Did your trainer recommend a BCAA supplement, or are you seeking additional support to take your fitness to another level?
If yes, then this article is for you.
In this article, we are going to discuss –
- What are BCAAs and their function?
- Who should take BCAAs?
- How to find the best BCAA supplements?
Eager to learn more? Let’s dive in.
What are BCAAs & how do they work?
Our body utilizes 20 known amino acids to synthesize proteins required for the smooth functioning of body processes. Out of these 20 amino acids, nine are considered essential as our body can not synthesize them on its own.
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, comprise three essential amino acids with branched-chain chemical structures.
Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs form approximately 30-40% of the total essential amino acid pool present in the body.
BCAA supplements are prevalent among elite and competitive athletes. Fitness lovers turn to BCAAs to improve their physical performance as they have been clinically shown to minimize muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth 1.
Why is BCAA required? And its importance in fitness.
The primary reason why BCAAs hold importance in fitness is that they reduce protein degradation and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Let’s discuss how BCAA supplements may help increase exercise performance.
BCAAs may boost muscle growth.
Several studies have supported the fact that BCAAs may stimulate muscle synthesis. Leucine amino acid not only encourages muscle protein synthesis but also may support the regulation of signalling pathways involved during protein synthesis.
Recently a study 2 was conducted in 2022 on seventy-five endurance athletes to analyze the relationship between BCAA levels and muscle growth. Researchers observed that higher BCAA concentrations benefit active people, perhaps due to the role of exercise in augmenting BCAA catabolism and, eventually, stimulating muscle growth.
BCAAs may reduce DOMS.
Intense exercise may result in microdamage in skeletal muscle fibres, decreasing strength and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). The serum levels of two metabolic enzymes – creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase are widely used as a technique to determine the extent of skeletal muscle damage.
BCAA supplementation before exercise has been shown to attenuate the muscle damage markers and reduce muscle soreness and DOMS by lowering creatine kinase levels 3.
BCAAs may minimize muscle fatigue.
BCAAs not only effectively minimize muscle soreness but also lowers the feeling of exhaustion and fatigue.
Exercise fatigue is commonly experienced by most people depending upon the intensity and duration of exercise.
Physical activity results in the decline of BCAA levels in the body. It causes an increase in tryptophan levels, contributing to fatigue. Oral ingestion of BCAA supplement reduces central fatigue by lowering tryptophan activity, increasing dopamine synthesis and release, triggering neural signals, and enhancing physical performance 4.
BCAAs may support weight loss.
Obesity may act as a causative factor for various health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension.
Multiple studies have been conducted to verify the relationship between BCAA and obesity. Various cross-sectional studies have observed that BCAA intake is inversely proportional to the prevalence of obesity 5.
One study on wrestlers noticed that BCAA supplementation was more efficacious in reducing body fat than energy restriction alone. BCAAs play a significant role in glucose metabolism. Additionally, leucine stimulates insulin release from the pancreas, thereby decreasing blood glucose.
BCAAs may promote healthy blood glucose levels.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) may be beneficial in reducing diabetes risk by promoting healthy blood sugar levels 6.
BCAAs may improve muscle glucose uptake by enhancing glucose recycling and support muscle protein synthesis by regulating insulin.
BCAAs may relieve symptoms of Liver disease.
BCAAs are also involved in fat metabolism, and their deficiency may induce hepatic fatty acid synthesis. BCAAs are known to regulate fatty acid synthesis, transport, oxidation, and breakdown.
To ease the symptoms, researchers support BCAA supplementation for patients suffering from liver cirrhosis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a practical approach to improve glucose metabolism and serum albumin concentration 7.
Read more on BCAA Uses and Benefits
How to select the most effective BCAA supplement?
BCAA supplements are widely available in multiple forms with varied compositions. Choosing the right product based on the requirement might confuse a beginner.
Here are some tips!
BCAA supplements contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine in different ratios like 2:1:1, 4:1:1, 8:1:1, or 10:1:1. These supplements vary in the content of leucine which is always on the higher end compared to isoleucine and valine because of its potential to elevate muscle growth.
One can also find exclusive L-Leucine supplements; however, clinical trials suggest to maximize the effect, it is always better to opt for a mixture of all three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. This is because isoleucine is critically needed for fat burning, and valine helps reduce tryptophan levels during exercise to keep energy levels up and fatigue at bay.
The best ratio of BCAA is 2:1:1. But you can opt for BCAA supplements with a higher leucine content depending on the workout intensity.
How to find the best BCAA Supplement?
One must always choose a good-quality supplement. The supplement must be certified, FSSAI-approved, and free from harmful additives and contaminants.
Checking the nutrition facts thoroughly before buying any supplement is advisable. For BCAA supplements, the primary ingredients must be BCAA (L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine).
Look for the ratio of BCAAs. It should ideally be 2:1:1. However, if you have an intense workout schedule, you can go for supplements with higher leucine content like BCAA 4:1:1 or BCAA 8:1:1.
If you prefer an unflavoured BCAA, it should only have BCAA listed under the ingredients. Flavoured BCAA supplements may contain added flavours.
Check every component, added sugar content, disclaimers, caution, and allergen information. The product must be free from contaminants, unnecessary fillers, and any banned substance.
One can opt for BCAA supplements with added electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride that help maintain hydration and reduce muscle cramps.
Always opt for trusted brands known and appreciated by experts for their quality and efficacy. A renowned brand will always maintain transparency in its product formulations, using high-quality ingredients to secure its effectiveness.
Brands offer a wide range of BCAA supplements, depending upon their composition and form – capsules, powder, or liquid. One can opt for any reputed brand based on the budget.
The 10 Best BCAA Supplements by Nutrabay
- Nutrabay Gold BCAA 4:1:1 with Electrolytes
- Nutrabay Pure BCAA 2:1:1
- Scivation Xtend BCAA
- Optimum Nutrition (ON) Amino Energy
- BigMuscles Nutrition Real BCAA
- MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro
- MusclePharm Essential BCAA
- GNC AMP Gold Series BCAA Advanced w/ Vitamin B6
- Fast&Up BCAA Ultra Granulation Technology with 5000 mg 2:1:1 BCAA Blend
- BPI Sports Best BCAA
Nutrabay Gold BCAA 4:1:1 with Electrolytes
It is the best BCAA supplement containing a highly potent blend of BCAAs with an additional dose of essential electrolytes. Each serving provides 7 grams of BCAA with four times leucine content to augment anabolism and minimize muscle breakdown. The presence of electrolytes rehydrates the body and helps reduce fatigue.
Nutrabay Gold BCAA 4:1:1 is a certified product, tested for purity at every level and free from added sugar and prohibited substances. It comes in two delicious flavours – watermelon and berry blast.
Nutrabay Pure BCAA 2:1:1
This supplement is ideal for you if you prefer an unflavoured BCAA powder. It contains pure BCAA without any fillers, added flavours, or sweeteners.
An unflavoured BCAA allows you to enjoy it in any form or flavour. For example, one can add it to protein shakes, smoothies, mocktails, etc.
Scivation Xtend BCAA (Intra Workout Catalyst)
It is one of the top-selling BCAA supplements providing 7 grams of BCAAs with vitamin B6, citrulline malate, glutamine, and electrolytes for energy and hydration.
It comes in diverse flavours and can be used to make delicious and healthy mocktails. The product is NSF and Informed Choice certified and is an excellent option for those wanting to add more amino acids to their daily intake.
Optimum Nutrition (ON) Amino Energy
ON BCAA gives you all the energy you need for those power-packed workout sessions. It provides 5 grams of micronized and fast-absorbing amino acids for muscle growth and recovery.
Those looking for amino acids with the power of caffeine must opt for ON Amino Energy. It provides 100 mg of caffeine per serving and other amino acids like beta-alanine, taurine, and glutamine to avoid crashing during workouts.
The product is Informed-Choice certified, dope-free, and available in multiple flavours.
BigMuscles Nutrition Real BCAA
BigMuscles BCAA is precisely dosed and formulated to energize you and help you recover quickly from intense exercise sessions. It contains amino acids in a 2:1:1 ratio without any sugar and carbs. This supplement has good mixability and comes in eight yummy flavours.
MuscleBlaze BCAA Pro
MB BCAA is a superb addition if you aim to build lean mass and maximize energy levels. Along with an optimal 2:1:1 ratio, it contains glutamine, citrulline malate, and electrolytes to take your endurance to the next level.
The supplement comes in four delicious flavours without any added sugar.
MusclePharm Essential BCAA
MusclePharm BCAA supplement has a unique formulation delivering 3 g L-Leucine, 2 g L-Valine, and 1 g Isoleucine. The ratios are specifically tuned to provide the ideal amounts of all three amino acids for muscle development and maintenance.
The product is lab-tested and is available in both flavoured and unflavoured forms.
GNC AMP Gold Series BCAA Advanced with Vitamin B6
GNC BCAA provides 7 grams of instantized amino acid per serving in an optimal ratio of 2:1:1. It contains three additional vital nutrients – glutamine, vitamin B6, and L-citrulline that help reduce DOMS and improve recovery time.
The product is FSSAI approved and certified by Informed Choice. One can enjoy it in three delicious flavours without worrying about contamination.
Fast&Up BCAA Ultra Granulation Technology with 5000 mg 2:1:1 BCAA Blend
It contains a proprietary blend of instantized BCAAs with glutamine, taurine, arginine, citrulline, vitamins, and electrolytes. The ultra-granulation technology makes this supplement effective and fast-absorbing, adding muscle strength and reducing fatigue and muscle deterioration.
Fast&Up BCAA uses high-quality ingredients that are certified by Informed Sports. To treat your buds, it is available in seven lip-smacking flavours.
BPI Sports Best BCAA
BPI BCAA suits those aiming to introduce a BCAA supplement in their weight loss plan. Along with BCAA, it comes with fat-burning boosters like CLA and Omega-6 fats to ensure a smooth energy supply and build lean muscle mass.
The product is popular among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. It comes in five yummy flavours and is an excellent support for tough workouts.
By incorporating BCAA supplements into your fitness routine, you can elevate your fitness to new heights. The top 10 BCAA supplements listed here are not just a collection of products but are carefully curated based on quality, efficacy, and customer feedback. These brands have proven themselves in the industry, earning the trust of countless users and garnering ecstatic reviews.
Additionally, always remember that supplements are meant to complement a well-balanced diet and regular exercise routine. While BCAAs can undoubtedly enhance your performance and results, they work best when paired with a holistic approach to fitness and nutrition.
Which brand is the best for BCAA?
Many reputed brands of BCAA supplements are known for their safe and effective ingredients. One can choose Nutrabay BCAA supplements with varied compositions depending on the fitness goal.
Which BCAA is best for muscle growth?
One can opt for Nutrabay Pure BCAA 2:1:1 supplement that provides all three essential amino acids in an optimal ratio. The product is unflavoured and contains no flavours, sweeteners, colours, or preservatives.
But if you are into intense physical activities and prefer to enjoy BCAA supplements in distinct flavours, you can try Nutrabay Gold BCAA 4:1:1 or Nutrabay Pro BCAA 8:1:1.
Do doctors recommend BCAA?
Doctors recommend BCAA supplements only when there is a dietary inadequacy of good quality proteins, or a person is active in sports or gymming. They also advise consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet along with supplements.
One must avoid BCAA supplements in case of any pre-existing liver or kidney-related health issues.
What ratio of BCAA is best?
Studies have shown that 2:1:1 is the best ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine to amplify energy levels and lessen fatigue.
Is consuming whey protein natural?
Whey protein is an incredibly healthy option to fulfil daily protein needs. This high-quality protein source provides all essential amino acids, easy to digest, and is safe to use. Due to its scientifically proven health benefits, many, including sedentary and older people, enjoy whey protein.
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