…and they’re amino acids.
If you’ve taken a basic biology course, you probably remember your professor
stressing the fact that our bodies – these wondrous machines – are made of proteins.
And those proteins come from amino acids, these little building blocks all strung
together to produce said proteins, which in turn create pretty important stuff like
your skin, eyes, heart, intestines, bones, and, our favorite: muscle. They’re also
exceptionally important for processes involving energy, recovery, mood, brain
function, and again, our favorite: muscle and strength gains, as well as fat loss.
And if you’re in the body building world, or don’t live under a rock, you’re probably
aware of the importance of and obsession with protein for building muscle. So since
amino acids make up these powerful proteins, I guess you can say they’re pretty
important to get in your diet.
Essential vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids
All amino acids are important, even though calling a group of them “non-essential”
doesn’t seem very nice. If you’ve heard of these categorizations for amino acids, what
they simply mean is that essential amino acids are ones our bodies do not make from
food, so therefore, they must come from food and supplementation. Non-essential
amino acids aren’t ones we don’t need, but rather, they are readily produced in our
bodies and we don’t have to seek outside resources to get them.
There are 9 essential amino acids:
histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine,
tryptophan, and valine. That means you have to find a way to get these 9 compounds
in your body somehow in order to grow those muscles.
A great way to make sure you’re getting these essential amino acids is through adding
a supplement powder to your water before, after, or even during your workout.
Here are the benefits you can count on getting from supplementing these 9 crucial
Histidine: Growth and repair of all tissues in the body relies on histidine. This amino
acid is known for maintaining and producing a type of support cell for nerves called
oligodendrocytes. We know that nerves transmit information in your body and
brain, so they’re pretty important. Oligodendrocytes are cells that provide a
protective sheath, also known as myelin, around your nerves to make information
transmission speedier and better.
Isoleucine: If you’re looking for enhanced endurance and the healing/repairing of
muscle tissue, look no further than isoleucine. This amino acid is exceptionally
important for maintaining energy levels and promoting repair after a strenuous gym
Leucine: Leucine will help regulate blood-sugar levels, assist in the growth and repair
of tissues in your skin, bones, and muscle, and also plays a major role in healing
wounds. Perhaps one of the best parts of leucine is that it helps make sure your
muscle tissue does not get broken down – something us fitness folks are constantly
Lysine: Lysine is extremely essential when it comes to growth and development in
the body. It plays a key role in calcium absorption, which in turn results in bone and
muscle growth, on top of fat metabolism for energy usage. Lysine also helps with
maintaining lean body mass, combats fatigue and overtraining, and helps your body
build new muscle protein. It is also needed to produce things like antibodies,
hormones, enzymes, collagen, and other compounds that will help you repair
damaged tissue from a hard training session.
Methionine: Methionine helps your body breakdown and use fats, therefore boosting
your testosterone rate. Sounds pretty awesome, right? This compound will get rid of
any excess fat from your bloodstream, reduce fat tissue in your body, and helps with
Phenylalanine: This amino acid is shown to give you a little mood-boost, can amp up
your motivation, and can improve memory. It also increases levels of certain
neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which help with
making sure your nervous system operates at the highest possible level.
Threonine: Formation of two essential binding substances of the body, collagen and
elastin, comes from threonine. This compound will also provide you with better
immune system functioning, proper protein balance, and perhaps most importantly,
it will help you absorb other nutrients even better.
Tryptophan: Yes, this is the commonly believed culprit for that post-Thanksgiving
turkey slumber you’re so inclined to take. It’s not entirely true, but tryptophan can
help with sleep and even act as an anti-depressant.
Valine: This amino acid also helps with the repair and growth of muscle tissue…are
you sensing a trend here? There’s a reason these amino acids are “essential” –
especially for bodybuilders and avid gym-goers.
Add BCAA’s to your supplement regimen, and reap the muscle building fat loss benefits.