What Are They?
These are organic compounds made of the elements of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon. There exist more than 500 amino acids, but only 23 are used for protein synthesis, and the body cannot synthesize nine among them from other compounds. Below is the list of the nine amino acids:
Amino acids are classified into essential (not synthesized by the body) to non-essential ones (synthesized by the body). Sometimes it’s hard to synthesize the non-essential amino acids due to exterior factors such as toxins.
Are the Supplements Important?
The answer is yes. Most of the amino acids are not available in “natural foods” and can only be supplied as supplements. The other reason is that we cannot consume enough of these amino acids from whole foods and it would be expensive to extract them. In simple terms, if your diet is not giving you the right balance of amino acid, you need to opt for amino acid supplements.
The most common amino supplements used by athletes include:
Isoleucine, leucine, and valine are grouped together to form branched-chain amino acids which are directly absorbed by the muscle tissues and the blood. This is because they are not regulated by the liver or the gut.
Who are they for?
Amino acid supplements are recommended for people who are training hard and not eating. Training under “fasted” state will wear out your proteins more than the one being synthesized. It is recommended to be taken in the mid-morning.
5g per hour is recommended during training in the form of powder or pills. It is recommended to take 100mg/Kg of your bodyweight before you do heavy squats. This significantly reduces post-workout muscle soreness.
They are involved in the reduction of muscle glutamine during high-intensity training. Its supplementation improves nitrogen balance and muscle recovery. Glutamine is use by the cells for immunity. It also improves glycogen levels.
An athlete requires consuming 2-5g of glutamine every day since the intestines mostly use it as an energy source unlike being absorbed in the blood.
Lysine is one of the essential amino acids, and it should not be taken in isolation. Lysine helps in the release of growth hormones which improves muscle recovery and repair. It increases absorption of calcium by the intestines which improves the strength of the bones.
Athletes are recommended to take between 1-3g on a daily basis during the time they are training. A sedentary person is recommended to take 800-3,000mg of Lysine every day.
Aspartate is used to mitigate the accumulation of ammonia in muscles during exercise; to enhance fatty acid metabolism, and to spare muscle glycogen utilization. They help to increase the endurance of athletes.
The inadequacy of this amino acid will lead to a compromise in optimal physical performance. Taking a dose of 150mg/Kg of body weight 30 minutes before a workout increases plasma tyrosine levels.
This is a non-essential sulphur-containing amino acid and mostly contained in many energy drinks.
It promotes antioxidant activities and rhythmic heart contraction. It also influences cardiac parameters such as increased strokes during recovery after a workout.
It is a precursor of serotonin which is a brain transmitter believed to suppress pain. Tryptophan is used to numb the pain experienced during intense training. It will also induce some sleepiness if you take it at night.
It is a precursor of histamine, and it is rich in antioxidant properties. It plays a key role in carnosine synthesis.
Histamine helps in fighting or eliminating free radicals produced during exercise that damage the cells. Carnosine is involved in eliminating the burnt muscles and enhances rejuvenation of muscle cells.
It promotes nitric oxide synthesis and also increases blood flow to the muscles. Therefore, the muscle has enough oxygen required for rapid respiration.
It is a constituent of several proteins, and it is converted to tyrosine once degraded in the body. It acts as a precursor to the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
The above-outlined amino acids can be used singly or in combination.