Top 10 BCAA Supplements For Muscle Gains
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By Nader Qudimat / Mar 19, 2018

Top BCAA Supplements of 2018

From BCAA's to complete intra workouts, this guide has it all. Check out these complete BCAA supplement to find one that best suits your needs. 

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Forget catabolism...

You'd agree with me when I say that it's important to keep the body fed and fueled for maximum performance and gains.

Even during your workouts.​

With BCAA's you're ensuring your body is in the best state possible. 

Now you may benefit more if you're in a fasted state...

But we all know you can't drink or eat protein during your workouts.

So BCAA's and intra workouts come into use.​

We've done the research and have rounded up the best here...

You'll learn what BCAA supplements you can use during training to make the most gains and out of your workouts.

Why Take BCAA Supplements?

What if you could improve recovery and train harder than ever while remaining in a anabolic state?

You'd probably feel like you've got an “S” on your chest…

BCAA’s have become one of the biggest game changers for both bodybuilders and athletic purposes.

Whether you’ve used BCAA’s or not, you should know by now that they are made out of 3 amino acids:

  • leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine.

Different supplements contain different ratios so it gets kind of confusing on which one to go with and not all BCAA supplements are all that great since some may come with carbohydrates and nitric oxide ingredients while others are just plain amino acids.

Most intra supplements are a waste of money. 

The choices can be overwhelming and the supplement industry is full of hyped up crap so we’re going to list the ones you should stay away from and our top 10 list.


Full clinical doses of beneficial ingredients is a must. 


BCAA's and Intra's MUST be able to help gain muscle and enhance recovery. 


We don't listen to the hype, we listen to reputation and the reviews.

Budget BCAA and Intra Supplements

Whether you're on a budget or just want something simple and effective, these intra workouts will help you achieve your goals.


  • ​6g BCAA’s 
  • ​3g L-Leucine
  • ​2g L-Valine
  • ​1g L-Isoleucine

​This formula is simple but it’s got its own way of being unique.

The stimulant version has 100mg of caffeine, 50mg of green tea extract and 50mg of panax ginseng root powder and then non-stim has a simple 3:1:2 ratio of BCAA’s.

It’s made this list because it has a very high concentration of BCAA’s.

This product has been found to have a high concentration of BCAA's (94.6%).

​This means you’re actually getting the amount of BCAA’s stated on the ingredient panel.

Other than being a company of great standards, this is a BCAA supplement worthy of purchasing.

Their flavors are near-perfect considering how hard it is to flavor BCAA’s.


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    ​High quality ingredients (98%)
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    ​Fully disclosed
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    ​Simple and effective label
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    ​Comes in pills and powder form


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    ​Only one size: 30 servings

BCAA Supplements For Bodybuilding

Sometimes a plain BCAA supplement just isn't enough. 

A lot of you may prefer your BCAA supplement with carbs, or maybe without them. Either way, these intra-supplements do not only contain BCAA's, but they also have other ingredients that will help you gain more out of your training (like pumps, hydration, pumps, etc).

Intra-BCAA Supplements With Carbs

You don't mind carbs, right?

Perfect you're in the right place.

This list contains the best BCAA supplements that have carbs which will help you power through workouts with full on intensity and force. ​

3. Intra-MD by Prime Nutrition


  • ​30g Highly Brached Cyclic Dextrin
  • ​2.5g L-Leucine
  • ​2g L-Glycine
  • ​2g Taurine
  • ​2g Citrulline Malate
  • ​1.5g L-Valine
  • ​1g L-Glutamine
  • ​1g L-Isoleucine
  • ​1g L-Methionine
  • ​500mg DL-Phenylalanine
  • ​500mg L-Threonine
  • ​500mg L-lysine
  • ​100mg L-Tryptophan

​Intra-MD is more than just a BCAA supplement.

This super powered intra workout supplement is packed with everything you need to survive and go beyond your usual limits.

Every scoop has 30 grams of a super high quality and easily digestible carb, highly branched cyclic dextrin.

For pumps and recovery, it also has 2 grams of carbs and 4.6 of added essential amino acids. ​

Whether you train fasted or just need the extra fuel, you'll love this stuff.


  • ​30g Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin
  • ​10g Hydrolized Casein
  • ​3,000mg L-Aspartic Acid
  • ​2,000mg Taurine
  • ​1,500mg Citric Acid
  • ​1,000mg L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate
  • ​400mg Potassium Glycerol Phosphate
  • ​350mg Tri Sodium Glycerol Phosphate
  • ​150mg Calcium Glycerol Phosphate
  • ​104mg Manesium Bisglycinate Chelate
  • ​50mg Actigin™

​This recently released intra-workout is not only full of ergogenic aids but it also has carbs and protein for further recovery.

The Edge covers everything you need from BCAA's to the super hydrolyzed protein, Peptopro.​

And like Intra-MD, it has 30g of the super high quality (and expensive) carb, highly branched cyclic dextrin.

For further muscle volumization and pumps, it packs a full gram of taurine and various forms of glycerol. ​

This is more than your average intra-workout as it goes above and beyond with ingredients and it's formula.


  • ​62.8g (Trehalose, Whey Protein Hydrolysate,
    Creapure® (Creatine Monohydrate), L-Taurine, And More)

Sizeon is the perfect intra workout for those looking to build muscle.

This is not only a fast acting intra workout, but it works quite well.

It has carbs, BCAA's, creatine and even protein and vitamin B's.

It's an all-in-one supplement, perfect if you're bulking.

Now if you're cutting, you can still use this but it comes down to making it fit your diet and nutrition since it has a lot of calories and carbs.

You can easily take half a scoop or less if needed (you'd save money in the process).

Top BCAA Supplements With Stimulants

What if you could combine 2 supplements in one?

Some fully packed pre workouts contain both, BCAA's and stimulants.

While it's true, some stimulants take time to work, you could combine stims with BCAA's and just drink it a little earlier and continue sipping on it during your workout.​

Lucky for you though, some BCAA supplements contain stimulants already.

You could just add some caffeine to your BCAA supplement (or any supplement for that matter) but it's nice to have something prepared anyway as it's more convenient.​

Whether you're already taking a pre workout or not, you could take these BCAA's alongside as long as your watching your stimulant intake as everything can add up.

Some pre workouts may have only 200mg of caffeine, but they may combine stronger stimulants like DMAA or yohimbine so check before you wreck yourself. ​

Top BCAA's With DMAA and Caffeine

These are the intra-workouts we can find with both, DMAA and BCAAs. 

Off The Chain by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals


  • ​5g Amino Blend (Ajinomoto L-Glutamine, Micronized L-Leucine, Micronized L-Isolecine, And More)
  • ​160mg Energy Blend (Caffeine Anhydrous, Green Tea, And More)

​Hi-Tech has a thing for DMAA.

They put it in everything from fat burners, pre workouts to even BCAA supplements like this one.

Off The Chain has 100mg caffeine and 20mg DMAA.

So whether you're trying to get through a stimulant break or just want a little kick during your workout so you don't crash, Off The Chain has got your back.

This BCAA supplement not only has BCAA's, but it packs all 13 amino acids in a 5 gram prop blend. ​

So here you're not only getting energy from the caffeine, but a nice mood enhancing and focus driving stimulant, DMAA. ​

Top 10 BCAA Supplements For Muscle Gains and Recovery


  • ​5g BCAA’s 
  • ​3g Time Released L-Leucine
  • ​2.5g EAAs
  • ​1g Taurine
  • ​200mg Electrolytes

​Myokem literally came out of nowhere and released products that are based on science and have been named the number 1 brand by Stack3d.

Being all focused on leucine, their BCAA product promises to keep you in a constant anabolic state.

They’ve got the proper ratio of BCAA’s, 2:1:1, and a whole bunch of other amino acids but that’s not what makes it so special.

It uses a time release form of l-leucine which is named ActiveTR.

Leucine can pass through the system pretty quickly so using ActiveTR, it promises to keep you fed with leucine for a longer period of time…

8 hours of time!

What happens is that 2 hours after mTOR pro is consumed, the time released leucine is activated and it keeps you fed for 8 hours.


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    ​EAA's and BCAA's
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    ​Fully disclosed
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    ​Increased Endurance
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    ​Increased recovery and muscle growth
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    ​Time released leucine


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    ​Only one size, 30 servings
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    ​Limited flavors


  • ​2.5g Leucine
  • ​2g Citrulline Malate
  • ​1.6g ​Beta-Alanine
  • ​1.​25g ​​L-Isoleucine
  • ​1.​25g ​​L-Valine
  • ​0.75g HICA

​You're looking at one of the few BCAA supplements that contain a full serving of HICA.

Not only that but it is loaded with BCAA’s, beta alanine and citrulline malate.

They've included some electrolytes to ensure hydration during your workouts so you can fight off fatigue and stress.

To help you fight through your intense workouts, you get 10 grams of BCAA’s, 4 grams of beta alanine, 4 grams of citrulline malate and finally 2 grams of HICA .

HICA helps transform a regular BCAA product into a super loaded supplement that enhances recovery.

There is a catch though.

With Cor-Performance, you need to take 2 scoops which makes it only 15 servings, not


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    ​HICA and BCAA loaded
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    ​Fully disclosed
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    ​Super fast recovery
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    ​Fully disclosed


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    ​Needs 2 scoops for the promised doses


  • ​7g BCAA’s & EAAs
  • ​2.7g Endurance Complex
  • ​70mg Electrolytes

​Being one of the most mentioned intra workouts ever since many can remember, Purple Wraath is one that can’t be skipped.

Controlled Labs is one of the bosses of the supplement industry as they’ve not only been using only high quality ingredients but also guaranteeing  that their supplements are safe from banned substances and cross contamination.

Purple Wraath is jam packed with amino goodies: it literally has all 14 amino acids.

Taking it to the next level, they’ve also got a “PurplEndurance” complex, which you can guess is good for endurance.

It’s a 2.7 gram blend of beta alanine, citrulline malate, betaine anhydrous, ginger and l-norvaline.

Fillers are next to none.

With very little fillers and no maltodextrin to be seen, this makes a perfect BCAA mix for anyone cutting or just want to stay as healthy as possible.


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    ​Increased recovery
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    ​9 amino acids
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    ​Increased Endurance
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    ​Strength and nitric oxide boosting ingredients included


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    ​Proprietary blends
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    ​Strange flavoring


  • ​6g BCAA’s​
  • ​1g Taurine
  • ​.5g Agmatine

​Here’s a intra workout that comes from a man that popularized the intra-workout category…

Most supplements tend to over do it with under dosed ingredients, artificial flavoring and coloring.

But Marc Lobliner over at MTS Nutrition has kept it simple.

Machine Fuel contains 6g of BCAA’s for recovery and decreased fatigue, as well as agmatine and taurine for fullness and pumps.

The flavors vary and are quite decent for something that is affordable.

Like any other BCAA supplement, this can be used a pre, intra and / or post workout.

Whether you’re on a budget or just want something effective, you’ll like Machine Fuel.


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    ​Simple but effective formula for recovery and pumps
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    ​Agmatine for mental support and increased vasodilation
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    ​Disclosed formula
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    ​Fairly priced, perfect if you’re on a budget


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  • ​5g BCAA's
  • ​2g Citrulline
  • ​1g Taurine
  • ​750mg Electrolytes
  • ​25mg Nitric Oxide Blend

​Amino Flow is seriously popular all over the web...

That is one JAM PACKED formula.

Take a look...

It’s not your average BCAA product.

It contains everything from nitric oxide boosters to BCAA’s and hydration ingredients.

The BCAA’s are loaded in a 3:1:2 ratio and the nitric oxide are in a 2.5 gram blend.

You're probably going to need to take 2 servings if you want to get a decent pump going.

If you take 2 scoops then you’ll get 10 grams of BCAA’s (16 grams of total amino acids), 4 grams of citrulline (that’s pure citrulline) and 500mg of Agmatine.

Amino Flow could easily be a 3 in 1 supplement as it can replace your pre workout, nitric oxide booster and BCAA supplement.

It’s a little over a dollar per serving so that seems pretty fair.

If you’re a serious lifter looking to gain more muscle in less time, then this is for you.


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    ​Loaded with NO and BCAA's
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    ​Fully disclosed
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    ​All in one supplement
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    ​Can be stacked with other pre workouts
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    ​No artificial flavors


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    ​Need 2 scoops for full effects​


  • ​10g BCAA’s
  • ​5g Leucine
  • ​2.5g Glutamine
  • ​2.5g Beta Alanine
  • ​2.5g Citrulline Malate

​Core ABC has 50 servings with jam packed ingredients.

Each serving has 10 grams of BCAA’s, 2.5 grams of glutamine, 2.5 grams of beta alanine, 2.5 grams of citrulline malate.

That’s what we like to call a fully loaded supplement!

With 10 grams of BCAA’s, you could easily just take 1 scoop instead of the full serving of 2 scoops and still gain massive (and proven) benefits for recovery.

There’s 2.5 grams of this stuff hee, so prepare yourself for some tingles.

L-citrulline malate dosed at 2.5 grams you’ll definitely notice an increase of endurance and possibly some pumps.

Beyond the BCAA’s is beta alanine.


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    ​Packed with fully dosed ingredients
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    ​5 grams of leucine
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    ​Increased endurance and strength gains
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    ​Lots of servings
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    ​Lots of excellent reviews


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    ​One size (50 servings)
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    ​Can make people itchy from beta alanine


  • ​6g BCAA’s
  • ​2.8g Blend (Glutamine, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, N-Acetyl L-Cystine)
  • ​1.5g Blend (Creatinol-O-Phosphate, Beta Alanine)
  • ​960mg Blend (Taurine, Coconut Water, and more)
  • ​600mg Joint Support Blend

​Rich Piana has build himself a solid reputation of being honest and upfront.

But his intra workout isn’t exactly that as it’s completely covered in prop blends.

Even so, the blends look promising as they contain ingredients that not only support recovery but overall health as well (like the joint support blend).

With the basic 6g dose of BCAA’s and the tiny bit of EAA’s well definitely help increase recovery and muscle protein synthesis.

One interesting ingredient included here that we usually see in pre workouts is COP (Creatinol-O-Phosphate).

While there’s limited research on this ingredient, it’s been noted to prevent pH levels from going too low, leading into an acidic environment, which should help increase strength output while sustaining performance.

AllDayYouMay is a great choice for a intra-workout and something everyone can enjoy whether cutting or bulking.


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    ​Contains joint support blend
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    ​Maximizes recovery with BCAA’s and EEA’s
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    ​Increases hydration and decreases muscle cramps
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    ​Includes ergogenic aids and muscle building ingredients


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    ​Strong flavoring and sweeteners


  • ​5g BCAA’s
  • ​3g L-Citrulline
  • ​1.6g Beta Alanine
  • ​1g Taurine
  • ​500mg L-Tyrosine
  • ​500mg Coconut Water Powder
  • ​124mg Organic Caffeine

​Kaged Muscle has made itself a well known brand literally overnight.

They’ve earned the reputation of creating well balanced formulas that are packed with ergogenic aids to help achieve a variety of goals from muscle building to weight loss.

In-Kaged is well formulated with 5g fermented BCAA’s and a few other ergogenics.

The thing about this formula is that some ingredients are purposely underdosed as you’re sort of forced to use their pre workout.

Even so, ingredients like beta alanine can be dosed at 1.6g since you don’t need to take a complete 3.2g dose in one sitting and some can’t handle the tingling sensation comes with it.

Other than that, there’s a pure 3g dose of citrulline, which is equivalent to 6g citrulline malate!

The energy blend makes this BCAA stand out.

With a bit of caffeine, tyrosine and taurine, you’re sure to stay fully awake and alert during your workouts.

Whether you’re training fasted, have no time to consume a pre workout or just want a well rounded recovery formula, you’re well off with In-Kaged.


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    ​Well rounded recovery formula
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    ​Induces pumps and increases vasodilation with citrulline
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    ​Increases alertness and energy with tyrosine and caffeine
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    ​Stacks with most pre workouts​
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    ​Increases overall performance
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    ​Uses fermented amino acids


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    ​Under dosed beta alanine (made to stack with Pre-Kaged)


  • ​6g BCAA’s
  • 3g L-Citrulline
  • ​1.6g Beta Alanine
  • ​1.25g Betaine Anhydrous
  • ​500mg Coconut Water Powder

​Using absolutely no artificial sweeteners or coloring, INTRABUILD has managed to make itself one of the popular intra workouts to get.

Jacked Factory has a solid line of supplements from the best selling pre workout Altius to a couple other things.

What makes INTRABUILD different is that it contains not only BCAA’s for recovery but also strength and vasodilation increasing ingredients such as citrulline and betaine anhydrous.

Disclosing the entire blend, this intra workout also contains a 1.6g beta alainine to saturate your muscles with carnosine to help fight that burning sensation which occurs with high reps and sets.

It includes 500mg of coconut water which decreases muscle cramps and dehydration as it’s rich in potassium.

If you want something solid, well formulated and affordable, INTRABUILD is the way to go.


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    ​Contains nice dose of BCAA’s
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    ​Includes strength and muscle building ingredients
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    ​Reduces soreness and increases hydration with coconut water powder
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    ​Uses pure 3g l-citrulline (equlivant to 6g citrulline malate)
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    ​Goes well with any pre workout containing the other half of betaine anhydrous and beta alanine


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    ​Exclusive to one retailer (Amazon)


  • ​12g AjiPure BCAA’s
  • 3g Coconut Juice Powder
  • ​2.2g EAA’s
  • ​1.6g Mediator 50P (800mg Phosphatidic Acid)

​More likely than not, you haven’t seen a formula that combines ingredients and dosages like these.

Using a proven 2: 1 :1 ratio of BCAA’s, Pharmgrade packs a massive 12g in a single amino product.

With the help of these BCAA’s, you’ll stay anabolic in the most intense training sessions as Pharmgrade will stimulate protein synthesis by activating the mTOR pathway.

Including 3g coconut water will help increase hydration as it’s rich in potassium.

Now the muscle building and strength part of this formula is increased with the help of the patented ingredient, Mediator 50P.

This form contains 800mg of phosphatidic acid.

PA has been researched to increase muscle growth by activating mTOR pathways (like the BCAA’s).

Whether you’re goal is to build muscle or shred fat, you’ll remain in an anabolic state with the help of Pharmgrade.

While there’s only one flavor currently to be enjoyed, there should be more to come as this brand is still fresh.

The only thing that’s stopping this premium intra from hitting higher on our top 10 list is that the brand is still new, and the price is quite high (we know, you get what you pay for!).

This is a solid 2 in 1 intra because it doesn’t only stimulate muscle repair but it also increases muscle growth and strength.

Get Pharmgrade and try it out.


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    ​High quality and patented ingredients
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    ​Uses 13g total amino acids (BCAA’s and EAA’s)
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    ​Uses vegetarian sourced amino acids (Ajipure)
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    Increases strength and muscle growth
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    Decreases muscle cramping and increases hydration
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    ​Massive coconut water dose (3g)


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    ​Expensive (you get what you pay for)
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    ​Limited availability


  • ​3.5g Leucine
  • ​2.5g Glutamine
  • ​1.75g Isoleucine
  • ​1.75g Valine
  • 1g Citrulline Malate (1:1)

​Considered to be the top godfather of BCAA’s and the innovator of the said category, Xtend made it possible for BCAA’s to taste good and consumable.

Scivation has a long history in the BCAA category, and they may even be one of the first companies to include electrolytes in their BCAA supplements.

These days, Xtend comes in many forms, flavors and types.

Xtend features the research proven ratio, 2:1:1, and it’s always been and still is the 7 grams of BCAA’s in each serving.

What’s more impressive is that they’ve managed to master each flavor, maybe a little too much mastering though.

Their green apple is one of the best flavors with orange dream and pink lemonade tasting medicore.


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    ​Using proven ratio
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    ​Fully disclosed
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    ​Decreased soreness
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    ​Increased recovery
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    ​Great taste


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    ​Lots of flavoring and dyes
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    ​Not for health conscious people (too much flavoring)


  • 8g BCAA's
  • ​5g Glutamine
  • ​5mg Coconut Water Powder

​The supplement industry is made out of dark secrets and prop blends.

Transparentlabs has turned it around and has been making supplements with completely transparent labels.

Their latest intra workout, CoreSeries, is a simple but effective formula that combines the power of coconut water with BCAA's and glutamine.

It packs a huge 8 gram dose of BCAA's​, 5 grams of glutamine and a bit of coconut water for further hydration and endurance.

It has everything you need and nothing you don't need.

Use this coupon code for further servings: Fitfrek


  • ​7.2g BCAA's
  • ​5g Glutamine
  • ​3g Betaine & OKG
  • ​3g EEAs
  • ​2.7g Electrolytes

​In every serving you get 10 grams of essential amino acids that includes 7.2 grams of BCAA’s, 5 grams of glutamine, and finally 2 grams of betaine.

You also get 1 gram of l-ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate and a whole bunch of electrolytes.

NutraBio always strives to remain at the top of standards when it comes to quality and disclosure.

But any supplement can claim that and pretend to have high standards…so what really makes Intra Blast special?

All the amino acids are naturally fermented which means they come from plant sources, not animal sources like feathers, hair and other strange things you wouldn’t expect amino acids to come from.

Quality isn’t the only thing that makes Intra Blast amazing; it’s got the full spectrum of EAA’s and turned a regular BCAA product into an intense recovery supplement.

NutraBio manages to not only disclose the ingredients but also the flavoring and sweeteners used so you know exactly what you’re getting.


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    ​Increased Strength
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    ​Fully disclosed
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    ​All in one supplement
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    ​Disclosed fillers
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    ​Quality ingredients


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    ​Only one size, 30 servings

What Are BCAA's?

BCAA’s are considered branch amino acids because each one of them has a structure that looks like a branch.

Being unique for how they look isn’t the only thing that they’ve got going on.

These amino’s also increase energy, assist with fat loss but they are more commonly known for increasing muscle growth.

Hence why you hear that they are such a “anabolic” supplement to take.

Leucine is known to be the leading champion among the 3 amino acids so you should make sure that there’s always more leucine in the ratio.

Being the key to turning on the “anabolic” state that every bodybuilder thrives for, leucine is the key as it activates mTOR, a complex which increases muscle protein synthesis which then leads to more muscle growth.

Seeing that leucine is so important in the BCAA mix, some supplements recommend taking it on it’s own but that’s where shit goes wrong.

Don’t take our word for it; one study tested leucine on its own vs all 3 BCAA’s in a 2:1:1 ratio.

Men in their early 20’s were given either leucine, a 2:1:1 BCAA supplement or a placebo.

Those who took leucine sure did increase muscle protein synthesis much more than the placebo, but they found that the BCAA’s increased protein synethsis even further than both groups. 

Taking BCAA’s in a 2:1:1 ratio will result an increase energy and endurance while decreasing fatigue.

And also, without valine, you won’t be able to push as much reps, maintain strength and endurance as much as you would, especially when it comes to the last half of your workout.

Isoleucine is also plays an important role in BCAA’s as it helps with fat loss and decreases the activities that leads to fat storage.

Bottom Line

Get your BCAA’s in a 2:1:1 ratio. Avoid the ratios that include “500mg of both valine and isoleucine” because that’s not nearly enough to keep you going in your workouts.

Stick to what’s been proven in studies, not what the supplements are claiming.

All of the benefits is all the more reason to start using BCAA’s before and during your workouts.

But don’t go consuming protein shakes during your workouts because that takes energy to digest and you’ll feel bloated.

BCAA Side Effects

Apart from muscle gains and fat loss, there are none!

Unlike other supplements, BCAA’s are one of the supplements that have no side effects and are safe to take on a regular basis.

The only thing you should be worried about are the artificial stuff (flavors, colors, ingredients, sources of BCAA’s) that are put into them.

Powders, Tablets Or Capsules?

Powders are popular due to having the ability to sip on BCAA’s for however long they need to be sipped on. It’s best to look at your lifestyle and pick according to what suits you best.

However, it takes a lot of capsules to gain the benefits of BCAA’s.

Ultimately, it’s important to look at the company and know who you’re buying from.

Since supplements are pretty much self-regulated (if at all), reputation and quality should always be a big deciding factor.

Some BCAA supplements use human hair or disgusting sources for BCAA’s so they can make their products cheap.

The Complete Intra BCAA Workout Supplement Guide

You know about pre and post workout supplements…

But what about intra-workouts?

Over the last decade, there’s been a huge focus on what you need to put into your body before and after your workout.

As a result, most trainers are pretty clued up about their pre and post workout supplementation needs.

But what about during the workout?

If you’re simply slurping from your water bottle between sets, it’s about time you got up to speed on the subject of intra workout supplementation.

It could just be the missing link to catapulting your physique to the next level.​

What is Intra Workout Nutrition?

Intra workout nutrition is just a fancy term for what goes into your body during your workout.

Intra workout supplements have entered the market over the last few years with the goal to produce more training strength, muscle growth, energy and endurance.

They also provide an early start on your recovery process.

The majority of intra workout supplements come in the form of a drink that mixes with water, though there are also chewable supplements on the market.

A blender bottle is a handy asset as it will allow you to keep your intra workout drink clump free during the workout.​

Why You Need an Intra Workout Supplement

When you begin working out, you cause your body to change the way it reacts to nutrients.

A number of years ago, researchers began to focus on whether adding nutrients to the body while working out would enhance performance.

What they discovered was that they key to performance was timing.

In other words, if your goal is to build muscle, lose body fat, get stronger and recover better, when you consume your nutrients is just as important as what you consume.

The energy used for weight training comes from the ATP system.

However, the ATP in your muscles is very quickly depleted when you start pushing the iron.

If that energy is not replaced your workout performance is going to drop off.

Working out also uses up fluids and electrolytes, which hamper your performance.

That’s why it’s vital to hydrate while training.

ATP is fueled by glycogen.

Now, you’re probably getting glycogen into your system through your pre workout formulation.​

The problem is that your training robs you of glycogen very quickly. In fact, after just three sets on the bench press, your glycogen levels will be down by about 35%.

If you’re not replacing that energy during your workout, your performance is going to lag.

Another key performance factor during your workout relates to insulin.

Your pre-workout will provide quality protein to your system. But, insulin is needed to transport that protein to the muscle.

Unless you are fortifying your insulin levels during the workout, all of that pre workout protein is going to be sitting around doing nothing.​

Yet, it gets even worse.

In the absence of insulin, we see the rise of insulin’s antagonist – glucagon. Glucagon is catabolic, stealing amino acids fro your cells.

Along with glucagon, you’ll see a rise in two other catabolic hormones – epinephrine and cortisol, both of which lower your glycogen levels.

To build muscle and lose body fat, your body needs to be in an anabolic state.

However, working out is catabolic.

It breaks down your muscles.​

And, as we’ve just seen, catabolic hormones are promoted when you work out in the absence of glycogen and insulin.

Intra workout nutrition in the form of carbohydrates will counter this catabolic effect, pushing you back to the anabolic state that you need to be in.

Your body also has a need for protein during the workout.

From the moment you begin pumping iron, your body starts eating up protein, especially in the form of branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s).

If you’re training intensely, BCAA’s will provide about 20% of your muscle’s energy needs.

In other words, your body is cannibalizing itself by eating up branch chain amino acids. When your take in BCAAs during the workout, you greatly offset this process.​

So, why do you need an intra workout supplement?

Taking protein and carbs into your body while you are training will offset the catabolic effect of working out, allowing you to maintain high levels of ATP, insulin, glycogen and BCAAs.

The result is that you’ll be stronger for longer and your body will be primed for anabolic growth and recovery.​

What Intra Workout Supplements Should I Take?

Now you know that intra workout supplements are a good idea, what should you take?

The answer depends on what you are trying to achieve from your workouts.

If you are primarily focused on fat loss, your ultra supplementation will be different from the guy who is primarily concerned with packing on muscle mass.

Regardless of your specific training goal, you should still be drinking plenty of water during your workout.

Dehydrated muscles will soon lose power regardless of what nutrients you supply them with.

Over the course of a 75-minute workout, you should be chugging down between one and two liters of water.​

Fat Loss Intra Workout Supplementation

If you are training primarily for fat loss, you will want to limit the amount of calories you take into your system during your workout.

After all, in order to shed body-fat you are training to burn off more calories than you’re consuming each day.

So, the last thing you want to do is to chug down extra calories.

Another consideration is your insulin level.

While a guy who is training for max muscle mass will want to elevate insulin levels while training to transport protein to the muscle cell, you don’t​ want to boost insulin because it will interfere with the process of freeing up stored body fat for energy.

That’s why you really don’t want carbs in your intra workout formulation.

The exception would be if you are following a keto or intermittent fasting diet program.

In those cases, you will want to take in fats acting carbs to fuel you through your workout.

What you need to focus on is amino acids which will counter the catabolic effect and promote protein synthesis.

The big three, of course, are the three branch chain amino acids – valine, leucine and iso-leucine.

In addition, you will benefit from glutamine, citrulline malate and glycine.​

Look for an intra workout that contains the following aminos at the levels indicated:​

  • BCAAs - 5g
  • L-Glutamine - 5g
  • L-Glycine - 3g
  • Citrulline Malate - 3g

Muscle Gain Intra Workout Nutrition

When it comes to packing on muscle mass, carbohydrates are going to benefit you.

Of course, you don’t want to store those carbs as fat.

When you’re working out, however, you are very unlikely to store carbs as fat, so this is the ideal time to take that energy into your system.

You’ll want to take in fast acting carbs that are quickly absorbed into your system.

Taking in carbs during your workout will also lead to an insulin spike.

As we’ve already learned, insulin helps to transport protein to your muscle cells.​

Of course, you’ll also want to take in some key amino acids while training.

Leucine, one of the branch chin amino acids, is a key stimulator of your growth pathway, speeding up protein synthesis.

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and the one that is most cannibalized through working out.

Taking 5 grams of glutamine during your session will go a long way to putting you into an anabolic state.​

Look for an intra workout that contains the following ingredients at the levels indicated:​

  • 25-50 grams of fast digesting crabs
  • BCAAs – 5g
  • L-Glutamine – 5g
  • L-Glycine – 3g
  • Citrulline Malate – 3g

Breaking Down the Ingredients

So, now that you’ve got an overview of what should be in your intra workout, let’s take a closer look at the most common intra workout ingredients.


The three branch chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine.

These are by far the most important aminos for muscle growth.

They also fight fatigue and are used by the muscles as a source of fuel.

BCAA’s are unique in the amino acid world because they bypass the liver and go directly to your small intestine.

Here they are soaked up to go directly into the bloodstream and your muscles to build more muscle.

BCAA’s also work to blunt the catabolic effects of cortisol, which is heightened during the stress of training.

Among other things, cortisol lowers your levels of testosterone, interfering with your body’s ability to drive new muscle growth.

BCAA’s will bring your cortisol levels back down, allowing for the muscle building mechanism to kick in.

Of the three BCAA’s, leucine is the most important.

That’s why the clinically recommended dose is to have twice as much leucine as iso-leucine and valine ( a 2:1:1 ratio in favor of leucine).

Some intra workout formulas will only include leucine. That’s ok, because it is powerful enough to instigate protein synthesis by itself.​

When you take amino acids, such as BCAAs into your body while you are placing stress on your muscles through training, it is absorbed into your cells much faster than at any other time.

That’s why timing is critical.

Getting BCAA’s while you’re working out will halt the catabolic process and restart the rebuild of your muscle cells immediately.

BCAAs come in various forms. You can buy them as capsules, tablets or in powdered form.

They also come in drink mixes, which is probably the smartest way to take them intra workout.

They are micronized and instantized and all you have to do is stir them up with some water and then sip them into your system.​


Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body.

It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that your body can produce it by itself.

61% of your skeletal muscle is composed of glutamine. Glutamine is a key transporter of nitrogen throughout the body.

It is, in fact, the main way that nitrogen gets into your muscle cells. Nitrogen is the driver of muscle growth.

Being in a state of positive nitrogen balance will determine whether your body is in an anabolic (muscle building) or a catabolic (muscle depleting) state.

When you work out, you lose a lot of glutamine.

Heavy, frequent, intense training will actually remove the majority of this amino acid from your system.

After your workout, your body is in a glutamine depleted state. It will take up to 6 days for your glutamine levels to return to normal after just one heavy workout.

Therefore, if you are training intensely several times a week, you will be in a constant state of glutamine depletion.

Yet this amino acid is the most important substance that you need for recovery.

That is why you need to take a quality glutamine supplement while you are working out.

Supplementing with glutamine intra workout will significantly reduce the amount of glutamine that you lose as a result of your training.


Creatine is made up of the three amino acids arginine, glycerine and methionine.

This makes it an amino acid supplement, rather than an individual amino acid.

It will boost creatine phosphate levels, which boosts ATP levels, delivering more training power and endurance.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is produced by the human body.

Despite this it has come to regarded as an essential non-essential micro-nutrient.

It’s main claim to fame is its ability to stimulate carnosine production.

So what?

Well, carnosine helps you to train a lot harder.

When you work out hard with weights, your body increases production of hydrogen ions.

These ions work against your muscle building efforts because they lower the levels of pH in the cell, causing muscular fatigue.

As a result, beta alanine is great for beating the effects of fatigue during the workout and stimulating recovery after the workout.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate, a compound based upon the non-essential amino acid l-citrulline, has the ability to lower body fat levels and induce the body to increase its production of human growth hormone.

It’s popularity as a bodybuilding supplement that really works stems from it’s ability to decrease body fat and promote the release of human growth hormone, thus leading to enhanced muscle mass.

Citrulline also has the ability to maintain muscle mass strength while preventing muscle catabolism.

Citrulline has the added ability to convert Arginine to Nitric Oxide (NO).

NO has the ability to dilate your blood vessels.

This, in turns, increases blood volume to the working muscle, enhancing the pump effect while you’re training.


Dextrose is simply glucose, which is the simplest form of carbohydrate.

Being in such a simple form, your body doesn’t have to go through the process of breaking the carbs down before using them.

That makes it the ideal carb for intra workout supplementation.

Dextrose is a monosaccharide, which is about 70-80% as sweet as table sugar.

The glycemic index rating of dextrose is 100, which makes it extremely bioavailable.


Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate.

The most common source material is corn and potato starch.

Unlike most complex carbs, maltodextrin is able to break down rapidly.

That means that it is easily digestible and is able to be readily absorbed for energy.

The GI rating of maltodextrin is higher than dextrose, at 105.​


Vitargo is a patented complex carb that has become a popular ingredient in intra workout formulas.

The molecules that comprise Vitargo are much heavier than in most carbs, but it has a very low osmolality.

This means that is can pass through the stomach about 80% faster than dextrose.

This makes it a great workout choice, but be aware that it may bring on some stomach discomfort.


Electrolytes are tiny chemicals that have an electric charge that stimulate certain bodily actions.

Such electrolytes as magnesium and potassium are used to assist hydration.

They will assist in keeping you hydrated during the workout, and so are useful additions to your intra workout formula.

What About Side Effects?

The last thing you want during your workout is to experience stomach distress or flatulence.

Fortunately, there are very few side effects related to intra workout supplements.

Of course, we’re all individuals who react differently to what we put into our system. However, the two most commonly experienced side effects are . . .

Tingling of the Outer Extremeties

A tingling sensation on the lips and outer extremeties is a common effect of beta alanine supplementation.

This is a completely normal and harmless reaction.

In fact, it is a sign that your supplement has been adequately dosed with beta alanine. Once your body gets used to beta alanine, the sensation will subside.


Stomach bloating, flatulence or burping is a reaction that you may experience from creatine supplementation.

The effect is due to creatine’s ability to pull water into the muscle cell (that’s a good thing).

This can lead to a bloated water weight feeling among some people.

How Should You Take Your Intra Workout?

Obviously, these supplements are designed to be taken during your workout.

For that reason, you should mix your formulation with water in a shaker bottle before heading to the gym.

That will allow you to give it a quick shake periodically throughout the workout.

How you take your drink will depend on the length of your workout.

If your training will be all done within an hour, you can drink the whole thing down as you’re doing your warm up set.

This will allow the ingredients to take effect immediately.

If your workout duration is between one and two hours, you should take your intra workout about 30 minutes in.

This will infuse the ingredients in just as the catabolic process steps up. It will also provide enough time for all of the ingredients to kick into action.

Key Purchasing Considerations

Ingredient Profile – check the label against the list of ingredients above to determine if it’s got the goods.

Taste – Check online reviews to see what the consensus is. It doesn’t matter how great the ingredient profile is if you can’t stand the taste.

Mix – Online reviews will tell you how well it mixes. The last thing you want is to have down a clumpy mess during your workout.

Price – Rather than overall price, do the math to calculate the cost per serving. The ideal range is between $0.75-$1.50 per serve.

Key Points Summary:

  • Intra workout nutrition will extend training energy and endurance
  • Intra workout nutrition switches you from a catabolic to an anabolic state
  • Intra workout nutrition will allow you to maintain high levels of ATP, insulin, glycogen and BCAAs
  • BCAAs are a key ingredient
  • Fast acting carbs will provide instant training energy
  • Drink 1-2 liters of water during the workout
  • If your workout is less than an hour, take your intra workout at the start
  • If your workout is 1-2 hours long, take it after 30 minutes
  • You should pay between $0.75-$1.50 per serve


Cribb, Paul J, Hayes, Alan, "Effects of Supplement-Timing and Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(11). Pp. 1918-1925. ISSN 0195-9131, 1530-0315.

Haff, et al, "The effects of supplemental carbohydrate ingestion on intermittent isokinetic leg exercise, J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 2001, Jun:41(2): 216-22.

Ivy, John, and Portman, Robert, Nutrient Timing, The Future of Sports Nutrition, Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach, 2004.

Tipton, et al, "Timing of amino-acid carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise." American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1 August 2001, Vol, 281 no.2, E197-E206 DOI:

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Nader Qudimat
Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulk smashes it into this puny site.

Being an ex-hardgainer, he has no choice but to keep training until he has surpassed in every way imaginable.

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