Recently I bought a BCAA supplement that tasted like crap because it was way too sweet (see picture below). To be able to drink it, I had to mix it with over 40 oz of water (too much for my stomach).
Today I will give you some tips on how to make your BCAA taste better, whenever it’s unflavored or packed with artificial sweeteners.
In general, to make BCAA taste better you can mix the powder with flavored sparkling water like Spindrift or Drink Simple to add some sweetness. You can also use non-carbonated spring water infused with organic fruit essences like JUST Water or Polar seltzer. However, the base for your drink will depend on the type of BCAA you have, whether that’s flavored or unflavored.
Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about how to modify your tasteless amino acid drink into a mouth-watering post-workout beverage.
Why Do BCAA’s Taste So Bad?
In this day and age, when you buy branched-chain amino acids they usually come in a variety of flavors. However, some of the brands add too many artificial sweeteners that its hard to drink. A good alternative is to get unflavored BCAA, but the taste is awful.
Unflavored BCAA tastes so bad because of their amino acid profile. Branched-chain amino acids include leucine, valine, and isoleucine, which all don’t have any flavor and have a bitter and unpalatable taste. Higher leucine concentration is good for muscle protein synthesis, however, it also affects the taste.
Some people cannot stand unflavored BCAA, therefore, another way is to get a flavored product.
Most companies like to add different combinations and proprietary blends of artificial flavors and sweeteners to mask the awful taste of amino acids. As a result, the flavors can have either a sweet or sour taste that is too hard to drink.
Why does BCAA taste sweet?
Overall, BCAA tastes so sweet because of the artificial flavors and additives mixed with the powder.
For example, sucralose is up to 800 times sweeter than table sugar, which can effectively hide amino acid bitterness.
Below you can see the picture with two different BCAA and a list of typical additives used in branched-chain amino acid supplements to alter their bitter flavor.
- Citric acid
- Silicon dioxide
- Malic acid
On the other hand, some of the ingredients have a slightly acidic taste that can make the BCAA powder flavor sour.
Learn more: Click here to learn more on “how to make pre workout coffee“.
How To Make BCAA Taste Better And Easier To Drink?
Overall, you can make unflavored BCAA taste better and make it easier to drink by mixing the powder with fruit-infused water, cucumber water, or watermelon juice. These natural ingredients help not only to hide the bitter flavor but also add additional lipid-lowering and antioxidant nutrients.
However, please remember that how you choose to mix your BCAA will also depend on when you take your supplement.
For example, if you take BCAA during your workout, you can add extra sugar from honey or maple syrup. This mix has an ergogenic effect by increasing glucose absorption into the muscle and reducing muscle fatigue.
Can you mix BCAA in juice? As a whole, you can mix BCAA in the juice as your intra-workout drink, as well as a post-workout recovery drink. Fruit juice has fast-digesting carbohydrates that quickly replenish used glycogen stores in the body, and helps to recover for the next training session.
Okay, wanna know what can you mix with your amino acids to make it more appetizing? Here are 5 ways you can do to alter the taste of your flavorless BCAA and transform it into a yummy power drink.
#1 Combine with Watermelon
You can make your unflavored BCAA taste better by mixing it with watermelon juice, especially before your workout. Watermelon is a rich source of amino acid citrulline, which increases the bioavailability of L-arginine. Arginine is a popular nitric oxide agent found in all pre workouts that improve vasodilation.
The levels of citrulline in watermelon vary from 3.9 to 28.5 mg/g of dry weight, depending on the type of fruit. For example, yellow flesh watermelon has 28.5 mg of citrulline, whereas red flesh has 7.4 mg of citrulline per gram of dry weight.
Keep in mind to get the pre-workout benefits of watermelon you need to eat a lot of the fruit (more on that in a moment).
Taking BCAA with watermelon before you train will increase the muscle pump by the widening of the blood vessels, also called vasodilation.
This small trick allows for the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients to the muscles during the workout and enhances performance.
How To Mix BCAA with Watermelon For Better Taste
- Take half of the watermelon and chop it into even small pieces (you can remove the green skin and the watermelon seeds).
- For your BCCA drink, use only the red flesh from the watermelon and put it into the blender (the green scraps are also eadible, however, they are not easy to blend).
- Blend the watermelon with 400 ml of water for 30 seconds (this fruit is easy to mix, therefore, you won’t need to wait long).
- Open your unflavored BCAA powder (make sure the seal is not broken. Also check if the container includes scoop and desiccant bags).
- Using the plastic scoop from the container, measure the serving size (if you don’t have a serving scoop, you can use a teaspoon and a serving size reference).
- Add one serving of the unflavored BCAA into the watermelon water and mix it.
Unflavored BCAA has no taste, so mixing it with watermelon and water will give it a nice fresh, and slightly sweet flavor. Alternatively, you can also add honey or lemon zest to further enhance the flavor.
#2 Mix with Black Coffee
You can make BCAA taste not so bad by mixing it with black coffee, whether that’s instant or filter. Coffee not only has a powerful aroma and rich sour flavor but also is packed with caffeine. Caffeine is the most popular ergogenic stimulant used by people around the world.
Keep in mind that instant coffee has less caffeine per ml than filter coffee, however, it’s cheaper and more convenient to prepare. If you take your BCAA before exercise, you can easily add a teaspoon of table sugar.
This will not only make the BCAA taste better, but also increase the glucose levels and make you ready for hard training.
You can also mix branched-chain amino acids with iced coffee during the day (especially during the summertime). Adding some BCAA to your regular black coffee helps to balance the amino acid pool and reduce muscle protein degradation.
Plus, caffeine acts as a psychoactive compound by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, which makes you feel less tired.
How To Mix BCAA with Black Coffee For Better Taste
- Boil the water and add 2-3 teaspoons of instant coffee (keep in mind that one teaspoon of instant coffee contains 30–90 mg of caffeine. The recommended caffeine intake before exercise is around 3–6 mg/kg).
- If using the filter coffee, use one regular cup (one cup of filter coffee has 70–140 mg of caffeine).
- You can throw a few ice cubes into the coffee (some studies have shown that cold coffee is more effective to drink before a workout because it lowers muscle fatigue).
You can read more about it in my article about is better to drink cold or hot coffee before a workout.
- Open your container with unflavored BCAA and make sure it has everything inside like a measuring scoop and desiccant bags.
- Add one serving size of your BCAA to the iced black coffee and mix it.
I like to drink black coffee with both flavored and unflavored BCAA. Strong coffee has a rich aromatic flavor and can mask the sweetness of the already-flavored amino acids.
#3 Drink it with Red Bull (Sugar-Free)
You can make BCAA taste much better and make it easier to drink by adding red bull. Energy drinks contain caffeine, B-group vitamins, and taurine. The sugar-free red bull also contains aspartame and acesulfame potassium, which are the most-used and the most-researched sugar alternatives.
Red bull comes in several fruity flavors like watermelon, peach, blueberry, kiwi-apple, and many more. This is a nice mix to add to BCAA, especially if you’re on the go and don’t have time or access to your kitchen.
Of course, red bull gives you not only great taste but also wings (wink).
Studies have shown that Red Bull Energy Drink significantly improves mental performance, choice reaction time, concentration, and memory (Alford, C et al. 2001).
The only problem with using Redbull to mix with BCAA without access to the kitchen is the mixing itself. Red Bull comes in a small can and mixing it with amino acids can be inconvenient (but doable).
How To Mix BCAA with Red Bull For Better Taste
- Open the can of red bull and take a few sips to reduce the total volume of the drink (if you put the powder into the full can, it can overflow during mixing).
- Place it on a flat and even surface (this can be done in the gym changing room, outdoor bench or inside of your car).
- Take a piece of paper and make a 3D cone that has a large diameter on top and narrows on the bottom (the bottom of the cone should have a small whole aka “apex” where the BCAA powder will enter into the Red Bull can).
- Open the BCAA container and using the measuring plastic scoop, take a serving of the power.
- Pour the BCAA powder into the paper cone, where all the powder should enter into the can.
- Cover the can with your thumb or index finger and gently mix the BCAA powder with the red bull energy drink.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about how to make pea protein taste better.
How Should BCAA Taste?
If you mix unflavored BCAA with water it’s not gonna taste good. That’s why most companies use sweeteners and other flavoring systems to enhance the taste. Some brands stick to unflavored branched-chain amino acids that are easier to mix but taste awful.
Some companies use fermented and encapsulated branched-chain amino acids that are derived from plants, which helps to remove a lot of this bitterness and horrible taste.
Still, even if you spend more money on BCAA derived from organic sources and encapsulated to reduce the flavorless taste, you still need to mix it with something to eliminate this chalky taste.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about how to make creatine taste better.
Unflavored BCAA does not taste good unless you use a flavoring system that will help to combat the bitter taste.
On the other hand, flavored BCAA products are often too sweet and need to be mixed with an excessive amount of water (which can dilute the amino acid activity).
You can make BCAA taste better and easier to drink by adding low-calorie beverages, watermelon juice, or coconut water.
However, if you already have flavored products, you can make BCAA less sweet by adding black coffee.
Black coffee not only helps to neutralize the sweetness but also contains caffeine, a powerful stimulant that can be used as a pre-workout or morning wake-up drink.