Amino acid supplements are some of the most popular supplements used by lifters, bodybuilders, and other athletes. In particular, the essential amino acids (EAAs) are often supplemented because these are the ones we need to consume since the body doesn’t produce them on its own.
Of course, if you’re looking for maximum workout performance and/or recovery, you need the best possible supplement that’s well-formulated, properly-dosed, and on point with your needs and goals!
And in this article, we’re covering our top four amino acid supplements so you can know which ones are best for performance, muscle gain, and recovery.
Best Essential Amino Acid Supplements
There are dozens of suitable amino acid supplements out there. But in this article, we want to give you the ones that go above and beyond the rest.
And our top four essential amino acid supplements are:
- Naked EAA
- Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
- Bulk Supplements EAA
Our overall top choice is PerfectAmino, which is made by BodyHealth. This amino acid formula comes in either powdered or tablet form, so you can choose which one you like most. Both varieties offer 5g of essential amino acids per serving. The PerfectAmino blend is designed for superior absorption and bioavailability too, so you can get maximum protein synthesis and muscle support.
PerfectAmino is also 100% vegan, non-GMO, and made in a cGMP, FDA-registered facility. The regular price is $43.95 for 30 settings but there are considerable bulk and subscription savings available.
If you want an essential amino acid powder, Naked EAA can’t be beat. This fast-absorbing powder contains over 9g of essential amino acids, including nearly 5g of BCAAs in the right 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine. These can potentially enhance muscle performance and recovery.
It’s a clean formula with no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. And Naked EAA is vegan, non-GMO, and made in a cGMP, FDA-registered facility.
50 servings costs only $31.99, with additional subscription savings available.
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
Best For Recovery
The best amino acid supplement for recovery is Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine. This supplement contains 8g of fermented vegan BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine. There are also high doses of glutamine, vitamin C, and coconut water powder to provide further support for workout performance, hydration, and recovery.
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is also free from artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners. And it’s non-GMO and cGMP. Not to mention it comes in four flavors (Sour Green Apple, Tropical Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, and Blue Raspberry).
Bulk Supplements EAA
Bulk Supplements EAA is likely the best choice if you want to pay the lowest possible price per serving. This supplement offers all nine essential amino acids, and it comes in powder or tablet form.
Regardless of the form, the highest possible price you’ll pay is $1 per serving, and that’s if you take the high dose of 10g. With their bulk savings, you can pay as little as 18 cents per 10g serving.
Bulk Supplements EAA is also third-party tested, cGMP, FDA-registered, and vegan.
What are Essential Amino Acids?
Essential amino acids (or just EAAs) are the amino acids that we need to consume from our diet because our body doesn’t produce them.
The nine essential amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, phenylalanine, threonine, methionine, histidine, and tryptophan.
These amino acids are involved in hundreds of bodily processes. But they’re most often supplemented for fitness and athletic performance due to their roles in protein synthesis and muscle repair.
Sometimes, a supplement will contain only the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. So, it’s important to differentiate BCAA supplements vs EAA supplements since the latter is more comprehensive.
Benefits of Essential Amino Acids
There are a few possible benefits of essential amino acids. These include:
- Improved Recovery & Soreness
- Boosted Muscle Growth
- Helps Meet Protein Needs
Improved Recovery & Soreness
The most well-researched benefit of essential amino acids is reduced muscle soreness and improved recovery. This is because the EAAs, especially the BCAAs, stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which helps to repair damaged muscles.
This is good not only for weightlifters and bodybuilders but also possibly in people with injuries.
Boosted Muscle Growth
Essential amino acids may also enhance muscle growth. Again, this is mainly because they are needed for muscle protein synthesis, which then causes muscular hypertrophy (provided that you’re working out and providing the needed stimulus for growth).
However, some research shows that EAAs may not always enhance muscle growth or strength.
Helps Meet Protein Needs
EAAs could also help people reach their protein needs, especially in people who don’t get enough protein on a regular basis. If you have a hard time eating enough protein, supplementing with EAAs could provide your body with the ones you’re missing out on by not eating enough.
Of course, eating enough protein regularly is what we recommend. But we know there are some instances when it can get difficult, especially for older people.
How to Choose the Right Essential Amino Acid Supplement
There are a lot of EAA supplements out there, so it’s important to know how to choose the right one.
The dose of EAA supplements is very important since it needs to be high enough to deliver actual benefits. Generally, you want a supplement that has at least 5g of EAAs and up to 10g or more, especially if you’re in high-intensity training.
Also, make sure that the supplement contains all three BCAAs since these are the most important EAAs for muscle protein synthesis, recovery, and growth.
Another consideration is if you want a product with additional ingredients or not. For example, glutamine, electrolytes, and other ingredients are sometimes used in EAA supplements to provide more support for performance and recovery. It just depends on what your goals and preferences are. EAAs alone can certainly be enough, but the other ingredients can help too.
Finally, you always want to make sure that the supplement you choose is safe and high-quality. That’s why you should only get EAA supplements that are made in cGMP, FDA-registered facilities, ideally third-party tested, and free from synthetics.
Within this, you may also need to make sure that the supplement you choose aligns with your dietary restrictions. Most essential amino acid supplements tend to be basic but it always pays to check for verification of things like gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, etc.
Additional Information (FAQ)
Below, we’ve provided more information on EAAs so you can leave this article feeling confident about your next supplement decision.
Are EAA supplements necessary for weightlifters or bodybuilders?
No. In fact, most people can get enough EAAs from a well-balanced diet. So, don’t think that you have to purchase an amino acid supplement. But just because it’s not necessary doesn’t mean it’s never beneficial, so that’s another important distinction.
Do essential amino acid supplements work?
Overall, yes. Essential amino acid supplements have been shown to provide benefits for athletes, especially reduced soreness. The effects on muscle growth and strength aren’t as conclusive.
But it mainly depends on how easily you can reach your protein intake needs. EAAs may offer more noticeable benefits in people who otherwise can’t eat enough protein on a daily basis compared to those who can easily get enough EAAs through food.
Can my diet alone provide enough EAAs?
Yes. If you have an intelligent diet, you can get enough EAAs in most cases. The best foods (for most) are animal-based since these contain all nine essential amino acids. So, think of things such as turkey, eggs, beef, fish, and yogurt. Plant foods such as beans and nuts provide EAAs too, but you need to have the right combo since they usually don’t have all nine.
Just aim to get a wide variety of animal and plant foods and you should provide your body with the vast majority of the EAAs.
Are essential amino acid supplements safe?
Yes. Essential amino acids supplements are safe for most individuals. However, there are chances of mild side effects, such as nausea, headache, or general pain.