What is the Best Ratio of BCAAs?

Comparing Branch Chain Amino Acids 4:1:1 vs 2:1:1

What is the optimal ratio for muscle protein synthesis – BCAAs 4:1:1 or BCAAs 2:1:1

Branched chain amino acid ratio is an important factor when deciding which is the best BCAA product. As gym goers, we want to get the best result possible and maximise gains from our time in the gym. How can BCAAs help increase muscle mass? Supplement companies in the market today sell a range of BCAA formulas with different ratios and mixtures with the main two ratios being 4:1:1 and 2:1:1. 

Let’s start by understanding what are BCAAs and how to decide which BCAAs ratio is best.

What is a Branched Chain Amino Acid?

Amino acids are considered the natural building blocks of proteins in the human body. They are chains of compounds made from the elements; carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. Amino Acids are a source of energy and help in the growth of tissues, organs, muscles, skin and hair. Muscle growth is one of the main bodily processes linked to amino acids in your body.

If you picture protein as a group of linked-chains with each link in the chain as an amino acid, these form into peptide chains (polypeptides). The more links in the chain, the bigger the polypeptide. Proteins are made up by many polypeptide chains.

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Amino acids can be divided into two groups:

  • Essential amino acids – derived from the food you eat and primarily responsible for building proteins in your body.
  • Non-essential amino acids – are synthesised by the body from other amino acids and are available as fuel for the body.

A branched chain amino acid (BCAA) is a group of three essential amino acids; leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids are grouped together as they are the only three amino acids that have a chain which branch off. Like all other amino acids, BCAAs are the building blocks your body needs to make proteins. BCAAs are essential for your diet and muscle building process, as the body cannot make them and therefore need to be consumed either through whole foods or supplementation.

When talking about BCAA supplementation, these usually come in the form of powder or capsules and the most commonly used BCAA ratios are 4:1:1 and 2:1:1. For example P92 BCAA 4:1:1 is 66% Leucine, 17% Isoleucine and 17% valine.

There are 20 different amino acids that make up the different proteins in the human body.

9/20 are considered essential amino acids however they cannot be made by the human body itself and need to be consumed through your diet.

3/9 essential amino acids are the branched chain amino acids: LEUCINE, ISOLEUCINE and VALINE.

Why is the Ratio Important?

The BCAA ratio is important as each individual amino acid has a key role to play in the body when consuming before, during or after exercise.

Leucine is regarded as the main amino acid and has a higher ratio as it starts the process of protein synthesis in the body which increases muscle protein that leads to muscle growth. Leucine is paramount in the muscle building process so when choosing a amino acid supplement you want to choose one that has more leucine than isoleucine and valine. Hence the reason why the ratio of 4:1:1 was developed.

Isoleucine’s primary function in the body once consumed is to boost energy levels and assist in the body’s recovery process after exercise.

Valine helps repair muscle tissues, regulate blood sugar levels and aids in improving muscle health.

What BCAAs dosage is most optimal?

Sports Dieticians Australia recommend that we should aim for 3 grams of leucine when supplementing and state that all three BCAAs need to be taken together for better absorption and to receive the full benefits of what BCAAs can offer. P92 4:1:1 Plant Based BCAA gives you 3.33g of leucine (the protein synthesis kickstarter) combined with 0.83g of isoleucine and 0.83g of valine.

All P92's ingredients are sourced directly and purely from vegetable based raw materials and is vegan friendly, dairy free, Non GMO and contains 0 carbs. A plant based vegan BCAA is made through the process of natural vegetable fermentation. P92 has sourced it’s ingredients from a leading Japanese manufacturer to deliver this cutting edge BCAA supplement, with the main objective; to produce the most purest form of BCAA powder out there in the market today. Why would you use whey protein if you don't have to.

For the best BCAA 4:1:1 in Australia, have a look at P92 Australia's product here