ALL WOMEN NUTRITION

AMINO ACIDS

What To Know

Amino Acids Terms

Top 10 Benefits Of Amino Acids

Amino Acids – Types & How They Help

Amino Acid Terms

AMINO ACIDS

Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.

When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body uses amino acids to make proteins.  Proteins help the body:

  • Break down food
  • Grow
  • Repair body tissue
  • Make Hormones and Brain Chemicals
  • Provide A Source Of Energy
  • Helps Maintain Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails
  • Build Muscle
  • Boost Immune System
  • Help With Digestive Health
  • Perform many other body functions

Amino acids can also be used as a source of energy by the body.

Amino acids are classified into two groups:

  • Essential amino acids
  • Nonessential amino acids

Amino Acids Can Also Be Grouped Into These:

  • Conditional amino acids
  • Branched-Chain Amino Acids
ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
  • The body cannot make essential amino acids. As a result, they must come from food.
  • The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
NONESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

Nonessential means that our bodies can produce the amino acid, even if we do not get it from the food we eat. Nonessential amino acids include:

Alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

CONDITIONAL AMINO ACIDS
  • Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in illness and stress.
  • Conditional amino acids include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
  • An example of conditional amino acids – Arginine is categorized as nonessential, but your body can’t make as much as it needs when healing from an injury or fighting a disease.  Another example is when you are pregnant, certain aminos (including glycine and arginine) are considered conditionally essential because an expecting mother needs more of these amino acids than their body can produce.  These aminos help to support the health of the mother and the unborn child.
PROTEINS

Proteins are the building blocks of life.  Every cell in the human body contains protein.  The basic structure of a protein is a chain of amino acids.  

We all need protein to help our body repair and make new cells.

Top 10 Benefits of Amino Acids

ENERGY

Isoleucine and Valine are Great Sources of Energy to Fuel Your Body

LEAN MUSCLE GROWTH

Isoleucine and valine assist with healthy muscle function, while leucine works to repair muscles. These amino acids are good for healthy, toned muscles and improved muscle function. In addition, there is significant evidence that Glutamine can help speed muscle recovery after intense physical activity.

REGULATING DIGESTION

Your body produces histamine to help your digestive system work properly. You need histidine to help generate histamine.

REGULATING HEALTHY SLEEP/WAKE CYCLES

Erratic sleep habits caused by issues such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and stress, can take a toll on your overall health. Histidine and tryptophan help you maintain normal circadian rhythms for a good night’s sleep.

STRENGTHENING IMMUNE SYSTEM

Want to stay healthy all year? Histidine, lysine, and threonine can help boost immunity so your body is in a better position to fight off viruses.

NEUROTRANSMITTER PRODUCTION

These chemicals are the nervous system’s way of communicating with the body, regulating everything from appetite to mood. Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Phenylalanine are the biosynthetic precursors for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine

BOOSTING HAIR/SKIN/NAILS HEALTH

Collagen and elastin keep your complexion looking soft, supple, and youthful. These two proteins also encourage hair and nail growth. The amino acids, Lysine, glycine, and proline assist with collagen production, while proline, glycine, desmosine, and isodesmosine help make elastin.

HORMONE PRODUCTION

Amino acids such as lysine are useful for maintaining healthy hormone levels. Amino acids help form and regulate hormones, including epinephrine and norepinephrine, which oversee the body’s stress response.  Other hormones that are derived from amino acids include:  catecholamines, serotonin, melatonin, thyroxine, and triiodothyronine (thyroid hormones)

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

The amino acid Methionine governs our metabolic rate and can also help with detoxification, while threonine is key for metabolizing fat. 

MOOD BALANCE

Tryptophan jump-starts the production of serotonin, a hormone that’s essential for feeling happy and well-adjusted.  Tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine have been shown to have positive effects when used to help with mood disorders.

Amino Acid Types and How They Help

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

NON-ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

BRANCH CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

THE TYPES

For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing the amino acids that are categorized as “Proteinogenic.”

Technically, there are 2 categories that Proteinogenic Amino Acids fall into:

  1. Essential Amino Acids (9 Aminos)
  2. Non-Essential Amino Acids (11 Aminos)

When looking at amino acids from a sports nutrition or musculoskeletal perspective, you will find that a group of 3 Amino Acids (Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine) is referred to as Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).  These amino acids are called BCAAs because they have a molecular structure with a branch (where a central carbon atom is bound to three or more carbon atoms).  BCAAs are plentiful in your muscles; they stimulate muscle growth and provide energy during exercise.

VALINE (Essential) (Branched-Chain)

Valine is known for being a member of the Branched-Chain Amino Acid Group.

Valine in specific, has been shown to:

  • Improve Endurance
  • Stimulate Faster Muscle Recovery
  • Helps to Prevent or Reduce Muscle Breakdown
LEUCINE (Essential) (Branch-Chained)

Leucine is one of 3 Branched-Chain Amino Acids and is well-known for these benefits:

  • Managing Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
  • Assisting with Wound Repair
  • Helping Promote Healthy Skin
  • Playing a Vital Role in the Growth and Functioning of Bones and Muscles
ISOLEUCINE (Essential) (Branched-Chain)

A member of the Branched-Chain Amino Acid Group that is known for the following benefits:

  • Muscle & Skeletal Growth
  • Strengthening Immune System
  • Protein Metabolism
  • Fatty Acid Metabolism
  • Glucose Transportation
LYSINE (Essential)

Lysine has been shown to help your body absorb and retain calcium, form collagen, boost immune defenses, and reduce stress/anxiety.

METHIONINE (Essential)

Methionine may help nourish your hair, skin, and nails.  In addition, Methionine may help slow cell aging, protect cells from pollutants, help absorb nutrients, and aid in detoxifying heavy metals.

PHENYLALANINE (Essential)

Phenylalanine is involved in producing neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine) and melatonin.  

THREONINE (Essential)

Threonine has numerous associated benefits:

  • Maintaining Healthy Skin & Teeth
  • Production of Collagen & Elastin
  • Helps With Digestion and Metabolism
TRYPTOPHAN (Essential)

Tryptophan has been shown to help:

  • Improve Quality of Sleep
  • Reduce Signs of Depression and Anxiety
  • Increase Feelings of Well-Being
ASPARAGINE (Non-Essential)

Asparagine is a non-essential amino acid found to help break down toxic ammonia in cells.  Asparagine also helps with protein modification, maintaining balance within the central nervous system, liver protection, and also helps delay fatigue

ASPARTIC ACID (Non-Essential)

Aspartic Acid comes in two forms:

  1. L-Aspartic Acid
  2. D-Aspartic Acid

L-Aspartic Acid is responsible for encouraging the production of antibodies that support the function of the body’s immune system.

D-Aspartic acid is not used to synthesize proteins. It is typically found in the pituitary gland and is involved in regulating, releasing, and synthesis of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH).  LH is responsible for regulating when a woman’s ovaries release an egg during her menstrual cycle and encouraging sperm production in men.

ALANINE (Non-Essential)

Alanine has a host of health-related benefits associated:

  • May help your body use glucose more effectively
  • May help maintain healthy cholesterol levels
  • During fasting periods, it may help provide energy
  • May help with physical performance and muscle building
ARGININE (Non-Essential)

Arginine is well-known in the sports nutrition industry for its benefits in helping increase blood flow (to help with muscle pump).  In addition to Arginine’s ability to dilate and relax arteries, Arginine has been shown to help:

  • Heal Wounds
  • Assisting the Kidneys to remove waste from your body
  • Maintaining Immune and Hormone System Health
CYSTEINE (Non-Essential)

Cysteine is a building block of glutathione, where glutathione is often referred to as the “mother of all antioxidants.”

In addition to its ability to help produce glutathione, Cysteine has also been shown to help with the following:

  • Boosting Antioxidant Levels
  • Promotes Detoxification
  • Balancing Blood Sugar Levels
  • Supporting Digestive Health
  • Reducing/Improving Symptoms of Respiratory Conditions
  • Helps with Psychiatric Disorders
GLUTAMINE (Non-Essential)

Glutamine plays a vital role in several areas.  Glutamine is well-known for its benefits associated with:

  • Immune Health
  • Boosting Intestinal Health
  • Assists with Muscle Gain and Muscle Recovery
GLUTAMIC ACID

Glutamic Acid has been shown to be beneficial in the following areas:

  • Improving Memory and Focus
  • Boosting Immune System Health
  • Detoxification 
  • Digestive Health
  • Improving Athletic Performance
GLYCINE (Non-Essential)

Glycine has a laundry list of benefits.  Those benefits commonly associated are:

  • Helps Produce Glutathione
  • Helps Produce Creatine
  • Is the Main Amino Found in Collagen
  • May Help Improve Sleep Quality
  • May Help Protect Your Liver
  • May Help with Cardiovascular Health
  • May Help People with Type 2 Diabetes
  • May Help Reduce Muscle Loss
PROLINE (Non-Essential)

Proline, when combined with glycine, helps to synthesize collagen.  The other benefits associated with Proline are:

  • Helps Heal Wounds 
  • Boost Skin Health
  • Supports Digestive Health
  • May Fight Inflammation
  • Helps Improve Joint and Connective Tissue
SERINE (Non-Essential)

Serine is well-known for its impact on brain function and helps maintain a healthy central nervous system.  Other benefits associated with Serine are:

  • Neuroprotective 
  • Important for The Synthesis of Phosphatidylserine
  • May Help Reduce Stress
  • Helps Improve Sleep Quality
  • May Help Fight Fibromyalgia
  • Strengthens Immune System
TYROSINE (Non-Essential)

Tyrosine is found in all tissues of the body and has several other very important benefits:

  • Produces Enzymes
  • Produces Thyroid Hormones
  • Produces Melanin
  • Important in the Product of the Neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine
  • May help Improve Mental Alertness

Choosing The Right Amino Acid Product

THERE ARE 20 AMINOS DO I NEED ALL OF THEM?

Great Question!!! 

Technically speaking, BCAAs are EAAs…but not all of them.  BCAAs are only 3 Amino Acids, whereas EAAs are 9 Amino Acids.

The answer depends on your goal(s) and your diet.  If your main objective is to add lean muscle mass and your diet ensures you get enough protein, the better choice is to go with a product with BCAAs.  EAAs and BCAAs support exercise endurance and muscle-building, but with a BCAA-only product, you will only have the aminos responsible for muscle-building and repair.  

EAAs do indeed include BCAAs plus the other 6 Essential Amino Acids.  When looking for an Amino Acid product, look for an EAA that has the BCAAs in a 2:1:1 Ratio where you have 3g (Leucine), 1.5 (Valine), 1.5g (Isoleucine) plus the other 6 Non-Essential Aminos.

INGREDIENTS THAT I DON’T WANT?

Understanding the Supplement Facts Panel is very important.  When you are looking for a high-quality BCAA or EAA product, be sure that the BCAAs are in a “clinically preferred” 2:1:1 Ratio and that there are no fillers or binders (these are usually found in the “other ingredients” beneath the Supp Facts Panel.

Also, please ensure that the product you are purchasing does not have any ingredients you are allergic to.

TASTE MIGHT BE EVERYTHING FOR YOU

Let’s be real….if it tastes terrible, you will most likely not use the BCAA or EAA Product!!

However, if you LOVE-LOVE-LOVE how it tastes, you will look forward to taking your PWO!!  Make sure you find a BCAA/EAA Product you love, don’t settle, and don’t force yourself to choke it down.

There are hundreds of awesome flavors out there; most BCAA/EAA products will be fruity, refreshing, and light.  In many instances, when leucine is by itself, it gives off a very pungent smell and has a taste to match.  If a product is flavored well, you won’t be able to taste the pungent, sour flavor.  If you do, continue shopping for a better-tasting product = they’re out there!!

FIND ONE THAT YOU CAN DRINK ANYTIME OF DAY

First, please ensure you are not overdoing it and consuming a massive dose of BCAA/EAAs.  However, BCAA/EAAs can certainly be consumed at any point during the day.  You can consume them Pre/Intra/or Post Workout to help muscle growth and recovery. 

Find a BCAA/EAA that is palatable morning, noon, or night.  It’s a great idea to consume BCAA/EAAs first thing in the morning – as this can stop the catabolic process that you’ve most likely entered since sleeping all night.