Scivation is a North Carolina-based supplement company that focuses on the low-calorie side of workout supplements. While they do offer a whey protein powder, their brand name is most closely associated with their branched chain amino acid supplements, which come in an enormous variety of forms.
Xtend is their signature brand and it’s available in capsules, fluid, and naturally sweetened varieties. We decided to try the regular, artificially sweetened, scoopable BCAA they’re best known for.
It quickly became on of our favorite BCAA products: it’s delicious, it has a large serving, and it has a few extra ingredients like electrolytes that elevate it above the competition.
With a higher than usual dose and a wide variety of tasty flavors, Scivation deserves its reputation as one of the best BCAA products, period.
Scivation Xtend BCAAs Nutrition and Ingredients
This is a zero calorie supplement with no carbs or sugar to speak of.
It has the standard 2:1:1 ratio of L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-Valine, but you get seven grams of BCAA per serving instead of the usual five. So, there’s 3500mg of L-leucine and 1750mg each of L-isoleucine and L-valine.
In addition to that there’s 2500 milligrams of L-glutamine, an amino acid, and a lot of electrolytes: there’s a 1,140-milligram blend of sodium citrate, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride. The label also specifies 220mg of sodium and 170mg of potassium.
Scivation also added a gram of citrulline malate, which may have benefits for the circulatory system, and 32 percent of the RDI of Vitamin B6. (I’ll break down the benefits of these ingredients a little more in the “benefits and effectiveness” section.)
[Check out our top BCAA picks]
Then there’s the miscellaneous ingredients: artificial flavor, citric acid, sucralose (also called Splenda®), malic acid (for flavor), acesulfame potassium (an artificial sweetener), and red food dye #40. Note that I tried the Watermelon flavor, though we also have the Blue Raspberry flavor which had a different coloring (Blue Lake #1).
Scivation also offers this product in a handy can version. The ingredients are pretty similar: 7 grams of BCAAs, 200 milligrams of potassium, a 1,140-milligram blend of electrolytes, a gram of citrulline, and the suite of artificial colors and sweeteners. The only real difference is it has 30 extra milligrams of sodium (so the can has 10 percent of the RDI) and there’s carbonated water in the blend.
Tasty, transparently labeled, and containing an unusually large hit of 7 grams of BCAAs, Xtend also adds some electrolytes to help with hydration.
Scivation Xtend Benefits and Effectiveness
Xtend isn’t a no-frills BCAA. It’s got plenty of frills, and a lot of extra benefits.
I’m not convinced the glutamine is one of them. It’s already the most abundant amino acid in the body and while it may have some benefits, it doesn’t look like it’s a potent supplement for muscle building. But it’s cheap and it’s probably beneficial for gut health, so there’s no harm in including it.
The real benefits come from the other ingredients. The BCAAs themselves are linked to improving muscle protein synthesis, reducing muscle soreness and boosting endurance. The wide variety of electrolytes may help to prevent dehydration and keep your muscles and nerves functioning properly, although it’s important to remember a liter of sweat has about 900 milligrams of sodium, over ten times the amount found in a scoop of Xtend. So the electrolytes will help, just remember to keep on eating.
The Vitamin B6 may help you retain muscle, which is good news for those of us who take BCAAs to prevent catabolism — particularly as it appears we lose B6 when we exercise.
Finally, there’s the citrulline malate. This is an amino acid that’s linked to improved circulation and is sometimes included in workout supplements to promote endurance. The thing is, almost every study that has shown it may improve workouts involved doses of at least six grams. Xtend only provides one gram per serving, so it doesn’t seem that likely that the citrulline malate will significantly improve endurance or power.
However, one-gram doses are sometimes used as a general circulatory health supplement and it’s even linked to a lower risk of erectile dysfunction, so the citrulline malate in Xtend may have a net positive effect on your overall health, if not the workout you’re about to do.
[Learn more about citrulline in our guide to supplements to increase your power.]
Scivation Xtend Price
You can pick up 30 servings for $24, which comes to 80 cents per serving. Initially, this might seem a little expensive; competitors like GNC’s BCAA 5000 or Evlution Nutrition cost between 60 and 66 cents per serving.
But Xtend offers 7 grams of BCAA per serving, while the other brands offer 5 grams. On a price-per-gram basis, Xtend is the cheapest of the lot at 11.4 cents.
The carbonated drink, meanwhile, is between $20 and $30 for a pack of 12: that’s about $2 per serving of 7 grams of BCAAs, so 28 cents per gram of BCAA. Of course, the fact that it’s packaged in a can is going to increase the price.
Scivation Xtend Taste
The watermelon flavor tasted exactly like a watermelon. Or rather, it tasted like about a pound of watermelon condensed into one glass, meaning it’s a more intense flavor than the actual fruit.
But it’s still pretty pleasant and certainly more enjoyable than Scivation’s Blue Raspberry flavor, which is overwhelmingly sweet. A word of caution: simply dilute your BCAAs in at least a cup and a half of water to avoid the extreme sweetness that a lot of people complain about.
It’s hard to say if Xtend is the best BCAA because so many of these supplements offer different ingredients. Some are good pre-workouts because they contain ingredients like caffeine and beta alanine; Xtend doesn’t. Some have a wide range of vitamins; Xtend doesn’t.
But Xtend does have a good hit of electrolytes, some extra nutrients linked to muscle retention and circulation, it can be taken any time of day, and it’s very inexpensive. It does have artificial sweeteners, but if you don’t mind that, it’s a solid choice.
Scivation Xtend BCAAPer Serving: $0.80
- High in electrolytes
- May improve circulation and muscle retention
- Contains sucralose and acesulfame potassium
- Made in a facility with a wide variety of allergens
- No stimulants, not a great pre-workout