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
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;vand
- 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: iso-leucine: 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 We’re Looking for in our Best BCAA for Women
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:
As stated above, we’re looking for the best BCAA for women that follow the proper 2:1:1 ratio.
We’re looking for brands that disclose their entire ingredient panel, so consumers understand exactly what ratio of BCAAs their getting for their money.
Price Per Serving
Clearly, our goal is to find the best BCAA for women that follows the proper ratio, discloses their ingredient profile entirely, and are also competitive in terms of price-per-serving.
Top 3 Best BCAA for Women – Starting at #3
#3: COR-Performance Beta-BCAA by Cellucor
- 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: Best BCAA by BPI Sports
Best BCAA isn’t your typical “outdated, run-of-the-mill, same as everyone else” BCAA product.
In fact, they use a unique process and absorption route that allows all three branched-chain amino acids (leucine, iso-leucine, and valine) to form oligiopeptides.
These bonded BCAAs act as a better transportation vehicle which provides:
- Allow for more efficient metabolization
- Greater bioactivity
- Increased onset time
Best BCAA includes the proper 2:1:1 ratio, with:
- 2.5 grams of leucine
- 1.25 grams of iso-leucine; and
- 1.25 grams of valine.
Best BCAA Highlights:
- Includes 5 Grams of BCAAs Per Serving
- Contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid for Added Fat Burning Effects
- Oligopeptide Multi-Chain Linked BCAA Model
- 7 Flavors
- $.42 Per Serving (best value)
#1: BCAA Glutamine by Transparent Labs
Now, in 2017, they have a full spectrum of high-performance supplements. Many of which hold high ranks on top 10 reviewed lists across the internet!
What’s the secret here?
In BCAA Glutamine, you get the full clinical dose of 2:1:1 BCAAs that no other supplement provides.
It’s as easy as that.
At Transparent Labs, we strive to live up to our name. With our supplements, you’ll always find 100% formula transparency.
All of our products include science-based ingredients at clinically effective dosages.
We hold ourselves to the highest standard of quality and integrity, and have committed to NEVER using artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or harmful additives.
This statement, which comes from their homepage, sums it up perfectly.
With a fresh and unique sense of “transparent” supplements, Transparent Labs has turned into exactly what our beloved supplement industry so desperately needed.
The launch of their newest supplement — BCAA Glutamine — is no different.
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
…this is simply the cleanest and most effective BCAA and recovery supplement we’ve seen in years.
With no proprietary blends, you see exactly how much of each ingredient you’re putting into your body with each serving.
The coolest part is, they’ve launched BCAA Glutamine in their newest flavor, Green Apple, which is the only the 2nd flavor they’ve ever launched.
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
- Save 10% – coupon code “BCAA10”
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 tell 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!