When working out, there are lots of ways to damage your muscles, not all of which are bad. The constant exertion of weightlifting, the stresses associated with endurance training, and the catabolism brought on by vigorous activity are all potential causes of muscle damage. However, we may not necessarily want to avoid that damage. In fact, it is generally considered the desired outcome of a tough workout. It’s only after our muscles are damaged that our bodies build them back up bigger and stronger than before, but just because this process is important doesn’t mean it has to be particularly drawn-out or painful. Athletes at every level look for ways to improve their post-workout recovery, and a good portion use amino acids.
Which Amino Acids Help with Muscle Repair?
Within the body, there are a great number of amino acids, all of which stem from a set of 21 compounds known as the proteinogenic amino acids. While all 21 of these amino acids are needed to make new proteins in the body, not all of them go into making muscle proteins. Only a few are relevant when discussing muscle repair. These are the branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
However, these BCAAs are not the only ones known1 to aid post-workout recovery. Glutamine, another popular ingredient in recovery supplements, has been known to reduce soreness and speed muscle repair, with one study2 showing a much quicker return to peak strength among those taking glutamine supplements.
How Amino Acids Speed Up Muscle Repair After Exercise
After a tough workout, your body’s muscle-producing processes kick in to repair the damage done by exercise. For a set time window – within about two hours from the end of your routine – these processes produce new muscle tissue at an accelerated rate, leading to greater gains and a quicker recovery. The body, however, needs the proper resources to create those new cells.
That’s where amino acids come in. Amino acids serve as the building blocks of protein in the body. For some amino acids, those proteins take the form of hormones or enzymes, while others are used to help build cell structures.
Part of what makes BCAAs so effective at speeding up muscle repair is their role in the body as the building blocks of new muscle cells. For your body to make muscle proteins at an accelerated rate after exercise, it needs the right amino acids to serve as the raw materials for those new cells. Otherwise, the process is slowed and the rate of muscle repair cannot reach peak efficiency.
There’s another major muscle repair-related benefit associated with the BCCAs, though: the power of leucine, the most popular of the branched-chain amino acids. Among leucine’s many effects is the ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), the process by which the body manufactures the muscle cells used to repair and reinforce damaged tissues. By activating a signaling pathway in the muscles – called the mechanistic target of rapamycin, or mTOR – leucine can help speed up muscle repair by further boosting MPS. This is why so many fitness supplements feature leucine.
Where to Get Amino Acids for Muscle Repair
Now that we’ve covered how amino acids help speed up muscle repair, let’s look at where to find those compounds in your day-to-day life. As essential amino acids, the BCAAs can’t be made in the body (though glutamine can), so you’ll have to get these amino acids from protein-rich foods or supplements. Any food that offers “complete” protein – meaning protein with all nine essential amino acids – is a good choice, which means animal products like meat, cheese, and eggs or certain plant-based foods like soybeans or quinoa.
For many, amino acid supplements could be a better option because they take effect quicker than the amino acids in food. Their absorption rate is even faster than protein powders. For fast muscle repair, our Rapid Recovery mix can be effective. Clinically proven to reduce muscles soreness, Rapid Recovery contains five amino acids – BCAAs, glutamine, and arginine – and complex carbs to restore the muscles’ glycogen reserves.
Try an Amino Acid Supplement to Speed Up Muscle Repair
Everyone wants to get the most out of each workout, which is why it’s important to speed up muscle repair and get ready for the next routine. Adding an amino acid supplement from aminoVITAL to your routine can help. With more of the building blocks for new muscle tissue and a boost to MPS from leucine, you can get your body back where it should be faster than ever.