Athletes have utilised protein to aid muscle repair and growth for generations, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the complete function of this modest but mighty nutrient and its amino acids were truly understood.
Protein from the food we eat is broken down into smaller molecules in the stomach by a digestive enzyme called pepsin, and then further broken down in the gut into amino acids. Amino acids are often called the building blocks of protein and join to make chains known as peptides. Specific chains of peptides are fundamental for many physiological processes such as muscle cells, enzymes, and chemical reactions.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and proteins are regarded as the building blocks of life.
If you are training intensively the body will increase its rate of muscle breakdown and demand more amino acids to aid repair, growth and strength; known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
When it comes to athletes, their main intentions with EAAs are to aid in the building of new muscle tissue and positively affect markers of recovery. It is well-known that for the muscle to grow the body must be in a positive muscle protein balance, which is where EAAs come in to serve their purpose.
Secondly, by supporting recovery, an athlete can be better primed to tackle their next training session.
We all need amino acids, it does not matter what your sporting goal is, desired look, or ability. However, as the body is placed under stress, like a big training session the body’s need for amino acids increases.
Now think about repeated sessions, week in week out and a repetitive diet you may need to think about adding in an extra boost, especially if you are dieting, trying to increase muscle density, or increase strength.
The extra EAA needs can come from increased dietary intake, (most animal protein contains a complete amino acid profile; meaning it contains all the EAAs, and many of the plant-based proteins have been carefully formulated to ensure a complete profile is met) but if you have a calculated nutritional intake adding more calories is not the best route forward, or the most efficient.
Even if adding in extra food is an option, you do not know how much of each amino acid you are getting. Most of us know the amount of protein we eat, but the amino acid content is often not included on food labels, making it hard to recognise if the desired amount is being consumed to maximise training efforts.
How much EAA?
Most research shows that approx. 6 g of EAAs to be effective for MPS, CNP goes beyond this amount with a minimum of 7g to ensure MPS. The EAA’s formulated by CNP come in a range of flavours, and a vegan option. LOADED EAA go even further than providing by a sweet beverage that is low in calories, high in functionality, and minimising sugar/sweet cravings, whilst maintaining nutritional intake and lean physique goals.
|Product||EAA per serving||EAA breakdown||EAA breakdown amount|
|LOADED EAA||7500mg||L-Leucine L-Lysine L-Threonine L-Isoleucine L-Valine L-Phenylalanine L-Methionine L-Histidine L-Tryptophan Enhancing ingredients – non EAA Astragin Biopreine||3090 mg 1180 mg 830 mg 680 mg 640 mg 440 mg 315 mg 265 mg 60 mg 50 mg 10 mg|
|PRO EAA ICE||7000mg||L-Leucine L-Lysine L-Threonine L-Isoleucine L-Valine L-Phenylalanine L-Methionine L-Histidine L-Tryptophan Enhancing ingredients – non EAA CoCo Mineral Sustamine Vitamin B12||2790 mg 1069 mg 751 mg 614 mg 580 mg 398 mg 284 mg 239 mg 40 mg 1000 mg 500 mg 25 ug|
|PLANT EAA||7000mg||L-Leucine L-Lysine L-Threonine L-Isoleucine L-Valine L-Phenylalanine L-Methionine L-Histidine L-Tryptophan Enhancing ingredients – non EAA CoCo Mineral Sustamine Vitamin B12||2790 mg 1069 mg 751 mg 614 mg 580 mg 398 mg 284 mg 239 mg 40 mg 1000 mg 500 mg 25 ug|
When to take them?
EAA powders can be taken at any time of the day as they help form the ‘amino pool’ for the body to dip into and ensure all bodily functions are not only maintained but optimised.
Post-exercise: Taking EAAs after a workout has been shown to further augment the positive muscle protein synthesis effects of resistance training, initiated by leucine at quantities of approx. 3g. After you weight train, your body is in a prime muscle-building state, and EAAs provide your body with the amino acids it needs.
The anabolic muscle phase is also known as ‘the 45-minute window’, comprising of the immediate 45 minutes following the exercise exertion. This is the phase in which the fatigued muscles initiate the recovery of the damaged muscle tissue via MPS. If the required amount of EAA is replaced within that set window, enhanced recovery from the stimulus (resistance training) will result in improved muscle growth, strength and adaptability.
Ingestion of protein post intense exercise that contains sufficient EAA stimulates the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex-1 (mTORC1) signalling and muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
The addition of glucose in the form of food or beverages can further enhance MPS However, providing the athlete isn’t in a phase of carbohydrate restriction, many athletes will sip on a carbohydrate-rich drink during training known as ‘intra- nutrition’, that will still be in the bloodstream post-exercise, additionally, the body will release glucose via gluconeogenesis during exercise, and therefore glucose will be present in the blood even without the ingestion of carbohydrate (Von Ah Morano, 2020).
During endurance workouts: Endurance training can be catabolic, and as a result, many endurance athletes aim to feed their muscle mass by taking EAAs during long training sessions. Another benefit is that the EAAs are lighter on the stomach than consuming a complete protein source, like whole food or a shake, easing the demands for digestion.
In between meals: Because EAAs can spike muscle protein synthesis, having an intake of EAAs between meals can help promote a positive muscle protein balance throughout the day.
Nutritional Research Scientist
Bsc(hons), MRes, MSc RNutr