Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissues. Amino acids also play a critical role in many physiological processes like muscle size and strength gains, brain function, mood swings, energy production, and recovery after a workout.
Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids
In all, there are 23 amino acids. Nine of these are classified as indispensable amino acids (IAA) and are usually called “essential amino acids.” What this means is that your body cannot manufacture them: you have to get them from food.
The remaining 14 amino acids are classified as dispensable amino acids (DAA) and are usually called “non-essential amino acids.” What this means is that your body can manufacture them by synthesizing other amino acids. You don’t need to get them from food.
Supplementing with BCAA’s can help boost your performance by helping you work out longer and harder to stimulate gains, and they will also help you recover faster to support muscle growth
What You Need to Know about Protein Consumption
We get amino acids when we eat protein foods. We get protein by consuming meats, dairy products, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. With all these abundant sources of amino acid available to us, why do we need to buy protein powders and amino acid supplements?
The answer is bioavailability, which is the amount of available amino acids we can derive from a protein source.
Here are four critical factors that reduce the bioavailability in foods:
- The amount of fat in the protein source. While whole milk, for example, has plenty of protein, it also has less bioavailable protein than a food with less fat.
- The amount of cooking. Cooking often decomposes many amino acids.
- The form of food. Is the food solid or liquid?
- The efficiency of our digestive systems. Health, age, genetics, and other factors affect how well we can absorb the amino acids in food.
Since these four factors are difficult to control, bodybuilders take easy-to-digest protein powders and amino acid supplements to make sure that they are getting enough protein to rebuild the muscle tissue that they tear down after a great workout.
Here are some guidelines to increase your protein intake:
- Don’t substitute protein powders, bars, and tablets for regular meals high in protein. Be sure to also eat regular meals.
- Choose protein powders and bars that have a good selection of amino acids, particularly the nine essential amino acids.
- If you are using a free form amino acid supplement, get one that has a high dosage of the branch chain amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
- Take a protein supplement, such as 10X Athletic Vegan BCAAs, immediately after a workout, ideally within 30 minutes of your workout. It is at this time that the body is most receptive to an inflow of amino acids. Whey protein is an example of a fast-digesting protein powder.
- Eat a balanced meal high in protein about two hours after your protein drink.
By understanding the role amino acids play in helping you achieve your fitness goals, you will be able to make better choices on how to feed your body to build muscle, increase strength, and lose fat.