When to Take Amino Acids
Your ultimate how-to guide when it comes to taking amino acids
Glutamine, Branched-Chain Amino Acids, Arginine, Lysine, Methionine, Carnitine, Cysteine, HMB…
The list is pretty long, but all of those names have one thing in common: They’re all amino acids.
Wondrous as they may be, amino acids are what lie at the base of human well-being. They’re just as crucial as our vitamin and mineral intake, and they can mean the difference between amazing and terrible health, growth and immune systems.
I never knew exactly how important amino acids could be to my health, nor did I have any clue as to when to take amino acids. I’ve come a long way from having a less-than-desirable immune system and being 10kg overweight. In retrospect, I can easily sit back and say (with a smile) that one of my saving graces was the day I learned about the benefits of amino acids.
In this post, I’ll be elaborating about the different kinds of amino acids, and I’ll also be telling you when the best times are to take your AA’s. Before we get into the deeper details, though, there are a few basic things I need to clarify.
What Exactly Are Amino Acids?
In foods, amino acids are what make up the protein. As soon as you consume those proteins, they break down into a range of different amino acids inside of your body. in order to reach a point of health where your body has a perfect protein balance, you have to consider the supplementation of amino acids, just to ensure that you’re getting all the protein your body needs to grow.
How Many Different Amino Acids Are There?
Well, the truth is that this is a relative question, and depending on who you’re talking to, there are about 20 or 22 different types of amino acids out there. Roughly 8 to 10 of those varieties are crucial to human health, so we need sufficient amounts of specific amino acids in order to be as healthy as we possibly can.
Do Human Bodies Produce Amino Acids?
In short…no. Our bodies are unable to synthesize amino acids. We only get these proteins (which are converted into amino acids inside of our bodies) from the foods we consume. We can also ensure we’re getting in enough amino acids by taking the best amino acid supplement.
Most Essential Amino Acids and When to Take Them
If you’re trying to get your body into shape and be as healthy as you can, you’re going to need to understand the essential amino acids, and you’re also going to have to know when the best times are to take them. Here’s a roundup of the most essential amino acids out there. You’ll also learn more about their benefits, and the best times to take them.
We need histidine in order to allow our bodies to grow and repair tissue. Histidine is also essential for the good health of glial nerve cells, the cells responsible for the protection of nerves. Apart from protecting the nerves from unintentional damage, histidine also plays a key role in the production of white and red blood cells. Histidine is used for the medicinal treatment of arthritis and nerve deafness conditions.
L-Lysine is utterly important for human growth and development. The body uses it to successfully absorb calcium from food sources, which in turn promotes better bone growth and fat mobilization for energy. Folks looking to improve lean body mass often look to Lysine to help them pull through periods of stress and fatigue, but Lysine also promotes the production of antibodies as well as various hormones and enzymes in order to boost overall health.
Phenylalanine may help boost your mood because it stimulates the nerve system, but it’s also an amino acid that assists in focus and memory. Furthermore, phenylalanine may also boost your epinephrine levels, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels. In short, this amino acid greatly aids the functions of the nervous system.
This amino acid is best known for its ability to help break down extra fats in the body, and as such, it may also increase testosterone levels. When taken at the right time, methionine may help rid the bloodstream of excess fat as well as assist the body with detoxification by removing heavy metals from the stomach and liver. A very important aspect of methionine is the fact that it’s one of the 3 major amino acids your body requires to manufacture Creatine monohydrate, which essentially plays a big role in energy production and muscle mass. You can check out this study if you need more information on methionine’s benefits.
Valine, Isoleucine, and Leucine are what make up Branched-Chain Amino Acids and they’re a pretty big deal in the world of fitness. BCAAs happen to be some of the three most important amino acids when it comes to repairing, maintenance, and manufacturing of muscles. Medically, BCAAs are used to treat a wide range of conditions including depression, irritability, and fatigue, all of which may be related to a protein deficiency.
Leucine forms part of BCAAs, but it’s the strongest of the three, and as such, may help regulate blood sugar, skin tissue growth and repair, and the growth and repair of skeletal bones. Leucine is also responsible for Human Growth Hormone levels, which means that it may assist with the rate at which wounds heal, energy is regulated in the body and preventing the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Isoleucine is almost similar to leucine, which means that it accelerates muscle recovery, influences blood-sugar levels, and also stimulates HGH levels. The difference between leucine and isoleucine lies in isoleucine’s ability to heal wounds. Because isoleucine is able to assist with the production of hemoglobin, it’s one of your body’s best defenses against infections contracted through flesh wounds.
As part of the BCAAs group, Valine is best known for its ability to help repair and assist with the growth of muscle tissues. Valine furthermore regulates the nitrogen balance and assists your body with preserving glucose usage.
Threonine is mainly derived from animal proteins such as dairy and meat, and it plays a major role in the health of the heart, nerve tissue, and skeletal muscle. This amino acid is used to form collagen and elastin, the 2 most important binding substances within your body. Threonine is responsible for the proper functioning of the immune system, liver function, and the lipotropic functions. By far the most important, threonine allows your body to better absorb other nutrients! For more stats and facts about the benefits of threonine, follow this link.
Other Beneficial (But Not Essential) Amino Acids
I’ve already told you about the most essential amino acids, and I’ve show you how they can benefit your health, but there are quite a few other amino acids which may also benefit your body in more than one way. These include:
Glutamine: L-Glutamine can be found in the body in large amounts, and it’s often referred to as ‘brain food’ because it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Glutamine is beneficial for memory recall and focus, but it’s also great for the synthesis of muscle tissue. Furthermore, glutamine is essential for the preservation of muscle mass for folks looking at alternative sources of energy for their bodies.
Arginine: L-Arginine is best known for its nitrogen retention ability, and this is big in the world of muscle protein synthesis. Arginine may also be beneficial as far as a healthy immune system goes, but it has also been indicated as a beneficial amino acid which may promote male sexual health.
Carnitine: Carnitine isn’t an amino acid, by a long shot, but yet it’s promoted as one. Because of carnitine’s structural similarity to amino acids, it’s indicated for use as such. This compound may assist your body with maintaining lean muscle mass and reducing its body-fat percentage.
Cysteine: L-Cysteine is a great antioxidant, and may be used to promote skin health and boost the production of collagen in the body. Cysteine may assist with the metabolizing of B-vitamins and it may also be a potentiating compound of insulin.
HMB: Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methyl Butyrate is a derivative of leucine, and as such, it may promote muscle synthesis, promote lean muscle mass and reduce body fat levels. HMB may furthermore improve the use of free amino acids, but its best known for its ability to prevent muscle loss and fat storage during times when your body has insufficient glucose levels.
How to Ensure You’re Getting Enough Amino Acids
The best way (for most folks in anyway) to get your dose of amino acids is to eat correctly. This includes eating several small meals a day, and ensuring that you have some protein with every meal. But that’s not possible for all of us.
When to Take Amino Acids
If you’re an athlete, you should stick to the recommendations of The American College of Sports Nutrition’s guideline of consuming proteins both before and after workouts. By taking an amino acid supplement before your training session, you’ll be able to boost muscle protein synthesis and help prevent the breakdown of muscle protein.
Best Time for Taking Amino Acids When Weight-Training
Taking amino acids during your workout is the best idea if you’re a weightlifter. You may also want to consider taking amino acid supplements, like Transparent Labs’ BCAA Glutamine supplement, if you’re set on achieving the best results. This will ensure you also get your much-needed dose of vitamins, minerals, and carbs.
Best Time to Take Amino Acids if You Run or Swim
If you’re more of an endurance trainer than an iron junkie, taking your amino acid supplements won’t fall in the same class as the latter. By taking amino acids while training, you’ll up your endurance levels and may benefit from faster recovery times after workouts. It may also promote fat loss and help you gain lean muscle mass. Runners and swimmers should take pure amino acids, in addition to their in b-vitamins and electrolytes, before and after their workouts.
As far as the impact that amino acids had on my health and fitness regime, results were beyond describable. I benefited from their ability to push my endurance levels even further, and I dropped 10KG thanks to a balanced eating, exercise, and supplementation routine.
I hope that this post has inspired you to start giving amino acids a second thought. I also hope that you understand their importance, and how taking these supplements at different times may benefit individuals on various fitness stages of their lives.
Remember: As long as you’re going all out in the kitchen as well as the gym, you should be benefiting from supplements in the way they were designed to add value to your health and fitness efforts!