Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are called Branch Chain Amino Acids. These are the amino acids that are actually anabolic in muscle. The real heavy lifter here seems to be L-Leucine. Leucine has been shown to be anabolic in muscle on its own and has an amazing ability to help recovery. It has been shown to reduce muscle breakdown, increase anabolism and is even implicated in burning fat! This wonder amino acid is part of a cascade of amino acids that are really important to building muscle. Unfortunately, Leucine is conditionally dependent on the other branched chain aminos, so it is important to get all three. There is some debate however on how much of all three you need to be effective. The generally accepted ratios are not really necessary, I would take a BCAA product and spike it with a 1:1 ratio with straight L-Leucine powder to get the maximum effect. If you are taking plenty of quality protein, you are getting enough of the supportive Isoleucine and Valine to reduce the negative effects of straight Leucine supplementation. This in addition to straight protein is the most important nutrient that you can take to increase metabolism of new muscle cells. Supplement 3-5g of BCAA’s prior to working out and another 3-5g right after your workout to get maximum effects. High Leucine (at least 4:1:1) BCAA’s are the preferred form of BCAA supplement and should be available from many sources. Often times you will find the 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine (2) to Isoleucine (1) to Valine (1) but again this is probably not the best source, when a higher Leucine 4:1:1 blend is better.
A great recipe for performance would be:
Honey + Distilled WaterHydrolyzed Protein from Collagen, Whey + BCAA’s with Extra Leucine
This cocktail would really put the hurt on any known sports drink or formula on the market. Most drinks (especially in the U.S.) are actually counterproductive. Unfortunately, with the cheapness of corn, the modern U.S. diet is filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup. This became a staple in most American formulations, not because of nutritional benefit, but because corn syrup is cheap and easy to store. Corn Syrup has been implicated in the rising obesity rates in the U.S. and the high incidents of diabetes due to it not having the same level of satiety that sugar contains (it doesn’t make you full). This might be why you can suck down a large coke and still eat another 1200 calories from the value menu, while our European counterparts eat far smaller portions and feel full. Honey, is a good, proven energy source and the perfect carrier for our hydrolyzed proteins. You can just buy an off the shelf protein shot (many exist, one unique one is in a resealable pouch with 45g per serving) mix it with your honey, water and the leucine if you have it and GO…
This is the absolute best way to supplement your diet with amino acids for muscle growth. Ordinarily, protein is digested slowly and adequately for repair. However, to maximize growth and repair, the best time to ingest your amino acids is during and immediately after your workout.