Alongside protein, amino acids are common store shelf supplements. Used by professional athletes and gym-goers, they’re proven to boost fitness performance.
Their benefits extend well beyond the world of weights and cardio, however—offering nutritional boosts anyone can acquire. Even though they’re popular, amino acid supplements can seem mysterious to some.
Fortunately, it’s easy to include amino acids into your daily diet. Whether you love to exercise, aim for weight loss, or simply want to be healthier, amino acids can help.
What are Amino Acids, Exactly?
Amino acids play a large role in our body’s day-to-day functioning: They occur naturally, and we tend to consume them every day.
There are 20 types of amino acids, which exist as organic compounds.
They’re often called the ‘building blocks’ of proteins—both in animals and plants.
Understandably, they’re pretty important to our body’s daily functions. A person’s diet might not contain the most important amino acids, however, as they’re often found in specific foods—as opposed to many.
Essential Amino Acids
As an example: One of the most important amino acids, tryptophan, is mostly found in chicken, eggs, and fish. Even though these foods are common, it can be difficult to consume them every day—and in the optimal amounts.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. Our bodies can’t produce these acids without help, which makes a healthy diet, vitamins, and even amino acid supplements incredibly important. Out of the 20 types of amino acids, there are nine essential amino acids:
Filling the Gap with Supplements
It’s tough to supply our bodies with enough essential amino acids, but it can be even tougher to track down three in particular: valine, leucine, and isoleucine. These are ‘branched-chain’ amino acids—and their pretty complex. They tend to exist in foods with plenty of protein, which can narrow down our grocery list’s necessities to only a couple of products, like eggs and white meat.
Surprisingly, it’s possible to consume plenty of protein and reap little progress.
To fully synthesize protein, and build muscle from it, our bodies need every essential amino acid. Each of them holds a piece of the puzzle, but our muscles benefit much less from a puzzle that isn’t complete.
For this reason, athletes must consume essential Amino Acids constantly.
This is where popular sports drink mixes, BCAAs, come into play. BCAA supplements are created from the above-mentioned branched-chain amino acids, which makes them incredibly useful.
10 Big Benefits of Supplementation
Not all amino acid supplements are strictly BCAA supplements, of course, but most of them contain BCAAs as core ingredients. Every amino acid supplement is different, and many advancements in health science have given us a wide variety of supplements to pick from.
This is because each of our bodies is different—and each has particular needs.
Many of these needs are universal, too, helping us stay healthy, happy, and fit. Amino acids answer these needs wonderfully, but their benefits don’t end there. Let’s check out the best aspects amino acid supplements have to offer.
Benefit One: Decreased Muscle Soreness
When we exercise, our muscles get micro-tears. Our bodies repair these tears to become stronger—resulting in more lean muscle mass. It takes time to recover from these tears, however, especially if our bodies don’t have the correct amino acids. The soreness we encounter, after exercising, is called ‘delayed onset muscle soreness,’ or DOMS.
This soreness normally occurs the day after we work out—but it can last several days when the protein we consume can’t efficiently repair these tears.
By taking an amino acid supplement before you exercise, you can ‘kickstart’ the muscle protein repair process. This will help keep DOMS at bay, which is certainly important for mobility during your next fitness session.
Benefit Two: Better Recovery
Because amino acids help our muscles synthesize protein while they’re worn down, they can be used to speed up the recovery process in general. The National Library of Medicine’s research regarding BCAA supplements suggests that consuming them before, during, or after exercise can accelerate post-workout healing—as BCAAs boost the bioavailability of other amino acids, as well as protein.
Benefit Three: More Lean Muscle
When our muscles recover quicker—they can be exercised sooner. Amino acid supplements help us get the most out of our weekly exercise, boosting the rate at which our muscles can be worked out again. This said time optimization isn’t the only muscle-boosting property amino acid supplements possess.
Studies show that athletes who consume amino acid supplements regularly have higher rates of lean muscle growth. On average, athletes can expect to have accelerated performance gains for both isolation exercises and larger, compound lifts like the bench press and squats.
Benefit Four: Less Fat
Amino acid supplements, and especially BCAAs, are fantastic weight loss supplements. Research conducted through the College of Charleston discovered that routine consumption of BCAA supplements can more than double our body fat reduction rates. When compared to those who consume whey protein drinks, but not BCAAs, the same group benefits from an additional 50-percent fat-burning rate increase.
Benefit Five: Less Fatigue
Moving beyond the realm of exercise, amino acid supplements offer a huge benefit to all: They reduce fatigue. Amino acids help our bodies create neurotransmitters, and these neurotransmitters help us control levels of stress. Health experts often purport that amino acid supplements demonstrate a significant ability to reduce fatigue through this process—alleviating not only physical exhaustion but mental exhaustion as well.
Benefit Six: Increased Focus
In the same way, amino acids’ benefits on neurotransmitter production can enhance cognitive focus.
Moreover, an amino acid supplement that contains every essential amino acid greatly increases our body’s ability to process tryptophan—whether it exists within or beyond these supplements, themselves.
When our bodies process tryptophan quicker, we experience higher degrees of focus. This benefit compounds over time, too, which can even boost working memory, time management, and processing skills.
Benefit Seven: A Stronger Immune System
A better sense of mental well-being has significant impacts on our immune system. In a more direct fashion, the neurotransmitters created by amino acids enhance our immune system’s ability to recover. This benefit is complemented by the increased muscle recovery amino acids provide us, too: Faster muscle recovery results in a well-defended immune system.
These benefits occur even if we’re sick, which means we recover quicker. Many doctors urge their patients to get plenty of BCAAs when they’re ill, as these essential amino acids help repair and immune system quicker.
Benefit Eight: Increased Pain Tolerance
Both amino acids and protein are recommended for intra-workout performance, too. Primarily, amino acids are suspected to increase our pain tolerance—modifying the way we perceive fatigue in general. This is doubly true when the post-exercise benefits of BCAAs are thrown into the mix. Whether you’re a weightlifter, a swimmer, a runner, or a hiker—having a trusty thermos of tasty BCAAs at your side is always a bonus.
Benefit Nine: Energy Efficiency
Amino acids are great for combatting fatigue, but they also help us optimize our energy levels. BCAAs assist the body’s utilization of its major fuel resources: carbohydrates and fats. Over time, a body healthily supported by these amino acids will process these resources even better.
They help balance the body, keeping its energy production comfortable and consistent.
Say goodbye to the highs and lows of short-burst energy spurts, because amino acids also ward off uncomfortable blood glucose spikes. The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health has explored this topic quite a bit—helping those with diabetes achieve a better quality of life.
Benefit 10: Consistency
The best thing about amino acids is their reliability: There are plenty of health and fitness supplements out there, but amino acid supplements tend to be the same from product to product. This is particularly advantageous because it makes them incredibly affordable.
Even better: Those who love having the support of amino acids needn’t worry about finding a particular brand. As a day-to-day power package of great ingredients, amino acids are widely available, too: the goalposts of health are just around the corner.
Finding the Perfect Dosage
A busy schedule can make any type of nutritious supplementation tough, and meals—even tougher. Because many amino acid products are fitness drinks, they’re wonderful for an on-the-go lifestyle.
To get the most out of your amino acid supplement for fitness, try to take about 10 grams of BCAAs between 45 and 60 minutes before exercise.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that this can help alleviate post-exercise soreness significantly. This dosage is flexible, however, making BCAAs incredibly accessible based upon a person’s dietary and general health needs.
Streamlining Your Nutrition: Amino Acids for Wellness
Our understanding of amino acids is constantly growing, and health experts consistently support their safety and effectiveness for most: the Society of Sports Nutrition states that their recommended dosages are harm-free for most. A wide selection of amino acid supplements is preservative-free, assuring a healthier lifestyle free from such associated risks.
BCAA supplements are one of the most convenient ways to get the muscle-supportive nutrients you need. If you are new to amino acid supplements, get ready to experience a healthier body and mind.
If you’re still on the fence, spend some time exploring the different types of amino acids out there. Because they’re so consistent, you can customize your perfect blend with ease. Because amino acids are safe to take on a long-term basis, too, helping your mind, body, and sense of wellbeing grow without any stress.
Everyone’s health journey is different–and one’s path can often change.
With the tools of nutrition at your side, however, paths redefined can be crafted by you.