Branched, as the name implies, is a BCAA-based amino acid supplement by Swole Sports Nutritions which features a pretty standard dose of BCAAs, Citrulline, and Glutamine as well as a non-stimulant focus blend.
Leucine is the most potent amino acid with regards to triggering muscle protein synthesis. It has been shown to reduce muscle breakdown and restore muscle protein synthesis rates under circumstances when muscle protein synthesis would normally be hindered.
This makes it an effective way to go for people looking to maximize muscle growth in the gym, especially those who may not be getting sufficient protein from their diet.
Isoleucine and Valine may have their own individual functions which make them worth taking in addition to Leucine, but in the context of Swole Branched, they probably don’t contribute much. Normally, we like to see a clinical dose of Leucine, and don’t mind the other BCAAs, but they shouldn’t be included at the expense of Leucine. This is unfortunately the case in SWOLE Branched.
Swole Branched contains a pretty standard (and somewhat disappointing ) 2.5g dose of Leucine out of a total of 5g BCAAs.
Glutamine is kind of an overrated recovery aid which seems to be included in BCAA supplements based more on industry hype than any reliable research. In fact, most of the research on Glutamine indicates that it has very little influence on muscle protein synthesis and performance enhancement.
It is potentially useful as a means of combatting exercise-induced immune suppression, but that’s really only of interest to athletes who train rigorously and regularly to the point that it takes a toll on the body’s immune defenses.
SWOLE Branched conatins 3g of Glutamine, a moderate but not necessarily highly effective dose.
Citrulline Malate is starting to pop up in more and more BCAA supplements, and for good reason. In addition to reliable performance enhancement benefits, Citrulline is also capable of synergistically enhancing Leucine’s muscle protein synthesis promoting properties.
Of course, more research needs to be conducted to determine the magnitude of these benefits, but the preliminary research certainly indicates that Citrulline and Leucine belong together.
That said, SWOLE Branched unfortunately falls into under-dosed territory when it comes to Citrulline, as do just about all BCAA supplements (with the exception of Momentum Nutrition Amino Beyond).
Rhodiola is perhaps the most extensively-researched adaptogenic herb when it comes to performance enhancement and cognitive enhancement. It has been shown to improve exercise performance, specifically by reducing fatigue, as well as enhance cognitive function (which is why SWOLE includes it in the “focus blend”.
Mucuna Pruriens is generally standardized for L-Dopa, the direct precursor to Dopamine. Because of this relationship, Mucuna Pruriens is often used to “boost” Dopamine levels. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research indicating that it actually can improve focus, but the theoretical mechanism certainly exists.
In the context of SWOLE Branched, we wouldn’t consider it a particularly useful ingredient, but not one that hurts the efficacy of the formula in any way either.
DMAE is a cholinergic compound which is generally used as a means to increase Acetylcholine levels in the brain, the end goal being improved cognitive function. As with Mucuna Pruriens, there isn’t much research on DMAE in healthy individuals but the mechanism by which it might work is valid.
Is SWOLE Branched Safe?
SWOLE Branched is entirely safe, even if you’re double-dosing. There are no stimulants in the formula whatsoever so it will be well-tolerated by just about everyone.
The Bottom Line
SWOLE Branched is about average as far as BCAA supplements are concerned. We wouldn’t consider it ground-breaking in any way, although it does have an interesting combination of non-stimulant focus enhancing ingredients (albeit with minimal evidence), but overall we just feel there are much better option out there.
Still not sure which BCAA supplement is right for you? Check out our Best BCAA/Amino Acid Supplements List!