You’ve probably heard about amino acids and how they can enhance athletic performance. After all, they’re the most popular supplement next to protein powder. But the thing is, amino acids are just as important as proteins. They’re a group of 20 organic compounds and are considered the building blocks of proteins. As such, they are involved in many chemical reactions occurring in your body and they help maintain its normal functions. There are three categories of amino acids: essential, non-essential and conditional. The difference between them lies in where your body obtains them from.
Essential amino acids can’t be produced by the body, which is why we need to get them through food or amino acid supplement products. Most people can get enough of them through the diet. There are 9 essential amino acids, including leucine, lysine, histidine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, valine, tryptophan and phenylalanine. Non-essential amino acids are the ones that the body can produce itself. They include alanine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid and asparagine. Lastly, conditional amino acids are only produced by the body in specific circumstances, like when the body is dealing with stress or illness. Conditional amino acids are arginine, glutamine, cysteine, tyrosine, ornithine, serine, proline and glycine.
All of the amino acids play an important role in every system of your body. For instance: they help your body heal and repair; help build and grow muscles, skin and connective tissue; help with digestion; provide energy; regulate moods by assisting in hormone production; assist in maintaining tissues strength and muscle tone and produce neurotransmitters. A balanced diet can help make sure you get the necessary amino acid intake throughout the day. Without them, your body won’t be able to produce proteins effectively, and the proteins in tissues and muscles can degrade or weaken.
So now that it’s obvious why amino acids are so important for the normal functioning of your body, let’s discuss why the amino acid supplement is one of the most popular among athletes and people who work out. You’ve probably noticed some people walking around in the gym with a coloured drink in their water bottle, and that was probably amino acid supplementation. These drinks can help boost athletic performance in a number of ways, including:
- Reduce recovery times
- Improve aerobic performance
- Increase pain tolerance
- Reduce fatigue
- Support blood flow
- Improve muscle and strength development
- Improve antioxidant production
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve fat metabolization
But their benefits aren’t limited to athletic performance. They can help reduce muscle loss in ageing people, especially when combined with resistance training. Furthermore, they can help restore lost muscle mass in ageing people and help maintain them for improved mobility and strength. Luckily, amino acid deficiency is rare. Some of the symptoms are severe muscle loss, hair loss, thin and brittle hair, lesions, and skin sores. Amino acid deficiency can occur in people who have some type of condition that inhibits absorption.
Amino acids can be obtained through food, oral supplementation or IV infusion. As aforementioned, most people get their intake from their diet. But people who push their bodies to the limit, such as athletes, require more amino acids than they get from their diet. However, some people have a health condition or take medication that makes it difficult to absorb amino acids through food or oral supplements. In that case, IV infusions are an effective option, as the amino acids will be delivered straight into your bloodstream at a 100% absorption rate.
Amino acids can be found in powder, liquid and pill form. They’re widely available and you can easily get one online or stopping by to the local pharmacy or sports nutrition store. Amino acid supplementation is super convenient and is as simple as taking a vitamin or adding a scoop of powder into your morning shake. Amino acid supplement products are absorbed by the digestive system, and that plays a role in how much the body can use, no matter what form you choose to take. The absorption rate varies from person to person, as the metabolic function, circulatory systems and gastric emptying time are different for everyone. This means that your body can only absorb as much, and the rest will be removed through urinating.
The great thing about taking amino acid supplements orally is that they’re safe to use and you don’t risk developing an infection as those who take it with an IV shot or infusion. This makes amino acid supplements great for people who have an immune system disorder.
Lastly, the natural source of amino acids is food. They can be found in eggs, dairy, pork, beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, spinach, quinoa, soy products (soy milk, edamame, tofu), kale, broccoli, beans and other legumes, romaine lettuce and potatoes. So if you feel like you aren’t getting enough amino acids throughout the day, or if you want to increase your intake, these are some of the foods you should eat more of.