Optimum Nutrition as a brand offers numerous BCAA supplements.
While BCAA will always stand for branch-chain amino acid; the overall ratios, mass, and complete profile varies from Optimum Nutrition product to product.
Here, we will lay out the difference for you based on our own review of each supplement plus an ingredient comparison.
Optimum Nutrition Makes 4 BCAAs and 2 AA Supplements
Between these 6 supplements, you get a wide range of options. This varies from pill vs powder, to amino acid contents, dosage, accessory ingredients, and flavors!
Let’s start with the full spectrum amino acid class of supplements.
Essential Amino Energy and Superior Amino 2222
Essential Amino Energy
This is by far Optimum Nutrition’s most popular amino acid supplement. We easily make this call because Amino Energy is available in 14 flavors compared to other ON supplements maxing out at 4 flavors.
Essential Amino Energy contains 5 grams of a full spectrum amino acid blend, along with 160 mg of caffeine and green tea.
Together, you get an energy spike with free amino acids to help energize your muscles and promote amino acid metabolism over muscle catabolism during exercise.
As a whole, Essential Amino Energy is a fun supplement. We recommend it as a cardio aid, or as an energy aid for those who don’t want to take a full blown pre workout supplement.
Superior Amino 2222
Superior Amino is Optimum Nutrition’s pill based full spectrum amino acid supplement.
When you take 2 caps of Superior Amino, you’re getting 2,222 milligrams of amino acids. This can be used to top off your pre workout, or to enrich a meal.
However, to get some actual benefit from this supplement when taken on its own, you’re going to need to down at least 5 servings, or 10 pills.
This is the standard downfall of pill-based amino acid supplements. Which is based on the required threshold of about 6 grams before they start making any real difference on muscle recovery/preservation/growth.
Differences Between Superior Amino 2222 and Amino Energy
This concludes ON’s two full spectrum AA supplements. Next, we have the BCAA supplements, which are much more valuable and useful in our opinion.
Optimum Nutrition BCAA Supplements Compared
PRO BCAA is where Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA game gets good.
While this supplement only has 20 servings per tub, each serving is loaded with an 8 gram BCAA dose. At 8 grams, you are getting the effective amount of BCAAs to actually make a difference.
Inside PRO BCAA, you’ll also find 5 grams of glutamine. This helps support recovery as well as glycogen replenishment.
Taste wise, PRO BCAA is very easy to drink and comes in a few options. As a whole, this is a properly made BCAA supplement.
Gold Standard BCAA
Gold Standard BCAA is pretty much the toned down version of PRO BCAA. Each serving comes with 5 grams of BCAAs plus some accessory ingredients that we don’t really care about.
This is another good option if you would like to top off your pre workout, or, want a BCAA that you can take one serving of before working out, and then another while getting your exercise on.
Taste wise, Gold Standard BCAA is on point, but it doesn’t contain the same strong dosage of BCAAs as PRO BCAA.
Instantized BCAA 5,000
BCAA 5000 is Optimum Nutrition’s original BCAA supplement. By far, this is the most affordable BCAA option from ON. We’ve found that you can get 40 servings of BCAA 5000 for about 24 dollars.
Granted, you’re only getting 5,000 mg per serving…
But, if you simply take 2 servings at a time, you’re getting 20 servings of 10 g BCAA for 24$ which isn’t too bad in comparison to the competition.
Again, lesser dosed than PRO BCAA but relatively affordable.
Mega-Sized BCAA 1000 Caps
Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA 1000 caps are the pill alternative to BCAA 5000. Each serving of BCAA caps brings in 1,000 mg of BCAAs. So, you’re going to need to take quite a few servings to hit your effective dose.
However, the one huge benefit to pills is that they do not contain artificial dyes or sweeteners that practically all of the other ON BCAAs contain.
Comparing PRO BCAA vs Instantized BCAA 5000 vs Mega-Sized BCAA caps vs Gold Standard BCAA
As you can see here, Optimums BCAA supplements are basically the same product, just in different dosages.
Final Verdict on Optimum Nutrition Amino Acids
It has a relevant BCAA effective dosage of 8 grams, plus other goodies. Compared to Optimums other supplements, it’s the best bet for recovery, fat metabolism support, and muscle growth.
Alternatively, the other variations can be used to top-off pre workout supplements or better-round meals.