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Quick Summary

  • Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and can be found in any high protein foods such as meat or dairy or high protein supplements
  • There are also amino acid only supplements, the most common of which are BCAA supplements.
  • Amino acid supplements are best taken around your workout times and especially during your workout times.
  • Depending on the specific type of amino acid supplement though, it can also be taken before bed or during the day.
  • Aim to have anywhere between 5-10g depending on the type of supplement.

Benefits of Amino Acids

Amino acids simply put are the building blocks of protein. That steak you’re eating, that protein shake you’re drinking and your muscles are all made from protein. Proteins are simply large structures made of a few or many amino acids. There are also a range of amino acids though that are not used to make proteins but have a range of physiological and chemical functions. There are 9 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make, so we must have them in the diet in order for proper body function. Amino acids and their associated protein structures are responsible for repair and growth of body tissue, regulation of enzymes and hormones and to help us resist infection just to name a few mechanisms.

Having amino acids by themselves, especially essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are extremely helpful for reducing the breakdown or catabolism of muscle tissue and for kick starting muscle protein synthesis or muscle building. Many of the amino acids are also able to help boost sports performance, training and recovery.

How to Take Amino Acids

Amino acids are abundant in any high protein foods and supplements. You can easily consume all the essential and non-essential amino acids through diet and with protein shakes. However there are also plenty of amino acid only supplements and they typically come in the following types:

  • Essential Amino Acid Supplements – These contain all 9 of the essential amino acids
  • Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplements (BCAA Supplements) – The most popular of the three, these contain the three BCAAs of leucine, isoleucine and valine.
  • Single Amino Acid Supplements – These supplements only contain one amino acid such as glutamine or lysine for example.

Amino acid supplements typically come in powder form, but there are also plenty of capsule or tablet form amino acid supplements. Generally, you’d want about 10g of an essential amino acid supplement, 6-8g of a BCAA supplement and various amounts of single amino acid supplements.

Best Time to Take Amino Acids

Most people tend to take their amino acids around their workout times and especially during their workouts as a way to slow muscle breakdown. You can take amino acid supplements anytime throughout the day though and some combinations of amino acids work best on an empty stomach and before bed. It’s best to follow the instructions of the specific amino acid supplement and don’t be afraid to ask an industry professional or an appropriate health professional if you’re not sure.

More Great Reading
Amino Acids
Amino Acids
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The Science of BCAAs
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Valine
Valine
Isoleucine
Isoleucine
Leucine
Leucine