BCAA’s (Branched chain amino acids) have always had a place in my gym bag for about the last 2 years.

A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) is an amino acid having aliphatic side-chains with a branch (a carbon atom bound to more than two other carbon atoms). Among the proteinogenic amino acids, there are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine.

The BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids for humans, accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the preformed amino acids required by mammals

In the gym environment are often associated with better endurance, recovery times and even “the pump”. One particular BCAA product on the market I found particularly effective was Poliquin’s BCAA Exellence 2.0. BCAA Exellence 2.0 differs from other BCAA products for a couple of reasons:

  • It comes in capsule form
  • It includes L Lysine
  • Its expensive

The increased recovery times and endurance are nice features, however the key reason I take them is for the stronger pump I experienced during workouts, or in Poliquin speak:

An increase in anabolism in concert with a decrease in catabolism through raising of insulin and GH (growth hormone).

An increase in post workout testosterone levels

Never having tried BCAA’s prior to using Poliquin, I found my workouts intensified significantly, and the need to take other (expensive) protein supplements went away — I used to consume 150g of protein powder on a daily basis. Don’t be fooled here though…the pump sensation may not actually be attributed to BCAA’s directly, but more due to the fact that it contains L-Lysine.

L-Lysine is a necessary building block for all protein in the body. L-Lysine plays a major role in calcium absorption; building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

My problem being based in Australia, is that shipping Poliquins already expensive BCAA Exellence 2.0 every couple of weeks was not feasible. So I crunched some numbers…

Poliquin BCAA Excellence 2.0

At $52 for 500 serves. Each serve (capsule) is 0.2875 grams. Here’s how that 0.2875 grams blend breaks down:

  • Leucine 0.0375g (13%)
  • Isoleucine 0.090g (31%)
  • Valine 0.090g (31%)
  • Lysine HCL 0.070g (24%)

That’s 10 cents per serve.

The general rule of thumb is to consume at least 10 grams of BCAA pre and during the workout. 10 grams equals about 35 capsules, although I find I take about 50-60.

That’s $3.62 per 10 grams.

Bulk Nutrients DIY Blend

So I thought I’d see if I could put together my own version of BCAA Excellence 2.0. Australian based Bulk Nutrients offers very competitvely priced supplements.

I can get a 1KG (2.2lbs) bag of L-Lysine for AU$29, and a 1KG (2.2lbs) bag of BCAA’s for AU$49.

Lets break down the numbers. First the BCAA’s.

At $49 for 200 serves. In powder form each serve is 5 grams. Here’s how the 5 grams blend breaks down (note the absence of any of the secret ingrediant Lysine):

  • Leucine 2.5g (50%)
  • Isoleucine 1.25g (25%)
  • Valine 1.25g (25%)

That’s 24 cents per serve, or a dirt cheap 49 cents per 10 grams (target dosage).

Lastly we need to add the equivalent amount of L Lysine as BCAA Excellence 2.0. Breaking down Poliquins original numbers:

  • Leucine 0.0375g (13%)
  • Isoleucine 0.090g (31%)
  • Valine 0.090g (31%)
  • Lysine HCL 0.070g (24%)

As you can see, 24% of the product is Lysine. Thats about 2.4 grams per 10 grams (our target dosage). Bulk Nutients L-Lysine is $29 per 1KG, which works out to be about 7 cents per 2.4 grams.

So a DIY version of BCAA Excellence 2.0 including Lysine costs $0.56 per 10 grams, versus Poliquins $3.62.

At 15% of the cost (or an 85% saving not including international shipping costs), that’s just way too good for me to pass up.