Amino acids are commonly referred to as the “building blocks of protein.” There are nine “essential” amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own and must get from food. There are 11 other non-essential amino compounds.
Leucine, isoleucine, and valine make up a class of essential amino acids called Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are known to increase muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle breakdown, aid in recovery, and reduce feelings of fatigue. While BCAA supplements are certainly the most common, comprehensive EAA supplementation that includes a blend of all nine aminos are becoming increasingly popular.
How do I use amino acids?
BCAA Supplements typically need a ratio of 2 leucine, 1 isoleucine, and 1 valine to be effective. Most BCCAs will recommend 6-20 grams. BCAAs are normally a powder that is mixed into cold water. Many amino supplements will have multiple levels. Pre-workout aminos are usually the highest dosage, followed by post-workout, and then finally a daily low-dose. Depending on the product, this is often 1-3 scoops of powder dissolved in water.
Aminos can be taken before, during, and after workouts. BCAA or EAAs are often powdered or pre-mixed drinks that come in both low and no calorie options. They are usually sweet and can satisfy a craving for a soda or energy drink that many people face during and after workouts. They help you stay hydrated and reduce fatigue in your workout.
Many people find eating before workouts to be uncomfortable. Drinking amino acids can help support your body by keeping it hydrated and reducing fatigue that you might otherwise face on an empty stomach. Because amino acids are the building blocks for protein, they help support your muscles and prevent breakdown similarly to how eating a bigger protein-heavy meal would.
Aminos for Muscle Growth
BCAAs are important for muscle growth as well. Specifically, leucine is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to kickstart muscle growth. Leucine also boosts insulin levels that are known to further increase protein synthesis. On the opposite hand, BCAAs is known to lower with cortisol, a hormone that is thought to promote muscle breakdown and interferes with testosterone levels.
Aminos for Fat Loss
Although the research on using amino acids for fat loss is limited, there are certain studies that suggest that this supplement helps with that goal too. The working theory is that leucine stimulates protein synthesis to the point where your body is using so much energy creating proteins that it needs to burn off fat in the process. It is also thought the reduce hunger, which leads to fat loss.
Aminos for Endurance
Amino acids are great for reducing fatigue, which makes them a good supplement for endurance athletes. In addition, they help reduce muscle breakdown, which helps to reduce “perceived exertion,” or how hard it feels like you’re working. Endurance athletes are not only those who run marathons but also those who work out for long periods of time, such as marathon-like weightlifting runs.
Before Physique Shows
The 4-6 weeks before any physique competition are dedicated to dropping calories and sweets while increasing your cardio. BCAA supplements are a low or no-calorie way to stay hydrated and reduce muscle breakdown before a show. They’re also important for reducing fatigue, which can increase dramatically when you’re working harder than ever before a show.
Amino acids are an important supplement for many fitness goals. They can be taken just after waking up to promote muscle synthesis, before working out to reduce muscle fatigue, or after working out to aid in recovery. They are often sweet and tasty, low in calories, and can be mixed into plain cold water. Whether you choose to go with the tried and true BCAAs or invest in the newer EAA blends, amino acids will help to boost your workout results.