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What Are Amino Acids?

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We are inundated with advertisements for all types of powders and capsules that offer amino acids. While we all are aware of the importance of protein to build muscle mass, do you actually know the fundamental concept behind amino acids and how they are present in the body?

Amino acids are fundamentally the foundation of protein and muscle tissue. These natural macronutrients help the body with a number of significant health benefits. And play a pivotal role in many bodily processes such as brain function, mood, muscle repair and energy levels.

In the bodybuilding world, amino acids help prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue and also stimulate the release of the human growth hormone.

The bottom line… If you are training, you should be taking amino acids.

So Why Do I need to take Amino acids?

In total there are 23 amino acids that are present in the body. Of these 23, nine have to be obtained from our own nutritional intake and are referred to as indispensable amino acids. The remaining number can actually be extracted by the body from the nine essential amino acids itself. These nine amino acids include:

• Isoleucine
• Leucine
• Lysine
• Methionine
• Phenylaline
• Threonine
• Tryptophan
• Valine

Amino acids play so many roles in the body and if you are not having enough of them, then you are not going to see any gains.

Typically, the body gets the required amino acids it needs by eating various meets, vegetables and having protein shakes.

Protein shakes and tablets are one of the most common forms of getting these essential nutrients into the body as they offer the maximum bioavailability.

Bioavailability is the amount that can be delivered to the body and sometimes high cooking temperatures and the way foods are prepared can affect the delivery of these important nutrients, so its critical for you to supplement this alongside your diet.

Supplementation when it comes to amino acids can help massively and if you are looking at options of what to take, then we would recommend BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids). Most supplements will contain many of the 23 amino acids mentioned earlier, but these three are the most important as the three of them together can help make up one third of your total muscle protein.

When should I take amino acids?

The first question we always get asked is what type of amino should you take – its always best to avoid powders and drinks and go for the tablet form.

The best time to take amino acids is before and straight after you have worked out. Once the muscle has been put under stress it is more receptive and can absorb nutrients more readily.

Studies have shown that taking these prior to your workout reduces fatigue on lifts and also helps prevent the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle stiffness). Alongside this added benefit, BCAA’s cause the breakdown of leucine, isoleucine and valine from your liver which is then sent to your muscles for protein synthesis.

Additional Resources

Amino Acids Explained – Mensfitness.co.uk
Amino Acids Guide – Bodybuilding.com

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