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Important Amino Acids for Muscle Building

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and play a vital role in muscle development. There are 20 amino acids that occur naturally, and 8 of these are considered essential because our bodies cannot produce them. Essential amino acids must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Of the 8 essential amino acids, there are 3 branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are especially important for muscle development: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.


Leucine is the most important BCAA for muscle growth and is unique because it activates a protein called mTOR, which then signals your body to start synthesizing new proteins (1). This process is known as protein synthesis and is essential for building muscle. Leucine also plays a role in preventing muscle breakdown (2). The recommended daily intake for leucine is 38 mg per kilogram of body weight (3).


Isoleucine promotes muscle recovery after exercise by helping to repair and rebuild damaged muscles (4). It also aids in the transport of oxygen to muscles and supplies cells with energy (5). The recommended daily intake for isoleucine is 19 mg per kilogram of body weight (3).


Valine helps to prevent muscle breakdown and aids in muscle repair and growth (6). It also provides cells with energy and increases endurance during exercise (7). The recommended daily intake for valine is 27 mg per kilogram of body weight (3).

All three BCAAs are important for muscle building, but leucine is the most important because it activates protein synthesis. Aim to consume 38 mg of leucine per kilogram of body weight per day. Isoleucine and valine promote muscle recovery and growth and should be consumed at 19 mg and 27 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, respectively. Supplementing with a BCAA powder can help you reach your daily intake goals. Look for a powder that contains all three BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio.

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