Do you ever hear people talk about something in passing or even directly and you nod your head in agreement but don’t really understand what exactly it is that is being talked about? Understanding what amino acids do is that type of subject. People talk about amino acids in a superficial way, understanding that they are important but not always understanding specifically why or even the precise function.
Of course if you are going to be taking something like an amino acid as a supplement it is very important that you truly understand the why and how behind them. Doing something blindly without reason is never a smart move. Plus if you have a better understanding of the importance then it makes it much more likely that you will utilize them properly to help you maximize the potential of your body during workouts.
What are they?
Basically amino acids are building blocks of the various proteins found within our body. There are 20 total amino acids we need. Of those we can naturally produce 10 and the rest need to come from foods or supplements. Those 10 are called the ‘essential amino acids’ because you have to ingest them and the body cannot create them.
They are involved in the metabolism of our bodies, form peptide and polypeptide chains, and are part of chemical reactions in various parts of the body that simply cannot happen without their presence. These chains are created each with a specific tailor made function within the body. They make up tissue, regulate water balance and internal pH, help move nutrients around, and form the base for chromosomes.
The essential amino acids can be found in high protein foods such as meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and beans. Meat sources include fish, chicken, pork, and red meat. You can take protein powder supplements along with branch chain amino acid supplements.
Amino acids can be used to help with things like ADD, depression, anxiety, and weight loss. For people involved in gaining muscle and strength the amino acids are essential to prevent muscle tissue breakdown and assist in muscle tissue repair and growth. That is the big key for most people who use supplements, having amino acids available to help with muscle growth.
How they work as supplements
Amino acids enter the liver and usually are directed from there based on immediate need. Some enter the blood while others get used to create enzymes. Specifically after a workout your body has an immediate need for amino acids to help with the processes of growth and recovery. But, eating a big meal with protein rich foods means the food has to be digested and broken down before it can hit the bloodstream and won’t be available before the window of time which they can be used closes.
Enter amino acids in a supplement like BCAA’s which then get metabolized right away because digestion is not required. They can move around quickly in the body and bee absorbed where needed. That in turn prevents the body breaking down muscle tissue for things that are needed.
So the bottom line is that by adding amino acids into your body right before and right after a workout, you provide extremely important building blocks your body is starved for in a format that is quickly accepted and used. They are truly the building blocks of muscle and you can’t expect to build the biggest muscles in the quickest amount of time if those blocks aren’t there for construction.