It's time to find out what amino acids are, why they are needed and how to take them correctly.
Amino acids serve as a “building material” for proteins, because thanks to the unique sequence of 21 types of these organic compounds, all types of proteins and muscle tissues are formed in the body. In terms of chemical structure, amino acids are characterized by the presence of an amino group with a nitrogen atom, which is the basis of this compound.
The presence of a nitrogen atom distinguishes amino acids from other nutrients that we get from food (such as carbohydrates), which is why these are the only compounds that can form tissues, organs, muscles, skin and hair.
Now, when people hear about protein, they automatically think only about muscles and bodybuilding, although amino acids are an important component of any person’s diet, but this is especially important for those involved in any kind of sport. Amino acids are usually divided into 3 categories: essential, semi-replaceable, and interchangeable.
Essential Amino Acids
What is meant by the word “irreplaceable”? “Essential” means that these amino acids cannot be synthesized in the body and must be ingested with food. There are 9 essential amino acids, including the famous BCAA group.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Leucine, isoleucine and valine
Of the 9 essential amino acids, 3 belong to the category of branched chain amino acids. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs have a unique chemical structure compared to other essential amino acids, and therefore have special properties. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are more quickly and better absorbed by the body, that is, they are not absorbed in the stomach, but actually enter directly into the muscles. To learn more about BCAAs, read our article, BCAAs. What are branched chain amino acids? ”
Other Essential Amino Acids
The remaining essential amino acids: histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and lysine, are necessary for the body to perform a number of physiological functions.
Histidine is an aromatic amino acid that performs a number of vital functions in the body, including participating in the synthesis of hemoglobin, the functioning of the immune system and tissue repair. Histidine is an important amino acid during the period of human growth, as well as during rehabilitation after illness.
Lysine plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system. He also, along with semi-essential acids, participates in the synthesis of collagen so that the skin, hair and nails remain healthy.
Tryptophan is an essential aromatic amino acid that contains the core of indole. It performs a number of functions in the body, in particular, plays the role of a chemical messenger in the nervous system. Unlike other amino acids, L-tryptophan does not dissolve in water and is resistant to heat, that is, during processing it does not lose most of its beneficial properties.
Methionine is an unpleasant odor amino acid (contains a sulfur atom) that is a precursor to other amino acids, such as taurine. Its antioxidant properties are able to protect the body, suppressing the action of harmful substances in it. She also participates in the construction of proteins and the production of various hormones, including adrenaline and melatonin.
Phenylalanine is a non-polar amino acid that has a benzyl side chain and is known for its antidepressant properties. It plays an important role in the production of dopamine and adrenaline.
This amino acid is polar uncharged, and after assimilation is converted to pyruvate, playing an important role in the production of glucose and the production of ATP energy.
Essential Amino Acids
Essential amino acids are those that can be synthesized by the body. You may have the following question: “If they are produced in the body, then why should we take them additionally?” The fact is that during exercise, after the energy in the form of carbohydrates has been exhausted, the body begins to look for other sources of nutrition. Amino acids can act as a source to provide the muscles with everything you need to continue your workout. However, the body is often not able to produce amino acids fast enough to meet the needs that have increased during training, so we must consume them in greater quantities, regardless of whether they are replaceable or not.
Alanine is one of the simplest organic compounds in terms of chemical structure, which is classified as a non-polar amino acid. Alanine plays a key role in the glucose-alanine cycle between the liver and body tissues. Simply put, it reacts in tissues to form pyruvate and then glucose to use it as an energy source.
Glycine is the smallest of all amino acids, which is associated with the production of collagen, as well as proline and lysine. In addition, it acts as a neurotransmitter in the spinal cord, brain stem and retina.
This amino acid is involved in the urea cycle in the body, as well as in a process called gluconeogenesis (the metabolic pathway leading to glucose formation). In addition, aspartic acid acts as a neurotransmitter that stimulates certain receptors in the nervous system.
Asparagine is necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system, and it also plays an important role in the synthesis of ammonia.
Semi-Essential or Conditionally Essential Amino Acids
These amino acids can be produced by the body in a certain amount, but in some circumstances this amount is not enough for normal physiological functioning, for example during illness or during intense training.
Serine is a proteinogenic amino acid that performs a number of biological functions in the body. It plays an important role in metabolism, enzymatic reactions and brain function.
Arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide. It reduces the recovery time after injuries, accelerates the healing of damaged tissues and helps to reduce and stabilize blood pressure.
Tyrosine is a proteinogenic amino acid that plays an important role in signaling in cells.
This amino acid has an extremely rigid structure, which is used to synthesize collagen, which is necessary to maintain the health of hair, skin and nails.
Ornithine plays a key role in urea biosynthesis, and is also believed to prevent fatigue during exercise. The urea cycle is a series of biochemical processes, as a result of which urea is formed to remove ammonia from the body.
Glutamine is one of the most popular semi-essential amino acids among athletes, which is involved in the regulation of acidity in the kidneys, the creation of cellular energy and the stimulation of muscle metabolism.
Cysteine plays an important role in enzymatic reactions in the body. It is believed that it takes part in the binding of metals, and is also a precursor of certain antioxidants.
The benefits and uses of amino acids
Now we will understand why amino acids are needed and to achieve what goals they are effective. Amino acids are an integral part of our body and the processes that occur in it daily. Maintaining the proper balance of amino acids through the use of supplements has shown great benefits for the body from stimulating muscle growth to improving the functions of the immune system.
Muscle Anabolism, Reduced Muscle Fatigue, and Helps in Muscle Recovery
The biggest benefits of amino acid supplements are their ability to stimulate muscle anabolism, restore muscle and prevent muscle fatigue.
Leucine, isoleucine, valine, asparagine, aspartic acid and glutamine are the 6 amino acids that are metabolized in the muscles at rest. They support numerous metabolic processes, for example, play the fundamental role of substrates for protein synthesis and energy production, and are also a precursor of glutamine and alanine.
During the first 10 minutes of exercise in the body, a reaction occurs with the participation of the enzyme alanine aminotransferase in order to maintain a high level of certain amino acids during training. Intermediates that form as a result of this reaction can cause fatigue. However, glutamine performs a number of functions in the body that allow it to be used as a food source, therefore glutamine supplements are able to increase muscle energy and the level of muscle metabolism during training.
These useful properties of supplements with amino acids make them ideal not only for bodybuilders, but also for runners, sprinters, as well as for people leading an active lifestyle.
In 2000, an experiment was conducted to determine the response of muscle protein to the intake of amino acids. Six men and women consumed a drink containing 6 g of essential amino acids or a placebo drink, 1 hour after training. Those who took the amino acids showed an increase in phenylalanine levels, which did not occur among those who took the placebo. This increase caused an anabolic response in the muscles, so it was concluded that amino acids stimulate protein anabolism and protein synthesis in the muscles.
In addition, in 2003, one of the scientific reviews said that an increased concentration of leucine in the body can stimulate the synthesis of muscle protein in a catabolic state caused by food restrictions or tedious workouts.
Amino Acids for Weight Loss
Amino acids are useful not only for those who want to build muscle and improve their recovery, but they are also shown as a means of helping to lose weight. In one study, 2 groups of people were observed who wanted to lose weight and change body composition. The first group used a diet high in amino acids, and the second low.
After 16 days, it was found that the group taking the larger amount of amino acids lost significantly more fat and less muscle mass than the other. In general, the evidence suggests that a diet with a high protein and amino acid content and low carbohydrate content provides greater fat loss while maintaining protein in the body.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body is not able to effectively regulate blood sugar levels and produce insulin. When we consume carbohydrates, the glucose level in the body rises. In diabetes, the body is not able to properly produce insulin to return sugar levels to normal, resulting in hyperglycemia. Amino acids have a positive effect on blood sugar. For example, arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, a transmission substance that has a direct effect on insulin sensitivity.
Inflammation and arthritis
Another useful property of amino acids is that they can reduce the activity of inflammatory processes in the body. One study in 1973 proved that amino acid esters and sulfur-containing amino acids, including cysteine and methionine, are effective anti-inflammatory agents that can reduce the effects of edema and anaphylactic shock, and even reduce inflammation and improve the condition with adjuvant -induced arthritis.
The immune system
Although this may be news to you, a deficiency in dietary protein or amino acids weakens the functions of the immune system and increases susceptibility to disease. In particular, modern studies show that arginine, glutamine and cysteine play an important role in the functioning of the immune system. For example, these amino acids participate in the activation of various lymphocytes, natural killer cells and macrophages, interfere with the redox regulation of cellular functions, gene expression and lymphocyte proliferation, and also affect the production of antibodies, cytokines and other cytotoxic substances. Today, scientists conclude that supplements containing a specific set of amino acids can improve the immune system and reduce morbidity and mortality.
Recent studies prove that supplements with amino acids can increase fertility. For example, 132 men with impaired fertility participated in one such study. For 3 months they took supplements with amino acids and trace elements. The control group was a group of 73 men with reduced fecundity (subfertility) who took a placebo. All the results of the study of the test group showed a significant improvement in the area of conception, compared with the control group. Within 6 months after the completion of the experiment, 34 cases of conception were recorded in the group of men taking supplements.
I hope you no longer have any questions why amino acids are needed, if any, you can always ask a question in the comments.
Amino Acid Supplements
If you get all the necessary nutrients with food, then you may not need supplements. However, it is worth remembering that during training, the body's need for amino acids increases, so if you exercise a lot and want to build muscle or lose weight, then most likely you will need supplements. There are many options for amino acids, go to any store, they can be in powder form, in the form of tablets or capsules.
Amino acids in powder
Amino acids in powder form come in a variety of flavors, so you can easily add them to your favorite juice or water.
Amino Acids in Tablets
You don’t have a minute of free time and you need to urgently take a daily dose of amino acids? Supplements in the form of tablets are ideal for such situations.
Keep in mind that the role of amino acids in sports nutrition is very large, the more they are, the better. It makes no sense to take a high-carb gainer, it’s easier to buy a kilo of sugar and mix it with protein, it will be cheaper.
How to take amino acids?
Amino acid supplements are best taken in the morning, before exercise, after exercise, and before bedtime to reduce muscle fatigue and maximize muscle anabolism and recovery.
How to take amino acids of one kind or another is always indicated on the bank. For example, BCAAs are best taken in the morning after waking up, before and after training. Use complex amines between main meals, as well as before and after training. For the proper consumption of the remaining species, it is necessary to consider what other supplements you consume.
We hope that the article was useful to you, and you answered the question whether you need supplements with amino acids. They are vital during training, and also if you do not get enough amino acids for the body from food. Supplements with amino acids will help you prevent injuries and achieve your fitness goals.