While familiar to some, for the most part, amino acids are still sort of a mystery to many. Typically, they're defined all too simply as "the building blocks of protein," but that narrow definition does little to explain how we can use them in the supplemental form.
According to WebMD, amino acids can be found in foods such as milk, beef, chicken, eggs, and beans. But in reality, practically any food that has a high protein content level contains ample amounts of amino acids as well. Why so important in terms of diet and exercise, you ask? Protein preserves and helps build muscle — plus, active or not, it's just super important to consider consuming when forming a healthy diet. Taking in a sufficient level of amino acids has also been credited as a way to aid recovery and decrease soreness after exercise. As far as supplements are concerned, amino acids can be bought outright in a powder form (either flavored or unflavored) that can be mixed with water to drink before your workout or via small ingestible capsules afterwards.
As always, it's super wise to consult with your physician before purchasing/taking supplements, since everyone's body is different. However, for those interested in learning more, this week, I'm diving into some additional research on the benefits of supplemental amino acids and when to use them, if at all. Keep scrolling!
1. Amino acid supplements are relatively safe.
According to WebMD, amino acids haven't been linked to any harmful side effects when regularly taken and for up to six months. And while it's true that the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, it has approved an amino acid-based shot to help counteract nitrogen loss in some patients. Of course this shot isn't fitness-related, but given its function, we can assume that there are indeed medical benefits of getting extra amino acids. Side note; however, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should never take supplements that aren't first approved by your doctor.
2. Amino acid supplements can be multi beneficial.
Per my research, amino acids are great for assisting bodily processes perform smoothly. Healthline confirms that they're necessary for hormone production, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, metabolism regulation, and tissue repair to only name a few. In addition to bodily functions, taking an amino acid supplement can boost your mood and sleep schedules and, as mentioned briefly above, increase your exercise performance.
So when should you use amino acids supplements? For my clients, I generally recommend drinking your amino acids before, during, and directly after your workout. This allows the body to receive the supplement when it needs it the most! For more intense workout schedules, an additional serving can be taken in the morning or before bed, depending on when you exercise.
In my own experience, I've noticed a leaner physique and weight-loss with amino acid supplements. During exercise, our body burns both fat and muscle, and by taking amino acids, muscle is going to maintain for a more extended period while fat will be the primary energy source. I also feel a higher level of energy after my workouts because of amino acids. While I do still get sore, I’ve noticed that my post-exercise soreness goes away much quicker!
AGAIN, all supplements should be discussed with your doctor. However, amino acids can be a beneficial supplement for athletes when used correctly. While anything can be overdone, taking the recommended serving size of amino acids can assist you in your performance and help you reach your fitness goals. Whether you want to lose or gain weight — preserving muscle is something that’s key.
Do you use amino acids or have any recommendations? Comment below to let us know, Sweat Sisters!