Why You Should Maintain a BCAA Ratio of 2:1:1 for Optimal Performance
It's no secret that everyone wants to get the most out of their workouts. What's more elusive however, is why you should maintain a BCAA ratio of 2:1:1.
If you’re a regular gym-goer, you may have heard of BCAAs, short for branched-chain amino acids to help with your workout.
The ratio of these amino acids is crucial when choosing a BCAA product to help with exercise. There is a range of ratios out there, with the two main options being 4:1:1 and 2:1:1.
With the right ratio, BCAAs help maximize muscle growth, energy, and even fat loss. But which is the best BCAA ratio, and why? We’re here to spill all.
What Is a Branched Chain Amino Acid?
First, let’s understand a little more what a branched-chain amino acid is.
Amino acids are known as the natural building blocks of proteins found in the body. They consist of compounds created from the elements of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Amino acids work as energy in the body. They help in the growth of tissues, organs, muscles, skin, and hair. One of the key bodily functions related in amino acids is muscle growth.
A branched-chain amino acid, otherwise known as a BCAA, consists of three essential amino acids. These are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids work together as they’re the only three amino assists that create a chain that branch off.
Just like other amino acids, BCAAs are required by your body to create proteins. That means BCAAs are crucial for a healthy diet and to help the muscle-building process. The body cannot create BCAAs, so they must be eaten from whole foods or supplements.
Often, BCAAs are sold as energy bars or in powder capsules.
Why Is Ratio Important?
Whether you take BCAAs before, during, or after your workout, an exercise session is the best time of day to consume them. That’s because the leucine in the product can encourage muscle protein synthesis. When taking BCAAs before a workout, muscle endurance is encouraged, and fatigue is diminished.
For this reason, many people believe that the highest leucine:isoleucine:valine ratio is most effective. Some people even suggest leaving out the other two BCAAs and taking leucine alone. However, this is a mistake.
While leucine can boost muscle protein synthesis after a workout, BCAA’s featuring the three amino acids work a whole lot more effectively. The valine involved works to blunt fatigue during exercise, which we all know can kill a workout.
In a placebo-controlled study, 30 people were given BCAA, leucine, or a placebo supplement. They were taken in three equal portions immediately before resistance training, as well as after the workout. The results showed that both the supplements containing leucine and BCAA led to improved levels of phosphorylated 4E-BP1 and cell signaling of the mTOR pathway.
This encourages protein synthesis by activating the amino acids. Such results show that teamed with isoleucine and valine; better activation rates occurred than when leucine was taken alone.
While it may be tempting to go for a BCAA supplement that offers a much higher ratio of 2:1:1, remember that this can work against you when it comes to building energy, fat loss, and gaining muscle. Some BCAA products offer just 500 mg or less of valine and isoleucine.
That isn’t enough to keep your energy levels up during exercise. But that may also not be enough to boost muscle protein synthesis at its best.
BCAAs are used directly by the muscle fibers as a fuel supply. This is even more effective during powerful workouts, such as weight training.
What’s the Best Ratio?
The best BCAA ratio is 2:1:1. Why?
As mentioned, leucine offers the strongest anabolic effects on protein synthesis. That means a bigger portion of leucine to isoleucine and valine helps boost muscle strength and lean muscle mass. That doesn’t mean you should go for ratios like 4:1:1 or 10:1:1.
Taking a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAA’s promotes protein synthesis even better than these ratios or taking leucine alone, so it’s best to stick to that.
If you’re interested in losing weight, then that’s another reason why 2:1:1 is the preferred ratio. Thanks to the BCCA isoleucine, the 2:1:1 ratio helps burn fat efficiently. The amino acid offers the ability to activate special receptors known as PPAR. This helps boost fat burns and prevents fat storage.
PPAR works to boost the activity of genes that promote powerful fat burning in the body while lessening the activity of genes that usually encourages fat storage. As a result, there’s better ability to burn fat alongside less chance of storing fat.
Ready to Try the 2:1:1 BCAA Ratio?
If you’re ready to try BCAAs, choose a product that features a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. After all, a 2:1:1 ratio is renowned as having the best effect on mTOR activation and muscle growth.
To enhance your workouts and to optimize your athletic performance, take a BCAA product with a 2:1:1 ratio both before and after your exercise session. Don’t forget the post-workout protein shake, either.
For a tasty product containing this ideal BCAA ratio, reach for one of our protein bars. Rich in taste, nutrition, and quality, they’re the ideal snack to munch on both pre and post-workout.
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Shop our protein bars here to discover BCAA products to help you enhance your workout.