Gym goers and bodybuilders educate themselves thoroughly about food and nutrition, and they know a lot beyond the basic information on carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Almost all fitness seekers take supplements to achieve the desired body.
With various types and mixtures of supplements available today, it is too difficult for a beginner in the fitness world to gauge all of it at one go. So today, let’s talk about one such type of supplement that is important for your body, and that is amino acids.
Amino acid supplements, also known as EAAs or BCAAs, are quite frequently used by athletes and bodybuilders. This kind of supplement builds muscle, relieves you from muscle stress and helps in healing torn muscles.
BCAAs are also beneficial in treating various issues related to your liver. If you are not lifting weights or performing high-intensity exercises, it is not advisable to consume extra amino acid supplements as your diet would provide enough amino acids.
What exactly are amino acids?
The essential nutrient for muscle building, protein is made up of a long chain of amino acids, which are thus named as the building blocks of life. Amino acids are broken down by your body from the consumed protein into individual aminos and are either converted into energy or used to repair torn tissues or simply help with growth. Amino acids are responsible for the growth and maintenance of bones, skin, and muscles.
But if you have just begun a weight training and would also like to start taking amino acid supplements, it is advisable to educate yourself first. Here are three things you need to consider before starting to take amino acid supplements:
#1 The types of amino acids
First of all, amino acids are primarily categorized into two groups: proteinogenic amino acids, which form proteins, and non-proteinogenic amino acids, which do not form protein. For us, it is important to learn more about the proteinogenic amino acids, which are further divided into three groups: essential, non-essential and conditional.
The essential type is not produced by the body, but is crucial for body growth and thus needs to be obtained through food or additional supplements. The non-essential type is also crucial for your health, but is produced by your body on its own, so you don’t really need to worry about your intake.
The third type, conditional amino acids, can be optimally produced by your body, but this will not be enough if you use them up more than usual. In this case, again, you need to consume supplements.
These three contain a total of 20 types of amino acids, and the essential amino acids carry nine types. The final three types of amino acids among the nine, which are the most important, are known as BCAAs.
These make almost half of the muscle tissue and are known as leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are not produced by your body and hence need to be taken in the form of food or supplements. Food items such as meat, eggs, soya, and dairy contain a higher amount of amino acids.
#2 EAA (Essential Amino Acids) and BCAA supplements
BCAA and EAA supplements differ because BCAAs only carry three types of amino acids as mentioned above, whereas EAA supplements carry all nine essential kinds. It’s important to understand the difference between EAA and BCAA supplements before you decide which one best suits your needs.
In any case, studies have shown that amino acid supplements work three times more effectively compared to whey protein, which has caused an uproar in the fitness world.
In the end, neither EAA nor BCAA supplements are a replacement for whey protein, but you can make your own choices depending on your age, weight, body type, and training intensity—and even opt for a combination if you’re a professional athlete or bodybuilder.
Amino acid supplements are also beneficial for the elderly as they tend to suffer from muscle loss. For older people and aspiring bodybuilders, an EAA supplement with a higher amount of leucine is advised because of its muscle-building potential.
#3 The best time to consume an amino acid supplement
It is advisable to consume amino acid supplements twice a day, by splitting them into equal portions of the recommended dosage. They’re more beneficial if taken between meals.
For bodybuilders, taking it in between meals or after a workout is advantageous.
If taken in between meals, muscle wasting is prevented, which is beneficial for the elderly.
If you are an athlete who runs long marathons or competes in obstacle races, taking 10 grams of EEA supplement intra workout can provide anabolic support for muscle recovery during the activity.
Another dosage of around 5 to 10 grams of the same supplement is recommended post-workout as it helps in producing anabolic reactions.
Possible Concerns Regarding Supplemental Amino Acids
Now that you have known the essential factors regarding amino acid supplements, there are a few warnings and precautions that you should consider before you start consuming them.
- Common side effects such as nausea or headache might occur in rare cases.
- BCAA supplements should not be consumed while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Consumption of BCAAs should also be avoided before or after any surgery as it can imbalance your blood sugar levels, because leucine triggers the pancreas to increase the insulin level.
- If you are diagnosed with chronic alcoholism, you should not take BCAAs.
- Check with your trusted health practitioner before taking any supplement, especially if you are even a little skeptical about it.
- Overconsumption of BCAA supplements can aggravate ketoaciduria, which is a metabolic disorder.
- It might also cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells.
Now that you have learned the basic definition, types and artificial forms of amino acids, you are ready to make your choices depending on your needs and lifestyle.
It’s always important that you stay updated with any kind of information regarding what you put into your body so that you can ensure that it’s safe and beneficial. You should not forget to check the warnings and precautions, and if still unsure, we strongly recommend that you consult your doctor before purchasing any products.