Which BCAA powders are best?

There are always new workout supplements that generate a lot of buzz, but branched-chain amino acids have been a long-standing staple of athletes and weekend warriors looking to get the most out of their performance in the gym by building and repairing muscle tissue.  

Of the 20 amino acids that make up the proteins found in the human body, three are BCAAS, including leucine, isoleucine and valine. You can find them in meat, eggs and dairy products, but you can also purchase BCAA powder to supplement and increase your level of BCAAs, such as the XTEND Original BCAA Powder.

What to know before you buy a BCAA powder

Benefits of BCAAs

  • Build muscle: Similar to protein powders, which contain all 20 amino acids, BCAAs specifically stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which leads to muscle growth. 
  • Delay fatigue: One reason we fatigue during exercise is that muscles use BCAAs, so increasing your level can delay fatigue. 
  • Decrease soreness: Research has shown that BCAAs can decrease the muscle soreness commonly experienced a day after exercise. 


Most BCAA powders contain 5 grams of BCAAs,  but some brands include 7 grams. 


The amount or ratio of the three main ingredients can vary between brands, but the most popular and recommended by experts is 2:1:1 of leucine to Isoleucine and valine. 

What to look for in a BCAA powder

Other ingredients 

It’s possible to purchase BCAA powder that contains only leucine, isoleucine and valine. However, some brands include other ingredients and amino acids to aid in recovery and muscle growth. Some brands add electrolytes to aid in hydration. More ingredients often result in a higher-priced product. 


There is no getting around the fact that pure BCAA powder does not taste very good if mixed in water alone, which is why many brands offer a wide variety of flavors to combat the poor taste. 

Ease of mixing

BCAA powder can be mixed in with water, juice or added to a protein shake. This isn’t a problem if mixing the product in a blender, but some products don’t mix well in water and can be lumpy. This is natural, but some brands have created a BCAA powder that mixes much better. 

How much you can expect to spend on a BCAA powder

It’s essential to consider the size of the container, serving size and the number of servings in the container before purchasing BCAA powder because that can vary between brands. 

If looking at the price per ounce, that can range from $1-$5, but the average cost $1.50-$2 range, which usually translates to spending $15-$30 for a 30-serving container. 

BCAA powder FAQ

When is the best time to take BCAA powder?

A. BCAAs can be taken any time of day but are most effective for building muscle if taken at least 15 minutes before a workout. This can also increase your energy and stamina during a workout. Some prefer to take BCAA powder after a workout to help aid in muscle recovery. 

Do I need to take BCAA powder with food?

A. No. What’s great about BCAA powder is that you can take it with or without food. Some people prefer to take it on an empty stomach because that allows them to take effect quicker. 

Can I take BCAA powder before bed?

A. Unlike a traditional pre-workout supplement that contains caffeine, most BCAA powder is stimulant-free so that it won’t keep you up at night. Some people have found it beneficial to take BCAA powder before bed to aid in protein synthesis overnight. 

What are the best BCAA powders to buy?

Best of the best 

XTEND Original BCAA Powder

XTEND Original BCAA Powder 

What you need to know: This contains 7 grams of BCAAs, comes available in 15 different flavors and contains electrolytes to help keep you hydrated throughout your workout. 

What you’ll love: Containing no sugar, calories or carbs, this BCAA powder helps muscle growth. In addition to the three BCAAs, this also contains glutamine, further aiding in muscle recovery. 

What you should consider: This product does contain ingredients other than BCAAs to help aid in recovery and hydration, so be sure to check the label before purchasing. 

Where to buy: Sold by Bodybuilding.com, Amazon and iHerb

Best bang for the buck

Evlution Nutrition BCAA 5000

Evlution Nutrition BCAA 5000

What you need to know: Available in multiple flavors and at a budget-friendly price point, this BCAA powder can help aid in muscle recovery, increase endurance and help you achieve your fitness goals. 

What you’ll love: With 5 grams of BCAAs, this product contains zero calories, no sugar, no carbohydrates and it’s gluten-free. It can promote lean muscle growth and help prevent muscle breakdown after intense workouts by providing an additional fuel source. 

What you should consider: Opinions can vary about the taste of various flavors. 

Where to buy: Sold by Bodybuilding.com, Amazon and iHerb

Worth checking out

Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Powder

Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Powder 

What you need to know: This BCAA powder is instantized, which means that it’s easy to mix in water, juice or your pre or post-workout shakes. 

What you’ll love: These 5 grams of BCAAs can jumpstart protein synthesis before, during or after a workout. It can help to build muscle, prevent soreness and increase endurance. 

What you should consider: Some customers feel the unflavored product is much too harsh and recommend the flavored varieties. 

Where to buy: Sold by Bodybuilding.com, Amazon and iHerb


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.