We’ve all seen them:
The people in the gym that carry their shaker bottles (or 1-liter jugs) filled with what appears to be a bright pink concoction of “Michael’s Secret Stuff” (shoutout to Spacejam)…
Chances are, it’s some sort of branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) drink.
More often than not, the debate as to whether or not BCAAs are crucial, let alone… necessary, are often a topic of great controversy in the fitness and nutrition realm.
Some swear by their ability to “fill the gaps” in daily nutrition…
Some guarantee that they help to preserve the “fasted state”…
Some find them to be completely unnecessary if you’re hitting your daily macronutrients properly.
- So, what’s the deal?
- Are BCAAs necessary?
- Are they just for men?
- Do they provide the same benefits to women?
- If so, what is the best BCAA for women?
Before we jump into those questions, we need to better understand the function of BCAAs.
And to that point… let’s start at the top!
What are Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)?
Branched-chain amino acids are, essentially, a group of three essential amino acids.
The most important word to note here is “essential“.
“Essential”, in this setting, refers to a specific type of amino acid that cannot be produced naturally within out body.
This means, in order for our body to get them, we must consume them by some form of dietary supplement, food, of liquid.
“Non-Essential” amino acid, on the other hand, refers to ones that can be produced naturally within our bodies and are not required to be added to our diet and supplementation.
BCAAs contain the following essential amino acids:
Known as the “favorite child” of the three BCAAs, leucine is primarily responsible for stimulating protein synthesis.
As you probably know, protein synthesis is crucial to the development of new muscle.
Recent research has shown that the level of amino acids in our blood is directly correlated to the amount of protein synthesis that occurs in our muscles.
Another key benefit of leucine includes the activation of an enzyme known as “mTOR”.
mTOR is most notably responsible for cell growth and helping to stimulate fat loss while maintaining muscle mass (specifically, when in a calorie deficit).
Considered to be the second most important, iso-leucine helps to increase glucose metabolism and glucose absorption in the muscle tissue.
It’s also known to increase energy levels and regulate blood sugar levels .
Isoleucine also plays a pivotal role in the energy supply of muscle tissues, which is particularly critical during periods of extensive exercise or in acute hunger periods.
Which means that… unless isoleucine is present in high enough quantities in the blood, the body will be required to access its “storage reserves”, inevitably leading to a reduction in leucine and muscle mass.
And clearly, for athletes and bodybuilders, this is a huge “no-no”, if they want to stay on track with their goal progression.
In a distant third comes valine, which does have some valuable applications, names as an aid in the/as:
- Fermentation of alcoholic beverages
- A central building block of many important enzymes
Valine assists in the body’s energy provisioning processes and therefore, plays an important role in building physical strength and muscle mass.
Why You Should Consider Using a BCAA Supplement (Remove Consider?)
For those of you who have made the commitment to take your training to the next level…
…the next steps to consider include:
Getting your nutritional and supplemental regimen in place!
As we all know, weight lifting and sound nutrition can only take you so far.
In order to take your physique to the next level and to maximize your results, supplements like BCAAs are crucial for filling in the gaps.
By getting a full daily dose of essential amino acids, you’re able to properly set the foundation for your supplement regimen.
The following are some of the primary reasons you should consider using a BCAA supplement:
Immune System Support
One of the first benefits you’ll begin to notice when using BCAAs on a daily basis is the effect that it has on your immune system.
Every time you workout and put your body through strenuous physical activity, you’re placing a large amount of stress on your body. This, we know…
So, if your body isn’t prepared to tolerate this increased stress level…
…it’s quickly going to become familiar with all-too-common training downfalls related to:
- Muscle fatigue
- Decreased recovery; and
- Overall feeling of exhaustion
Ultimately, making it easier to give up on your goals.
Because these essential amino acids aren’t produced naturally by the body (they must be consumed directly), your immune system naturally becomes weaker by failing to ingest them yourself.
Protection Against Essential Amino Acid Deficiencies
Clearly, by supplementing your daily diet with the proper BCAA supplement, you’re able to ensure that you won’t experiences deficiencies in overall amino acid levels.
Makes sense, right?
This is particularly important for men and women who are constantly “on the go”, are in caloric deficits (dieting/cutting), and/or for competitors who are actively preparing for upcoming competitions.
For the more experienced athletes and bodybuilders, both men and women, who are consciously aware of the rate of protein synthesis taking place in their body, it’s important to maintain proper amino levels as well.
New muscle mass can only be built when protein synthesis takes place. In essence, old muscle tissue is repaired while the new muscle tissues are built up.
In essence, old muscle tissue is being repaired while the new muscle tissues are being built up.
And clearly, the faster this process takes place, the faster you’ll see results in muscle and strength gains.
Maintaining Lean Muscle Mass
Any time your body is under physical stress, you’re required to take a break from:
- Training; and
- Physical exertion
The problem with this is the increased risk of muscle loss over extended periods of time.
Some of the most crucial times to make sure you’re supplementing with proper BCAAs as early as possible are:
- After you’ve undergone a major surgery; and
- When you’re required to take an extended break from physical activity,
This kind of supplementation helps to speed up the rate of recovery.
Most of us spend our time thinking about getting enough proteins and carbs during the crucial pre- and post-workout periods, or even other supplements that help with muscle building (creatine, etc.), which often results in the neglect of our BCAA supplements.
With all of this in mind, it’s imperative to understand the importance that branched-chain amino acids play in our supplement regimens.
What is the Proper BCAA Ratio?
We recommend a BCAA product with a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine: isoleucine: valine.
Many products in the market, however, have inflated ratios up to 8:1:1 and sometimes even as high as 10:1:1.
For those that are unfamiliar with the way BCAAs really work, they see these are premium products because of the importance of leucine.
So, they figure, “this product must be 5 times better than a 2:1:1 ratio BCAA!”.
Avoid this logic – it’s misinformed.
A commonly referenced study from Baylor University tested the effectiveness of a 2:1:1 BCAA Ratio, and discovered that this ratio increased protein synthesis most effectively (even more so than using leucine exclusively).
Another reason to employ this 2:1:1 ratio is because it helps to maximize energy and minimize fatigue.
For a more comprehensive explanation on this, we recommend reviewing Dr. Jim Stoppani’s article about proper BCAA ratios.
What to look for in your BCAAs
When it comes to BCAAs, for men or women, what you want to keep an eye out for is pretty simple. We’ve listed a couple of items below:
Proper 2:1:1 Ratio: We’re looking for BCAAs that are clinically dosed in a proper 2:1:1 ratio.
No hidden blends: Full label disclosure speaks volumes about the brand. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to go with a brand that tells you exactly what you’re putting in your body.
Overall Value: Our objective is to provide you with up to date BCAA supplements that are properly dosed, ingredient transparent, and competitive in terms of price-per-serving.
Top 10 Best BCAAs for Women
#10: Naked Nutrition BCAAs
Don’t let its place at #10 on our list fool you. Naked is easily the best choice for those who just want pure, high-quality BCAAs and nothing extra, like many unnatural ingredients.
With Naked, you don’t have to deal with unnecessary ingredients and marketing gimmicks. In fact, this is how they’re able to provide more effective powder for less.
Each Container of Naked BCCAs Has:
- 100 Total Servings!
- Plant-Based BCAAs (Vegan-Friendly)
- Caffeine, Soy, Gluten, and GMO-Free
- No Artificial Flavors, Dyes or Additives
Unlike other supplements, Naked provides full ingredient transparency so you know exactly what you’re getting, and how much. BCAAs naturally taste neutral, but the same can’t be said about its smell. This is because it doesn’t contain added enhancers- just pure BCAAs.
Naked Nutrition BCAA Highlights:
- 5 grams of Raw 2:1:1 Fermented BCAAs
- Versatile; can be taken anytime
- Not The Best Smell (No Added ‘Enhancers’)
- Excellent Value for Pure BCAAs
#9: Genius Nootropic BCAAs
Designed with versatility in mind, Genius is an ideal choice for those wanting something more. What interests us most is its inclusion of cognition-enhancing ingredients or nootropics.
Nootropics are useful for combating both mental and physical fatigue. Genius provides patented neuroprotective ingredients that help improve focus, energy, and reduce stress.
Each Container of Genius Nootropic BCAAs has:
- 21 Total Servings
- Light Amount of Caffeine (100mg)
- 10 Science-Backed Ingredients
- No Artificial Sweeteners or Dyes
Genius takes ingredient quality seriously and uses fermented, plant-based BCAAs. Other supplements have been seen to use duck feathers, or in some cases, even human hair.
Genius Nootropic BCAA Highlights:
- 5 grams of 2:1:1 Instantized BCAAs
- 3 grams of L-Glutamine to Replenish Lost Stores
- 250mg Cognizin to Increase Energy & Focus
- 200mg Rhodiola Rosea for Reducing Fatigue
#8: Truth Nutrition BCAAs
Compared to other products, the difference couldn’t be more clear. Many cheap brands use sources like feathers, pig or human hair to make their BCAAs. Truth does not.
Instead, Truth utilizes fermented, plant-based BCAA sources. This means it can dissolve faster in water (instantized), is non-allergenic, and BSE/TSE free.
Each container of Truth BCAAs has:
- Solid 30 Servings Per Canister
- Added Electrolytes to Support Hydration
- Caffeine, Gluten, and GMO-Free
- No Artificial Flavors or Colors
Truth also contains a solid blend of electrolyte minerals like sodium and potassium. Electrolytes are used to help improve hydration and help regulate proper cellular function.
Truth Nutrition BCAA Highlights:
- Provides 5 grams of 2:1:1 Fermented BCAAs
- Includes 3 grams of L-Glutamine for Recovery
- Helps Relieve Stress With 300mg of Ashwagandha
- Mixes Quick and Tastes Amazing (Great job on this)
#7: Labrada Nutrition BCAAs
Most BCAAs are heavily refined and extracted from less than optimal sources, like hair and feathers. Labrada’s BCAAs are proudly made from fermented lab cultures. This results in less potential allergens and better amino acids.
Labrada also includes key nutrients like L-Glutamine and various electrolytes. Your body loses them through exercise, so replenishing them is vital for proper function.
Each container of Labrada BCAAs has:
- 30 Total Servings
- No Animal Products
- No Caffeine or Stimulants
- 1 gram Coconut Water Extract for Hydration
In addition to its high-quality formula, Labrada’s BCAAs tasted and mixed surprisingly well. Our favorite flavor (which we highly suggest trying) is definitely Pina Colada.
Labrada Nutrition BCAA Highlights:
- Provides 7 grams of Fermented 2:1:1 BCAAs
- Includes 3 grams of L-Glutamine
- Tastes Great, Dissolves Rapidly
- No Artificial Colors, Preservatives or Aspartame
#6: Jim Stoppani POST JYM
Made by the supplement titan Jim Stoppani, POST JYM aims to provide functional ingredients at effective dosages. But can it really deliver? Short answer: Yes. And here’s how.
For starters, POST Jym doesn’t have hidden proprietary blends. In fact, it offers more efficient (patented) ingredients like CarnoSyn beta-alanine, CarniPure l-carnitine l-tartrate, and even BioPerine to name a few.
Each container of Post JYM has:
- 30 Servings Per Container (20 grams per)
- Contains Natural & Artificial Ingredients
- 2 grams of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate for Recovery
- 1.5 grams of Betaine to Support Strength
In addition to its 8 science-backed ingredients, Post JYM dissolves quickly and tastes sweet. We recommend trying its lemonade flavor.
Jim Stoppani POST JYM Highlights:
- 6 grams of 3:1:1 BCAAs for Muscle Growth (Good ratio)
- 3 grams of L-Glutamine for Recovery
- 2g of Creatine HCL + 2g of CarnoSyn beta-alanine
- 5mg of BioPerine for Improved Absorption
#5: Kaged Muscle IN-KAGED
Formulated for results, IN-KAGED BCAA is one of the best intra-workouts available. This is due to its 3 ingredient matrixes: Muscle Fuel, Endura-Pump, and Neuro-Energy.
For example, Muscle Fuel promotes recovery and growth. Endura-Pump helps support endurance and hydration. Finally, Neuro-Energy helps enhance cognition and focus. Together, they improve your overall athletic performance.
Each Tub of IN-KAGED Has:
- 20 Transparent Servings of Powder (17 grams)
- Various Electrolytes to Support Hydration
- Plant-Based & Vegan-Friendly
- No Artificial Sweeteners Flavors or Dyes
Additionally, IN-KAGED is regularly tested for purity and is free of banned substances. It also balances flavor and mixability nicely without using unnatural ingredients, which is great to see.
Kaged Muscle IN-KAGED Highlights:
- Includes 5 grams of 2:1:1 instantized BCAAs
- 3 grams of L-Citrulline Malate + 1.6g beta-alanine
- Aids Cognition With 1g of Taurine + 500mg L-Tyrosine
- Boosts Energy With 124mg of Caffeine
#4: Scivation Xtend BCAAs
Scivation is relatively infamous with regard to BCAAs. Each serving contains nearly 14 grams of powder, of which 7 grams (half) is made up of BCAAs in a proper 2:1:1 ratio.
The other half of this blend is a mix of various ingredients like l-glutamine, citrulline malate, electrolytes, and artificial flavoring.
Each Canister of Scivation XTEND Has:
- 20 Servings of Powder
- Full Ingredient Disclosure
- Improves Hydration With Electrolytes
- Caffeine, Sugar, Carbs, and Calorie Free
Scivation Xtend also doesn’t have proprietary blends, which is refreshing. There are a lot of different flavors to pick from but our favorite was easily grape.
Scivation Xtend BCAA Highlights:
- 7 grams of proper 2:1:1 BCAAs
- 2.5 grams of L-Glutamine
- 1 gram of Citrulline Malate
- Tasted Sweet and Mixed Fast
#3: COR-Performance Beta-BCAA by Cellucor
Cellucor’s premium BCAA product, Beta-BCAA, comes as part of their COR-Performance product line and boasts a per serving lineup of:
- 5 grams of BCAAs (2.5:1.25:1.25)
- 2 grams of citrulline malate
- 1.6 grams of beta-alanine; and
- 75 mg of HICA.
This is pretty impressive when you think of it.
All of these ingredients are proven to help athletes to:
- Build muscle
- Sustain maximum output; and
- Recovery from intense training
Also, note the addition of the proven and well-liked “pump-product”, beta-alanine, which is responsible for the “tingling” skin sensation that most users feel after taking.
COR-Performance Beta-BCAA Highlights:
- Includes 5 Grams of BCAAs Per Serving
- Includes 2 Grams of Citrulline Malate Per Serving
- Includes 1.6 Grams of Beta-Alanine Per Serving
- $2.66 Per Serving
#2: Staunch BCAA +Hydration
Staunch’s BCAA +Hydration isn’t your typical “outdated, run-of-the-mill, same as everyone else” BCAA product.
Instead, Staunch BCAA utilizes vegan-friendly plant based BCAAs in a clinically proven 7 gram dosage. To improve performance, BCAA + Hydration also includes 500 mg of Sustamine along with 1.5 grams of coconut water extract for hydration!
BCAA + Hydration includes the proper 2:1:1 ratio, with:
- 3.5 grams of leucine
- 1.75 grams of iso-leucine; and
- 1.75 grams of valine.
Best BCAA Highlights:
- Includes 7 Grams of BCAAs Per Serving
- Contains 500 mg Sustamine
- 1.5 Grams Coconut Water Powder
- Delicious Flavors
- Represented by Bodybuilding Sensation Calum Von Moger
#1: BCAA Glutamine by Transparent Labs
If you haven’t heard of Transparent Labs already, then you must have been living under a rock. As one of the newest and fastest growing supplement companies, Transparent Labs has excelled to the top by providing only the highest quality products.
With this formula, including:
- 8 grams of BCAA in the recommended 2:1:1 ratio
- 5 grams of Glutamine; and
- 1 gram of Coconut Water Powder
- Vegan-Friendly Premium Plant-based BCAAs
…this is simply the cleanest and most effective BCAA and recovery supplement we’ve seen.
With no proprietary blends, you see exactly how much of each ingredient you’re putting into your body with each serving.
After trying it ourselves and reading reviews from customers, we’re confident in saying that this is the best BCAA for women on the market.
BCAA Glutamine Highlights:
- Includes 8 grams of BCAAs per serving
- Includes 5 grams of Glutamine per serving
- Includes 1 Gram of Coconut Water Powder
- Available in Blue Raspberry & Green Apple
Round Up: Best BCAAs for Women
If you’re new to Supplement Demand, you’ll quickly learn that our goal for each and every one of our “best supplement” ranking articles is simple:
To educate and inform our readers.
To take this one step further, we aim to help you to learn:
- What to look for each different supplement category; and
- The most important element to compare and contrast amongst various related supplements
We’re passionate about providing elaborate guides, with with the most important information to help you know:
- What to look for
- What to avoid; and
- Key ingredients
Along with that, we also do our best to provide all of the other necessary details that ultimately play an important role in you being able to achieve your fitness goals with the supplement that are best for you.
At the end of the day…
All BCAAs are not created equally.
Each product on our best BCAA for women guide will affect everybody differently.
Everyone has different deficiencies and intolerances towards different ingredients.
We get this.
We always recommend trying new products until you find one that is best for you.
Ultimately, you have nothing to lose.
What we see more often than not…
Is that you’ve been using the same BCAA supplements since our first day in the gym.
So… if you’re serious about what you put into your body and the specific supplements you grant access into your “supplement regimen”…
…then we absolutely recommend giving one of these new protein powders a shot the next time you stock up.
If you’ve read through this entire guide up until this point, it tells us (and you) a couple of pretty important things:
- That you’re committed to learning about what makes the best protein powders for weight loss the best
- That you care enough about educating yourself that you don’t simply buy what any site recommends; and
- That you’re looking (and excited) to try something new
And for that, we applaud you!
We know that it’s not easy to sift through the internet to find what’s truly the best of the best, so by taking the time to learn for yourself, shows that you’ve engaged, prepared, and dedicated to finding the perfect solution for you!
This, at the end of the day, is always what’s most important when it comes to what you put in your body.
Especially, when it comes to sports nutrition supplements!
We appreciate you taking the time to visit Supplement Demand and we look forward to having you back again soon!
Feel free to leave us your comments and questions, especially when you decide to try one of our recommendations, as there’s nothing we love more, as a team, than to learn that we’ve made an impact on one of our readers and the supplements that they choose to use!