Most people will have heard of amino acids, but do you really know what they are? The occur naturally both in and out of the body and are an essential part of a healthy diet, so it is important to learn as much as possible about them to ensure that you are getting enough of them.
Amino acids are organic compounds which have a multitude of different uses and can help you gain muscle, repair tissue and even burn body fat.
The different types of amino acids
There are two types of amino acids most commonly referred to as ‘essential’ amino acids and ‘non essential’ amino acids.
Essential amino acids
Essential amino acids cannot actually be generated in the body. In other words, you need to make sure that you get these amino acids from supplements or from food so that your body can get all the essential help that it needs with growth and maintenance of your skin, muscles and organs, to name just a few.
There are actually nine amino acids that humans cannot produce for themselves, namely: lysine, threonine, valine, phenylalanine, histidine, leucine, tryptophan, methioninen and isoleucine. If you are looking for amino acid supplements to help take care of your body, make sure that you look for these, as the rest are not as essential because your body can synthesize them naturally.
Non essential amino acids
In direct contrast to essential amino acids, non essential amino acids can actually be created naturally within the body, which means that it is not as important to take supplements to make sure that you are getting all the benefits that these organic compounds offer.
However, sometimes you cannot absorb the amino acids that your body is producing properly, so it can be a good idea to make sure that you benefit as much as possible by taking supplements and eating the right foods that contain the five non essential amino acids: serine, alanine, asparagines, glutamic acid and aspartic acid.
What can amino acids do?
There are many benefits to taking amino acids regularly or eating foods that are packed full of them. If you are serious about your exercise and your weight lifting, for instance, you will already know how important it is to take in as much protein as possible to help gain and maintain muscle.
But what you may not be aware of is how important amino acids can also be to get you gaining more muscle quicker. Lots of products that are packed full of extra protein such as protein shakes and bars also contain plenty of amino acids because these, in conjunction with the expected protein, can help your exercise regime in a number of ways:
1- Muscle gain
Yes, amino acids can actually help you gain muscle quicker and retain it for longer even if you have to skip out on the gym for a few days. They are a vital ingredient in the growth of muscles and will help you get that definition that you have been striving for.
2- Reduction in recovery times
Because of the way amino acids react with the acids that are released during exercise, taking them can actually reduce the time that it takes you to recover after even the most strenuous of work outs. Often, you will ache and be sore after a run, an intense weight lifting session or just a dance class.
However, by taking amino acid supplements before or during your work out, you will feel the difference the next day when you do not feel sore because the amino acids have already set about repairing the damage that your muscles have suffered during your exercise session.
3- Mood improvement
As well as having a physical affect on your body, amino acids can have a physiological affect on your mind. Naturally occurring amino acids can act as mood stabilizers in your body, which means that taking amino acid supplements can help to give you a natural boost if you are feeling down.
This can either get you motivated to get exercising in the first place or they can help you if you are just generally feeling a bit down. Often for mild cases of depression, patients are told to take amino acid supplements, so if you just need a natural mood boost, this is the perfect solution.
But can amino acids help you lose body fat?
Perhaps the most important use of amino acids is in losing body fat. For many years now there have been links made between the taking of amino acid supplements and the loss of body fat – particularly about the abdominal area. However, it is only recently that scientific studies have actually established that this link is causal. There are a number of different amino acids that have actually been proven to help you burn body fat completely naturally:
Leucine, valine and soleucine
When taken together, these three amino acids (often referred to together as the BCAAs) can help increase your metabolism which, of course, increases the number of calories that your body burns over a certain period of time, helping you burn your body fat without having to break a sweat.
You may well have come across creatine if you are interested in body building, since it is often used in various sport supplements to help build muscle and boost energy levels. It has also recently been linked to helping people develop leaner muscle mass with no reduction in strength.
Finally, lysine is well known amongst the amino acids for its ability to help you burn even more fat as you exercise. By adding a lysine supplement to your protein shake, for instance, and doing your normal exercise regime, you will soon realize that, on average, you are losing more weight than when you do not take the supplement. The body cannot produce this amino acid, meaning that you have to take it as a supplement.