There are many compounds necessary to keep our bodies functioning properly, but few are as fundamental to our existence as amino acids. Sometimes referred to as the “building blocks of protein,” amino acids used in the production of a variety of essential structures and elements, from the chemicals that relay signals in the brain to the cells that form our muscles. Some of them we get from the foods we eat, while others are formed in the body from elements we already possess. Still, unless you boast extensive knowledge of human anatomy and biology, you may not know what amino acids do for the body or why certain amino acids make for such good fitness supplements. To learn more about these critical compounds, including how they can help you improve your athletic performance, keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL® explain.
What Are Amino Acids?
For those who don’t quite remember their high school biology class, amino acids are the compounds used to create proteins in the body. Not only does this mean they go into making muscles, but they also help synthesize the various enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters needed to keep our systems in sync. Without a healthy supply of amino acids, functions could be disrupted throughout the body, leading to a host of serious medical issues.
In many instances, the amino acids we need are produced internally, mainly through processing glucose, though some come from other amino acids. Of the 20 proteinogenic amino acids our bodies use (the fundamental ones from which all others stem), 11 are produced in our bodies; these are the “nonessential” amino acids, a few of which are sometimes considered “conditionally essential.”
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
The other nine amino acids are the “essential” amino acids; these are the ones that we must obtain through foods and supplements. This group comprises the following:
To be clear, just because an amino acid is part of the “nonessential” group doesn’t mean it isn’t important. This label is based on the need for intake of an amino acid as part of a person’s diet; in other words, an amino acid we can make internally doesn’t need to be a part of what we eat, so it’s considered “nonessential” from a nutritional standpoint. If an amino acid is deemed “conditionally” essential, that means it can be made in the body but always not in great enough quantities to keep a person healthy.
Those who live a sedentary lifestyle and eat a standard diet probably get all the amino acids they need without putting in any extra effort, but those who adhere to an active lifestyle or who are struggling with a major illness may need to increase their intake of certain amino acids. For fitness purposes, the amino acids to look for are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
How Amino Acids Help with Exercise
Because of the ways that so many of the systems in our bodies depend on each other, most amino acids play some role in physical performance, but there are a few that specialize in improving fitness outcomes. These are the BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
The first of the BCAAs, leucine, is the one that has garnered the most attention from researchers, thanks to its critical role in building muscles. Leucine is the amino acid responsible for signaling to the body that it’s time to synthesize new skeletal muscle, so it’s essential for those who want to boost their gains after the gym. The metabolites of leucine (the compounds created when leucine is processed by the body) play an important role as well; HMB, for example, can help prevent muscle tissue from being broken down during and after exercise.
Whereas leucine works to build strength, isoleucine is more about improving endurance. This amino acid helps promote the flow of energy (in the form of glucose) into the cells of the muscles, plus it helps those cells convert that glucose into power. For someone engaged in intense exertion, such as what you’d experience on a long run or bike ride, this boost in energy can make it possible to push yourself harder than before, and because isoleucine is known to improve post-workout muscle recovery times, you’ll be ready for your next workout faster than before.
The last of the BCAAs, valine, plays many roles in the body, from helping to regulate the immune system to supporting proper cognitive functions. During exercise, valine works to protect the muscles from excessive damage, aiding in the preservation of muscle mass and reducing the amount of healing that has to take place afterward. This amino acid also has a part in the production of energy and regulation of blood sugar levels.
Efficient Amino Acid Fitness Supplements Available from aminoVITAL®
Whether you’re a long-time runner or the newest member of your local gym, finding a fitness supplement that works for you is important. These products can significantly improve the results of training and may offer other benefits as well; for example, BCAA supplements from aminoVITAL® help fight fatigue by hindering the movement of tryptophan into the brain and reducing the amount of serotonin – a neurotransmitter linked to mood, motivation, and fatigue – that’s created there. To learn more about the lean, fast-acting amino acid supplements available from aminoVITAL®, visit us online or call (888) 264-6673 today.