Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) aka Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are one of the most underused supplements going. Many people underplay their relevance because apparently they do the same thing as protein…well isn’t that all the more reason to consume them? The thing to remember is that BCAAs and a whey protein for example, work via different mechanisms. Protein is key to muscle recovery and growth after training due to their milk base (in most cases) which can sit heavy if consumed before a workout, whilst BCAAs are designed to be sipped over the course of the day in order to minimise muscle breakdown and increase growth potential, mainly because of Leucine.
Leucine is an incredibly effective essential amino acid in promoting muscle growth, it works with an enzyme known as the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) which evidently promotes muscle growth based on several studies. One particular study gave people an mTOR inhibiting drug which seemed to negate (reduce) muscle synthesis after training. This strongly suggests that mTOR is key to muscle growth, which in turn means Leucine is also key to muscle growth.
When selecting a BCAA supplement, look for one that has a minimum of a 3: 1: 1 ratio of Leucine to Isoleucine and Valine for best results.