If you’re an athlete or trying to build muscle, you’ve probably heard of branched chain amino acids or BCAAs. These consist of 3 essential amino acids: Valine, Leucine, and Isoleucine, all of which are required by your muscles to synthesise protein and create energy.
For women looking to lose fat and/or gain muscle, BCAAs are important, and if you’re not getting enough from your diet, a supplement may help. Fit Nutrition has a wide range of BCAA supplements, and in this article, we’ll explore the best BCAA supplements for women, and our reasons for selecting each one.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and BCAAs are responsible for 35% of your body’s total muscle protein. These essential amino acids play an important role in fuelling, growing and repairing muscle in the body.
Leucine is the most directly linked to protein synthesis in muscle tissue. Isoleucine is involved in glucose absorption, and Valine helps to regulate glucose and distribute energy around the body. These processes all support muscle growth and reduce muscle breakdown following exercise.
What are the benefits of BCAA for women?
BCAAs have numerous potential benefits for women. They can help you to grow and retain muscle, and improve your metabolism. For this reason, they can also help with weight loss, by enabling you to burn more calories. The enzyme activated by Leucine has been found to reduce appetite, in some studies.
BCAAs can also help to increase testosterone levels in the body, which can make it easier for women to build muscle, whilst also lowering cortisol levels and reducing stress.
BCAA sources and supplements
BCAAs are not found naturally in the body, so must be obtained from your diet. The best way to get them is from foods containing high amounts, such as meat, dairy, eggs, lentils, chickpeas and soy proteins.
If you are unable to source enough BCAAs from your diet, you might look to supplementation. As with starting any supplement, this should be done in consultation with your doctor.
How to choose the best BCAA supplement for women
There are many BCAA supplements on the market, and it can be hard to tell them apart. When choosing a BBCA supplement for women, look for an appropriate ratio of the three essential amino acids. 2:1:1, with twice as much Leucine as Valine and Isoleucine, is ideal.
As well as Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, BCAA supplements often contain a variety of other micronutrients, vitamins and stimulants. They may have other essential amino acids, electrolytes to help with hydration, or caffeine to boost energy.
Consult your doctor or dietician to determine your deficiencies and health goals, so you know which additional ingredients may benefit you. Look for natural, certified formulas, and try to avoid those with artificial colours and flavourings.
Top 5 best BCAA for women
Amino Switch by Switch Nutrition
Dose: 7g (1-2 scoops), mixed into liquid.
Amino Switch is a vegan-friendly supplement that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids (EEAs) your body needs. This means it’s not only great for women looking to increase their intake of the 3 BCAAs but also their intake of L-Methionine, L-Threonine, L-Lysine, L-Phenylalanine, L-Histidine and L-Tryptophan.
Vitamins C, B6 and B12 are present in the formula, and there is a precise blend of minerals that act as electrolytes, to help with hydration. All of this can assist with energy and endurance during a workout, and reduce muscle soreness and recovery times afterwards.
When considering the women’s best BCAA, best flavour is important, and the naturally-sweetened taste of this one is consistently praised by users. The formula is gluten and dairy-free, and contains no artificial flavourings.
Vegan Essential Aminos by White Wolf
Dose: 1 scoop of 12g, mixed into 500ml of water.
As the name suggests, Vegan Essential Aminos by White Wolf contains all the 9 essential amino acids your body needs for cell function and recovery. This includes 4000mg per serving of BCAAs, in the recommended ratio of 2:1:1.
In addition, it also has a patented blend of organic mushrooms, including Reishi, Cordyceps and King Trumpet, which are said to improve your body’s ability to take in oxygen, making you feel more alert. There are also electrolytes, to boost your hydration during a workout.
With its plant-based, 100% natural formula, Vegan Essential Aminos is our BCAA powder, women’s best pick for vegans. It is sweetened with stevia, contains nothing artificial, and is free from gluten and caffeine, so it’s great for those wanting to avoid unnecessary ingredients. It is a little pricier for 30 servings than our other picks, but it’s worth it.
All Natural Plant Aminos by Macro Mike
Dose: 10g (approx. 2 scoops), mixed into 300ml of chilled water.
All Natural Plant Aminos is another entirely natural, vegan BCAA supplement, that contains no added sugar or artificial ingredients. We vote this BCAA amino, women’s best for taste.
Unlike many of its competitors, it doesn’t rely on stevia to sweeten it and instead uses natural flavourings to achieve the Tropical Mango, Strawberry Lychee and Sweet Yellow Peach tastes. This also avoids the sometimes chemical aftertaste left by stevia.
This option has everything you’d expect from a complete amino acid supplement, including BCAAs, EAAs and hydrating electrolytes. The formula is particularly recommended for preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) post-workout.
BCAA Boost by Optimum Nutrition
Dose: 1 scoop of 13g, mixed with 300-400ml of water, taken before or after a workout.
BCAA Boost again contains the recommended 2:1:1 ratio, but with an impressive total of 8g of BCAAs in each serving – the most of any supplement here. This sits alongside a mix of electrolytes (Trisodium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride) and 1g of L-Citrulline per serve.
The 1200mg of electrolytes assist in keeping you hydrating before and after exercise, whilst the L-Citrulline Malate supports blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. This can help to improve your endurance and performance during a workout, and cut your recovery times.
There are not as many other essential amino acids in this supplement as in its competitors, but some may prefer the greater focus on BCAAs. It’s available in Grape, Mango Peach and Watermelon flavours, which are achieved through sweeteners.
Dragon Fuel by Red Dragon Nutritionals
Dose: 1 scoop of 9.5g, mixed with water.
For a more comprehensive blend of amino acids, check out Dragon Fuel by Red Dragon Nutritionals. The formula contains all 9 essential amino acids – although these total 5g per serve, so you’re getting a significantly lower amount of BCAAs than in BCAA Boost.
The essential amino acid blend is designed to promote muscle protein synthesis, without spiking your blood sugar levels. It also contains an electrolyte blend consisting of coconut water powder, Himalayan rock salt, Magnesium Glycinate and Calcium Citrate, to boost your hydration.
The formula is gluten and lactose-free, and available in 4 tasty flavours – including the popular Red Frogs! Mix it with enough water to achieve your desired taste, and take it as a pre workout to help with strength, stamina and recovery.
Is BCAA good for females?
Yes, BCAA can be a good supplement for both males and females. For women, it can help to aid fat loss and build lean muscle mass, as well as improve recovery times. It may also help to reduce stress levels.
What is the best BCAA supplement for women?
We think some of the best BCAA for women in Australia is Amino Switch by Switch Nutrition. This product is a specially-formulated blend of all 9 essential amino acids, including BCAAs, and it also contains electrolytes for hydration.
Which brand of BCAA is best?
We love all the brands featured here, but we think one of the best brands of BCAA for women is Macro Mike. This small Aussie brand produces supplements that are 100% natural and plant-based, whilst still tasting great.
When should I take a BCAA supplement?
You can take BCAAs at any time, but most people take them before a workout, to help prevent muscle breakdown, increase hydration and improve performance. Alternatively, you may like to take BCAA powder immediately after exercise, to assist with recovery.
What are the side effects of BCAA supplements?
When used for short periods, serious side effects of BCAA supplements are uncommon. However, you may experience headaches, pain and nausea. BCAAs may also interfere with some medications, so it is important to ask your doctor. You should avoid taking BCAAs if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, undergoing surgery, or have chronic alcoholism.