Plain BCAAs would be inferior to a precisely formulated workout nutrition formula. And gaining muscle and strength without the right carbs around workout time would be an uphill battle. (Tried it myself in my carb-fearing days.)
But from what you’re saying, it seems like your problem is dysfunctional nutrient uptake mechanisms, like you store carbs as body fat more than other people, and you can only seem to stay lean on a lower carb plan. Right? The good news: that’s fixable.
You need to repair your fat cell metabolism. To do that, look into <a href="http://www.t-nation.com/store/products/indigo-3g"target=“new”>Indigo-3G. Repair these underlying issues and you won’t have to band-aid the problem (even with my crazy V-Diet, though I’m glad you had success with it). You can instead fix the problem. And many of our most successful Indigo-3G users have been V-Diet vets. It’s a great transition.
I was in the same boat as you, which is one reason I helped develop the V-Diet. I thought I was stuck as a low-carber forever because I just couldn’t handle much more than a 100 to 150g of carbs per day without gaining fat. I could stay lean that way, but muscle gains and PRs were hard to come by. Indigo-3G allowed me to triple carb intake with no fat gain, though I’m up 16 or 17 lean pounds since I’ve started using Indigo to fix those underlying problems. I was, like you, even worried about using “carby” workout nutrition. Now I eat Finibars as night time snacks.
So although it’s not exactly answering your question, the best thing for you to do is fix those nutrient uptake mechanisms and move on.
As for workout nutrition, <a href="http://www.t-nation.com/store/products/plazma"target=“new”>Plazma is the top choice, especially when Indigo-3G is used to drive it deep into the muscles. And you basically can’t gain fat from the cyclic dextrins in Plazma. It’s a few steps more advanced than Surge.
What do you think? If that’s not in the budget, Bill’s suggestion of <a href="http://www.t-nation.com/store/products/mag-10"target=“new”>MAG-10 is a good one and far better than BCAAs in tea.