The Best Amino Acids for Working out, Muscle Growth and Recovery

In the past I have openly talked about my own experience with weight loss. This means that I know how hard it can be for anyone just starting out on their own journey.

Getting into shape can be a catch 22 for a number of reasons. First of all - you want to lose weight, but you don’t want to lose muscle at the same time.

Secondly, you feel like you need to work out as much as possible, but a big workout leaves you too sore to exercise for days afterwards. It can be hard to strike a balance, especially when you want results quickly.

One extremely popular way to combat these challenges is to try amino acid supplements (source). Of course, supplements are not magic; they need to be used alongside a good diet and workout plan.

I’ve selected a few of the best amino acid supplements on the market for working out, muscle growth and recovery. If you’re considering using amino acid supplements but aren’t sure which is the right fit for your needs, then read on. I’ll cover who should use amino acid supplements along with the different types available and pros and cons for each.

Who Should Try Amino Acid Supplements?

Maybe you're just starting to make a serious effort to shed those extra pounds and want to get the most from your diet and workouts. Or perhaps you’ve been working hard for a while and want to workout harder, burn more calories and retain more muscle mass. Either way, you could potentially benefit from using an amino acid supplement.

What Can Amino Acid Supplements Do For You?

In the past few years, using branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements has become very trendy in the fitness community. Some people will tell you that once you realize what they can do for you, it will be like discovering a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow! Sounds amazing right?

These claims are not unfounded. More and more research is revealing the power of BCAAs. Their power surpasses that of many other popular supplements.

Probably the biggest advantage of using BCAAs for the everyday average Joe is that BCAAs help prevent your body from breaking down muscle.

If you’re dieting by restricting calories you'll obviously lose weight, but, this will be through both the loss of fat and muscle. BCAAs help you maintain lean muscle mass while losing a greater percentage of body fat (source)

Research has also shown that branched-chain amino acids have a number of other benefits when it comes to working out.

Firstly, they reduce the levels of serotonin you produce while exercising. In practical terms, you’ll feel less fatigued and will be able to work out harder for longer.

In addition, BCAAs can help you to build muscle as well as aid post-workout recovery.

How to Choose the Right Amino Acid Supplement

First and foremost, choosing the right amino acid supplement comes down to personal preference. Do you prefer to take supplements as a capsule or as a powdered drink? This is a major factor when deciding which amino acid supplements you’re interested in.

Unlike choosing other supplements where you can simply compare ingredients and choose the best, all branched chain amino acid supplements include the same three amino acids, i.e. L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine.

These are necessary to promote protein synthesis, supply muscle energy and preserve lean mass (source).

The best advice I can give you when choosing the best amino acid supplement for working out, muscle growth and recovery is to go for the most pure option you can find.

Many supplements have extra ingredients like caffeine. In my opinion, these aren’t really necessary. Plus, there have been some controversial reports of a number of supplements including ingredients such as feathers and even human hair! Therefore, if you find a product with anything other than the essential ingredients, I’d avoid it.

Of course with that said, even after eliminating supplements with a complex ingredient list, there are still a wide variety of options out there. It’s not a straightforward choice!

Our Picks

To make things a little easier, I’ve looked around and narrowed it down to 5 of the best BCAAs on the market today. I’ve provided enough details for you to make your own decision and have also listed my own ultimate favorite. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Price

Our rating

This is another powder supplement that has very few negatives and a boat load of positives.

First of all, it is pure BCAAs with a massive 10 grams per serving. It comes in two sizes both at a great price. The smaller option is a good size to take with you to the gym. It also comes in a range of 9 flavors.

The only downside I have found to this product is that some people have said a couple of the flavors taste bad; however, other people have said they taste great! So I guess it’s a matter of personal preference.

Pros


  • Pure BCAAs
  • High dose BCAAs per serving
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • Range of available sizes
  • Good price

Cons


  • The flavorings are not to everyone’s taste

Price

Our rating

This product is a really great option for people looking for a powder supplement. The thing that drew me to it most of all was the fact it is 100% pure BCAAs. It’s even lab tested to guarantee its purity.

This product that gives you best value for money and comes in a handy zip pouch.

The only downsides are that it contains a rather low dose of BCAAs, especially compared to the other powders available. Secondly, users report the taste as being repulsive when not mixed with something strongly flavored.

However, if you're looking for a powder that you can mix in with your existing post workout shake; this might be the best option for you.

Pros


  • Clean powder
  • No additives or fillers
  • Lab tested to guarantee purity
  • Lots of sizes available for convenience
  • Comes in zip lock bag

Cons


  • Low dose of BCAAs
  • Tastes bad

Price

Our rating

If you know that you definitely want a capsule supplement, this product could be for you. Probably the best capsule BCAA supplement on the market, they are made up of just BCAAs and nothing more.

They do however, come at quite a low dose per capsule of only 1.6 grams of BCAAs. Although, this could be a good thing to anyone using supplements for the first time.

There are very few negatives to this product as most people who have used them report great results.

Pros


  • Just BCAAs, no additives
  • Users report feeling more energized
  • Users report having faster recovery from workouts

Cons


  • Low dose of BCAAs
  • Large pills could be difficult to swallow

Price

Our rating

This product is one of the best capsule options you can find for a branched chain amino acid supplement. It comes in a small light bottle that’s convenient to carry with your gym gear. The price for a one month supply is reasonable too.

One downfall of this product is the size of the capsules. They are quite large and some people find them difficult to swallow. If you struggle with swallowing pills, these may not be the best choice.

Another side note, this product contains gelatin. This means it’s not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

Pros


  • Small convenient bottle
  • Reasonable price
  • Full month supply

Cons


  • Low dose of BCAAs
  • Difficult to swallow
  • Contains gelatin

Price

Our rating

This BCAA supplement comes in powder form which you can mix with water, which is very convenient for a lot of people. It comes in a range of flavors too.

One large tub offers 65 servings at a reasonable price. Plus it provides a really good dose of amino acids at 5 grams per serving.

However, this is predominantly an energy drink. It has 100mg of caffeine in each serving and a number of additives. Personally, I wouldn’t use this product, simply because I would only want the BCAAs without anything extra.

However, if you're the type of person that likes to have an energy drink before you hit the gym and you want to ensure you’re getting proper levels of BCAAs, this is a great option.

Pros


  • Reasonable price
  • High dose of amino acids
  • Over 2 month supply
  • Range of flavors

Cons


  • High in caffeine
  • Lots of added preservatives
  • Flavors may not be to everyone’s taste

Which is Best?

Out of all of the 5 options I personally preferred the BSN Amino X. I would rather use a powder supplement made of pure BCAAs without any additives or fillers.

However,you may feel one of the capsule options would suit better. If you try one, let me know how it goes!

Also, if you're experienced with BCAAs and happen to have a favorite I haven’t listed, please feel free to get in touch. It is always great to get feedback from our readers, especially if you have personal experience with any of the products I’ve mentioned.

References:
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bcaas-the-many-benefits-of-amino-acids.html
http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/bcaas-what-they-are-and-why-to-take-them
http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/supplement-guide-branched-chain-amino-acids
https://examine.com/supplements/branched-chain-amino-acids/

Helen Sanders
 

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!

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