You may have heard health experts talk about amino acids before – but what do amino acids do and how could they benefit your body?
In short, amino acids are chains of organic compounds which help your body build up protein. They also play a part in other essential processes such as hormone production and certain brain functions.
There are around 20 different amino acids our bodies need to function and stay healthy.
Often nicknamed ‘the building blocks of muscle’, amino acids can be split into two main categories:
1. Essential amino acids
They can’t be produced by the body itself, so you have to gain essential amino acids through your diet, particularly food like eggs, poultry and red meat. Out of the 20 amino acids your body needs, only nine of them are essential.
2. Non-essential amino acids
These are the opposite of essential amino acids and can be made by the body itself. Nevertheless, some non-essential amino acids – known as conditionally-essential amino acids – can be lost if you exercise intensely or when you are sick.
What are BCAAs?
You might have heard of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) or seen them on the packets of some protein powders. They’re made up of three essential amino acids:
These are popular ingredients in a lot of supplements and are designed to boost muscle growth and improve overall fitness performance.
How do they work?
BCAAs, like other essential amino acids, aid your body in making protein and activate the enzymes responsible for creating muscle. Unlike other essential amino acids though, they’re usually processed directly in the muscles rather than in the liver. This allows them to give you an instant energy boost when you’re exercising and increase your muscle mass at a faster rate.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits of taking BCAAs supplements if you exercise regularly. Not only could you potentially build up muscle much quicker, but you’ll also have more energy and be able to fight off feelings of fatigue for longer. Some research additionally suggests that taking amino acid supplements when you work out may also reduce the likelihood of having sore muscles.
When should I take amino acid supplements?
If you’re considering taking amino acids supplements to help boost your fitness performance or increase muscle mass, you’ll typically consume them either as tablets, a powder or in a bar before, during or after you exercise. Read the packet of your chosen supplements closely to see when the optimum time to eat, drink or swallow them is.
What is the correct dosage?
The amount of amino acids you take will vary depending on your individual goals and needs, as well as your chosen supplement. If you’re unsure whether they’re right for you or about the correct dosage, speak to a healthcare or fitness expert for tailored advice.
Do amino acids help you lose weight?
While it’s best to obtain all the amino acids you need naturally through food, it can be beneficial to take supplements if you have specific fitness goals. Speak to a medical professional if you have any further queries and always read the ingredients and dosage recommendations if you decide to start taking one of our amino acids supplement.
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Last updated: 20 March 2020