GNC Pro Performance BCAA 5000 Review — No Bells or Whistles

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GNC is an enormously popular chain of supplement stores that has thousands of locations in the United States and stores in fifty other countries around the world. When we tried their in-house whey protein powder, we had mixed reactions. It was cheap, but like most cheap protein powders it contains ingredients like soy and artificial sweeteners that some folks find controversial.

When we picked up the fruit punch flavor of their BCAA 5000, we had a similar initial reaction: it’s cheap. But does that mean it’s low quality? We decided to find out.

GNC BCAA 5000 Nutrition and Ingredients

One serving has 5 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrate.

There’s a good 3:1:1 ratio of L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine: 3000 milligrams of L-leucine and 1000 milligrams of the other two. They’re micronized, which means they’re processed in a way that increases the product’s solubility and absorbability, though it’s hard to say by how much.

[See our top BCAA choices]

GNC Pro Performance RapidDrive BCAA 5000 Nutrition

Otherwise, the rest of the ingredients are just natural and artificial flavor, citric acid, malic acid (that’s for the fruity sour taste), soy lecithin (for mixability), sucralose (also called Splenda®), and red food dye #40.

GNC BCAA 5000 Price

A 350-gram tub provides 50 servings for 30 dollars, which winds up at 60 cents per serving. (Or 12 cents per gram of BCAAs, if you want to be very precise.)

That’s pretty inexpensive, about the same price per gram as Scivation’s Xtend, Evlution Nutrition’s BCAA Energy, and Optimum Nutrition’s Essential Amino Energy.

GNC BCAA 5000 Benefits and Effectiveness

Those products offer a lot more than just L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine. Some have vitamins, some have caffeine, some have taurine, some have additional amino acids. GNC’s BCAA 5000 is really nothing but the amino acids and some flavoring. You might see this as a pro, or you might feel a little short changed, depending on your outlook. Personally, I think the product should be a little cheaper if this is all it’s offering.

GNC Pro Performance RapidDrive BCAA 5000 Price

Of course, BCAAs have their own benefits. Most research agrees that a 2:1:1 or a 3:1:1 ratio can help to stimulate muscle protein synthesis between meals, reduce muscle soreness, and increase endurance during workouts. That’s reason enough to take GNC’s BCAA 5000.

GNC BCAA 5000 Taste

GNC’s Fruit Punch flavor tasted a lot like Evlution Nutrition’s Fruit Punch flavor: like artificial cherry flavor combined with watermelon candy. It tastes fine and with a cup and a half of water (as is recommended), it’s not as overpoweringly sweet as some competitors.

GNC Pro Performance RapidDrive BCAA 5000

The Takeaway

GNC’s BCAA 5000 precisely meets the definition of a branch chain amino acid supplement: it provides reasonably tasty BCAAs and practically nothing else. If that’s what you want — and so long as you don’t have any problems with artificial sweeteners or soy — then it’s a fine option. It’s also pretty versatile, as you can take it at night without worrying about stimulants keeping you up.

I prefer BCAAs with a little more oomph, but if you like them barebones and no frills, this is a good option. I think it should have been a little cheaper, though.

GNC Pro Performance BCAA 5000

Per Serving: $0.60
7

Ingredients

9.0/10

Effectiveness

10.0/10

Price

7.0/10

Taste

9.0/10

Other Ingredients

0.0/10

Pros

  • Contains a solid 3:1:1 ratio of BCAAs
  • Micronized for faster absorption
  • No acesulfame potassium

Cons

  • No extra ingredients like vitamins, caffeine, etc.
  • Contains soy
  • Contains sucralose

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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.