Evlution Nutrition is a Florida-based supplement company that really likes to focus on Branch Chain Amino Acids. They sell three different kinds: BCAA 5000, the slightly more expensive BCAA Lean Energy, and then there’s “BCAA Energy,” which we’re reviewing today.
It’s popular, and it’s got more than your standard 2:1:1 ratio of L-Leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-Valine. There’s caffeine, vitamins, taurine, and more. Let’s take a closer look.
BCAA Energy Nutrition and Ingredients
This is a zero-carb, zero-calorie supplement that has 5 milligrams of BCAAs per two-scoop serving. That’s 2,500mg of instantized L-Leucine and 1,250mg each of L-Isoleucine and L-Valine.
In addition to that there’s 500mg each of beta-alanine, L-alanine, and taurine.
There’s also some bonus vitamins: 150 percent of your daily intake of Vitamin C and 500 percent of the RDI of Vitamins B6 and B12.
The last section on the nutrition label is 110mg of caffeine, a little over what you’ll find in a cup of coffee. It comes from coffee bean and green tea extract that’s been standardized for EGCG, which means it has retained much of the phytonutrients found in a cup of green tea.
Then there’s the small print, the “miscellaneous” ingredients: natural and artificial flavor, malic acid, citric acid, sucralose, silica, acesulfame potassium, and red dye number 40. We’ll discuss the benefits of these ingredients in a dedicated section below.
BCAA Energy Price
You can pick up a tub of 30 servings for $20, so it’s 66 cents per serving.
That’s a tiny bit more expensive than Optimum Nutrition’s Essential Amino Energy (which is 63 cents per serving) but still remarkably cheap, costing less than Scivation’s Xtend (80 cents), BPI Sports Best BCAA (93 cents) and Jym’s Post Jym Active Matrix ($1.18).
There are plenty of differences between all those products, so it’s tough to compare. For example, none have caffeine, Optimum Nutrition doesn’t have vitamins, and Xtend provides more BCAA per serving. Nonetheless, on a per serving basis, BCAA Energy is an inexpensive pick.
[See our best BCAA roundup]
BCAA Energy Benefits and Effectiveness
There are five grams of BCAA in a serving, and while I really liked how transparent the labeling is — you know how many grams you’re getting of every ingredient — a lot of people prefer closer to 7.5-10 grams per serving.
Here’s what I liked: it has some extra beta alanine, which might improve endurance, and it has l-alanine, which might improve production of nitric oxide (though this hasn’t been definitively shown in healthy adults).
The caffeine is a very nice addition, and it’s also good that the supplement includes taurine, which can help reduce jitteriness and round the energy spike from the caffeine. It may also reduce muscle cramps. That said, I found it a little strange that it touts itself as an “any time” BCAA supplement — you probably won’t want the caffeine in this particular brand after dark.
I’m also a fan of the added vitamins. Vitamin B6 isn’t uncommon in BCAAs as it may support energy levels. I’m not totally sold that taking B12 around a workout is more beneficial than taking it any other time, but it’s pretty easy to not meet your RDI without a lot of red meat, so I’m glad to find some in any supplement.
Some athletes might be wary of the sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which might affect your gut microbiome and your insulin response, respectively. This isn’t exactly scientific consensus (artificial sweeteners are a hotly debated topic), but there is some evidence to this effect.
It also doesn’t contain any electrolytes like sodium or potassium, which a lot of people like in their pre-workouts because you’re likely to sweat out some of these minerals during an intense workout.
BCAA Energy Taste
I tried the Fruit Punch flavor in 12 ounces of water. It tastes pretty much exactly like maraschino cherry flavor mixed with watermelon candy. The cherry flavor is stronger, so if you don’t like cherry Coke, you won’t like this. I found it pretty pleasant though, and not overbearingly sweet.
For a product this inexpensive, I was pretty happy. It combines caffeine and taurine for a more enjoyable buzz, it has plenty of extra amino acids to support your performance, and the extra Vitamins are the cherry on top. I’d rather it had a larger serving size and I wasn’t crazy about the artificial ingredients, but it has more to offer than a pre-workout cup of coffee. Just avoid it at night.