Everything you need to know about building muscle, gaining mass, and crushing the competition.

Follow Us
woman lifting dumbell

What Do Amino Acids Do? Everything You Need to Know

If you’re new to bodybuilding or fitness, you’re probably wondering “what do amino acids do?” Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Therefore, they make up every cell in your body. Some have even cited amino acids when debating the theory of evolution. However, no one debates the importance of protein in the body. Protein builds muscle and strengthens our connective tissues.

Amino acids are crucial for not only building muscle, but having a higher quality of life. Their value extends to the amount of energy we have. Additionally, they define the speed of our recovery. Their presence decides if we can lose weight quickly. And finally, how fast we can access our memory.

There are more than 500 amino acids found in nature. However, there are only 20 dietary amino acids, which are considered essential to health and well-being. Of these essential amino acids, there are nine types that our bodies can’t make. Therefore, we can only get these through our diets or from taking an amino acid formula.

What Do Amino Acids Do?: Deficiency and Supplements

Amino acids are the topic of many health-related conversations today. Dietary protein from the food that we eat is broken down into amino acids, which are used to build other amino acids and hormones the body requires. Finally, these amino acids are crucial to a properly functioning body.

Their roles include the repair of organs, muscles, tissues, nails, hair, and glands. So, if you lack amino acid, your health will suffer. Dietary protein intake is best. However, if you eat a diet that is low in protein, it may be hard to meet your body’s demands.

Amino acid deficiencies are widespread. People living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle are the most at risk. There are other factors like impaired amino acid absorption due to drug use, sepsis or infection, and stress that can also lead to deficiency. Taking amino acids is an effective way to avoid possible deficiencies.

Proactively taking amino acid prevents and treats losses. Plus, it’s so easy to do. Today, workout and recovery drinks containing free form amino acids such as hydrolyzed proteins are everywhere. Free form amino acids do not form bonds with other proteins. These products are a great source of amino acids because they move into the bloodstream quickly.

Please note: This article is for your knowledge only. Please seek advice from a trusted health practitioner before taking amino acids.

What Do Amino Acids Do?: Proven Benefits

Because we don’t store amino acids, even those eating a protein-rich diet experience deficiencies. Although some amino acids are in processed foods, like phenylalanine, it’s only in small amounts. Therefore, supplements offer several benefits.

Reduces abdominal fat

Most fat loss formulas on the market today contain high amounts of stimulants and other ingredients claiming to increase your metabolism. However, studies show that amino acids promote abdominal fat loss.

According to one study, patients who took amino acids for over two weeks lost abdominal fat. A study also found that the regular use of amino acid products along with a reduced-calorie diet can offer superior abdominal fat reduction compared to dieting alone.

Builds muscle mass

woman doing exercise

Image via Unsplash

Amino acids and protein are well-known to aid the muscle-building process when used in combination with distinct resistance exercise. However, researchers also discovered that taking leucine maintained muscle mass while preventing muscle breakdown for muscles that were immobilized.

Enhances exercise performance

Amino acids improve exercise performance. Studies show that the VO2 Max — a scientific method to analyze oxygen usage — is higher when taking BCAA or branched-chain amino acids. Additionally, the experts found that using isoleucine, valine, and leucine amino acid products increase exercise endurance.

Which Amino Acids Are the Best to Take?

Amino acids usually come in capsule or tablet form, but you can also find gummies and liquids. Most are a blend of all the essential and non-essential amino acids in a multi-nutrient form. Since biochemists formulate them, you know the exact amount of each. Furthermore, BCAAs contain a blend of four amino acids. However, for this article, we focus on the nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make.

Lysine:

Since our bodies can’t make lysine, getting enough in your diet is critical. What does the amino acid lysine do? Lysine plays a vital role in helping your immune system function. It may also enhance your athletic performance. People with certain health conditions, like cold sores, stress, and diabetes, may also benefit from having extra lysine.

How to get lysine in your diet

The amount of lysine you need in your diet varies. Typically, the daily dose for adults is around 2,100 mg. The following foods contain the most lysine:

Animal protein sources of lysine
  • Lean beef and lamb
  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Eggs
Vegan-friendly sources of lysine
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soybeans and products
  • White beans

Can you take lysine?

Lysine is over-the-counter at drugstores, and online. If you’re looking to treat a specific health concern with lysine and don’t want to consume excess arginine, look for capsules without arginine.

Leucine:

What does the amino acid leucine do? Studies show that taking BCAAs at 70 percent leucine, in addition to mild energy restriction, causes significant preferential loss of visceral fat. Visceral fat is the dangerous fat that surrounds your organs. Even thin and normal-weight people have it. Finally, too much visceral fat leads to insulin resistant diabetes, heart disease, and systemic inflammation.

How to get leucine in your diet

Most of us need about 2730mg of leucine each day. Like other amino acids, leucine is in high-protein foods like meat, dairy, and legumes. Here are the foods highest in leucine.

Vegan-friendly sources of leucine
  • Soybeans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts
  • White beans
Animal-protein sources of leucine
  • Parmesean
  • Beef (sirloin)
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Tuna
  • Squid

Can you take leucine?

Yes. Leucine is a BCAA widely available over-the-counter in many drugstores and health food stores. Additionally, BCAAs are available online.

Isoleucine:

What does the amino acid isoleucine do? Like other BCAAs, isoleucine helps create muscle. It is stronger than valine but weaker than leucine. It significantly increases glucose uptake during exercise. However, isoleucine does not form glycogen. This news is great for diabetics and others worried about excess protein that converts to glucose.

How to get isoleucine in your diet

No surprise here. Adding protein is the only way to get more isoleucine into your diet. There are plenty of vegan-friendly options.

Vegan-friendly sources of isoleucine
  • Soybean
  • Seaweed
  • Spirulina
  • Spinich
Animal-protein sources of isoleucine
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Cheese and other dairies
Can you take Isoleucine?

Yes. In fact, most BCAAs contain the recommended dose of isoleucine. BCAAs are over-the-counter and widely available online.

Valine:

What does the amino acid valine do? Valine helps produce energy. Therefore, it spares energy in your blood glucose stores.  This action makes valine excellent to consume before a long workout. Also, valine helps to build muscles and assists in protein metabolism. Some sources, report that valine repairs liver and gallbladder disease.

How to get valine in your diet

Great news for vegetable-based protein lovers. Topping the list of foods highest in valine is soya. However, you’ll need 1820mg of valine per day.

Vegan-friendly protein sources of valine
  • Soya
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Wholegrains
Animal-protein sources of valine
  • Cheese and dairy
  • Eggs
  • Lamb and beef
  • Chicken and turkey

Can you take valine?

Valine is one of the three BCAAs or branched chain amino acids. You can take valine with other BCAAs or alone. These are available over-the-counter and online.

Threonine:

What does the amino acid threonine do? This essential amino acid treats various central nervous system disorders like spinal spasticity, MS or multiple sclerosis, familial spastic paraparesis, and Lou Gerhig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

How to get Threonine in your diet

To increase your body’s threonine levels, add a few servings of special proteins. Most of us need 1050mg of threonine per day as a standard dose. Therefore, you’ll want to load up on the proteins listed below.

Vegan-friendly protein sources of threonine
  • Soy-based foods
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Beans
Animal-protein sources of threonine
  • Liver
  • Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Clams
  • Lean lamb and beef
  • Pork

Can you take threonine?

Threonine is one of the most popular single amino acids on the market. It also comes in combos with other amino acids.

Tryptophan:

Tryptophan has several vital purposes. What does this amino acid do? In adults, tryptophan helps balance nitrogen. Also, it helps promote healthy growth in infants. Plus, it creates niacin in the body. Therefore it is critical to making serotonin. Hence, studies show that tryptophan deficiencies cause depression.

How to get tryptophan in your diet

Yes, this is the tryptophan, of Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner fame. The following foods are high in the amino acid. You need around 280 mg of tryptophan in your diet each day.

Vegan-friendly protein sources of tryptophan
  • Pumpkin and squash seeds
  • Soy-based foods
  • Other seeds and nuts
  • Raw oats and bran
  • Beans
Animal-protein sources of tryptophan
  • Cheese
  • Turkey and chicken
  • Shellfish
  • Lamb and beef
  • Eggs

Can you take tryptophan?

You can’t make serotonin. Instead, many people take tryptophan. It is readily available as an over-the-counter treatment.

Methionine:

Methionine is a novel amino acid that contains sulfur. Hence, it produces other sulfur ions in the body. This amino acid actually helps the body produce other amino acids like cysteine, glutathione, and taurine. Also, it is known to create cartilage. Finally, it helps grow your hair and nails.

How to get methionine in your diet

Getting plenty of methionine in your diet is easy. We should get around 728 mg of Methionine each day. Here are the top high-methionine foods.

Vegan-friendly protein sources of methionine
  • Brazil nuts
  • Soybeans
  • White beans
  • Other nuts and seeds
Animal protein sources of methionine
  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Pork
  • Dairy and yogurt
  • Fish

Can you take methionine?

While you can take methionine, there is controversy around the practice. Indeed, for years experts have proposed restriction of methionine.

Phenylalanine:

What does this amino acid do? Phenylalanine is helpful in treating chronic pain, ADHD, and depression. Phenylalanine is commonly found in human breast milk and thought to be a vital nutrient in the brain’s growth.

How to get phenylalanine in your diet

If you have ever read the back of a soda can, you’ve read about this amino acid. It’s rare, but in some people, this amino acid can’t be broken down. Hence, people diagnosed with phenylketonuria cannot take it. However, the rest of us need about 875mg of phenylalanine per day. Here are the foods highest in this vital amino acid.

Vegan-friendly protein sources of phenylalanine
  • Soy-based foods
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Beans
  • Wholegrains
Animal-protein sources of phenylalanine
  • Cheese
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean lamb and beef
  • Pork

Can you take phenylalanine?

Dietary treatments containing only phenylalanine are available as an over-the-counter treatment. Furthermore, it is in many combinations containing amino acids.

Histidine:

When it comes to learning what do amino acids do for our well-being, histidine wears many hats. It is a building block and precursor for many vital proteins. Also, it protects the skin from UV rays, and it lessens swelling from oxidative stress. Finally, histidine may help certain heart problems and help regulate blood pressure.

How to get histidine in your diet

You need around 780 mg of Histidine in your diet each day. However, like all amino acids, histidine is present in almost all proteins. These amounts vary. Therefore, we’ve listed the top ten histidine-containing foods.

Vegan-friendly histidine sources
  • Soybeans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • White beans
  • Wholegrains
Animal-protein sources of histidine
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Lamb and beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken

Can you take histidine?

Histidine is available as a single ingredient treatment. Additionally, you can purchase over-the-counter pills with histidine combined with other amino acids.

What Do Amino Acids Do? Wrap-Up

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and aid in the repair of muscles throughout the body. Additionally, they ensure that all of the body’s organs are healthy and well-maintained. They are always repairing tendons, ligaments, and glands.

Many do not know that our bodies can’t store amino acids.  Unlike fats and starches, amino acids need replacing, daily. Dietary sources of amino acids are plentiful. But, most of us don’t get enough.

Amino acids are different from vitamin and minerals. Most multivitamins contain few, if any, of the building of protein. Moreover, there are many amino acids treatments available over-the-counter and online.

 

Featured image source: Unsplash

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
ADD COMMENT

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.