BCAAs are the “branched-chain amino acids,” leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Together, but in particular l-leucine, these amino acids are responsible for increasing protein synthesis.
This can help preserve muscle and support an anabolic environment.
Vegan BCAAs have a few benefits, and even though I’m not vegan, they’re the only BCAAs that I touch.
First, if BCAAs aren’t vegan, that almost always means they’re sourced from the worst protein possible.
This is called “animal by-product.” However, the term hides how bad it really is. These products come from rotting slaughtered animal carcasses, bird feathers, and human hair.
Choosing a vegan-friendly source solves this.
We don’t have time here to get into the problems with large-scale farming on the environment, nor to discuss the complex and varied moral philosophies around eating animal products, but choosing vegan denounces and stays away from all of this.
And you don’t have to be obnoxious about the fact that your BCAAs are vegan. Literally just get them and move on.
Here are the best vegan BCAA products on the market.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Kaged BCAA has fermented, vegan BCAA from the highest quality plant-based sources.
It also comes in 2:1:1 dose of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, prioritizing the most important one.
Also Kaged BCAA is unflavored with zero sweeteners, and mixes easily into any product.
This makes it the ideal choice if you like to combine BCAA with a protein powder, pre-workout, or hydration drink. It dissolves easily into any supplement stack, whether for in-training fuel or post-workout recovery.
It’s also NSF-approved for sport, so athletes of all levels have nothing to worry about. It’s gluten-free, non-GMO, suitable for vegans, and free of artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors.
For an affordable, high-quality product with no fluff, take a look at Kaged BCAA.
Transparent Labs have a vegan BCAA product that includes 5g of l-glutamine.
Depending on your goals, glutamine may also support muscle recovery, but on the whole, glutamine’s strongest benefits revolve around gut health.
Also, their flavors are great. So if you prefer a flavored BCAA, this is a great option. Personally, I like the blue raspberry, but they have five flavors to choose from.
If you prefer capsules, Bluebonnet BCAAs are an excellent product.
They also have a 4:1:1 ratio, so you get extra leucine compared to other competitors. As mentioned, leucine is the BCAA that activates muscle protein synthesis. Generally, look for BCAAs that have this in higher amounts.
Bluebonnet BCAAs are also pharmaceutical grade.
MRM BCAA also contains glutamine, but only 1 gram. Each bottle comes with over two pounds, so it’s enough to last you for a long time.
The lemonade flavor is also delicious.
This vegan BCAA is unflavored, so you can mix it in other products. It uses patented, fermented Alipure® amino acids.
The best product for you is going to depend on what you’re looking for.
The most important factor for is always is a company going out of their way to include higher-quality ingredients. That’s important for BCAAs because, as we talked about, most BCAAs out there come from sketchy sources.
We also wanted to include a variety of product types on our list. Some people prefer capsules over powders. Within powders, if you prefer to take BCAA alone, then there are flavored options. If you prefer to include BCAAs in a stack, then look at our unflavored options.
All else being equal, we give the nod to the companies with the best value. That’s why Kaged is in our #1 spot. They go above and beyond on quality and still are incredibly competitive with their prices.
This is actually a fairly controversial topic. If you ask brands that sell BCAAs, they’ll probably say yes. However, the research on BCAAs, which is extensive, has shown that it can help reduce muscle protein breakdown. This does not mean, though, that it will lead to better muscle growth.
Rather, it means that during long workouts, or when you’re short of fuel, it may help you preserve your muscle.
While not conclusive, there is some research that suggests that BCAAs may help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). These muscle-supporting benefits are why BCAAs are popular among bodybuilders.
Some of the other more far-fetched claims include using BCAAs for weight loss. While it can be a part of a weight loss regiment, BCAAs on their own will not aid in weight loss.
It makes the most sense to take your BCAAs around or doing your workout. If you’re training fasted, you can sip on them pre-workout. You can add them to your intra-workout mix as well. Or you can have them post-workout. This workout window is when you will be breaking down muscle, so it makes the most sense to keep them fueled with BCAAs.
The reasons I love Kaged BCAAs is because it’s an unflavored vegan BCAA powder that’s easy to stack.
If you take it during your workout, add BCAAs to an electrolyte drink like Kaged Hydra-Charge.
(I hate to turn this into a commercial for Kaged, but their electrolyte drink is also really good.)
For other intra-workout options, you can mix it in something like coconut water, which is also packed with electroyltes to support hydration.
On our list, you have options for both. You also have options for flavored powders, or unflavored powers to add to you supplement stack.
Typically it’s the free-form versions of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. That means on the label you should see l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine included.
While there’s no agreed upon ideal ration, we know a few things.
That means, look for products with at least a 2:1:1 ratio. A 3:1:1 or even 4:1:1 ratio may even be better.
HMB is a metabolite of leucine. Whereas leucine seems to support muscle protein growth, HMB seems to reduce muscle protein breakdown. For more on HMB, you can check out this article on HMB supplements.
EAAs include all of the essential amino acids. These are the aminos that our body can’t produce on its own, so we have to the get them from food. For more on the value in supplementing with all of the essential amino acids, you can check out this article on EAA supplementation.
Which amino acid supplement is best for you will depend on your goals.
If you’re taking BCAAs during your workout, it can stack well with a hydration drink or creatine drink.
If you’re taking it post-workout to reduce muscle breakdown, through your scoop in protein shake.
BCAAs can help vegans get amino acids that a vegan diet typically lacks. Another common deficiency is vitamin B12. This vitamin can’t be made by the body, and its most abundant sources are all meat and fish. So if you’re a vegan, look into a quality plant-based B12 supplement. For that, check out our guide on the best vegan b12 supplements.
For more muscle-building, vegan supplements, check out our article on the best vegan protein powders.