Best Vegan BCAAs for Women
Branch Chain Amino Acids - they sound complicated, but really - they’re just fuel for your muscles. BCAAs add energy to the fire, and your muscles burn this energy in order to keep moving. And when you work your muscles a lot, it’s important to burn fuel that gives you clean energy.
The simple chemical makeup of BCAAs: “branch chain” refers to BCAAs structure. They simply look like branches or chains. BCAAs include three amino acids:
The car comparison may seem a bit cliche, but it’s so clear and easy to understand when it comes to fuel. With clean fuel, you will go further, faster, and your engine will be healthier in the long run. The same goes for the type of fuel your body runs on during a strenuous workout.
Our Best Vegan BCAAs for Women
The three essential amino acids that your skeletal muscles need - leucine, isoleucine, and valine are usually digested in the form of meat, eggs, fish, poultry, or milk. How can vegans get the same benefits, and are vegan supplements good enough? The answer is yes - vegan BCAAs supplements are some of the safest and most effective amino acid supplements on the market today. Some of them are especially formulated for women, and some are universal with exactly the type of vitamin and energy boosts busy women need.
We reviewed the best vegan BCAAs we could find with women in mind.
1.Nutricost BCAA for Women, Formulated Specifically for Women
This is a great product made by Nutricost, and it comes in so many fun flavors too! There are only 10 calories per serving, which makes it a guilt-free indulgence if you want to go back to your childhood with a flavor selection that includes grape, strawberry lemonade, peach mango, or green apple. Caffeine-free, so your boost comes from your workout! Ideal for those warm spring and summer days.
Calories per serving: 10
- Choice of summer flavors
- Extra vitamin boosts - including lots of vitamin B and Calcium
- Noticeable quick post-workout recovery
- Most people love the flavors
- Some flavors too sweet for some
- Contains red dye
2. AminoLean Pre Workout Powder
This delicious, calorie-free pre-workout powder is perfect for hydrating and aiding weight loss - if that’s what you’re after in your workout routine. It helps recovery and gives you that extra energy kick because it contains all-natural caffeine.
We especially love this mix for its blend of electrolytes and tropical flavors - if there is one perfect powder for a super hot day or a trying sweaty workout - this is definitely our number one choice. No sugar added, and zero calories.
Because of the next-level hydrating action of this product, many people recommend it for activities like hikes, runs, or marathons - especially in hot climates, deserts, or long strenuous work in the outdoors. (Yes, gardening also counts!)
Calories per serving: 0
- Original flavor formula
- NSF certified
- Noticeable muscle recovery
- The flavor is too bold for some
3. Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy - Pre Workout with Green Tea, BCAA, Amino Acids, Keto Friendly, Green Coffee Extract, Energy Powder - Concord Grape, 65 Servings
This amazing mix of forest berries comes to the rescue for all your pre-workout needs. Both vegan and gluten-free, this product contains 20% more servings than most BCAA packages.
Rich in B, C, and K vitamins, it also contains organic coffee berry for that extra kick of liquid ambition. We love this before those tough-to-get-out-of-bed morning workouts. It uses organic cane sugar instead of artificial sweeteners or stevia - a hard find these days for those who have adverse reactions.
Calories per serving: 20
- Certified for non-GMO, NSF, informedchoice.org, and certified vegan
- “No-crash” energy effect
- Helps with workout focus
- Organic cane sugar is not right for some
4. Nutricost BCAA Powder 2:1:1 (Unflavored) 90 Servings - Branched Chain Amino Acids
This is our ultimate favorite neutral BCAA powder - this is a perfect smoothie builder if you’re also looking to get some breakfast in because it takes on any flavor you add. It has no flavor on its own. If you’re looking for those sweet and jolting summer flavors, you have come to the wrong place.
This bad boy comes with 90 servings per package - as you can see, it’s a no-frills, just what you need type of product. It’s non-GMO and vegetarian and made in the USA. These are BCAAs in their purest form, and we recommend you try it at least once just to see what it’s like, or to experiment with your own “additives”. It’s really a blank canvas.
Calories per serving: n/a
- You can add sweetener or flavors to your liking
- No added anything
- More servings than any other option
- Not very tasty on its own
5. Truth Nutrition Fermented Vegan BCAA Powder
This is a gentle pink lemonade BCAAs powder, but don’t let the light pink flavor and pastel packaging design fool you - it contains a beast of a muscle-building energy workout powder inside.
This BCAA powder is designed as a balancing act for those who are on a keto diet or practice intermittent fasting. The Truth Nutrition motto is “mend and rebuild” and it is indeed trusted by pro athletes around the world, probably also due to the fact that it is clean and artificial chemical-free and contains a completely plant-based, electrolyte formula. Even its calming pink color comes from organic beets.
Calories per serving: 35
- Filled with electrolytes
- Reported great help with preventing muscle soreness
- The natural flavor may take some time to get used to for those used to artificial BCAAs.
6. Naked BCAAs Amino Acids Powder
This is another one of our favorite flavor-free BCAAs powders. We love those because they leave a lot of room to mix it up on your own. This Naked BCAAs Amino Acids Powder is only 5 g per serving and contains an unbelievable 100 servings in a package. This is pure concentrated real stuff only, with only vegan non-GMO ingredients.
We recommend this for women who are used to total control of what they put into their bodies and who don’t want any extra frills except for the ones they think up and execute themselves. This is for the girl bosses who already have a few shake recipes handy.
Naked includes pharmaceutical-grade BCAAs, pure and simple. Don’t take us the wrong way - you don’t actually need to mix it with anything in order to drink it. A lot of people chug it on its own with no problem.
Calories per serving: 0
- Non-GMO vegan
- 0 calories, 0 additives
- Prevents post-workout muscle soreness
- Lower price than the competition
- Naked means naked, so it’s just the pure taste and smell of BCAAs, which some people might not like.
How to read the labels on BCAAs
All BCAAs will have some important info on the box - become a pro at reading them and decide which one is best for you.
Size - what’s the size of the box?
Servings - how many servings are in the box?
Formula - the formula gives you the ratio of the three BCAAs:
The formula will look something like this: 2:1:1. It’s not in weight, but in parts, more like a professional baking formula. This means that there are two parts of leucine to one part of isoleucine and valine.
So - 2.5 g to 1.25 g. Scientifically, this is the most used formula, although some producers have their own patented ratios that they claim have better effects or are better for specific goals. Another great reason to read the labels!
Calories - this might be a good way to detect the unnecessary junk you’re getting in your supplements - like calories that come from sugar.
Grams - how many grams of BCAAs that is. You don’t want 500 grams worth of powder that only contains 10 grams of BCAAs! (This might be an extreme example, but you know what we mean!) How much of the good stuff is in the package, and how much is just “filler”?
Benefits of BCAAs for exercise and health
BCAAs have many benefits that make them outweigh protein shakes and protein-heavy foods that some people gulp down before a hard-core workout. Here are the benefits of BCAAs during a workout:
BCAAs help with more effective muscle growth
In this study, muscle growth synthesis increased by 22% for those drinking BCAAs powders than for those drinking the placebo drinks. That is quite an amazing difference. It’s important to note that while BCAAs increase the synthesis, you may need to look more into sources of protein as well to maintain steady muscle growth.
They make recovery less painful by decreasing soreness and easing fatigue
DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can often mean that your workout was quite good. But it’s still a pain, and it can delay recovery and affect your next workout. It’s believed to be caused by tiny tears in the muscles - and the key to preventing this pain is to prevent your muscles from becoming damaged during workouts. BCAAs are said to do just this.
A lot of people report having reduced DOMS by drinking BCAAs powder drinks before their exercise (about 20 minutes).
BCAAs improve mental function and alertness
BCAAs have been used in the medical field for a while, and there are studies linking it to numerous benefits for people faced with diseases like:
- treating brain disorders, or
- helping people with cancer regain their appetite.
- They are used to treat symptoms of tardive dyskinesia and help people with certain brain disorders.
This list is quite long, and the research on the benefits of BCAAs continues.
What are non-vegan BCAAs made from anyway?
Non-vegan BCAA supplements are made from keratin. What is keratin? It’s basically the stuff that your fingernails and hair are made out of. Of course, commercial supplements aren’t made from fingernails or hair - these fibrous structured proteins aren’t only found in humans.
In animals, they are found in feathers, wool, or hooves. This won’t gross out people who are used to using the whole animal, and it has long been the trend now for gourmet restaurants to serve offal and other nose-to-tail bits and pieces. Waste not, want not.
Why non-vegans should consider vegan BCAAs
The problem with non-vegan BCAAs is the waste part - a lot of commercial operations use waste products that are pretty shady at best. Chemicals are used to extract the keratin from all of these waste-product hooves, fur, and other by-products of the industrial animal production complex.
The truth is that there is no way you can control or check this process. Good luck getting the sources for keratin out of your non-vegan BCAAs manufacturer. In some cases, human hair has been known to be used in the production of BCAAs, and there is really no way to check if what you’re eating comes from good sources.
Even if you think enjoying a steak or burger is perfectly fine, you might want to stick to vegan BCAAs in order to avoid consuming chemically extracted proteins from waste products or even human by-products.
BCAA effects for women vs. men
We seriously hope that the myths about women vs. men when it comes to weight lifting, hardcore exercise, or even bodybuilding have been dispelled. No, weight lifting will not make you super bulky - it’s actually recommended for women and especially recommended for women hitting perimenopause or menopausal stages in life. It not only builds muscle but it keeps your bones healthy and wards off many unpleasant symptoms of menopause, including the thinning of bones. Lift ladies, lift hard!
Strong muscles keep you active, healthy, and happy - they promote mental health. The fuel is the same. But a lot of BCAAs supplements, like the ones we said we adored above, have other stuff in them.
There are certain beneficial “additives” that women can take along with their dose of BCAAs, right in the same mix. This includes stuff like:
- Caffeine and green tea for the go-getters and ladies in need of an extra energy shot
- B12 to reduce fatigue and supplement
- Electrolytes to hydrate more
- Calcium, vitamin C
The right BCAA dosage and timing
When is it best to take BCAAs? Is it after your workout or before? The truth is, there are specialized mixes that can be taken either pre-workout to fuel your muscles or post-workout BCAAs mixes that are formulated for recovery.
The right dosage depends on how much pure BCAA powder is in your mix - the dosage usually ranges from 5g to 9g, depending on the product. Read your labels and dose properly.
Experiment - which BCAAs work best for you?
There are a lot of products on our list, and we recommend that you try a few before you “settle” on your favorite one. Everybody does their flavors differently - and while certain powders will taste “gross” to some, they will taste incredible to others.
Don’t be scared to try the pure BCAAs powders - you might not like them, but you might develop some of your own clean and filling breakfast smoothie recipes. Take them hiking on those hard-to-beat routes instead of Gatorade or water - you’ll be amazed at the difference and recovery time.