BCAAs are essential nutrients that your muscles need for synthesising protein to make energy. They are increasingly popular as a health supplement, to help build and retain muscle, and aid fat loss.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of BCAA supplements, and give you our pick of the best BCAA Australia has to offer – based on their ingredients, taste and price. You can view Fit Nutrition’s full range of BCAA supplements here.
What are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids and consists of 3 essential amino acids: Valine, Leucine, and Isoleucine. These are the only amino acids that are metabolised in your skeletal muscle tissue, and they play an important role in the growth and repair of muscle in the body.
Leucine is one of the most revered amino acids and is the one most directly linked with muscle protein synthesis. Isoleucine plays a similar role and helps the body to absorb glucose, which can improve endurance. Valine regulates glucose levels and helps with the distribution of energy around the body, which is an essential part of reducing fat.
The body does not make these amino acids naturally, so they must be sourced from food or supplements. As well as these 3 essential amino acids, BCAA supplements often contain other ingredients, including stimulants, micronutrients, and adaptogens. Watch out for unnecessary ingredients, such as artificial colours and flavourings.
It is important to note that there is little evidence to suggest that taking BCAA amino acid supplements is more effective at building muscle than consuming it in your diet. Foods containing BCAAs include meat, eggs, milk, soy protein, chickpeas, lentils, and sesame seeds.
Benefits of BCAA
The proclaimed benefits of BCAAs are numerous. By improving the rate at which your body synthesises protein, they can help to prevent your muscles from breaking down during exercise. This may aid muscle growth and retention, and help with weight loss. Some believe that BCAAs also lessen fatigue, and improve your focus and endurance during a workout. Athletes and fitness professionals increasingly take BCAAs to enhance their performance and improve their recovery times. However, there are no scientific studies as yet that prove the effect on performance or recovery is great enough to justify supplementation.
Side Effects of BCAA
BCAAs are not often linked with serious side effects. However, possible side effects you may experience when taking them for up to 6 months include headaches, pain, and nausea. You should stop taking a BCAA supplement if you experience any of these symptoms. Consult your doctor before taking BCAA if you are on any medication, or have recently had or expect to have surgery. Avoid BCAA if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you suffer from chronic alcoholism.
Top 5 BCAAs in Australia
Complete Aminos by International Protein
This intra and post-workout powder is our top pick of the best BCAA Australia has available today.
As well as a blend of BCAAs, the formula contains natural fermented L-Glutamine - another amino acid that helps your body make protein - and PeptoPro Hydrolysed Casein. Casein is a slowly-absorbed protein found in milk, but PeptoPro is pre-digested, to deliver effects faster.
These additional micronutrients can help to improve your muscle retention and soreness after a workout and speed up your recovery following intense aerobic or anaerobic exercise. However, there is a lower amount of BCAAs per serve than with some of our other picks, and it isn’t the cheapest option.
Complete Aminos is available in a choice of 5 fruity flavours, including Honeydew Melon and Strawberry Kiwi. As it contains milk, the formula is not suitable for those following a plant-based diet.
Amino Switch by Switch Nutrition
If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly formula with all the same great muscle-boosting benefits, check out Amino Switch by Switch Nutrition.
This product contains all 9 essential amino acids, including BCAAs, which your body needs to make protein and energy. There is no Casein or Glutamine in the ingredients, but there are some essential vitamins, including B6, B12, and C, and electrolytes for rehydration.
The powdered formula is highly absorbable, so it should get to work quickly at boosting your energy and recovery times. As well as being one of the best plant-based BCAA supplements on the market, Amino Switch is also keto-friendly, gluten-free, and contains no artificial ingredients.
Choose from 5 simple yet tasty flavours, including Green Apple, Raspberry, and Lemonade. If you’re looking for the best BCAA brand for a natural and delicious formula, Switch Nutrition is it.
Beyond BCAA + EAA
The Beyond BCAA + EAA intra workout formula is specially formulated to replenish your energy and muscles during exercise.
As well as 5g of BCAAs, the ingredients list includes other essential and non-essential amino acids, and electrolytes, to help replenish those lost through sweat when exercising. This makes it a good option for those undertaking high-intensity training.
Some of the ingredients, such as Huperzine, may also improve cognitive function, helping you to stay focused during your workout. There are an extensive 7 delicious options, ranging from Peach Candy Rings to Dragon Fruit and Fijian Pineapple – perfect for tropical flavour lovers!
BCAA Boost by Optimum Nutrition
BCAA Boost contains a relatively high 8g of BCAAs, which we think makes it some of the best BCAA for muscle growth.
Also included in the formula is a high quantity (1200mg) of electrolytes, to replenish your hydration after exercise, and 1g of Citrulline Malate, to aid blood flow and increase the rate at which oxygen reaches your muscles.
As with all the BCAA supplements on this list, you can take them before or during a workout, to help boost your recovery and lessen the symptoms of delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS).
This one doesn’t have the greatest range of flavours, but you can choose between Grape, Mango Peach and Watermelon. It is one of the most affordable options in our selection.
Hydro BCAA by Pro Supps
At a similar price point, the final supplement to make it into our round-up of the best BBCA in Australia is Hydro BCAA by Pro Supps. This supplement contains 7g of BCAAs, at the common ratio of 2:1:1 (with 2 parts Leucine).
The formula also has Citrulline and Glutamine, to further promote protein synthesis, and aid your performance and recovery. This is as well as 3g of EAAs and electrolytes, to help you rehydrate after a workout.
Flavours on offer include Blue Razzberry and Fruit Punch. Pro Supps achieve these with some artificial flavourings, so this might not be the best choice for those wanting an all-natural option.
What’s the best BCAA supplement?
The best BCAA supplement for you will depend on your dietary needs, weight, and fitness goals; for example, whether you want to retain muscle, follow a keto or plant-based diet, or lose fat. The best BCAA for women and men can also differ, with some studies suggesting that women and men need to consume 9g and 12g of BCAAs a day, respectively.
For a general best BCAA supplement that will suit most users’ needs, you can’t go far wrong with Complete Aminos by International Protein. It is well-balanced, has a good range of flavours, and contains additional micronutrients to aid muscle growth and retention.
What is the best tasting BCAA?
We think the best tasting BCAA supplement is Beyond BCAA + EAA. The 7 delicious flavours offer something for everyone, and all come highly rated. This is certainly one of the best BCAA powders to satisfy a sweet tooth!
What is the best plant-based BCAA?
One of the best plant-based BCAA supplements is Amino Switch by Switch Nutrition. This tasty formula is perfect for vegans and vegetarians who want to boost their BCAA intake, but avoid consuming animal products.
What is the best BCAA for muscle growth?
The best BCAA for muscle growth is one that will complement your pre-workout and protein powder supplementation. BCAA Boost by Optimum Nutrition contains a high 8g of BCAA, which will ensure your body has enough essential amino acids to synthesise protein and build lean muscle.