Amino acid supplements, not surprisingly, are various supplements made up from, or containing large doses of, yes you guessed it, amino acids. When it comes to muscular growth, repair and function, as well as cellular growth and function, one vital macronutrient that we need to be consuming on a daily basis, is protein. Protein however, is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are best described as the building blocks of protein molecules and as a result they are extremely healthy and beneficial for us for a whole variety of different reasons. There are around 20 different amino acids, and the thing that makes amino acids, and buying amino acid supplements so unique and beneficial, is that each amino acid is unique and serves its own unique purpose within the body. There are actually two different types of amino acid: Non-essential amino acids, and essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids are synthesized by the body naturally, and so we don’t necessarily have to consume them from dietary sources. Essential amino acids however, cannot be synthesized by the body, and so in order for us to get them into our systems, they must be consumed via dietary and/or supplemental sources. There are a number of amino acid supplements currently available, with each one having its own unique benefits and uses.
What are some of the benefits of amino acid supplements?
As mentioned, there are around 20 different amino acids out there and as a result there are a number of different amino acid supplements currently available, which we’ll be listing and looking at shortly. Though the benefits and uses of each amino acid is slightly different, generally the most common and prevalent benefits tend to include the following:
Muscle building benefits
In order for the body to synthesize new muscle tissue, protein synthesis must occur to help repair damaged muscle tissue following intense workouts and spells of physical activity. Amino acids provide the body with the nutrients required for repairing and rebuilding damaged muscle tissue by aiding in protein synthesis. They also fuel the muscles mid-workout which can help them work harder and for longer periods of time.
Benefits for athletes
Not only do we need our muscles to grow and repair themselves just so we look bigger and more muscular, we may also need them to repair themselves to help improve athletic performance. Athletes work extremely hard and use up vital energy and nutrients in their muscles. Amino acids help fuel the muscles, which has been proven to increase athletic performance. They also increase muscular recovery.
Weight loss benefits
Another great benefit of amino acid supplements is that some varieties have been found to promote weight loss. As they fuel the body and provide it with energy, the metabolism works more efficiently, and as a result, it will burn further calories and provide increases in energy. These increases in energy are so effective because they can make workouts more productive, so even further calories are burnt off still.
General health benefits
Our bodies are made up of billions upon billions of microscopic cells, with each one serving its own function. Like other organs and parts of our bodies, these cells can become damaged or destroyed overtime, which is why amino acids can be so beneficial. They help fuel the cells, making them more efficient and they also promote overall cellular health, growth, and repair. These cells include white blood cells which make up our immune systems. The healthier they are, the healthier we are as a result.
The best amino acid supplements
As mentioned, there are numerous amino acid supplements out there, but here’s a look at the best-selling and most effective examples:
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are essential amino acids and are made of Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine. They help promote energy and fuel levels within our cells, particularly cells within our muscles. They help fuel the muscles, thus making them more efficient and preventing muscle tissue breakdown and wastage.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is vital when it comes to the growth and repair of muscle tissue. It comes in powdered form most commonly and is often mixed with whey protein powder and consumed post-workout, immediately following a workout. L-Glutamine helps initiate protein synthesis and helps increase post-workout recovery.
Beta-Alanine has been shown to increase carnosine (a molecule that helps to buffer acid in active muscles) which improves muscular endurance and physical performance during high-intensity exercise and delays the onset of neuromuscular fatigue meaning you will be able to train harder and longer.
The naturally occurring amino acid Taurine has been found to help promote increases in endurance and energy levels. It is a common ingredient found within most “sports” drinks and can increase mental focus as well as energy levels.
Essential VS non – essential amino acids
As mentioned, both essential and non-essential amino acids are beneficial and for optimal results, both should be consumed. As we said previously, non-essential amino acids are made naturally within our bodies, whereas essential ones aren’t so they MUST be consumed in dietary or supplement form. Just because we synthesis essential amino acids naturally however, this doesn’t mean that we still don’t need them.
When to use them, and are they safe?
As far as when you should use amino acid supplements, as each one is unique and different, each one should be consumed at a different time during the day, and in different dosages. Some are designed to be consumed pre-workout, whilst others are designed to be sipped on Intra (during) your workout, and some, Glutamine for example, work best when consumed immediately following your workout. One thing that is for certain however, and that is that you must always, always consume them as instructed and never exceed the recommended stated dosage as this can lead to potentially serious health issues including organ failure.