Most health- and fitness-oriented individuals are likely familiar with protein supplements, since they have probably been the most ubiquitous nutritional product on the market for many years. More recently, however, a shift has begun taking place in which longtime protein shake fans have started using a new, more efficient type of supplement: amino acids. These products offer many of the same advantages as conventional whole proteins, plus a few extra benefits besides, making them the superior choice for athletes of all stripes. Still, because amino acid supplements are relatively new, many users have lingering questions about the best way to utilize these powerful compounds; for instance, knowing that timing is an important factor in supplementation, you might ask: When should I drink amino acids? To find out the answer to this and other questions, keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL® explain.
What’s in an Amino Acid Supplement?
Before we get into when to take an amino acid supplement, let’s cover just what those products contain. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they’re part of many processes in the body, from making the neurotransmitters that govern our moods to providing structure to newly formed cells. Our bodies use 20 different types of amino acids, but more than half of them can be produced within the body itself; nine amino acids, called the “essential” amino acids, must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
Within this group of essential compounds, there are three particular amino acids with outsized importance when it comes to fitness and athletic performance: the branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
- Leucine: The most well-known of the BCAAs, leucine has the formidable ability to trigger the creation of new skeletal muscle, leading to better gains after the gym. As an added bonus, a byproduct of leucine use – a substance called HMB – helps to protect your muscles from damage during exercise, which means that more of your muscle mass is preserved while working out.
- Isoleucine: Where leucine focuses on strength, isoleucine is all about endurance. Instead of giving you bigger muscles, isoleucine helps keep your muscles energized during workouts by promoting the uptake and use of glucose, the body’s main form of energy. It also helps to boost the repair of damaged muscles, so you recover faster after each workout.
- Valine: The main fitness-oriented benefit of valine is that it helps guard against the breakdown of muscle tissue, but it has other beneficial effects as well. This amino acid helps to regulate your immune system, promote healthy cognitive functions, and even relieve stress, according to some research.
Though the three BCAAs are likely the most important components of your standard amino acid supplement, they are often accompanied by two other compounds, each of which also offers some benefits for exercise; these are the amino acids glutamine and arginine. The former helps to speed the healing of damaged muscles, while the latter promotes circulation and aids in removing ammonia from the body.
When to Take Your Amino Acid Supplement
Most people who use fitness supplements will tell you that it’s important to take your protein shake or amino acid drink mix at a certain time, often as soon as you finish working out. However, the timing of when you should take your amino acid supplement will depend more on the effect you want to achieve and the type of product you’re using than anything else.
In the case of a pre-workout amino acid supplement, for instance, you obviously want to use it before you begin exercising. If you’re ingesting a Fast Charge Focus Zone pre-workout mix from aminoVITAL®, you should do so within 30 minutes of starting your routine, though it can take effect in as little as 15 minutes in some cases. That’s because our Fast Charge powder can be poured directly onto the tongue instead of being added to a water bottle, which means extra-fast bioavailability.
By comparison, the aim for an intra-workout supplement is generally more about replenishing muscles and managing hydration while fending off fatigue. For mid-workout support, a supplement like our Action mix is more appropriate, as it includes a mix of BCAAs along with glutamine and arginine, which fuel the muscles while helping to protect them against damage.
But it’s the post-workout supplements that tend to get the most attention. While supplying your muscles with the amino acids they need to repair themselves is undoubtedly important, so is restoring the glycogen that acts as the muscles’ immediate form of fuel. Our Rapid Recovery amino acid mix contains a small dose of carbohydrates to quickly replenish glycogen stores, along with key nutrients like phosphorus, which gives energy, and calcium, which helps preserve strong bones. And because amino acid mixes take effect much faster than conventional protein, you’ll start to see results right away.
Try Amino Acid Supplements for Better Performance and a Faster Recovery
The reason why people drink amino acid mixtures is much the same as why they use any other fitness supplement: to become bigger, stronger, and faster. However, the reason amino acids have been gaining popularity is quite different: these compounds represent a more efficient way to fuel your workouts without adding excess calories or sugar to your diet. Plus, because free-form amino acids like those in aminoVITAL® products require only minimal digestion, they can take effect right when you need them. To learn more about amino acid supplements and how they can help you reach your individual fitness goals, visit us online or call (888) 264-6673 today.