Amino acids – they’re so much more than just “muscle stuff”!
We’ve all heard of amino acids, but do you know what they really do? Do you take them because you’ve been told to? Or never tried them because you’re just not sure which does what? Let’s delve in a little deeper.
Amino Acids are known as the muscle builders of the body. Sure, they do that. But what about all the other tasks they perform? Like helping you lose fat, enhancing your muscular endurance and strengthening your immune system. Aminos do all this and much more. In fact, it’s about time we stopped pigeonholing amino acids and gave them the respect they deserve as an essential form of armour for the body.
Here are 10 amino acids which you need to have as part of your armour:
Essential Amino Acids
The following amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body. It is essential that they come from the foods that you eat. Extra supplementation can take your body to the next level.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): Together leucine, isoleucine and valine make up about one third of the protein in muscle. They are the most important aminos in the manufacturing, maintenance and repair of muscle tissue. They also increase muscle protein synthesis, decrease muscle tissue breakdown, spare muscle glycogen, encourage fat loss and boost immune function. Needless to say, you want BCAAs as part of your training stack!
People who take BCAAs report a marked decrease in post-workout soreness, better muscle retention, improved endurance, and better results in general when it comes to muscle performance and growth.
Dosage: Take the 3 together at a dosage of 10g leucine, 2.5g isoleucine and 2.5g of valine during and post workout.
Lysine: Lysine is an essential component in the building of protein. It is also an enhancer of calcium absorption and retention and aids the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies.
Dosage: Take 500mg – 1-2g of lysine per day.
A good BCAA stack will be proportioned as above and may even have the BCAAs and Lysine together. The team at WhiteZebra loves Poliquin Group’s BCAA Excellence 2.0.
Stack Your Aminos
Here are 4 stacks that will cover all of your fitness / muscle building needs:
Fat Burning Stack: Tyrosine / Carnitine / Leucine
Mass Building Mix: Glutamine / Leucine
Strength Stack: Arginine / Carnosine / Taurine
Pump Mix: Arginine / Carnosine / Taurine
So what’s in these stacks?
Non-Essentials Amino Acids
Your body may already produce these aminos, but adding more will enhance their body building and repairing effects.
Glutamine: Glutamine repairs and restores the gut lining. It promotes physical recovery, stimulates muscle growth, aids digestion, boosts growth hormone levels, enhances concentration and has also been shown to decrease cravings for sweets. Glutamine also helps muscles cells to store more glycogen and acts as a cell volumiser, aiding in size and further growth of muscle fibre. But there’s more – glutamine assists the production of bicarbonate, a biochemical buffer that helps prevent muscle fatigue.
I highly recommend anyone who is training hard, has any digestive issues, especially food intolerances and/or is insulin resistant to get stuck in to some glutamine! The more damaged your gut is, the more glutamine you need.
Dosage: Take 5 – 10mg of glutamine on an empty stomach when you wake, before a workout and before bed.
Tip – for sweet cravings, have 1T glutamine mixed with a dash of cream. Wait 20mins or so and then ask yourself if you still want those sweets!
Carnitine: Carnitine is well known for its ability to enhance fat use by the body. It is believed that carnitine may enhance blood flow to muscles, preventing fatigue and muscle damage.
Dosage: Take 2- 4g of L-Carnitine in 2 – 3 divided doses throughout the day.
Tip – If fat loss is your no. 1 goal, taking Carnitine with fish oils (omega-3s) will enhance your fat burning.
Arginine: Arginine enhances nitric oxide (NO) production, which increases blood flow to the muscles and, therefore, nutrient, oxygen and hormone delivery as well as muscle pump and muscle growth. It also boosts insulin and GH secretion, two important anabolic hormones that drive muscle growth.
If you simply need to improve circulation or need some extra pump (without the caffeine high from some pre-workout supps), Arginine is definitely an amino to include in your stack.
Dosage: Take 3 – 5g of arginine on an empty stomach.
Tyrosine: The body needs tyrosine to form several important neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, as well as thyroid hormones. This makes it a great pick me up! It also enhances numerous other physiological functions such as fat loss, satiety, mood, mental focus and even sex drive. Tyrosine can also help with fat loss by increasing the body’s production of the metabolism boosting norepinephrine, enhancing fat loss.
Who doesn’t want a bit of a mood and metabolism boost?!
Taurine: Taurine is known to increase strength, endurance and muscle growth. Muscle levels of taurine become depleted during intense exercise, so supplementing with taurine may help prevent exercise fatigue. Taurine is also believed to enhance muscle cell volume by drawing water into the muscles.
Dosage: Take 2-6g of taurine per day 30 minutes before and directly after your workout.
Carnosine: Carnosine is actually a dipeptide, meaning that it is two amino acids in one. It enhances both muscle strength and endurance by buffering the fatigue inducing acid that builds up in muscles during exercise. It also has strong anti oxidant properties.
Dosage: Combining carnosine with creatine appears to boost the muscle volumising effect. Take 1.5g 30 minutes before and immediately after workouts.