As one of the newer supplements on the scene, amino acid supplements still face a fair amount of understandable scrutiny from prospective users. Many people who find out about these products have tried other supplements and been disappointed, so it makes sense to ask questions before jumping on board. It should be noted, however, that amino acids are not really a new kind of supplement; more accurately, they represent an update to a tried-and-true product, the protein shake. Still, there are those who ask whether they need amino acid fitness supplements at all; if you’d like to find out, keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL® explain.
What Are Amino Acid Supplements?
For those who don’t remember their high school biology class, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They’re used to produce a huge variety of essential compounds and structures, including enzymes, neurotransmitters, antibodies, and cells of every type. An amino acid supplement contains these important elements in their free-form state, meaning that they’re not linked together into a protein of some kind. Depending on their intended purpose, these supplements also often contain things like sodium for electrolytes and small doses of carbohydrates.
While there are 20 different amino acids that our bodies use, there are three specific compounds that tend to form the backbone of any amino acid supplement, especially those with fitness in mind: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Known as the “branched-chain amino acids,” or BCAAs, these three amino acids serve a number of roles that make them well-suited to supporting and improving athletic performance. Other amino acids that commonly make it into supplements include glutamine and arginine.
The Role and Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements
Generally speaking, the primary use of amino acid supplements is to improve gains in strength and endurance after exercise. Traditionally, this role has been dominated by protein powders and shakes, but amino acids are superior to whole proteins in almost every way – where fitness supplements are concerned, at least. That’s because amino acids are the entire reason people use protein powders at all; it’s the amino acids found in those whole proteins that help the body improve.
However, to get at those compounds, your body must first digest the proteins, breaking the bonds between the amino acids in a process that can take some time to complete. By comparison, amino acid supplements let you skip digestion almost entirely because the amino acids in those products are not linked by bonds that must be broken. Instead, they’re ready-made for fast absorption into the bloodstream, so your body can put them to use right away.
And there’s plenty of reason for you to want those amino acids in your body, especially before, during, or after intense exercise. The three BCAAs mentioned above each perform an essential function that can have a big impact on your gains:
- Leucine triggers the process of muscle synthesis, helping you to get bigger, stronger muscles after working out.
- Isoleucine is more focused on building endurance; it helps to jump-start the recovery process after exercise and promotes the flow of energy in the form of glucose.
- Valine backs up the other two BCAAs by working to preserve muscle tissue, reduce stress and appetite, regulate the immune system, and support healthy cognitive functions.
Together, these three amino acids can prove quite effective at improving the results of regular exercise and helping you maintain intensity at the gym, on the field, or while out for a run. Check out our pre-workout amino acid drink and our post-workout supplement today.
The Necessity of Amino Acid Supplements
Amino acid supplements may be a great tool for improved returns after a workout, but the truth is that they have their limitations as well. Among the 20 amino acids we use, there are nine – the “essential” amino acids – that we can’t produce ourselves and must get through food or supplements; this includes the BCAAs. However, in those who live a largely sedentary lifestyle, it’s likely that amino acid supplements aren’t needed, as many common foods contain those essential compounds.
Also, because amino acid supplements are designed to have only the nutrients that will serve their designated purpose, they are not particularly well-rounded supplements. Protein shakes and powders, on the other hand, often contain significant amounts of calories in the form of carbs and sugars – part of why they’re used to help those who suffer from serious illnesses get the nutrients and energy they need. Amino acid supplements offer a much leaner profile, which is ideal if all you want is lean muscle and a faster recovery, but the trade-off is that they can make for lousy health and wellness products.
So do you need amino acid supplements? The answer depends on how active you are. Those who engage in regular exercise will almost certainly need more amino acids than they get in their diet to see the results they want; this group can absolutely benefit from amino acid supplements. However, if you don’t get out much and eat regularly, you’re probably fine as is.
Try an Amino Acid Supplement for Better Returns at the Gym
Not everyone needs to supplement their diet with free-form amino acids, but those of us who like to move our bodies can greatly benefit from this kind of product. Not only are amino acid supplements from aminoVITAL® fast-acting and effective, but they also reject the excessive calories and sugar found in protein shakes in favor of a leaner, healthier nutritional profile. If you’d like to learn more about BCAA supplements and their effects on performance, visit aminoVITAL® online or call (888) 264-6673 today.