Optimum Nutrition 1000 BCAA Capsules Review – What’s the Upside of Pills?

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Optimum Nutrition is one of the biggest names in the supplement industry and you may already know about their famous protein powder, Gold Standard Whey, which is probably the most popular whey on the market.

But “ON” sells a huge variety of other supplements and we’ve tried three of their amino acid concoctions: Amino Energy, Pro BCAA, and Gold Standard BCAA. Today we’re checking out their branch chain amino acid capsules, which are called Mega-Size BCAA 1000 Caps.

Shop BCAA Capsules from Optimum Nutrition HERE.

Optimum Nutrition Mega-Size BCAA 1000 Ingredients

This is a really stripped back product. Each two-capsule serving pretty much only contains one gram of branch chain amino acids: 500mg of leucine and 250mg each of isoleucine and valine. That’s a 2:1:1 ratio, which is pretty common in these kinds of supplements.

The other ingredients are microcrystalline cellulose, an anti-caking agent made from wood pulp, and magnesium stearate. That’s what’s called a “flow agent” that helps to stop ingredients from sticking to the machinery in the factory where the product’s made. The capsules themselves are made of gelatin. We called ON and confirmed that the gelatin is made from “beef and/or pork,” so note that these capsules aren’t vegetarian, kosher, or halal.

Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000 Caps Ingredients

Optimum Nutrition Mega-Size BCAA 1000 Benefits and Effectiveness

Again, it’s a very basic product. There’s practically nothing but the BCAAs themselves, which have been linked to endurance, muscle retention, and focus during and between workouts.

It’s unusual in that the product comes in pills instead of in a scoopable powder. This is a double-edged sword: while it makes it very portable — I’ve taken a few fistfuls on long plane trips and other situations where it’s easier to fast than track calories — it makes it pretty inefficient. A good serving of BCAAs is 7 to 10 grams, and a lot of people like to have one serving before, one during, and one after a workout. That’s a lot of pills to swallow, and more than anything it’s just awkward in practice.

That said, there are no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors, there’s no soy, there are no gums — there are very few controversial ingredients. (So long as you’re comfortable with gelatin.)

[see our best BCAA roundup HERE]

Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000 Caps Nutrition

Optimum Nutrition Mega-Size BCAA 1000 Price

One tub provides 400 capsules for about $15.60. That’s 200 one-gram servings of BCAAs, so you’re paying 7.8 cents per gram of BCAA. That’s very, very cheap, cheaper than any powdered BCAA I’ve seen before. This is probably the biggest advantage of the product.

The Takeaway

BCAA capsules are an interesting way to take the supplement. You cut out all the flavorings and colors that bother some consumers, but the flipside is that it’s an inefficient and awkward way to get a proper dose. But it’s portable, extremely cheap, and about as inoffensive as supplements get, so if that’s what’s most important to you then this is worth the cost.

Optimum Nutrition 1000 BCAA Capsules

Per Serving: ~$0.08







Extra Ingredients



  • Extremely inexpensive
  • 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs
  • No artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors


  • No extra ingredients
  • One serving requires a very large amount of pills
  • Capsules may not be vegan/kosher/halal
Nick English

Nick English

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 things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

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.

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