BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are one of the most important supplements to take for resistance training, as they fuel the body and support muscle growth. Each of the three BCAAs—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are considered essential amino acids, which means the body cannot produce them naturally and they must be supplemented in your diet.
These essential nutrients both help increase the rate of protein synthesis in the body and maximize the cellular capacity for its usage. This, in turn, promotes muscle growth and has positive metabolic effects. But not only that, BCAAs are also crucial for muscle recovery and the prevention of catabolism, which can often happen if you are combining intensive exercise with a low-calorie diet.
BCAA supplements have been studied by both nutritionist and fitness experts for their many positive benefits, but to effectively speed up muscle recovery and protein synthesis, it is important to know how much BCAA to take. Read on for our recommendations on BCAA dosage.
There are many products on the market that boast a variety of BCAA ratios, which is why it is important to know what they mean to pick the right one for maximum effect. BCAA ratios compare the three different types of branched-chain amino acids and state how much leucine is in the formula compared to isoleucine and valine. The most common ratios are listed below.
This is the most commonly recommended BCAA ratio, as it has been the most studied. This ratio contains two grams of leucine for every gram of isoleucine and valine. In general, you want the level of leucine to be greater than the other two BCAAs, as this is the most active essential amino acid responsible for muscle growth. A ratio of BCAA 2:1:1 has been proven to significantly increase bioavailability for faster protein synthesis and muscle recovery when taken immediately before or after a workout. For most people, this is the perfect balance of each of the essential amino acids that your body needs.
Another common ratio is BCAA 3:1:2. This ratio contains 3 grams of leucine for every 1 gram of isoleucine and 2 grams of valine. One benefit of this ratio is that the increased proportion of valine helps prevent fatigue during your workout. While you exercise, the brain naturally absorbs high levels of tryptophan, which is then converted to serotonin—a chemical that sends a signal of fatigue to the brain when it is present in high quantities. Valine, however, competes with tryptophan and prevents it from entering the brain in such high quantities. This can be a great ratio for those looking to crunch out more reps without over-exhaustion.
Some fitness and nutrition experts, claim that increasing the proportion of leucine as much as BCAA 8:1:1, or 8 grams per every 1 gram of isoleucine and valine, can help you maximize the benefits of BCAAS. One study found that increasing the leucine level to this degree can improve your body’s response to all the BCAAs. Because this essential amino acid is so important to muscle growth, many who want to maximize its effects choose this ratio.