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BCAAs – Are You Getting What You Pay For?

Or Are You Being Fed False Hope?

Posted by DanWynesFitness - August 19th, 2016

Most of you reading this have probably got supplements, or have bought them in the past.

Most of you will also have bought them because you were told, most likely by the company selling the product, that it is going to do something specific for you, or that a specific ingredient is included in the supplement. But sometimes what you see and what you get are two very different things. Make sure you check the back of the label to confirm you’re paying for what you want!

What To Look For

Let's look at BCAA's as an example. Check the ‘per serving’ ingredient label on the back. What ingredients are listed? There should be leucine, isoleucine and valine. But in what dosage? If you have a 10g scoop and only 4g or 5g makes up that blend, what else is in it?

You’ll probably have sodium in there for electrolytes, and Vitamin D helps with absorption into the muscle. So don't be put off by these ingredients as they are going to help the product be more effective.

If your supplement has a proprietary blend, look for which products are listed first for the amount. In the picture below, you can see leucine is first. Leucine is the most expensive of the BCAA's to buy, due to its anabolic properties. This is why a lot of products have a 4:1:1 ratio, and some even now have an 8:1:1 ratio of Leucine: isoleucine: valine.

If your blend doesn't start with those three amino acids, I would consider using a different supplement with higher quality ingredients. If your product lists the exact amount of each amino acid, that's brilliant, as you know the exact amount of each of the three you’re getting. As I stated earlier, the higher the ratio of leucine to the others, the more effective the product will be.

What Kind Of BCAA Supplements Should I Avoid?
Cheaper supplements tend to have less of the BCAAs, and more ingredients such as taurine and glutamine. Taurine is going to help with sustained energy during your workout, and glutamine is going to draw water into the muscle cells, so both are helpful. I'm not saying that your supplement shouldn't have these ingredients, but you need to make a choice.

Do you want an all-round product, or would you rather additional supplementation for glutamine and taurine. This means you would know exactly what dosage you’re getting. That really comes down to personal preference.

My advice to you is to do some research, or ask someone for advice in order to find out which product is best for you.

NOTE: At the moment I’m using BSN’s Amino X Blue Raspberry Flavour, and it’s delicious! My recipe for Branch Chain Amino Acid Jello is coming soon.

Related Videos:

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Benefits of Glutamine: Do You REALLY Need It?

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Hi Scott, I was looking at a product I'm wanting to get and in the amino acid profile it had a large amount of "Glutamic Acid", 5160 (something?) per 30g . Is Glutamic Acid this same as Glutamine?

It also had a bunch of other good amino acids such as leucine, valine, isoleucine, lysine ect.  


Great article... this one is pretty good too, by Jerry Brainum... started food him about the same time I found @scott_herman. Weights and Nutrition are only as helpful as the knowledge we gain and apply. Again, great article, not knocking it. Thought I'd share this one you go with it.


great to know Dan, awesome article :)

The rule for building anything is measure twice, cut once. So for buying something maybe it should be read twice, buy once :D