Doctor's Orders: Branch Out
Branched-chain amino acids, also called BCAAs, include leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three aminos are the most critical for muscle growth.
Of the three, leucine is the more critical player, as it has been shown in the lab to literally act like a key that turns on muscle protein synthesis, which is the major growth process within muscle fibers.
Because leucine is so critical, you want to look for products that deliver leucine in at least twice the dose as isoleucine and valine. Shoot for a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine:isoleucine:valine.
Some companies are providing BCAAs with leucine at 8 times or even 10 times the amounts of isoleucine and valine.
While leucine is definitely the superior amino of the three, getting it at twice the amount of the others is ample enough. I'm not saying that getting it in higher amounts is less effective.
However, there currently isn't any research proving you need more than a 2:1:1 ratio.
Supplement with about 5 grams of BCAAs with your morning shake, pre-workout and post-workout shake,you're your nighttime shake. Also consider another 5 grams with smaller snacks throughout the day, as outlined in my Shortcut to Size sample meal plan. This will ensure that you are getting in adequate amounts of leucine at those smaller meals to kick up muscle protein synthesis and keep you in an anabolic state.
Remember that every rest day should be an active rest day. Rest days are for recovery; they're not an excuse to be lazy. Get out and hit 15-30 minutes of HIIT cardio today, or perform 30-60 minutes of your favorite activity: hiking, biking, walking, playing a sport, etc.