If you workout often, you’ve probably heard the term “BCAA’s” being thrown around like weights. For most women, they automatically assume it’s some bodybuilder trick to get bigger muscles and elect to stay away from it. The truth is, BCAA’s are more important than you think — male or female.
While it’s not always necessary to supplement with BCAA’s, those with active lifestyles or limited diets might be required to. First, you’ll have to understand what they are, what they do for the body, and when it’s time to supplement with them. Furthermore, you’ll need to ensure you select the right product before consuming anything.
Don’t worry, we’ll break it all down for you below so you can make an informed decision come shopping day!
What Are BCAA’s?
BCAA’s, also known as Branched-Chain Amino Acids, are a group of three essential amino acids that promote muscle growth and muscle recovery. In order to fully understand the importance of BCAA’s in our daily diet, we need to first understand what amino acids are and why some are considered “essential.”
Amino acids are referred to as the building blocks of protein and there are 20 of them in total. Since protein plays a major role in a wide variety of body functions, it’s imperative we maintain enough of each amino acid. While our body will produce 11 of them naturally, the other 9 must be consumed through our diet.
These 9 amino acids are known as “essential” amino acids since our body doesn’t produce them. The 9 essential amino acids are phenylalanine, leucine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, lysine, isoleucine, and histidine.
Bringing this ship full-circle, three of those essential amino acids — valine, leucine, isoleucine — make up more than 1/3 of the amino acids located in lean muscle tissue. They play a major role in muscle repair and muscle growth and can be viewed as the “kings” of the amino acid group.
Because of this, they’ve inherited a unique name — BCAA. Let’s take a closer look at these three amino acids:
- Leucine – This is the most powerful BCAA. It helps activate the protein mTOR, induces protein synthesis, the building of muscle, and the repair of muscle.
- Isoleucine – this amino acid plays a major role in boosting energy levels, muscle recovery, and regulating blood sugar levels. It’ll help our bodies increase glucose intake, as well as how our body uses it. It’s known as the second most powerful BCAA.
- Valine – this will be the weakest BCAA and will present benefits similar to the other two. It won’t have any known unique properties but is an essential amino acid nonetheless.
BCAA’s aren’t metabolized like most other amino acids. Instead of heading to the liver first, BCAA’s are sent directly to skeletal muscles to be broken down. This will make BCAA’s much more effective than other amino acids, hence the importance of supplementation in most cases.
If you eat enough protein, you likely consume enough BCAA’s, but those that workout or lead active lifestyles may need more of it. They will provide a wide range of benefits to those putting a consistent strain on your muscles every day. Here are some of the major benefits you’ll receive:
- Muscle Growth – muscle protein synthesis is a process that builds muscle. BCAA’s will help stimulate this process, which we benefit from when recovering post-exercise.
- Muscle Wasting – there are two things going on with muscle proteins at all times, the breakdown and synthesis of those proteins. When there’s an imbalance between these two processes, you might need to supplement it.
- Muscle Soreness – since a BCAA will promote a decline in muscle damage, users have reported less soreness after a workout and a faster recovery time.
- Exercise Fatigue – in addition to soreness, a BCAA can help reduce fatigue suffered after physical activity. Muscles burn through BCAA’s during exercise, which is why supplementation would be important.
While BCAA’s aren’t known to directly improve athletic performance, they can indirectly do so by improving your recovery and how you feel after a workout. This will allow you to stay in tip-top shape all day long.
When is it time to supplement with BCAA’s?
While most research and studies with BCAA’s are done with men, there are a few out there that target women. It’s still a small sample size, but the research is positive thus far. One study found that women not only saw a decrease in soreness following a workout but also faster recovery time and returning back to form the following day.
For women that don’t eat enough protein in the day, there’s a chance you aren’t getting the amount of BCAA’s your body needs. This can also be true for women who work out frequently, meaning you’re burning more BCAA’s than normal.
A healthy dose for an athletic woman will typically consist of 5g-8g of BCAA’s. Most powder forms will include a 2:1:1 ratio in regards to leucine:isoleucine: valine. Those that eat a lot of protein won’t need nearly as much, but it will all depend on your exercise habits and metabolism.
If you just simply don’t eat enough protein, a good amount will be 2-4g of BCAA’s.
It’s typically best to consume BCAA’s before or after your workout, but between meals will also work. The goal is to take them on an empty stomach since we get BCAA’s in most protein-rich foods.
Do BCAA’s Include Any Other Ingredients?
When you’re shopping around for BCAA’s, you’ll obviously want to make sure it includes the three amino acids we’ve been raving about — leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Outside of that, there are a wide variety of other ingredients you might find in BCAA products.
While most companies will include unnecessary ingredients, some of them will work well alongside BCAA’s and can be a great addition to your daily supplement. Let’s take a look at some ingredients you should consider looking for:
Turmeric Root Extract
- What It Is: Many people know turmeric as that spice that gives food a yellow color. It has been used in India for thousands of years and contains curcumin, a powerful substance.
- Recommended Dose: 500mg
- Benefits: anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, improved cognitive function, prevent heart disease
- What It Is: This herb originated from Europe and Asia and play a major role in helping us manage stress levels.
- Recommended Dose: 300-500mg
- Benefits: Reduce stress, helps fight fatigue and depression, improves brain function, and improves exercise performance.
- What It Is: This is another herb originating from India that can help us fight stress and anxiety. It has been used for thousands of years.
- Recommended Dose: 300-500mg
- Benefits: Reduce stress, reduce blood sugar levels, reduce cortisol levels, helps fight depression and inflammation, and can improve brain function.
- What It Is: When you look at coconut water, it’s almost 96% water. Outside of that water lies a hefty amount of vitamins and minerals that can be useful in consumption. It is often found in some supplements in powder form.
- Recommended Dose: 750-1,000mg
- Benefits: Provides calcium, iron, and Vitamin D, antioxidant properties, healthy for the heart, and a better overall feeling throughout the day.
- What It Is: With 17 amino acids existing outside of BCAA’s, you’ll often find them grouped in some supplements. One of the most important ones will be glutamine, which most BCAA supplements will add in their formula.
- Recommended Dose: 2,000-4,000mg (glutamine)
- Benefits: Helps keep a healthy intestine, a healthy immune system, and our body prefers glutamine as a fuel source over glucose.
Best BCAA Products for Women
When it comes to finding the right BCAA product for women, it’ll largely depend on what your current habits are.
We’ll list three of our favorite products below — one for those that are active most of the day, one for those that don’t eat enough protein, and one for those that want some stress relief with their BCAA.
Let’s take a look!
One of our number one picks for BCAA products for women is IdealLean BCAAs. This supplement comes in powder form and is perfect for mixing into water. It is specially designed for women and includes 0 calories as well as a high ratio of BCAAs. Each serving includes 5 grams of BCAAs as well as magnesium, B vitamins, and coconut powder for added electrolytes.
IdealLean BCAAs is designed to be an intra-workout supplement. It provides benefits such as weight loss, muscle growth, fat burning, and appetite suppression. It also is available in a wide variety of flavors. Flavors include green apple, orange paradise, peach lemonade, and grape explosion, among many others.
You can purchase IdealLean BCAAs from their company website. They currently have a discount making the price $19.19 for 30 servings.GET THE BEST PRICE ON IDEALLEAN BCAAS
Bulk Supplements BCAA
Another one of our favorite BCAA products for women is Bulk Supplements BCAA. Bulk Supplements, as a company, is well known and has quite a few other fitness and health products, including Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate. Bulk Supplements BCAA comes in powder form and provides a ratio of 2:1:1 of the three branched chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
This supplement is derived from corn and provides a plethora of benefits. The benefits of Bulk Supplements BCAA include help in building muscle strength and endurance, support for healthy blood sugar levels, assistance with muscle recovery, support for maintaining weight, and liver support.
You can get a one-time purchase of Bulk Supplements BCAA from their website for $12.96, or you can get a subscription of this supplement for $12.31.GET THE BEST PRICE ON BULK SUPPLEMENTS BCAA
Alani Nu BCAAs
Alani Nu will be best for those that don’t eat enough protein every day. You might not need a large amount of BCAA’s due to your regular diet, but a little boost will give your body the amino acids it needs.
It comes packed with 5,000mg (5g) of BCAA’s, with a ratio of 2:1:1 — meaning 2,500mg of leucine, 1,250mg of isoleucine, and 1,250mg of valine. It also contains turmeric root extract, beetroot extract, 500mg of glutamine, sodium, and potassium.
For $40, you’ll receive a tub with 30 servings in it. Suggested use is one scoop with 8-10oz of water, but you can add more water for a lighter taste. It comes in a variety of flavors including strawberry kiwi, sour peach rings, rocket pop, and sour gummy.GET THE BEST PRICE ON ALANI NU BCAAS
Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine
Transparent Labs is known for providing high-quality supplements of all sorts. Their BCAA product is one of the best of its kind for those that live an active lifestyle with a lot of BCAA’s and a strong amount of glutamine.
You’ll receive 4,000mg of leucine, 2,000mg of isoleucine, and 2,000mg of valine in one scoop, adding another 5,000mg of glutamine. Transparent Labs also includes 1,535 of Vitamin C and I love the 1,000mg of coconut water powder.
This one will also come in around $40 for a 30-servings tub. Their flavors are a little more normal with strawberry lemonade, blue raspberry, sour grape, tropical punch, green apple, and orange. It’ll also be used the same, adding one scoop to 10-12oz of water.GET THE BEST PRICE ON TRANSPARENT LABS BCAA + GLUTAMINE
Raw Synergies Amino Slim
Last on our list is a BCAA product that will increase performance in high-pressured situations — or just when you’re having a stressful day. Raw Synergies Amino Slim is a one-of-its-kind product that boasts a vegan profile.
Believe it or not, it will actually contain less BCAA’s than Alani Nu’s product, but it will also contain some popular plants. First, it has 1,500mg of leucine, 750mg of isoleucine, 750mg of valine, and 2,000mg of glutamine — all made with vegan amino acids. It also has 300mg of Ashwagandha (stress relief) and 88.25mg of Satiereal Saffron Extract (depression reducer and weight loss).
This will only come in a 20-serving tub but will cost just $25. You can purchase it on Amazon and it supports Amazon Prime one-day shipping.GET THE BEST PRICE ON RAW SYNERGIES AMINO SLIM