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BCAA - Today under the spotlight

BCAA - Today under the spotlight

Today under the spotlight

What are the much discussed BCAAs? For someone, an absolutely necessary supplement and other opinion proclaims utter futility to add branched amino acids if we have a good diet. Where is the truth? Apparently somewhere in the middle, as is usually the case. But let's start with the first thing.

BCAAs are three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. This is clear to most of us. But why solve some of the best ratio and why many companies claim that their ratio is ideal? Before we talk about circumstances, let's go through some basic information about BCAA.

BCAA - branched-chain amino acids - is called branched-chain amino acids because of their structure. Each has a branched protruding layer looking like a twig. Not only are they quite exceptional in their structure, but they fulfill specific functions in the body and can benefit from many benefits when incorporated into a supplement program.

One of the remarkable effects is that BCAAs can serve as an energy source. Thanks to other specific properties they can help us with weight loss, further have a positive effect on immunity and in medicine they will also find use for their hepatoprotective effects. Power athletes, on the other hand, are interested in their influence on protein synthesis and hence muscle growth. Yes, when it comes to building muscle, BCAAs are often inflected. Following them, the key role of leucine. No wonder leucine plays one of the most important roles in growth signaling.

Key role of leucine:

Leucine works like a car key. The car is the muscle cell in this case. Start-up will spark the process of proteosynthesis or the process of muscle protein remodeling.

Research confirms that if you add extra leucine to your post-training protein and carbohydrate drink, you will increase the level of protein synthesis.

Since leucine is so vital to muscle growth, we want our BCAA supplement to have more leucine than the other two amino acids. So there is a reasoning "The more leucine, the better!" But is it really so? Probably not, and certainly not always.

Many products offer a leucine ratio of 8: 1: 1 or even 10: 1: 1. Benefit is simple. Leucine is the best, and therefore five times more leucine automatically marks the product five times better. It is impossible to say unequivocally what the ratio is ideal. It depends on many variables. I'm not going to say that the best ratio is 2: 1: 1 and 4: 1: 1 is useless because Volf's law was blah blah blah… No! It is important to realize that in nutrition, the more sports, there are many procedures that can be used, and although they may be different, it does not mean that one is good and the other bad. The same goes for nutritional supplements.

So again in order.

As a rule, BCAA is used around the training period, whether you take it before, during, or after, and you are probably using a protein that already contains quite a lot, but you want to have leucine high enough for proteosynthesis, and that's why you roll in another BCAA . Apparently, the more educated ones suspect that the free form of amino acids performs somewhat different functions than the amino acids that make up the peptides that make up the proteins. It is precisely because of the importance of leucine that some people think that the highest ratio is also the best. There is also a recommendation to take only leucine alone. But that could be a mistake, in certain situations. Why? In fact, there is a study that has built up leucine and all three BCAAs against each other. The researchers gave either one of these two combinations or placebo to the college athletes before and after the leg training. They found that the BCAA combination was the most potent in protein synthesis, of course leucine and the last placebo. That might be a good reason to keep up with all three amino acids, don't you think.

But that still doesn't answer the question of which ratio is best. But we have to ask this question. And that: What purpose do I use with BCAA?

Improve performance and delay tiredness:

One reason why athletes use BCAAs is to deliver more energy and reduce tiredness. Indeed, BCAAs can be used directly in muscle fibers as an energy source. This is especially true for intensive training. Many studies show that BCAAs given before training increase muscle endurance and reduce fatigue during training. Many athletes are aware of this benefit. And here is the primin valine. Yes, the less famous star trio amino acid. So how does it work?

The brain uses a lot of tryptophan during training. This is converted to 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), better known as serotonin. A higher level of serotonin gives the brain that the body is tired. This leads to a reduction in muscle strength and stamina. Valine with tryptophan competes for a place in the brain and usually wins.

This means that if you take BCAA before / during training, less tryptophan gets into the brain, which is converted to less serotonin. Your muscles can work harder and longer. In other words, you can squeeze out more reps, you can relax between the series for a shorter time and have more energy at the end of your workout. Valine can also make you more alert and powerful beyond workout.

For these reasons, I recommend taking BCAA before and during training

BCAA in average 2: 1: 1, meaning leucine: isoleucine: valine.

Fat Reduction:

If you are wondering how to maximize weight loss, the BCAA ratio of 2: 1: 1 seems to be beneficial again. This is where isoleucine comes into play, which seems to have the best fat burning potential. Why?

The researchers found that mice fed a high proportion of fat gained significantly less weight by supplementing with isoleucine. This is due to its ability to activate special receptors known as PPAR, which improve fat burning and prevent its storage. PPARs increase the activity of genes that improve fat burning and, conversely, decrease the activity of genes with the opposite function.

Using BCAA, which has a significantly higher leucine to other two amino acid ratio, may even reduce your energy level and is definitely not optimal for fat reduction. Some high ratio BCAAs give you only 500 or less mg of valine and isoleucine. Such products are more suitable as a product for use during the day with food where the potential of leucine can be exploited.


You've probably already understood why most manufacturers prefer a conservative 2: 1: 1 ratio. Yes, they want the product to work optimally, so they cleverly use the efficiency of this ratio in their instant blends.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are the mixtures with higher leucine content really useless?

Leucine is a key player in the process of proteosynthesis, and therefore it is not possible to completely reject supplementation by itself, or in the form of a product that contains its extremely high dose. There was a misunderstanding here. Leucine alone, or BCAA with its high ratio, is not ideal to supplement around the training period (theoretically the addition of free leucine to the protein supplement may be the exception). Conversely, it is advisable to add leucine during the day, ideally to meals. Especially those that are composed of foods that are not rich in leucine. So you don't have to reject products with higher leucine content, just use them in accordance with physiology.

Final recommendation:

I recommend taking 5 g of BCAA with a 2: 1: 1 ratio (thus obtaining 2.5 g of leucine and 1.25 g of isoleucine and valine) about 30 minutes before training. This amount is sufficient to protect muscle mass during training.

If you are training for a long time, or very intensively, and you want to optimize muscle performance, use BCAA again in the 2: 1: 1 ratio over the course of training, at a dose of about 6 g per hour of training. You can use our product.

After training, give an additional dose of at least 5 g BCAA. Here again, the ratio of 2: 1: 1 is fine, but the 3: 1: 1 ratio gives a little more leucine to start protein synthesis, and will suitably complement your protein shaker, which optimally contains a combination of fast whey protein and casein.

Keep in mind that BCAAs are a great addition, but certainly not indispensable. Free BCAAs will only help you quickly start the process of rebuilding your muscle cells, but you must supply building blocks in the form of complex proteins.


1. Stoppani, J., et al., Consuming branched-chain amino acid supplement during a resistance training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009
2. Anthony, J. C., Yoshizawa, F., Anthony, T. G., Vary, T. C., Jefferson, L. S., & Kimball, S. R. (2000) Leucine stimulates translation inititation in skeletal muscle of postabsorptive rats via a rapamycin-sensitive pathway. J. Nutr. 
3. Crozier, S. J., Kimball, S.R., Emmert, S. W., Anthony, J. C., & Jefferson, L.S. (2005) Oral leucine administration stimulates protein synthesis in rat skeletal muscle. J. Nutr. 
4. Crowe, M. J., et al. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 
5. Koopman R, Wagenmakers AJ, Manders RJ, Zorenc AH, Senden JM, Gorselink M, Keizer HA, van Loon LJ. (2005)Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 
6. De Lorenzo, A., et al. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance.Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 
7. Gomez-Merino, D., et al. Evidence that the branched-chain amino acid L-valine prevents exercise-induced release of 5-HT in rat hippocampus. Int J Sports Med. 2001 
8. Mourier, A., et al. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med 1997 
9. Nishimura, J., et al. "Isoleucine Prevents the Accumulation of Tissue Triglycerides and U Upregulates the Expression of PPAR{alpha} and Uncoupling Protein in Diet-Induced Obese Mice." J. Nutr. 2010

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