What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids and BCAA supplements are one of our best-selling product categories and for a good reason. Aminos are an essential building block for your bodies overall health and wellbeing.
So what are amino acids? They’re essential for workout recovery, hydration, muscle growth and general wellbeing. In this article, we’ll be breaking down what amino acids are in a way that’s easy to understand. We’re not going to get lost in the scientific mumbo jumbo.
Speaking of scientific mumbo jumbo, if you were to take a trip down memory lane to high school biology class you may recall that aminos are the monomers that make up proteins. They’re related to linear chains, carbon atoms and polypeptides. Well, we promised we’d turn this into an easy-to-understand article, so we’ll sum it up by saying that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
Why are they so important? Twenty per cent of your body is made up of protein. It is critical to living a healthy life and ensuring your body is in tip-top shape. When you eat foods containing protein, your body breaks it down into…you guessed it: amino acids!
All foods that contain protein, regardless of whether it is animal-based or plant-based, will have at least a few of these protein building blocks when broken down.
How many amino acids are there?
Of the 50 aminos that have been discovered by scientists, only 20 of them are actually found inside the body. Each of these 20 acids has a specific chemical makeup and play a unique role within our bodies. There are 9 of these that our bodies cannot naturally create, meaning we need to ingest them either in solid or liquid form. Our bodies would soon deteriorate if we were to completely cut these out of our diets.
Essential Amino Acids
The 9 aminos mentioned above are referred to as ‘Essential Amino Acids’. They are valine, histidine, tryptophan, isoleucine, leucine, threonine, lysine, phenylalanine and methionine. Assisting in the process of immune function, nutrient absorption, tissue growth and energy production are just a few of the tasks they perform day today.
Dairy, nuts, seeds, vegetables, buckwheat, meat, quinoa, eggs, soy and tofu all contain essential aminos. Including these foods in our diets help ensure we’re getting enough of the good stuff. Think about it, though, a car will chew through more petrol the harder it works. The same can be said for our bodies. If we’re training and pushing ourselves to the limit, we will need more essential aminos to keep us going. This is the reason why amino acids and BCAA supplements like Body Science’s BCEAA Ultra are so popular!
Non-Essential and Conditionally Essential Amino Acids
The 11 other protein building blocks are referred to as the ‘Non-Essential Amino Acids’. As you may have guessed, our bodies can manufacture these acids autonomously. So, you don’t need to ingest quite as many in your diet. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, though.
There are some circumstances in which your body might not be able to produce 7 of those 11 non-essential acids. For example, if your immune system is down because you are suffering from stress or illness. These are referred to as ‘Conditionally Essential Amino Acids’.
The 4 non-essential amino acids are glutamic acid, asparagine, aspartic acid and alanine. The 7 conditionally essential amino acids are tyrosine, arginine, serine, cysteine, proline, glutamine and glycine.
Even though your body can produce non-essential aminos, there are times when you need to top your body up to ensure your body is happy and healthy. For example, if you are consistently doing intense exercise and putting your body under stress, its demand for glutamine will increase. Likely above the levels that your body can naturally produce. This is why products such as ATP Science L-Glutamine are popular with athletes all over the world.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
There are 3 essential amino acids that are classified as branched-chain amino acids. These are widely known as BCAAs. They are valine, leucine and isoleucine. BCAAs are unique because they are metabolised in your skeletal muscle, not in your liver like the other 6 essential aminos. This means they directly impact your muscles, strength, power, recovery time and endurance. It makes sense that they are the focus of popular supplement products like Staunch BCAA Hydration.
BCAAs provide many proven benefits to your body but the 5 major ones are:
- increased muscle growth,
- decreased muscle soreness,
- reduced exercise fatigue,
- increase endurance, and
- reduced muscle breakdown (wasting).
Next time you’re searching for supplements that can help promote a healthy lifestyle, take a look at our Amino Acids & BCAA section because you may find that these products are exactly the supplement you’ve been looking for.
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