and capsules.
The powder formula is a bit cumbersome to manage since it requires careful storage and will require a measuring scoop which is generally provided by the manufacturer. It has to be dissolved in water or a beverage of preference. Some brands need a shaker for the desirable dissolution of the powder.
The capsule formula is convenient and easy to handle. No preparations required. However, the drawback here is that BCAA from capsules is not as readily absorbed as the powder form.
For both formulations, the ratio of BCAAs remains the same, as does the total dosage per unit of measurement, e.g., X milligrams of BCAA is administered per scoop or capsule.
This information is available on the packaging and must be looked at before you start consumption. As mentioned above, the dosage should be taken as prescribed and should not be exceeded.
Excipients are inactive agents that serve as vehicles or media for drugs or other active substances.
For a powdered formulation, excipients, among other things, include:
- Colouring agents: These are added to make the product more appealing and appetizing. They are generally of food-grade quality.
- Preservatives: These are added to increase the shelf life of the product.
- Flavouring agents: For palatability. Since pure amino acids tend to be bitter tasting, most brands choose to add various flavouring agents to counter that. We have choices of regular to most exotic of flavours ranging from apples to blueberries.
- Sweeteners: Packaged products are generally made sweet to taste with the help of artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, among others. Some of them may also use generic glucose or sucrose. It is an integral part of the excipient list because the presence of these materials in the product dictates how well the product (i.e., the BCAA) is going to work.
The presence of sugar may contribute to weight gain, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. Artificial sweeteners if taken in large quantities, can cause stomach upsets and alter the metabolism by inadvertently providing you with empty calories when you’re trying to limit their intake. It is a definite no-no for people with diabetes and those with high cholesterol. It is also not suitable for pregnant women as it can cause issues with the unborn child.
For Capsule formulation, the excipient list is mostly the same as that of powdered formulations along with one other thing. That is the gelatinous or hard shell that holds the intended product together. This shell is usually made of gelatin or collagen which are of animal origin. Or it is made of starch or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) which are of plant origin.
Look for the little green dot on the package to ensure you are consuming your desired product.
3.5 Shelf life:
The shelf life of the product is dependant on the preservatives added to it. All BCAA brands will have some preservative or other to maintain the shelf life of the product.
It is defined loosely as the “time during which the product will remain safe for consumption or application and retain its desired physical and chemical properties.”
While they may claim to be a 100% preservative-free, they’re not. Without those preservatives, the product won’t last very long. But not to worry! These are food-grade preservatives and are added only after a regulatory body approves them.
So, when you are looking for that perfect BCAA for yourself, do check out the shelf life. Shorter shelf life means you must buy a smaller package, so it doesn’t go to waste. Longer shelf life means you can stock up without a worry.
When the shelf life is close to expiration, you’ll start to notice some changes in taste, which is in the case of flavoured products. However, it is only because the flavouring system is the first one to degrade over time. If the flavour has changed, it doesn’t mean the product will harm you, but it is an indication for the impending need to change.
So, how can you extend the shelf life of BCAA? You’ll need to keep it away from light, temperature fluctuations, and humidity. Especially for the powdered formulations, it is vital. The best place to store them would be in the refrigerator instead of somewhere outside.
The shelf life of powdered BCAA averages between 18 months to 24 months, depending on brands. So, take your pick!
4. BCAAs in Health
Apart from the well-known effects of BCAA supplements in exercise, other benefits have been noted and are being researched.
Studies have shown that BCAAs can help maintain muscle mass during chronic illnesses in conjunction with other nutrients.
There is evidence of beneficial effects of BCAA supplements in those with chronic liver disease (since the liver is where significant protein albumin is produced). The mechanism is yet to be understood.
Supplementation of BCAAs with other essential amino acids in patients with kidney disease maintains a protein balance in the body and prevents a spike in urea levels which can be harmful.
The effects of BCAA supplementation in obesity and diabetes have shown mixed results. On the one hand, a study indicates that the administration of BCAA in obesity improved the liver profile of patients while simultaneously reducing triglyceride levels in the blood. On the other hand, in another study, it was reported that BCAAs increase insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes, thereby worsening the condition of the patient. As it stands, the use of BCAA in these conditions, as per us, should be avoided.
Apart from these, studies are going on to demonstrate the benefits of BCAA supplements in certain genetic disorders such as Maple syrup urine disease and Urea cycle disorders, among others.
There are also trials underway that will assess the benefits of BCAA in improving the quality of sleep in those with traumatic brain injury.
5. What to consider when buying BCAAs?
Research the product thoroughly and make an informed decision. Not all brands are the same. Some will have a definite advantage over the others.
Talk to a professional who can assist you with diet modifications that complement your BCAA supplements
You will have to be ready to face the fact that results may not be apparent right from the beginning. And that the effects may not be the same as everyone else.
You will have specific side effects now and then and will be required to take a break before restarting the supplements.
Hydration is a must and cannot be ignored. You must drink plenty of water around your BCAA supplements.
If you are allergic to certain food products such as milk, eggs, soy, etc. talk to a physician before buying BCAAs as they may be extracted from one of these sources. Ignoring the label may lead to moderate to severe allergic reactions which will set you back.
5. Five mistakes to avoid when buying BCAAs
5.1 Buying with hopes of muscle gain
BCAAs are not designed to provide all the components of proteins required to increase your muscle mass. Instead, they give a fraction of amino acids (building blocks of proteins) that are not supplied in sufficient quantities through your diet. So do not start BCAAs and drop the other supplements you are taking (under strict supervision, of course!) with the hopes that you will continue to gain muscle mass.
5.2 Not reading the ingredient list
The most important feature of an effective BCAA supplement is the ratio of these amino acids viz. Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. If the ratio of these amino acids is not 2:1:1 in that order, then do not expect the efficacy to be as per your expectations. If the amount of Valine is higher, you may experience side effects.
Some brands also add electrolytes to their formulae to combat the loss of water via sweating. Some of them add sodium. Too much sodium in a hypertensive person will wreak havoc with the circulatory system as well as the kidneys. You must always, ALWAYS, read the ingredient list and discuss the pros and cons of each ingredient before consuming the product.
5.3 Buying with the intent of meal replacement
If you are into intermittent fasting and are looking to break your fast with a healthy shaker of BCAAs, we have news for you. BCAAs are only a part of your entire daily requirement and will not sustain you alone. You need to break your fast with a balanced meal, especially since you have deprived yourself of these nutrients for so long (as is the very definition of intermittent fasting). So do not, by any chance, even think about breaking your fast with BCAAs. Instead go for a healthy, sumptuous, and well-rounded meal. Reserve the BCAAs exclusively for workouts.
5.4 Buying with the intent of fat loss
BCAAs are not meant to burn fat (nothing is!). The only fat you will be burning is through the regular exercise for which you will be taking these supplements. It is not the job of BCAAs to reduce your weight; it is the workout that does it for you. Remember, the BCAAs help you with your stamina. So they might indirectly help you lose weight, they are not to be taken as diet pills or fat burning supplements.
5.5 Not sticking to the prescribed dosage
We cannot stress enough on the importance of maintaining the correct dosage, which is based on your body weight. A lower than recommended dose may not help you with fatigue, and a higher than the recommended dose may cause side effects. It is essential that you keep this in mind when going for BCAAs.
1. If I am exercising twice or thrice a day, can I take BCAA supplements as many times as necessary?
No. BCAAs have been proven to be effective within a specific dose range, and exceeding this range might cause features of toxicity. The safe limit has been mentioned earlier in this guide, and you must stick to it. If you are exercising multiple times a day, you can divide the prescribed dose as per your convenience. Before you do any of this, though, DO NOT FORGET TO CONSULT A SPECIALIST!
2. Will these make me gain muscle mass?
No. BCAAs do not provide the complete spectrum of protein supplement, which helps you gain any muscle mass. Do not confuse the two. BCAAs are purely meant to assist you with muscle fatigue that accompanies a bout of workout. If you are looking to gain muscles, BCAAs are not your friends.
3. Will they help me lose weight?
No. These are not diet pills or supplements either. They are amino acids that are acting specifically in your muscles and supporting them, so they rebuild after a session. They do not work on fat and as such are not involved with them in any way.
4. Are cheaper brands bad in quality? Should I go for costlier ones?
This is debatable. The cheaper and more economical options will contain the three basic requirements in the correct ratio. However, they may not contain the same amount of excipients and flavours and coloring agents as the costlier versions. There are brands that do not add any flavor to their products, and yet they have been reported by the masses to be equally effective – if you can grunt through the taste that is.
The costlier versions come in a variety of flavors ranging from apples to strawberries and are reported to be more palatable compared to their counterparts with no flavours. So you decide, but cheaper does not mean less effective.
5. Can BCAAs only be taken by bodybuilders and professionals?
No. If you are into any form of exercise, you can benefit from BCAAs. They are here to relieve your muscles from the pain.
6. Can BCAAs be taken if I am suffering from a chronic disease?
Only if your physician gives a green light. While suffering from a chronic condition makes life difficult, extra points for you if you are trying to get healthy. However, the use of BCAAs in disease conditions is still a matter of study.
Depending on which condition you’re suffering from, your physician can assist you with the dosage or even let you know whether the BCAAs are contraindicated or not. Some studies have demonstrated in rats, that patients suffering from liver disease can benefit from BCAAs, but do not take them for granted. It is always wise to get an opinion first.
7. When should I take BCAAs? Before, or after the exercise?
Whether you take it before or after exercise is entirely up to you. If you are taking it before a workout, you will need to take it at least 30 minutes in advance, so you don’t feel uncomfortable during the exercise. If it’s a matter of taking it after the workout, it can be taken anytime.
The thought process here is, if taken well in advance before the exercise, it can benefit the muscles during workouts. However, the people have spoken. There are reports that it does not make a difference in the efficacy of BCAA action, whether you take it before or after the exercise. You do what you are comfortable with.
8. Will I feel bloated?
You might! It depends on the source where the BCAA extracts are taken from. Some of these sources are milk-based or soy-based proteins and may prove allergenic in those who have a history. If you experience symptoms such as nausea, bloating, headaches, you should stop taking the supplement and talk to your physician.
9. Do BCAAs work?
The effects of BCAAs have been proven through various studies viz. their impact on muscle fatigue resolution, regeneration of muscles, etc. Are the measurable results are equitable between individuals? Most likely not! The concept of idiosyncrasy is derived from the fact that not all individuals of a species respond to medication or oral supplements (among other things) the same.
There is a significant inter-individual variation seen with all kinds of products, e.g., a shampoo may suit individual no. 1 but may not suit individual no. 2. Similarly, the BCAA supplement taken by two friends going to the gym together may not benefit them equally. You will have to choose from the available brands, the one that works best for you.
With this information presented to you, we hope you make an informed decision and lead a healthier life.
We would not compromise with quality and would go with Grizzly Nutrition-Pure BCAA. With no artificial flavours and completely pure BCAA, this health supplement would be beneficial in the long run. It’s an entirely genuine product of the most excellent quality, with no fillers, fluff or dyes, and colours.
However, we would also consider Naturyz Instantized BCAA Energy Blast, as it’s a great intra-workout drink for fueling energy and also building muscles. If you want to build endurance, strength, stamina, and muscles, then we would certainly go with this one.
Lastly, this would be a difficult decision to pick any one of the two, as both are extremely good. But the first product has a bland taste and the second one is flavoured, it tastes better. So, maybe the second one, just for the taste!