Amino acids have been studied for centuries and the last of the 20 was discovered by William Cumming Rose. These amino acids as supplements may successfully help boost athletic performance, build strength, support the muscles, fortify connective tissue and promote healthy metabolism. You may want to consider taking essential amino acids if you’re looking to build metabolism or build strength. Taking essential acids as a supplement may help make up for the amino acids that the body doesn’t create so that you are able to live an overall healthy lifestyle.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are molecules that contain carbon and they are the building blocks of protein. Together in the body, they form chains that eventually become protein molecules. Proteins work as structural support to the cells in our bodies and help build muscles and nutrients and repair damaged tissue. According to research, these supplements may successfully build strength, promote healthy metabolism and support connective tissue.
Short for α-amino (alpha-amino) carboxylic acids, amino acids fill your body and support several different functions in the muscles, bones and throughout the body to maintain overall health. How many amino acids actually fill the body? Our bodies use 20 different types of amino acids. They are categorized into three groups:
Roles of the Essential Amino Acids
Now that you know the difference between the amino acid categories, let’s take a look at the essential amino acids individually and how each of them functions:
What are BCAAs?
What are Essential Amino Acids Used for?
Supporting Muscle Development
Essential amino acids, unlike other amino acids, are the only ones that promote and maintain muscle development. The body has an increased need for essential amino acids during endurance exercise, especially strength and power exercises. When the body is at rest, it goes through catabolism, which breaks down more muscle protein than it builds up. Protein-building, on the other hand, is called anabolism. Anabolism increases during resistance exercise but only if there are enough nutrients present.
Studies suggest that exercise combined with EAA supplements may improve muscle repair and muscle growth, especially in athletes. In another study, the supplements may have helped athletes recover from muscle fatigue after exercise faster and during a 12-week strength training program, leucine specifically improved strength drastically. Other studies suggest that essential amino acids may build up muscles during periods of reduced physical activity. According to research, taking essential amino acids regularly may even extend the lifespan and support immune function.
Improving Mood & Sleep
Managing Appetite & Weight
Amino acids activate the brain cells that control hunger and satiety. This may be an effective tool for weight management. Taking essential amino acids as a supplement may help regulate these sensations in the brain, potentially reducing hunger and increasing satiety. According to studies, leucine specifically may help suppress hunger and manage food intake. However, EAA supplements do not cure or treat any specific disease on their own. Instead their properties may support the body’s natural processes.
Why Take Essential Amino Acid Supplements?
Essential amino acids complete protein synthesis and work to promote functions in the body that aid in muscle repair, muscle growth, mood and sleep quality. The body needs all essential amino acids for proper protein synthesis and because your body does not make them naturally, it’s important to get them from outside sources, either food or supplements.
Taking them as supplements may allow you to control the amount of essential amino acids the body receives and may help you use them for specific purposes, such as exercise and athletic performance. However, it is always important to consult a doctor before adding EAAs or any other supplement to your health regimen.
How to Take EAA Supplements
If you’re using them for exercise specifically, you may be wondering when to take EAA supplements. Studies suggest that they are most effective following or prior to a workout, specifically between one and three hours before or after.
Food Sources for Essential Amino Acids
An alternative to taking essential amino acids as supplements is taking them in the food you eat everyday. When we eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids, which is why it’s important to have a protein-rich diet. Some researchers suggest eating multiple small meals throughout the day that contain protein to eventually break down into amino acids. According to research, one of the most rare amino acids found in food is tryptophan. Here are a few food sources that essential amino acids are found in:
Possible Side Effects of EAA Supplements
Usually patients tolerate essential amino acids well if they are taken in normal doses. However, it’s important to consult a doctor before taking them because they can cause unwanted side effects and complications in pre-existing medical conditions including:
Side Effects of BCAAs
Branched chain amino acids—valine, leucine and isoleucine—may possibly cause their own set of side effects, including fatigue and loss of coordination. They may also negatively affect blood sugar levels.
Other Warnings & Precautions
Make sure to consult a doctor before adding amino acids to your everyday diet to ensure the supplement is right for you. Side effects vary on an individual basis so discuss the potential effects that the supplement may have on your body with a doctor.
Where to Buy Essential Amino Acid Supplements
Essential amino acids are amino acids that the body does not produce on its own. However, they are important because they are the building blocks of proteins. The essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Of these, three of them are grouped together as branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine, leucine and valine. They can act faster because they are metabolized in the muscles and not the liver like other amino acids.
Even though the body does not make them on its own, it’s still important to consume them somehow, either through food or supplements. Research states that taking essential amino acids as supplements may be able to help build muscle strength, improve mood and sleep and assist with weight management.
Be sure to consult a doctor before adding any supplements to your everyday diet, including essential amino acids. They may cause side effects, interact with other supplements or cause complications for pre-existing health conditions.