BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids are one of the most popular fitness supplements for a reason. They work; plain and simple. The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine and are essential amino acids, meaning that they cannot be produced from other amino acids and have to be consumed via food or supplements. Do BCAA’s help build lean muscle mass? Are there some products more effective than others? Here is my ultimate BPI BCAA review, with lots of added information so you can make an informed choice!
- 1 Why BPI Sports’ Best BCAA
- 2 Why You Should Take BCAAs
- 3 Q&A
- 4 BPI Sports’ Best BCAA Review – Is This the Right BCAA Supplement for You?
- 5 Three Other Quality Options to Consider
- 6 Comparison
Why BPI Sports’ Best BCAA
In today’s article, we are going to give you a brief overview of BCAAs and how they can help you in your exercise and performance goals. Then, we will give you a detailed review of one of the most popular BCAA supplements on the market today – BPI Sports’ Best BCAA. We’ll dive into what exactly goes into the product, its pros and cons, and whether it provides good value for your money. Finally, we will talk briefly about some of the best alternative BCAA supplements out there.
Why You Should Take BCAAs
If your workouts tend to be more endurance based, then you are a prime candidate to benefit from additional BCAA supplementation. Research has shown that consuming BCAAs prior to a workout can have the following benefits of reducing fatigue and lessening muscle soreness. These effects don’t just last for the workout, but both during and after exercise.
Hence, consuming BCAAs prior to a cardio session (especially if it’s of the high-intensity variety), metabolic conditioning session (similar to those Crossfit style workouts) or even sports training sessions, will likely prove to be highly beneficial.
On the other hand, for pure strength training activities, which engage more of the central nervous system, we deem BCAA supplementation to be quite unnecessary (creatine would be a better choice). The fatigue felt from a strength training session is very different to that of a cardio session, particularly when you consider that most strength training protocols call for extended or full recovery periods between sets.
Keep in mind that even outside of its exercise benefits BCAAs are still amino acids; the building blocks of muscle. In fact, leucine, one of the BCAAs, is noted for being one of the most important amino acids for muscle building. Fortunately, if you have been consuming sufficient amounts of protein, you should also have been getting enough BCAAs in your diet. For example, whey protein has about 26% BCAAs by weight, so you’ll be getting plenty of BCAAs from there.
However, there is a reason that people looking for performance benefits from BCAAs still opt to take BCAA supplements even if they have sufficient BCAAs from their regular diet. This is because of dietary BCAAs, as part of protein, are ‘peptide-bonded’. This peptide link means that it must be processed through the digestive system before being released into the bloodstream.
BCAA supplements, on the other hand, are ‘free-form’, requiring no real digestion. This is why consuming BCAA supplements right before a workout will maximize the performance benefits given.
What is the science behind taking BCAA before a workout?
The idea behind branched chain amino acids is that they may help to promote muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle loss, improve endurance, and boost focus. Leucine is the amino acid with the closest link to muscle synthesis and valine may be the one that helps with endurance and focus.
BPI Sports’ Best BCAA Review – Is This the Right BCAA Supplement for You?
BPI Sports is one of the better-known supplement manufacturers in the fitness world. Their “Best BCAA” supplement is intended to promote muscle recovery and muscular growth. It can be taken as a pre-workout or intra-workout to improve your workout performance.
One serving size of BPI Sports Best BCAA is 10g.
Each serving of BPI Sports Best BCAA contains 5g of BCAAs. These comprise 2.5g of leucine, 1.25g of valine, and 1.25g of isoleucine. This is a 2:1:1 ratio which is your standard ratio found in most BCAAs. At 5g of BCAAs per serving, this product has 50% BCAA concentration ratio, which is actually very decent.
BPI Sports also likes to tout its ‘oligopeptide enzymatic technology’ used to produce the BCAAs. If you look carefully at its ingredients list, you will see that each BCAA is bonded to glycyl, alanyl, and lysine. This supposedly makes it even faster absorbing than regular BCAAs.
However, we would like to note that BPI Sports did not offer up any proof that BCAAs manufactured using said technology is actually any faster absorbing compared to regular BCAAs. Even if they were faster absorbed, considering that BCAA supplements are in free-form form anyway, we are skeptical as to how much additional benefit this can provide, if any.
Note: As a result of oligopeptide enzymatic technology, this product also contains stearic acid, potassium hydroxide, polyethylene glycol, carboxylic acids, and dicalcium phosphate. Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid found in many foods, particularly fats and oils. In supplements it is used as a binding agent. Potassium hydroxide is used as a food thickener or stabilizer while polyethylene glycol is a common food additive for anti-foaming purposes. Carboxylic acids are another common ingredient used to manufacture fatty acids. Finally, dicalcium phosphate is used to remove water from supplements to keep them dry and fresh.
Other Beneficial Ingredients
BPI Sports also includes healthy fatty acids in the mix. Each serving contains 1g of the product’s ‘CLA Matrix’ which comprises safflower oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and conjugated linoleic acid (“CLA”). Safflower oil is high in Omega-6 fatty acids and CLA and may improve good cholesterol levels. Avocado oil, which provides Omega-9 fatty acids, is also high in lutein, an antioxidant that is good for your eyes.
Coconut oil is something that has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years. It is a good source of medium chain triglycerides, which can increase your short-term metabolic rate as well as improve fat oxidization (aka fat burning). Finally, CLA itself may have a lean muscle mass increasing and fat mass decreasing effect, but present research shows its effect to be too inconsistent to be conclusive.
Finally, Best BCAA also contains 250mg of agmatine per serving. Agmatine is a metabolite of arginine, which is one of the amino acids. Preliminary research indicates that agmatine may show promise in pain relief, drug addiction, preventing strokes, and cognitive health. However, the research is still at far too early a stage to reach definitive conclusions.
We should note that while arginine converts directly to nitric oxide, agmatine does not. However, agmatine may be able to positively influence nitric oxide metabolism, which may lead to improved exercise performance. Agmatine’s cognitive enhancing anti-depression effect may also prove beneficial during a workout.
Flavor and Mixability
One thing we have to give BPI Sports props for is the range of flavors they have made available for a simple BCAA supplement. There are ten flavors offered for this product: Fruit Punch, Watermelon Ice, Arctic Ice, Cherry Lime, Grape, Green Fusion, Snow Cone, Blue Raspberry, Passion Fruit, and Sour Candy.
A lot of BCAA and energy supplements stick with “red” flavors like cherry, strawberry, or berry blast. This one is a “blue” flavor of fruit punch. It’s not too sweet but has a good flavor profile. You’ll find it’s one of the best-tasting BCAA supplements around. Some people have compared its flavor to Kool-Aid (in a good way).
That said, many reviewers found the taste of almost all the flavors to be too sweet. The flavor is provided by citric acid, malic acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, plus natural and artificial flavors. The supplement also contains maltodextrin, a form of cheap carbohydrates that will add EXTRA sweetness and flavor to the supplement. A number of users have said they end up mixing it with more than the recommended amount of water just to stop it from being too sweet.
A number of users have also complained that recent purchases have altered flavors or consistencies. Some claim that there is a stronger “chemical” flavor in the supplement, while others mentioned an “expired” flavor. This may indicate quality control issues.
Mixability is another negative point. It doesn’t mix easily – This is a problem with a surprising number of BCAA and pre-workout energy supplements. The mixture has a hard time dissolving in the water, and you have to shake the heck out of your bottle or Blender bottle to get the powder to mix properly. Unless you like grainy liquid and clumps at the bottom of your bottle, get ready to shake! Try not to mix it into ice cold water, rather mix it in warm water first to try to dissolve the crystals, then add ice if required.
It’s hard to tell why BPI Sports Best BCAA’s mixability is subpar. From our examination, it contains many of the same thickening agents as many other supplement brands, namely xanthan gum, cellulose gum, and carrageenan gum. Regardless of the reason, you should be aware of this as we all know how annoying it is to have to take a supplement that doesn’t mix well.
Value for Money
Best BCAA is available in 30 servings or 60 servings container. The former retails for $30.00 on the official BPI Sports website but may be available at about a 10% discount on Amazon. The 60 servings container is strangely not sold on the BPI Sports official website but can be found on Amazon at varying prices.
Using official prices, BPI Sports Best BCAA costs $1.00 per serving. This is comparable to most of the other BCAA supplements out there, however, we note that Best BCAA is a relatively basic BCAA product. It does not contain additional amino acids, electrolytes, citrulline malate, or any vitamins. All of these are quite common is BCAA supplements. 5g of BCAAs per serving is also what we consider to be a minimum amount for a BCAA supplement.
Hence, although BPI Sports Best BCAA does contain some fatty acids and agmatine, on an overall basis we rate it as being quite expensive for what it offers.
BPI Sports Best BCAA is a decent basic BCAA product. However, we don’t think there’s anything particularly noteworthy about it. At 5g of BCAAs per serving, it just meets the basic requirements for a BCAA supplement. It also does not contain much more than that. While the fatty acids are a nice bonus, they won’t do much for you in terms of exercise performance. Similarly, while agmatine is definitely beneficial, the fact that its research has been done at such a preliminary level means it’s still mostly unproven.
Other than that, beneficial ingredients that can really improve workout performance such as electrolytes and citrulline malate are notably absent. Hence, even though Best BCAA is quite comparable in price with the other leading BCAA supplement products on the market, it does not deliver as much. One way that BPI Sports appears to justify its more premium pricing is by claiming that its BCAAs are better absorbed. However, as we mentioned, we remain skeptical of how much benefits faster absorption can bring considering that numerous studies using regular BCAA supplements have already demonstrated substantial benefits.
Quick Review Table
|Good source of high-quality BCAAs||Quite expensive|
|Contains beneficial fatty acids and agmatine||Poor mixability|
|Wide range of flavors||No other workout boosting ingredients|
Three Other Quality Options to Consider
Don’t think that BPI Sports Best BCAA is the supplement for you? Here are three other high quality BCAA supplements for you to consider. For brevity purposes, we will examine each of these alternatives from the perspective of how they differ from BPI Sports Best BCAA.
Alternative #1: Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules
Optimum Nutrition is one of the top-rated manufacturers of fitness supplements on the market, and their BCAA capsules definitely live up their high standards. The BCAA ratio (2:1:1) is the same as the BPI BCAA, but it comes in capsule form rather than a powder to mix into water.
The capsules contain an enteric coating that slowly dissolves as it passes through your digestive system, releasing the BCAA powder into your intestines for easy absorption and discovery. It’s not a supplement made for taste, but for convenience.
This is the most basic BCAA supplement you can get. Each capsule contains 1g of BCAAs, that’s it. There are zero other beneficial ingredients other than the BCAAs. As such, this product is priced very attractively with each capsule costing anywhere from $0.09 to $0.13 based on prices from the Optimum Nutrition official website.
Hence, to deliver a similar 5g of BCAAs as per BPI Sports Best BCAA, it would cost you $0.45 to $0.65 which is significantly cheaper, even when considering that it is a pure BCAA supplement. To conclude, if you are looking for a pure BCAA supplement that gives you massive value for money, plus you don’t like the inconvenience of mixing powders, then this is the alternative for you.
|Great value for money||No other beneficial ingredients|
Alternative #2: BulkSupplements BCAAs
As the name of the company implies, BulkSupplements has carved itself out a nice niche of selling supplements at their most basic form in high quantities at low prices. This is unlike most supplement companies which try to differentiate the benefits and features of their product from the competition.
When it comes to BCAAs, BulkSupplements sells a pure unflavored BCAA powder in the standard 2:1:1 ratio. Just like the Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules, this is a 100% pure BCAA powder. It’s all BCAAs and nothing else. Price-wise, it’s probably the cheapest option you can find. Bulk Supplements sells its BCAAs in packaging sizes from 100g all the way up to 25kg! Yes, you read that right, you can actually buy 25kg of pure BCAA powder at one go, which should last you more than 10 years assuming daily use.
As such, 5g of BCAAs would cost you anywhere from as high as $0.60 to as low as $0.07! As you can see, if you are on a shoestring budget but don’t want to miss out on the benefits of BCAAs, BulkSupplements BCAAs are definitely the best option for you. Just remember to mix it in with a flavored drink (instead of ice cold water) as this comes unflavored.
|Cheapest BCAA you can find||No other beneficial ingredients|
|Pure BCAA powder||Unflavored|
Alternative #3: Scivation Xtend
Our final alternative is Scivation Xtend. This is actually the first choice of many; as Scivation Xtend is considered to be ‘the’ BCAA supplement that other companies benchmark themselves to. Each serving of Scivation Xtend contains 7g of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio, 1g of citrulline malate, 1.19g of electrolytes, and 640mcg of Vitamin B6. Basically, it has a lot more beneficial ingredients compared to BPI Sports Best BCAA, with even more BCAAs per serving.
Citrulline malate has been shown to increase performance in the weight-room, lessen muscle soreness, and boost endurance by promoting aerobic energy production. It can also increase both the effectiveness of BCAAs and post-exercise growth hormone levels. Finally, it has even been shown to improve arterial stiffness by stimulating nitric oxide production.
The electrolytes make Scivation Xtend a better intra-workout supplement by comparison. The addition of vitamin B6 is likely because we lose vitamin B6 as we exercise. With more BCAAs, citrulline malate, plus electrolytes, it is clear that Scivation Xtend will give you more enhanced endurance performance compared to BPI Sports Best BCAA.
Scivation Xtend is also decently priced. Based on prices from its official website, each serving of Scivation Xtend will cost you either $0.78 to $1.13 depending on whether you opt for the 30 servings or 90 servings package. Check out the latest prices here!
This actually puts Scivation Xtend only at a slight premium compared BPI Sports Best BCAA, yet with a host of other proven ingredients on top of more BCAAs. Further, it is also great tasting and easy to mix. With all of these combined, it’s no wonder that Scivation Xtend is one of the best performing BCAA supplements on the market today.
|High amount of BCAAs||Does not contain a broad range of amino acids|
|Contains citrulline malate|
|Good amount of electrolytes|
|Brands||Serving Size||BCAA Content||Price|
|BPI Sports’ Best BCAA||One serving size of BPI Sports Best BCAA is 10g.||Each serving of BPI Sports Best BCAA contains 5g of BCAAs.||$19.90 for 30 servings Check out the latest prices here!|
|Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules||2 capsules||Each capsule contains 1g of BCAAs||$23.58 for 200 count. (Check out the latest prices here!)|
|BulkSupplements BCAAs||1500 miligrams||Pure BCAA||$37.01 (Check out the latest prices here!)|
|Scivation Xtend||1 scoop (13g)||Contains 7g of BCAAs||$23.46 for 30 servings (Check out the latest prices here!)|