BCAAs are a supplement growing in popularity with more and more fitness experts, fanatics and bloggers recommending them.
They're great for a range of purposes including helping to retain muscle during weight loss, energy increase and aiding a good workout.
But what are BCAAs and what do they do? Which are the best BCAA powders buy for women and why should women take different BCAAs to men?
In this post, we're going to help answer all of those questions and recommend our top choices of the best BCAA powders for women.
On our list, we've included a range of the best BCAA powders for women that include a good amount of BCAAs for a smaller frame.
The BCAA contents of powders can range from 2g to over 10g, so we've left out the higher BCAA containing supplements.
These supplements all come highly recommended and have been put to the test to get our overall rating.
Let's do this.
Best BCAA Powders for Women
E.N. BCAA Energy
Kaged Muscle In-Kaged
Cellucor Alpha Amino
NLA Her Aminos
ON Gold Standard
What Are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids, which are three different types of 'essential' amino acids.
An essential amino acid is something that your body can't produce, you have to consume it.
They're called Branched Chain because when you look at them on a molecular level through a microscope, they are branched, like trees.
The three amino acids that makeup BCAAs are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
These amino acids are found in protein sources such as eggs and lean meats, but BCAA supplements help to provide you with more to help reach your gym/workout goals.
Each one of these works in its own way to help you out.
For more detail on what BCAAs are and how they work, head over to MyGym.
What Do BCCAs Do?
In a quick sentence, BCAAs help build muscle, help retain muscle when you're losing weight, and increase the amount of energy and insulin your muscles get. BCAAs also help in recovery with muscle repair and reducing soreness.
The best way to find out what BCAAs are for is to look at what Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine actually do individually.
Leucine is the main one of the three, the Beyonce of the trio (nothing but love for Kelly and Michelle here)
Leucine is the one that does the most work, is most effective and has the most impact on your body.
Leucine helps promote muscles growth, via something called mTOR (check out this article about mTOR from BrinkZone) which is ideal if you're looking to get stronger, lift more and build your body.
It also helps preserve lean mass, which means when you lose weight, Leucine helps to make sure that your body loses fat and not muscle. All that hard work in the gym won't be undone.
As well as helping to build and retain muscle, Leucine raises your insulin levels which helps your muscles get more energy.
Isoleucine helps to preserve protein and stop it from breaking down as quickly, which will again help with muscle building but also recovery after you've worked out.
Just a quick one while we're on the topic of post-workout recovery, check out these 10 post workout foods for women from The Fitness Junkie Blog.
Isoleucine also helps with energy uptake, giving you more energy throughout the day and for working out.
This is why some people use BCAAs as a light pre-workout supplement.
Valine is a tricky one to explain, but also really simple to explain.
It basically just does what Leucine and Isoleucine do, but not as effectively. That's it really.
The three combined are an effective team for building and retaining muscle, increasing insulin supply to your muscles and raising your energy levels.
Are BCAAs Safe?
As we mentioned above, even if you're not taking a BCAA supplement, you're already consuming BCAAs when you eat foods like chicken, eggs, beef, different kinds of nuts and other natural sources of protein.
So in a sentence: Yes, BCAAs are safe.
But are BCAA powders safe? All supplements, like many medicines, energy drinks and other products that help to change something within your body, can have side effects.
These sides effects aren't anything like growing a third hand, but small things that can be an inconvenience.
However with BCAAs, because you're already getting them, the side effects will only come into play if you're already taking other medications or have medical conditions that can be affected such as diabetes.
Here are the three most common side effects with BCAAs.
1: Increased Plasma Levels
BCAA supplements can increase your body's plasma levels, but at the level you'd consume the supplements, this would have virtually no impact on your body whatsoever.
Extremely high plasma levels can be toxic to your body, which is why we've given this a mention, but as stated already, your body has already been getting BCAAs for the majority of your life through your food, and you're still alive and reading this...
In some cases, BCAA consumption can lead to you feeling nauseous and maybe some light headedness.
Personally, I've never felt nauseous or light headed after taking a BCAA supplement whether as a one-off or every day for an extended period of time during a certain diet.
3: Insulin Level Increase
This isn't a problem unless you're sensitive to insulin or you have diabetes.
Due to the fact your insulin levels can rise after taking a BCAA supplement or using a BCAA powder, this can have a hypoglycemic effect if you are diabetic.
As mentioned, if you're in good/regular health with no underlying conditions or you're not taking medication, BCAAs will likely have no negative impact on your body, apart from the light headedness which I've never experienced before.
Why Choose a BCAA Supplement for Women?
Why look at BCAAs for women, why can't we just take a regular supplement like everyone else?
Well, you can. There's no special women's ingredient that you'd get in a women's BCAA supplement or one more suited to women.
Some companies such as MyProtein do offer a women's targeted BCAA supplement, however many are just regular BCAAs with lower content levels.
Generally speaking, women are smaller than men. So our bodies don't need as much energy as males. Which is why our recommended calorie allowance is lower and why many women would rather take supplements more suited to women than men.
So BCAAs for women contain the same ingredients as regular BCAAs, but just slightly less to suit a smaller body.
Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy
This is my personal recommendation of the best BCAA, full stop. Not just the best BCAA for women, but overall the best BCAA.
I've been using the blue raz BCAA energy powder for a few weeks now and I can honestly say it's the best one I've used so far. The balance of BCAA content as well as the subtle energy boosters, including 500mg of beta-alanine and natural caffeine, gives a well balanced powder that also gives a light energy boost too.
Ideal as part of a cutting diet for lean muscle, but also during your workout. It tastes really good too!
Kaged Muscle In-Kaged BCAA Powder
The Kaged Muscle In-Kaged is one of the highest rated BCAA powders available. This is why we've called it the People's Choice. Regardless of whichever store or site you find this supplement in, we can guarantee the reviews will be good and the ratings will be high.
A key factor with this powder is the 1.6g of beta-alanine, which is the same amount found in the Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged pre-workout. This makes this BCAA a great choice as it can double up as a pre-workout too or be paired with the Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged.
Cellucor Alpha Amino BCAA Powder
Cellucor have made a great 2:1:1 BCAA powder here with a focus on recovery following your workout and hydration during your session. This is a revamped version on Cellucor's successful Alpha Amino BCAA powder.
Alpha Amino includes electrolytes, which aren't all that common in BCAA supplements, however, Cellucor have put emphasis on rehydration during your workout with this powder. Many people use BCAA powders before or after, but the Cellucor Alpha Amino is well suited to use during your workout.
NLA for Her, Her Aminos
What I like about this supplement from NLA For Her, is that it is a specific BCAA powder for women. I touched this before when I asked why buy a women's BCAA and not a regular one but I do like the fact it has been made with women in mind.
NLA For Her have studied and analysed how women's bodies work, how they consume energy and recover, and have created this BCAA powder to work for women. This supplement is one of the most popular women-specific BCAAs and from my experience of it, I can't argue against it being a great option and well worth checking out.
Scivation Xtend BCAA Powder
If you're looking for a bit more BCAA content, without going into the top-end supplements, this is the one for you. The Scivation Xtend has the highest BCAA content of all the powders on the list with 7.5g in total including 3.5g of leucine.
If the flavour is important to you, once again, this could be the perfect powder for you. The Xtend BCAA is available in a wide range of flavours - over 20 flavours available. It's also one of the cheapest products on the list.
MusclePharm 3:1:2 BCAA Powder
MusclePharm are a well-known sports supplement brand that provides high-quality supplements that do actually work. I'd always recommend a MusclePharm product, and this one is no different.
The 3:1:2 BCAA from MusclePharm is a good all-rounder that will help you keep muscle as you burn fat. For me, it lacks that little bit of energy that you get from some of the other powders on the list, but if you were to buy this one, I wouldn't stop you.
MyProtein BCAA Powder
MyProtein are more known for their, well, protein. However much like their protein powders, the MyProtein BCAA powder has been independently tested by LabDoor and been given a grade A.
As we've stated, this is a great all-rounder. If you're looking to build muscle, lose fat or you're looking for a supplement to use before playing sports, the MyProtein BCAA is a great option to check out.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA
This is another BCAA powder really well suited to women that contain electrolytes to replenish and rehydrate your muscles during and after your workout.
A key feature of the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA is the low-calorie content. This is ideal if you're on a lower calorie diet or looking to cut fat. Again, this is a really well-priced option that (in my opinion) might not be as good as some others we've tested, is still one I'd definitely recommend.
We hope you've found this guide to BCAAs for women helpful and you've found a supplement from our list of the best women's BCAAs that will help you train harder and achieve your goals.
If you'd like to find out more about BCAAs, Tubby Gorilla or our supplements reviews, please feel free to contact us.