Most people will have heard of amino acids, but do you know what they are?
They occur naturally in and out of the body and are an essential part of a healthy diet, so it is vital to learn as much as possible about them to ensure that you are getting enough of them.
Amino acids are organic compounds with many 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 be generated in the body. In other words, you need to make sure that you get these amino acids from supplements or food so that your body can get all the essential help it needs with the growth and maintenance of your skin, muscles, and organs, to name just a few.
Humans cannot produce nine amino acids for themselves: lysine, threonine, valine, phenylalanine, histidine, leucine, tryptophan, methionine, 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 be created naturally within the body, which means that taking supplements is not as necessary to ensure that you get all the benefits these organic compounds offer.
However, sometimes you cannot absorb the amino acids that your body is producing correctly, 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 packed full of them.
If you are serious about your exercise and 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 you may not be aware of how vital amino acids can also be to get you to gain 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 several ways:
1- Muscle gain
Yes, amino acids can help you gain muscle quickly 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 the definition you have been striving for.
2- Reduction in recovery times
Because of how amino acids react with the acids released during exercise, taking them can reduce the time it takes you to recover after even the most strenuous workouts.
You will often ache and be sore after a run, an intense weight-lifting session, or a dance class.
However, by taking amino acid supplements before or during your workout, 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 your muscles suffered during your exercise session.
3- Mood improvement
As well as having a physical effect on your body, amino acids can have a physiological impact 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 motivate you to exercise in the first place, or they can help you if you are generally feeling a bit down.
Often for mild cases of depression, patients are told to take amino acid supplements, so if you 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, there have been links between taking amino acid supplements and losing body fat – particularly in the abdominal area.
However, only recently have scientific studies established that this link is causal. Several different amino acids have been proven to help you burn body fat completely naturally:
Leucine, valine and soleucine
When taken together, these three amino acids (often referred to as the BCAAs) can help increase your metabolism, which, of course, increases the number of calories your body burns over a certain period, helping you burn your body fat without having to break a sweat.
You may well have come across creatine if you are interested in bodybuilding since it is often used in various sports supplements to help build muscle and boost energy levels.
It has also recently been linked to assisting people in developing 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 regular 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 you must take it as a supplement.