best amino acid supplements

The Best Amino Acid Supplements to Take for a Serious Health Boost

Some people swear by amino acid supplements for muscle growth and recovery, but do they work?

Just when you thought you knew every type of workout supplement on the market—we share another one to add to your pantry—amino acids. 

If you know even a little about nutrition, you’ve probably heard of amino acids at some point in your life, but you might not be familiar with how they may benefit you in the gym. 

There are many solid and reputable amino acid supplements on the market, but if you don’t have time to read each review, we chose Thorne Amino Complex as our overall best amino acid supplement.

Other great options…

Best for muscle growth and recovery: BSN Amino X Muscle Recovery & Endurance Powder with BCAAs 
Best pre-workout: GHOST Amino Acid Supplement 
Best for your budget: NOW Sports Nutrition Amino Complete
Best vegan-friendly option: NAKED Nutrition Naked BCAAs Amino Acids Powder
Best flavored: TL BCAA Glutamine 
Best unflavored: Kaged BCAA 2:1:1

What Are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are nutrients that make proteins and are divided into essential amino acids (EAAs), nonessential amino acids, and conditional amino acids (1).

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are EAAs, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, popularly found in many amino acid supplement products (2). 

Typically, you’d get all the amino acids your body needs in a healthy, balanced diet. However, if you work out frequently and/or at intense levels, you might need to take supplements to compensate for the energy you expend. 

Many athletes and exercise enthusiasts use amino acid supplements, as research suggests that these nutrients may improve performance, support muscle recovery, and reduce exercise fatigue. However, we want to clarify that there’s mixed research on how effective (or ineffective) amino acids supplementation is for working out (3). 

People often take amino acids as capsules or powder mixes before, during, and after workouts to get desired results.

There are 20 amino acids in total, including nine EAAs (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine), which come from the food we eat (5).

“[Amino acid supplements] help stabilize mood, maintain weight, help with skin repair, make hormones, improve digestion, help with our sleep/wake cycle, and provide energy.” says JB Kirby, DNP, a nurse practitioner, legal nurse consultant, and author.

The Best Amino Acid Supplements on the Market

How Do Amino Acid Supplements Work? 

“Amino acid supplements work by building muscles, helping with digestion, keeping blood sugar levels stable, and improving your skin’s moisture and texture,” Dr. Kirby says.

These BCAA-containing supplements may reduce muscle soreness by decreasing high creatine kinase levels, which is known to cause muscle damage (5).

BCAAs may also help increase muscle growth, as the amino acid leucine can activate muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of creating muscle (6).

Are Amino Acid Supplements Safe?

It’s safe to take amino acid supplements if you follow the instructions provided by the product’s manufacturer. But, we will mention that there’s limited research on the long-term effects of high consumption of amino acid supplements, so take precautions (7).

There are some potential side effects to taking amino acid supplements. Typically, unpleasant side effects from these supplements occur among older adults, pregnant people, children, and people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and liver disease (7). 

Can You Take Amino Acid Supplements Every Day?

Well, yes, but you should watch your dosage. “You can take amino acids every day, but you need to follow the dosing guidelines,” Dr. Kirby explains. “However, the dosing range is usually very wide (1-5 grams) because everyone’s nutritional needs are different.”

1. Cleveland Clinic (2021). Amino Acids.
2. Wolfe, Robert R. (2017). Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality?
3. Sanz, Jose Miguel Martinez et al (2019). An Overview on Essential Amino Acids and Branched Chain Amino Acids.
4. MedLine Plus (2023). Amino Acids.
5. Khemtong, Chutimong et al (2021). Does Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Supplementation Attenuate Muscle Damage Markers and Soreness after Resistance Exercise in Trained Males? A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
6. Duan, Yehui et al (2015). The role of leucine and its metabolites in protein and energy metabolism.
7. Holecek, Milan (2022). Side Effects of Amino Acid Supplements.