A selection of Amino Acid supplements
Lifestyle

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?

Our product recommendations are selected by editors, tested first-hand, or expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site.

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.

MUSCLE BUILDERS

The Best Amino Acid Supplements on the Market

Thorne Amino Complex

Best overal amino acid supplement

We made this our top choice for amino acid supplements because it covers all bases. It has a formula containing clinically validated EAAs to support muscle growth and recovery after a strenuous workout. In fact, this powder contains 11 different amino acids to support your health goals. 

In addition, this amino acid powder is also NSF Certified for Sport®. This certification program is for dietary supplements free of substances banned by major sports leagues. In short, this powder is safe enough for your favorite athlete to use.

The powder is gluten-, dairy-, soy-free, and vegan. We’ll admit that this powder is on the expensive side, but we think it’s worth it because it has a high-quality formula. 

Cost per serving: $0.09
Amino acid dose: 4g
Flavors: Berry and Lemon

BSN Amino X

Best for muscle growth and recovery

Depending on the intensity of your workouts, you probably feel burned out after going extra hard. This amino acid powder has vitamin B6 to help boost your energy and reduce fatigue before exercising. This powder is available in 30 or 70 servings and contains six amino acids.

You also won’t have to worry about this formula clumping in your water, as it mixes quite easily. 

If you’re trying to avoid caffeinated powders—you’re in the right place, as this powder is free of caffeine, so you won’t have to worry about “crashing” in the middle of the day.

Cost per serving: $0.53
Amino acid dose: 10g
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Grape, Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, Jungle Juice, and Purple People Eater

GHOST Amino Acid Supplement

Best pre-workout

Many gym enthusiasts love pre-workout because of the extra boost it gives during workouts while limiting exhaustion. This powder doubles as an amino acid and pre-workout supplement and is available in 20 servings. It also comes in several tasty flavors from well-known brands like SONIC and WARHEADS. 

Aside from amino acids, it contains organic raw coconut water, taurine, and aquamin to keep you hydrated during workouts. We like that this brand is transparent about what they put in their products, as their labels fully disclose every active ingredient used. 

This amino acid powder is gluten- and soy-free and vegan-friendly.

Cost per serving: $0.26
Amino acid dose: 10g
Flavors: Mango, Blue Raspberry, SONIC Cherry Limeade, SONIC Ocean Water, WARHEADS Sour Green Apple, and Welch’s Grape

NOW Supplements Amino Complete

Best budget option

If spending more than $20 on amino acids may not be up your alley, that’s completely understandable. These affordable capsules—available in a 120- or 360-count—contain all 20 amino acids, vitamin B6, and even protein. Aside from helping you conserve energy, these capsules can support your immune system.

These vegan-friendly capsules are GMP Quality-Assured, meaning that NOW’s products are thoroughly examined for your safety.

Cost per serving: $0.31
Amino acid dose: 2.8g
Flavors: Unflavored

Naked Nutrition BCAAs

Best vegan-friendly option

To support our vegan folks, we’d like to share a supplement powder that uses high-quality, all-natural ingredients. It includes a one-ingredient formula containing three amino acids and sunflower lecithin to support muscle recovery.

The formula contains all-natural, 100% BCAAs and has up to 100 servings. It has a 2:1:1 ratio of amino acids (leucine to isoleucine and valine). This powder mix is non-GMO, soy- and gluten-free and contains no additives.

Cost per serving: $0.14
Amino acid dose: 5g
Flavors: Unflavored and Cherry Lime

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine Intraworkout Supplement

Best tasting

Supplement powders often get a bad rep because the flavors are off-putting. TL considers that by creating an amino acid formula to satisfy your taste buds. This powder—containing 30 servings—helps with muscle growth and recovery during and after workouts.

In addition to the four amino acids in the 2:1:1 formula, it has coconut water powder and vitamin C to provide extra health benefits, such as hydration and immune support. All ingredients in this powder are clinically backed by research and are free of artificial dyes, fillers, and additives.

Cost per serving: $0.33
Amino acid dose: 13g
Flavors: Sour Green Apple, Tropical Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, and Blue Raspberry

KAGED BCAA 2:1:1 Supplement

When it comes to powder supplements, there are two types of people: those who prefer flavored powder and those who don’t. This unflavored amino acid powder contains fermented BCAAs 100% sourced from plants and has about 72 servings in each container.

Best unflavored option

It’s another powder that’s a banned substance-free product—so it’s safe to consume. It’s free of artificial flavors and colors, gluten-free, non-GMO, and is suitable for people following strict diets.

We like that this powder is clump-free and can be “stacked” with other supplement powders to boost your workout performance and aid in muscle recovery.

Cost per serving: $0.17
Amino acid dose: 5g
Flavors: Unflavored

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.”

References