What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are crucial for the smooth functioning of multiple processes in the body. The amino acid structure consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.
Amino acids are vital for our muscles’ growth, recovery, and nourishment. We need them to synthesize hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.
Amino acids foods include eggs, fish, meat, pulses, legumes, soybean, and dairy products. Bodybuilders and athletes take amino acid supplements to recover faster, prepare for the next training session and increase their workout intensity.
Amino Acids: Benefits & Uses
Let’s discuss the primary amino acids function in our body.
Muscle growth: Branched-chain amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, and valine are critical for muscle protein synthesis, repairing muscles, producing growth hormones, and stimulating wound healing.
Tissue synthesis: Amino acids like threonine, lysine, and leucine form the major component of connective tissues like collagen, elastin, and skin.
Immune health: Amino acids are required to synthesize antibodies that strengthen us to fight against infections and diseases.
Energy metabolism: We need amino acids to maintain our energy levels and stay energetic. Amino acids like valine, leucine, lysine, and isoleucine are essential for energy regulation and production.
Nutrient absorption: Amino acids absorb vital minerals like zinc, calcium, and selenium required for strong bone and immune health.
Improve sleep and mood: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter required to regulate sleep, mood, and appetite. Our body needs the amino acid tryptophan to synthesize this neurotransmitter.
Prevent muscle loss: Amino acids have been shown to preserve lean muscle mass and prevent muscle breakdown.
Promote weight loss: Studies say that a regular intake of essential amino acids stimulates fat loss and reduces body fat percentage.
Improve athletic performance: If you are a bodybuilder or fitness lover and desire to increase your exercise performance, maintain an adequate amino acid intake. They stimulate post-workout muscle recovery, reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, and enhance overall physical strength.
Neurotransmitter synthesis: Amino acids like histidine and phenylalanine are required to synthesize neurotransmitters like dopamine, histamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Amino Acids Types
There are 20 amino acids required by our body to grow and function optimally that fall under various categories. Let’s see the different types of amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids (EAA): We must consume them externally through diet or supplements as our body can not produce them, making them essential for us.
Non-Essential Amino Acids: Our body can produce them; therefore, they are termed non-essential. However, it is advisable to maintain adequate protein intake.
Conditionally Essential Amino Acids: They are also known as semi-essential amino acids. The body can produce these amino acids; however, during some conditions like intense workouts, surgery, etc., the demand increase, and it becomes essential to provide them externally.
Classification of Amino Acids
Essential Conditionally Essential Non-Essential
How to choose the right Amino Acid supplement for you?
Amino acid supplements are available in various forms, and one should choose as per the requirement.
Suppose you are a gym-goer or an active person and need an amino acid blend to minimize muscle damage and support recovery. In that case, you can choose either EAA or BCAA supplements. EAA supplement contains a mixture of all nine essential amino acids, whereas BCAA supplement provides three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Nowadays, one may find BCAA or EAA supplements enriched with additional electrolytes. They are an excellent option to choose to prevent not only muscle damage but also muscle cramps.
Check for the ingredient info if you want to go for single amino acid supplements like leucine, glutamine, or arginine. The supplement should contain that amino acid as the primary ingredient and be free from harmful and unwanted additives.
It is advisable to check for the amino acid content per serve. Always opt for a certified supplement manufactured in a GMP-certified facility.
If one is allergic to any ingredient or suffers from any medical condition, seeking expert advice for a suitable selection is better.
How to use Amino Acids?
Amino acid supplements are available in powder, capsules, tablets, and liquid. They are very versatile and can be taken pre-, during, or post-workout.
One can swallow amino acid tablets or capsules with water or a beverage of choice.
The usage of powdered amino acids might vary from person to person. One can use amino acid powder with water or juice. Bodybuilders and athletes also prefer adding unflavoured amino acid powders in their protein shakes or gainers.
For liquid amino acids, it is advisable to check the dosage instructions on the pack, whether to drink directly or dilute before use