Amino acid supplements are less well-known than protein supplements, but they are an effective way of providing the building blocks for protein synthesis to increase muscle size and strength alongside a training regime.
Outlined below are some facts about amino acids which may help you to decide whether this supplement could be a great addition to your diet.
1. Each protein is made up of amino acids which are linked together in chains called polypeptides.
2. The body breaks down protein into its individual amino acids upon digestion and assembles them into new proteins as needed – Amino acid supplementation means the body does not need to break down protein in order to start synthesising new protein.
3. There are 20 standard amino acids.
4. There are 11 non-essential amino acids.
5. There are 9 essential amino acids – considered essential because the body cannot synthesise them, they have to be ingested.
6. Protein sources that contain all of the essential amino acids are viewed as ‘complete’ proteins.
7. There are 3 branched chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine.
8. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are highly prominent in muscle tissue, accounting for 14-18% of its amino acid makeup.
9. BCAA’s are metabolised differently than other amino acids and can be oxidised in the muscles during exercise for energy.
10. Adequate BCAA levels can increase carbohydrate availability, protecting the muscles from exercise-induced protein breakdown.