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Why Essential Amino Acids are so Important for Training.

Amino acids. It’s almost implausible that you’d be reading this article never having heard those two words, five syllables, ten letters. That’s because amino acids represent the single largest factor involved in the creation of bigger, stronger muscles. In fact, they are so important, a diet insufficient in amino acids will leave you tired, weak and looking like those long hours in the gym all went to waste.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but hang with me. In simple terms, amino acids are the building blocks of muscle proteins. In total, there are twenty different amino acids. Eleven of them are considered “non-essential,” meaning our bodies create them autonomously. The remaining nine amino acids are “essential,” those we must obtain from our diet.

We’ve established that amino acids are the building blocks of muscle protein, but what exactly is muscle protein?

Muscle proteins are synthesized by your body to replace the contractile tissue which has been broken down by daily living and exercise. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly does the “pulling” so to speak in order to contract muscle, it’s the muscle proteins performing this job. As you’ve probably guessed, having more muscle protein is a good thing because it allows us to lift heavier weight and grow larger muscles.

Of course, the physiology of muscular breakdown and repair is quite complex, but it can be broken down into layman’s terms. As gym-goers, we purposefully lift heavy things, run really hard or perform grueling HIIT workouts for the purpose of bettering our health and physiques. However, performing these tasks quite literally breaks down muscle tissue. On the surface, this seems like a problem, but your body is both smart and resilient. Exposing your body to exercise bouts of greater and greater demand is rigorous, and your body doesn’t take this lying down. Instead, it begins to build more muscle proteins than were broken down resulting in stronger muscles and a more pleasing physique.

This is best-case scenario. To achieve this scenario, we must fuel the body to do so, because remember, muscle proteins are made from amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue. If you’re eating a diet high in protein, you’re likely getting a sufficient amount of those nine essential amino acids already. This is hugely important because with vigorous training comes large muscle breakdown which requires a large pool of “ingredients” to make new tissue. However, there are times when diet simply isn’t enough.

How can we optimize muscle protein synthesis?

Again, the best way to create the optimal anabolic environment is to consume a diet high in protein from a variety of sources. There’s no getting around this strategy. Further, getting an appropriate amount of sleep and keeping modifiable, harmful stress to a minimum are also important. More specifically though, it’s been reported that in order to synthesize new muscle proteins, all twenty amino acids must be present in the body and in adequate amounts1.

If you’re consistently meeting the ~2g per kilogram of body weight per day mark, you’re on the right track. However, many have difficulty with this task. Perhaps you consume a vegan diet and find it difficult to hit your daily target. Or maybe you’re currently on a diet where even more protein is needed to maintain your current level of muscularity. Regardless of the barrier, we need not spend hundreds of hours in the gym for sub-par results.

For these folks, an essential amino acid supplement may prove useful. CNP has rolled out a new product called Loaded EAA’s to set you up for success. Containing all nine essential amino acids in generous portions, this supplement is best taken as either an addition to a pre-workout cocktail or as a post-workout supplement in order to promote the anabolic environment. By doing so, you effectively set the body up to utilize as much protein as possible to create new muscle. Further, it contains the patented ingredient AstraGin® for increased absorption in addition to BioPerine which increases the bioavailability of nutritional compounds. Basically, this means that very few amino acids get passed over during digestion, making the supplement as “useful” as possible.

The Bottom Line on Amino Acids

When enough are available, amino acids are used to build muscle proteins after exercise. It’s a glorious process, allowing us to reap the benefits of increased muscle mass and strength. In short, eating enough daily protein is paramount to fully realize these results. If you’re finding it difficult to hit your daily protein target, consider supplementing with an essential amino acid supplement such as Loaded EAA’s.

Written by, Dr Brian Grant, PT, DPT, CSCS

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/
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