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What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids play a critically important role in the body as the building blocks of protein. Altogether, there are 20 different amino acids found in protein in the body. Amino acids are conveniently broken down into two separate categories:
- Essential: Just like they sound, essential amino acids are essential to human health as they cannot be produced naturally by the body. There are 9 essential amino acids that must be consumed from food or supplements.
- Non-Essential: The 11 amino acids produced by the human body are considered non-essential. However, non-essential amino acids are still vital to health as they are manufactured by the breakdown of protein in the body or the breakdown of essential amino acids.
Protein-rich foods, like meat and dairy, and dietary supplements are leading sources of amino acids. Once consumed, the body uses amino acids as fuel, as well as to build protein. Amino acids also serve as a source of nitrogen and carbon for use in the biosynthesis of other biochemicals in the body.
Once protein is digested, it is further broken down in the digestive system into free amino acids. These amino acids are absorbed and circulated to the liver, where they can be used for fuel, protein building, or biosynthesis.
Amino acids are produced by the body and found in nature, making them safe to take in supplement form.
How do they work?
Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein in the body, nutritional supplements containing amino acids are popularly used by exercisers, weight lifters, and bodybuilders to support workout results.
Essential amino acid supplement blends are normally can be taken before, during and after exercise to improve protein synthesis and support muscle growth and mass.
This practice is confirmed by the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The ISSN recommends that exercisers consume protein or amino acids in small amounts with carbohydrates both before and after a workout to improve results.2
Many exercisers are pleased to find that Genesis Nutrition amino acid supplements can also support healthy weight loss as part of a regular exercise program. Different essential amino acids play a role in helping the body to naturally lose weight.
- Essential amino acids L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine work in conjunction to produce active amines like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine to communicate with the brain and stimulate weight loss. Epinephrine also helps to suppress the appetite.
- Essential amino acid L-Carnitine is unique in that it promotes weight loss by encouraging the body to metabolize fat for energy instead of storing it.
- L-Tryptophan is another essential amino acid that supports serotonin production to signal to the body that it is full.
You may have seen exercisers and weightlifters take amino acid supplements before and after an intense workout. The reason why? Essential amino acids that must be consumed from either food or supplements can provide a wide range of benefits to improve both exercise and weight loss results.
To paint a clearer picture, the team at Genesis Nutrition Australia has compiled a list of the top 3 advantages you’ll receive from taking an amino acid supplement:
- Increased muscle mass. As most weightlifters are familiar with, amino acids and protein are necessary to build muscle in a regular training program. In supplement form, amino acids can help to prevent muscle breakdown in all muscle groups, even in muscles that haven’t been trained.
- Decreased belly fat. If you’ve been dieting and exercising for months without tangible results, imbalanced nutrition could be to blame. As many exercisers can attest to, stubborn belly fat is often the last to go when it comes to total body weight loss. One of the safest and most effective ways to support abdominal fat loss is with an amino acid supplement, known to decrease belly fat without the use of stimulants. An amino acid supplement is best used with a low-calorie diet to provide greater results than the use of diet alone.
- Enhanced performance. Since amino acids can protect against and even reverse muscle deterioration, an amino acid supplement can help to build lean muscle mass. These results can noticeably increase weekly exercise performance, especially in endurance activities. A branched-chain amino acid supplement can improve oxygen efficiency in the body to allow you to train harder for longer.
What are the common types?
As we already covered, there are over 20 amino acids that are useful to the human body, 11 of which are non-essential. When shopping for amino acid supplements, you will typically see products broken down into two categories:
- Single Amino Acids: A number of amino acids are sold as individual supplements, including glutamine, arginine, tryptophan, and taurine. Each product will have its own benefits and recommendations that may improve your diet and exercise program. As stated above, some single amino acids can be used to provide weight loss results, like carnitine to stimulate energy production and trigger fat burning for daily energy.
- Mixed Amino Acids: Today, amino acids are popularly sold as cocktails or mixed supplements. A mixed amino acid supplement will contain multiple amino acids, like branched-chain amino acids, lysine, arginine, and ornithine. The use of amino acids in combination can help to enhance exercise performance, increase muscle mass, and reduce fatigue during exercise. Some amino acid cocktails can also trigger the body to release more human growth hormone to support increased muscle mass and size.
Amino Acid Supplements: Timing and Dosage
Depending upon whether a supplement contains single or mixed amino acids, timing and dosage may vary.
For a single amino acid supplement, manufacturers may state that one capsule can be taken one to two times throughout the day with water. An amino acid cocktail may come in the powdered form to mix with cold water to consume before, during, or after a workout.
For greater results, many amino acid supplements can be taken first thing in the morning or between meals. Amino acids can also be used as a pre-workout supplement to provide adequate fuel and a boost of energy when taken up to 30 minutes before training.
Additionally, an amino acid supplement can be taken for post-workout recovery directly after an exercise session. As with all Genesis Nutrition Supplements, please refer to the product label for appropriate usage instructions.
1. Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2008 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 26th Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology (2009). 47, 911-1084 2. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2(2): 63-67, 2005.
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