Best BCAA for Women

An expert guide on which BCAAs are the most beneficial for women’s health, weight loss, and muscle gain. Here are our top 6 picks in 2022.

by
Last updated: Jun 9th, 2022
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In this Review

Summary of recommendations
Top considerations and evaluation criteria
How our top recommendations compare
Are BCAAs a good choice for you?
How do BCAA supplements work?
What to expect from a BCAA supplement
Are BCAA supplements safe?
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
Klean BCAA + Peak ATP
Naked BCAAs
Life Extension Branched Chain Amino Acids
Evlution Nutrition BCAA5000
NOW Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Frequently asked questions about BCAA supplements
Why you should trust us
Best BCAA for Women

For years, branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements have been prized among bodybuilders and professional athletes. Today, they've entered the mainstream, as their many benefits appeal to non-athletes alike. In fact, analysts project the BCAA market to value at over $37.6 million by 2028.

How can BCAA supplements benefit women in particular? If you're among the 56% of American women trying to lose weight, BCAAs may help push you to achieve your fitness goals. These products support muscle protein synthesis, allowing you to build lean muscle mass while reducing fat and post-workout fatigue.

This guide looks at the top six BCAAs for women, evaluating their quality, cost, safety, and customer satisfaction. If you don't have time to read the complete guide, glance below at our top picks.

Summary of recommendations

Our Top Picks
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine logo
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs BCAA supplement contains quality ingredients, plus additives like glutamine and vitamin C for additional benefits.

Transparent Lab’s blend promotes muscle growth and repair, supports healthy blood glucose levels, and boosts immunity. They even include coconut water extract for added hydration. All orders are covered by a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Top considerations and evaluation criteria

We considered four primary criteria to evaluate our top choices in women’s BCAAs: quality, cost, safety, and customer service and satisfaction. Understanding how our top picks performed in these categories can help you decide which product is best for you.

Quality

Winner: Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

We value quality above all other criteria when considering health and fitness products. How effective is a supplement? What, if any, credentials has it earned regarding its manufacturing? Where are the ingredients sourced, and what quality standards do they meet?

Our winner for quality is Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine. This vegan powder supplement comes in several pleasant flavors, making it one of the more enjoyable products on our list. It provides glutamine and vitamin C to promote healthy metabolism and immunity, and coconut water for added hydration during and after workouts.

Transparent Labs' name says it all: the company provides full transparency of its ingredient amounts and contains no fillers, artificial flavors, or additives. In each 14g serving, you'll receive five potent ingredients for protein synthesis, muscle fatigue reduction, and boosted energy and endurance, making training sessions more productive and helping you build the lean body of your dreams.

Lastly, Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is the only product on our list that provides a 100% 60-day money-back guarantee. If you're dissatisfied with the supplement, simply contact customer service for a hassle-free refund.

Cost

Winner: Naked BCAAs

The second priority we consider when assessing products is cost. Some supplements are highly effective, but their price eliminates them from many consumers' budgets. We value efficacy alongside reasonable pricing, so we rarely highlight products we know most buyers can't afford.

The BCAAs on this list are all reasonably priced, averaging under a dollar per daily serving. However, Naked BCAAs blew us away with its affordability, high-quality ingredients, transparency, and effectiveness.

Naked BCAAs is a vegan powder formula with no added flavors, fillers, or sweeteners. At the same time, it provides a potent dosage of three branched-chain amino acids, supporting muscle growth and cell repair and reducing delayed onset muscle soreness. At just $0.35 per daily serving, Naked BCAAs comes in at less than half the cost of most other brands.

Safety

Winner: Klean BCAA + Peak ATP

Safety is an essential factor when choosing any dietary supplement, in no small part because the FDA does not regulate these products by the same standards as food or medications. While the FDA can and does ensure that dietary supplement manufacturers do not make egregious claims about their products' abilities, it leaves assessing ingredient effectiveness in the hands of the consumer.

When we assess a product’s safety, we consider how it manages:

  • Manufacturing methods
  • Ingredient transparency
  • Food allergens
  • Fillers and additives
  • Third-party testing

Klean BCAA + Peak ATP is our winner for safety. Products with NSF Certification for Sport fare well in product safety because they are third-party tested for any banned substances within professional sports organizations. This testing also ensures products contain no heavy metals or other dangerous byproducts.

All products from Klean Athlete are GMO-free and contain no wheat, gluten, or artificial flavorings, coloring, or sweeteners.

Customer service and satisfaction

Winner: Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

When you’re investing in a new product, it’s important to consider a company’s customer service and satisfaction. Do they provide a satisfaction guarantee? And how easy is it to get your money back if you decide the product is not for you?

Among our top picks for BCAAs for women, we chose Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine as the winner for customer service and satisfaction. It is the only product in this group that comes with a money-back guarantee. Moreover, we found interacting with Transparent Labs' customer service representatives convenient, easy, and informative.

If you're unhappy with the product, simply contact Transparent Labs customer service to arrange for a full refund within 60 days of purchase.

How our top recommendations compare

The chart below shows how our top recommendations compare in terms of cost, transparency, ingredients, safety, and customer assurance. Your product choice will depend upon your lifestyle, budget, and dietary needs.

These price comparisons are based on single purchases of each product and do not account for subscription plans or bulk purchases, which can often earn significant savings.

Are BCAAs a good choice for you?

Amino acids are more than just the building blocks of protein — they're the building blocks of ourselves. BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, comprise three essential amino acids that significantly contribute to muscle growth and repair.

And while these supplements have been a niche market among athletes in the past, their appeal today has blossomed into a mainstream audience. You don't need to be an athlete to enjoy benefits like:

  • Improved athletic performance
  • Muscle and strength development
  • Reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Healthier blood glucose levels
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Appetite suppression

BCAAs have even shown the ability in clinical trials to benefit individuals with health conditions like:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Low immune function
  • Cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases
  • Sarcopenia
  • Certain cancers

BCAAs can benefit women in the following ways:

Weight loss

BCAAs can help you lose weight by protecting lean muscle mass while you work out, meaning that you'll burn fat instead of muscle. In a 2021 study, researchers showed that branched-chain amino acid supplementation alongside a low-calorie diet increased the amount of fat broken down after eating in obese subjects. In a multi-ethnic study from 2011, researchers showed that higher BCAA intake is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity in middle-aged East Asian and Western adults.

Appetite suppression

While scientists have studied correlations between BCAA supplementation and obesity, more recent studies have demonstrated how BCAAs may help specifically with appetite suppression. In a 2019 animal study, researchers showed that leucine supplementation activates appetite-suppressing signals in the brain.

Supporting hormonal balance

BCAAs support women's reproductive health by providing much-needed amino acids and boosting the body's testosterone production. While testosterone is present in lower levels in women than men, it is still a critical hormone tied to things like muscle development, strength building, and fertility. BCAAs may also contribute to cortisol reductions, helping stabilize blood sugar levels.

Increasing muscle development

The number one reason most people are drawn to BCAAs is to increase muscle growth. BCAA supplements provide faster protein synthesis, giving your body fuel for longer, more intense workouts. And they simultaneously prevent muscle loss from energy expenditure — allowing you to lose weight without losing muscle.

Reducing muscle fatigue

When you burn calories in the gym, you’re putting your muscles through a lot of strain. BCAAs support muscle recovery and reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. However, due to substantial differences between studies, there’s no confirmation that BCAA supplementation is effective in people who aren’t trained athletes.

Boosting metabolism

BCAA supplements are not fat burners, and boosting metabolism is not their number one quality. Still, they may assist in elevating metabolic speed due to their promotion of protein synthesis, appetite suppression, and elevated energy.

Who shouldn’t use BCAA supplements

BCAA supplements are not fat burners or diet pills. If you’re dedicated to going to the gym, they can help you improve muscle tone and even drop pounds. But they aren’t a product you should take and expect to get results without putting in the work.

And while most of these supplements are safe for healthy adults and have no known severe side effects, they can interfere with medications, including those for diabetes or blood sugar regulation. They are also inappropriate for those under 18 and pregnant or lactating individuals without prior consultation with your doctor.

Individuals with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) or other conditions that impair the metabolism of BCAAs should avoid these supplements.

In short, if you have any chronic medical condition or take an ongoing medication, talk with your doctor before beginning a BCAA or any over-the-counter dietary supplement.

How do BCAA supplements work?

BCAAs refer to three branched-chain amino acids. These essential amino acids play specific roles in muscle development and repair and typically appeal to those wanting weight management and athletic performance benefits.

Amino acids, including BCAAs, are essential for your overall health, contributing to:

  • Digestion
  • Neurotransmitters and hormone production
  • Immunity
  • Cell development and communication
  • Body tissue repair
  • Maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails

There are nine essential amino acids in total, which we must derive from food or supplements because the human body does not naturally produce them. They include:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Most individuals get enough essential amino acids and BCAAs through their diet, although vegetarians and vegans often have to combine incomplete proteins to acquire proper nutrients. Complete proteins are sources of all nine essential amino acids (including BCAAs) and include:

  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa

Incomplete proteins include beans, nuts, and some grains.

What are the three BCAAs?

Branched-chain amino acids are three essential amino acids that support muscle growth and tissue regeneration:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

These amino acids appear in most supplements in a 2:1:1 ratio for optimum muscle growth and repair during and after training sessions. Below, we’ll examine what makes each BCAA special and why their combined supplementation helps with fitness.

Leucine

Leucine is generally considered the most important of the branched-chain amino acids, and it represents the most significant percentage of ingredients in BCAA supplements. Leucine promotes cell signaling and muscle protein synthesis and has proven safe and effective in clinical trials without adverse effects. Leucine supplementation in the elderly may even help improve muscle mass by providing anabolic stimuli to muscles.

Isoleucine

Isoleucine has proven its ability to increase muscle mass in humans and animals and promote insulin resistance in clinical trials. Generally, it makes up about half the amount of leucine in BCAA supplements.

Valine

Valine is a branched-chain amino acid found in red meats, dairy products, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy. This BCAA supports muscle coordination, mental focus, emotional calm, muscle protein synthesis, and other functions.

What to expect from a BCAA supplement

When beginning a new BCAA regimen, you'll want to take the supplement just before, during, or immediately after workouts to get the most benefits. Powder supplements can help provide additional hydration during training sessions, but you should drink plenty of water during your workout if you take capsules.

These supplements not only provide an added boost during workouts, but they may also increase your strength and endurance over time. Post-workout, BCAAs have shown the abilities to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and assist with muscle repair in clinical trials.

BCAAs can also help balance blood glucose levels, so you may experience lower blood sugar levels or even appetite suppression when taking them.

Additional benefits from BCAAs include healthier:

  • Hair
  • Nails
  • Skin
  • Muscle tone

Are BCAA supplements safe?

Because BCAA supplements can impact blood glucose levels, it’s essential to talk to your doctor before use if you take medication(s) for diabetes or have any chronic medical condition. BCAAs are inappropriate for individuals with ALS or other metabolic disorders.

BCAAs are generally safe for non-pregnant, non-lactating adults. These products have few side effects, but those that can occur include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

If you experience any side effects, you should stop using them and talk to your doctor.

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Best overall

Pros

  • Supports healthy blood glucose levels and boosts immunity

  • Includes glutamine and vitamin C

  • Promotes muscle growth and repair

  • Reduces muscle fatigue and soreness

  • 60-day money-back guarantee

  • Coconut water extract provides added hydration during and after workouts

  • Free shipping on orders over $99

  • More flavor options than many other brands

Cons

  • Shipping can be pricey on orders under $99

  • No subscription or bulk savings options available

We chose Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine as our overall winner based on its high-quality, gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients and the addition of glutamine and vitamin C for added boosts to immunity and metabolism. This powder formula comes in five naturally sweetened flavor options, which we found to be among the best-tasting we tested. Transparent Labs provides excellent customer service and a 100% money-back guarantee on all products.

Ingredients and benefits

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine contains just ten calories in each 19.65g scoop and provides a more potent dosage of BCAAs than many brands for the price. It also includes glutamine, which has been demonstrated to promote healthy metabolism and immune function. And with 1,700% of the daily value for vitamin C, you can trust that your body will have the materials it needs to repair strained muscles and build them up stronger.

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine’s full ingredient list includes:

  • Leucine (4,000mg)
  • Isoleucine (2,000mg)
  • Valine (2,000mg)
  • Glutamine (5,000mg)
  • Vitamin C (1,535mg)
  • Coconut water powder (1,000mg)

Additional ingredients vary depending on flavor but generally include citric acid, stevia, and natural flavors. Transparent Labs BCAA supplements include only premium fermented vegan BCAAs.

Transparent Labs BCAA supports the following health benefits:

  • Promotes muscle growth
  • Improves recovery after workouts
  • Balances glucose metabolism
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Stimulates protein synthesis
  • Enhances stamina and athletic performance

Pricing

Transparent Labs currently only offers BCAA Glutamine as a one-time purchase with no subscription or bulk savings options. One container with 30 servings costs $39.99. However, you can save money by purchasing this product as part of Transparent Labs' premade bundles.

Buying from the company website ensures you get the 60-day customer satisfaction guarantee, and all orders over $99 include free shipping in the U.S. Shipping for orders under $99 starts at $7.99.

Klean BCAA + Peak ATP

Runner-up overall and best for athletes (powder)

Pros

  • NSF-certified for sport

  • Inclusion of ATP helps oxygenate the muscles

  • Supports greater strength and endurance

  • Better tasting than many powder supplements

  • Vegan-friendly

  • Free delivery on orders over $40

  • Savings options (refer a friend and newsletter discounts)

Cons

  • More expensive than other brands

  • No satisfaction guarantee

  • Only one flavor option

Klean Athlete is a nutritional supplements company that manufactures high-quality, third-party tested, and NSF-certified products for professional athletes and non-athletes alike. Klean BCAA + Peak ATP comes in a powder formula with BCAAs and Peak ATP, a proprietary ATP formula. Researchers have demonstrated ATP's ability to increase tissue oxygenation, reducing muscle fatigue and improving torque performance in workouts.

Ingredients and benefits

Klean BCAA + Peak ATP provides clear ingredient transparency, supplying the following ingredients in each 8.6g scoop:

  • Leucine (2g)
  • Isoleucine (1g)
  • Valine (1g)
  • Peak ATP (400mg)
  • Sugar alcohol (1g)

Other ingredients include natural orange flavors, xylitol, citric acid, and stevia leaf extract.

As noted above, the inclusion of ATP in Klean BCAA + Peak ATP is one factor that makes it stand out among the competition, particularly for consumers who are athletes and bodybuilders. It provides the following benefits:

  • Increases muscle oxygenation
  • Improves strength and power
  • Supports muscle recovery and tissue repair
  • Provides energy for longer, more intense training sessions
  • Reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness

Pricing

Klean BCAA + Peak ATP is the priciest supplement on our list. Still, we think it's an excellent value for its quality ingredients, particularly for athletes who want assurance that the product has been third-party tested for any banned substances for professional sports.

Klean Athlete does not offer subscription or bulk savings options, but there are still ways to earn discounts. You can earn $10 off your next purchase when you refer a friend, and signing up for the company newsletter takes 15% off your first order.

One container of Klean BCAA + Peak ATP costs $53.80 (equivalent to $1.79 a day). Klean Athlete provides free shipping on orders over $40. For orders under $40, shipping costs start at $3.99.

Naked BCAAs

Best budget pick (powder) and best for vegans (powder)

Pros

  • Dairy-free, soy-free, and keto-friendly

  • Promotes muscle growth and repair

  • Supports immunity and overall health

  • Among the most cost-effective options available

  • No fillers, artificial flavors, or sweeteners

  • Vegan-friendly and non-GMO

  • Subscription membership takes 20% off the initial order and 10% off subsequent orders

Cons

  • Only one unflavored option

  • No additional electrolytes or other ingredients

Naked BCAAs provide an adequate dosage of branched-chain amino acids with no fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colorings. Naked Nutrition is a fully transparent brand, and their BCAA powder is vegan-friendly and the most cost-effective among our top choices. While it’s only available in an unflavored form, we thought it mixed well with flavored drinks and smoothies.

Ingredients and benefits

Naked BCAAs contains just four ingredients, which are:

  • Leucine (2,500mg)
  • Isoleucine (1,250mg)
  • Valine (1,250mg)
  • Sunflower lecithin

Naked BCAAs provides similar benefits to other top brands without additives or sweeteners. It helps with:

  • Reducing muscle fatigue and soreness
  • Building lean muscle mass
  • Boosting cell growth and immunity

Pricing

Naked BCAAs is the most cost-effective of our top picks, with each daily serving priced at less than half of most brands. A 1.1lb tub contains 100 servings, so one purchase will last over three months. And if 35 cents a day is still too much for your budget, you can earn additional savings by enrolling in Naked Nutrition's subscription program, which takes 20% off your first shipment and 10% off subsequent shipments.

Naked provides free US shipping on all orders over $99. For orders under $99, shipping starts at $7.00.

Life Extension Branched Chain Amino Acids

Best budget pick (capsules)

Pros

  • Most affordable capsule option

  • Easy to take mid-workout

  • Provides transparent labeling of ingredients and dosages

  • Supports muscle growth and repair

  • Gluten-free and non-GMO

  • cGMP certified

  • Manufactured in the U.S.

Cons

  • Performance athletes will need a higher dosage

  • Four capsules per dose can be inconvenient

  • Not ideal for those who don’t like taking capsules

Life Extension Branched Chain Amino Acids provides a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, although at a lower dosage than some brands, possibly due to its capsule formula. However, taking the product as a capsule is much easier for some people to throw into a gym bag and take on the go. This product is our most cost-effective choice for capsules at just $0.68 per serving.

Ingredients and benefits

Life Extension Branched Chain Amino Acids provides the three BCAAs in each four-capsule dose. It contains:

  • Leucine (1,200mg)
  • Isoleucine (600mg)
  • Valine (600mg)

This product, like most BCAAs, is an intra- and post-workout supplement supporting:

  • Muscle building
  • Muscle repair
  • Reduced soreness during and after workouts
  • Healthy immunity

Pricing

Each bottle contains 90 capsules or approximately 22 servings. If you want to drop the cost even further, Life Extension offers an AutoShip membership which reduces prices by 10%, lowering the daily investment to 61 cents.

Enrolling in Life Extension’s AutoShip membership eliminates all shipping costs. For single purchases, shipping starts at $5.50 for standard shipping and goes up for expedited or international orders.

If you’re curious about Life Extension’s other offerings, check out our full review.

Evlution Nutrition BCAA5000

Best tasting

Pros

  • Best flavor options — choose from seven flavors

  • Stimulant-free and fast-absorbing

  • Supports aerobic and anaerobic performance

  • Bundle savings options

  • Transparency with ingredient amounts

  • Free shipping on orders over $74

Cons

  • Contains some artificial flavorings and colorings

  • Not vegan-friendly

Evlution Nutrition BCAA5000 may contain some artificial flavorings, but that's also likely why it tastes better than many powder supplements. With seven flavor options, it stands above the competition regarding taste — and that does count for something when you're drinking a product every day. BCAA5000 is a stimulant-free supplement providing five grams of pure BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio for increasing strength and endurance while supporting recovery.

Ingredients and benefits

Evlution Nutrition BCAA5000 includes three high-quality BCAAs in potent quantities for intra-workouts. It includes:

  • Leucine (2,500mg)
  • Isoleucine (1,250mg)
  • Valine (1,250mg)

Additional ingredients vary depending on flavor, but the Blue Raz includes:

  • Malic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Silicon dioxide
  • Sucralose
  • Acesulfame
  • Potassium
  • BD&C Blue #1

With a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, valine, and isoleucine, Evlution Nutrition BCAA5000 provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced muscle soreness after workouts
  • Intense muscle development
  • Boosted immunity and overall health

Pricing

Evlution Nutrition does not offer subscription or bulk order savings, but you can earn up to 20% off when purchasing supplements within bundles. One bottle costs $23.99, or 80 cents per serving.

Evlution Nutrition provides free shipping on orders over $74. For orders under $74, shipping and handling starts at $5.99.

NOW Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Best for vegans (capsules)

Pros

  • Widely available from pharmacies and online retailers

  • Kosher, Halal, and keto-friendly

  • Non-GMO and free of nuts, soy, and dairy

  • Gluten-free and vegan-friendly

  • Supports muscle gain and recovery

  • Produced in a GMP facility in the U.S.

  • Informed-Sport certified

Cons

  • Only 15 servings per bottle

  • No satisfaction guarantee

NOW Sports is an athletic supplements provider that manufactures both powder and capsule formulas for its BCAAs. We recommend both formulas, but our trial focused on its vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO capsules. These capsules provide somewhat more BCAAs than Life Extension’s capsules and come from a GMP facility with Informed-Sport certification.

Ingredients and benefits

NOW Branched-Chain Amino Acids is less transparent than many brands regarding its ingredients. It contains:

  • Leucine (1,170-1,400mg)
  • Isoleucine (570-700mg)
  • Valine (570-700mg)

This supplement supports:

  • Muscle growth and recovery
  • Healthy immunity
  • Reduced muscle soreness after workouts

Pricing

NOW Sports products are widely available from pharmacies, big box stores, and online retailers. Ordering directly from the company earns savings when ordering in bulk. NOW Sports does not provide a subscription option.

Shipping on single orders costs $6.95 in the contiguous U.S. NOW Sports provides free shipping on all orders over $50.

Frequently asked questions about BCAA supplements

Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service or product we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this guide was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.