It might have been a while since your freshman biology class, but you may still remember that proteins and amino acids share an intimate link. In fact, amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they’re what’s leftover after your body breaks down the protein you ingest through food or supplements. That said, there are enough differences between the two to distinguish between taking a protein supplement and an amino acid supplement, and enough similarities to beg the question: Do you need protein if you take an amino acid supplement? Keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL provide an answer.
Protein Supplements vs. Amino Acid Supplements
When comparing the uses of whole protein supplements and amino acid-based products, it can be helpful to start with the differences between the two. For starters, it’s worth noting that protein powders come in a wide variety of forms; some derive their protein from an animal-based source, such as whey, while others use plant-based proteins that come from things like peas, soybeans, rice, and hemp. Most plant-based sources are examples of “incomplete” proteins, however, meaning that they don’t provide all nine essential amino acids.
The ingredients that are added to your protein powder can be just as important as the source of protein itself. Many protein powders contain significant amounts of sugar – 20 grams or more, in some cases – as well as lots of calories and fat. If your goal is to gain weight quickly, then these products may be just what you need; not only will they give your body fuel to build muscle mass, but they will likely contribute to the production of fat as well. Still, there is something to be said for the fact that protein powders and the variety of ingredients contained therein supply you with a greater array of nutrients, even if some of them are unwanted or downright unhealthy.
Amino acid powders, on the other hand, represent a more precise form of supplementation than what you typically get from whole proteins. As mentioned above, amino acids are what you’re left with when you break down a protein molecule; by taking them in the form of a powder or drink mix, you are essentially supplying your body with protein, minus the need for digestion. This lets amino acids act much more quickly than protein powders, as your body can basically skip a step.
Because amino acid supplements tend to contain fewer ingredients, it is easier to control things like calorie counts or the consumption of sugar and fat when taking amino acids instead of protein supplements. However, this leaner nutritional profile comes with a downside as well, namely that amino acids meet fewer of the body’s nutritional demands than a protein mix might. While this may make amino acids less helpful for those who need to supplement their diet for health reasons, it also makes them preferable for those who simply want to boost their returns after exercise or reduce the time it takes for energy recovery after a workout.
What Kind of Amino Acids Should I Take?
In all, there are hundreds of amino acids in existence, though only 20 of these are used by the body to support various processes. Of these 20, there are 11 that your body can produce – called nonessential amino acids – and 9 that you must get through food or supplements – called essential amino acids. These important compounds exist in many foods, the most valuable of which are the so-called “complete” proteins, those that contain all the essential amino acids.
Of the essential amino acids, there are three in particular that are known for their positive effects on the body’s performance during and after exercise: branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs. These compounds make up as much as 40% of the amino acids in the body, although there are only three of them – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
The first of these, leucine, is perhaps the most potent of the three. Its function is to interact with certain enzymes in the body and trigger the synthesis of muscle tissue, leading to greater gains for those focused on resistance or weight training.
Where leucine benefits the development of strength and power, Isoleucine is more of an endurance-related amino acid; it helps ensure that the muscles have a steady supply of energy during periods of activity and facilitates the repair of damaged tissues, reducing a person’s recovery time.
Valine plays more of a supporting role; instead of boosting a single facet of exercise, it helps with everything from stress relief and the suppression of appetite to providing glucose to the muscles and protecting muscles from harmful enzymes. In other words, valine supports a variety of functions that benefit those who are active.
Supply Your Body with Lean Energy from Amino Acids Instead of Protein Powders
Though there is no disputing the fact that protein supplements can be helpful for those who exercise, amino acids are the next step in the development of fitness supplements. Because amino acid mixes from aminoVITAL reject sugary formulas and fatty sources of protein, they represent the leaner option for those seeking increased energy or endurance. To learn more about how products from aminoVITAL can boost your performance without sabotaging your overall health and fitness efforts, visit us online or call (888) 264-6673 today.