It has become a widely accepted belief among fitness fans that amino acids are an excellent option for pre-, mid-, and post-workout nutrition, but questions remain about these relatively new supplements. Part of the confusion relates to the diverse roles amino acids play in the body; they are, after all, necessary for a wide variety of biological functions, including – but not limited to – the creation of new muscle tissue. Considering their effectiveness, some users have also wondered whether they can benefit from the use of amino acid supplements during periods of rest, either on days without a planned workout or in the absence of any exercise at all. To find out, keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL® discuss whether you can take amino acids without working out.
How Do Amino Acid Supplements Help With Working Out?
Those who recall their high school biology class may remember that amino acids are often called “the building blocks of protein.” While this is technically true, it fails to show the true scope of amino acid functions in the body. These compounds play a huge number of roles, from the synthesis of new cells to the creation of enzymes and hormones that keep our metabolism going. There are a great many amino acids in the body, but only 20 are required to survive; all others stem from this initial group of proteinogenic amino acids.
Within the group of 20 fundamental amino acids, 11 can be made in the body and do not need to be consumed; these are the so-called “nonessential” amino acids, which – despite the classification – are just as important as any others. The remaining nine are the “essential” amino acids, which must be obtained from outside sources like foods or supplements. It is in this second group that we find the amino acids most used in fitness supplements: the branched-chain amino acids, more commonly called BCAAs.
Each of the three BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – serves a unique role in supporting athletic performance. Leucine, for instance, signals the body to create new muscle cells, a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS); the result of this process is an increase in muscle mass and faster post-workout healing. Isoleucine, the second BCAA, bears only a passing similarity to its brother, leucine; instead of building muscle mass and increasing strength, isoleucine promotes the movement of glucose to the muscles and helps the cells there turn it into energy, providing greater endurance during long workouts. Valine, the third and final branched-chain amino acid, helps protect the muscles against the damage wrought by exercise.
Taking Amino Acid Supplements Without Working Out
During a workout, these benefits make it possible for the user to push themselves harder and for longer periods of time. These compounds can even fight exercise-induced fatigue, and they take effect much more quickly than your typical protein supplement. But, can you take amino acids without working out? The answer is a (very conditional) yes.
For the vast majority of people, there isn’t much of a downside to taking amino acids without working out. These are substances that the body needs, after all, and in moderate doses they should not produce any negative reactions, provided you don’t have a condition or disorder that affects how your body processes amino acids – maple syrup urine disease, for example. However, there is one important caveat to keep in mind: Taking amino acid-based fitness supplements without exercising will not produce the same benefits as taking them before, during, or after a workout.
That’s because exercise changes the body’s priorities, especially right after a workout. At that point, your muscles are probably damaged, either by the physical stresses of lifting weights or by the biological process called catabolism, in which muscle cells are broken down for fuel. In response, the body ramps up the production of new muscle tissue to repair and reinforce the damaged areas, a process that requires significant resources.
This is where amino acids come in. By taking a BCAA supplement around the time that you work out, you can supply your body with the nutrients it needs to create new muscle cells as it works to reverse the harmful effects of exercise, leading to the beneficial effects of amino acid supplements. Without first working out, your body won’t really need those resources, and you won’t see the effects many have come to expect from BCAAs.
There is, however, one possible exception to this: the energizing effects of an amino acid-based pre-workout supplement, such as the Fast Charge mix from aminoVITAL®. This product is designed to fuel the body with vitamins and amino acids, and the boost of energy experienced as a result will likely be felt whether you work out afterward or not.
In addition, some aminoVITAL® products, such as our Action mid-workout mix, offer vitamins and minerals as well, which could benefit users who don’t exercise. That said, the amino acid supplements provided by aminoVITAL® are generally intended for use as part of a fitness regimen, not as sources of general nutrition or as a treatment for any medical condition.
Consider aminoVITAL® BCAA Supplements When Working Out
Though the effects of amino acid supplements are backed by science, their dependability doesn’t mean that users can skip their workouts and expect the same results. Try amino acids – especially glutamine, arginine, and the three BCAAs – along with your next workout to boost gains, promote endurance, and quicken the post-workout recovery process. To learn more about how the amino acids in aminoVITAL® products can help you reach your fitness goals, visit us online or call (888) 264-6673 today.