Amino Acid Complexes

Amino acids are the nutrients that make up all the proteins in the body. In bodybuilding, amino acids are given special importance because muscles are almost entirely composed of protein, i.e. amino acids. The body uses them for its own growth, restoration, strengthening and production of various hormones, antibodies and enzymes. 

Not only has the growth of muscle strength and muscle mass depended on amino acids, but also the restoration of physical and mental tone after training, catabolism, subcutaneous fat lipolysis, and even intellectual brain activity. In total, there are 20 protein genic amino acids, of which eight are the so-called “essential” or irreplaceable (the body cannot independently synthesize them in sufficient quantities), the rest are called interchangeable. There are also a number of amino acids that are not included in the protein structure, but play an important role in metabolism (carnitine, ornithine, taurine, GABA).

Amino acids are one of the most popular types of sports nutrition.

Read the main article: List of Amino Acids

Amino Acids in Bodybuilding

Scientists have found that amino acids are extremely important for muscle recovery after training, muscle preservation during the drying or weight loss cycle, and muscle growth. BCAA play a special role in bodybuilding. Muscle tissue consists of them at 35%; BCAAs have a large number of biological effects, and are available separately.

Exercise of even medium intensity leads to the consumption of 80% of all free amino acids – this emphasizes the importance of amino acid supplements for quick recovery and further muscle growth.

Read the main article: BCAA

Amino acid effects

  • Source of energy. Amino acids are metabolized in a different way than carbohydrates, so the body can receive much more energy during training if the amino acid pool is full.
  • Acceleration of protein synthesis. Amino acids stimulate the secretion of the anabolic hormone – insulin, and also activate mTOR; two of these mechanisms can trigger muscle growth. The amino acids themselves are used as a building material for proteins.
  • Suppression of catabolism. Amino acids have a pronounced anti-catabolic effect, which is especially necessary after training, as well as during the weight loss or drying cycle.
  • Fat burning. Amino acids promote fat burning through expression of leptin in adipocytes via mTOR.

Benefit assessment

The fact that amino acids are very important and useful in bodybuilding, there is no doubt, however, as mentioned above, the protein consists of the same amino acids, it is the protein that makes up the need for amino acids in all people. Amino acids, as a sports supplement, differ from protein only in a higher absorption rate, and it is required only during and immediately after training, as well as in the morning. In addition, amino acids can be useful in losing weight, as they contain few calories, along with this they inhibit catabolism well, reduce appetite and maintain muscle.

A significant disadvantage of amino acids is the high cost and small doses. If you are not experiencing financial constraints, then you can take 10 g of amino acids 4 times a day, and get good results. On the other hand, you can take 20 g of protein 4 times a day and you will get almost the same results in a set of muscle mass, as well as save 80% of the money.

Complex amino acids have few advantages over whey protein, and also lag (with a higher cost) from protein hydrolysate. Both in gaining muscle mass and in losing weight give preference to protein and BCAA amino acids.

Types of Amino Acids

Amino acid complexes differ in composition, ratio of amino acids and degree of hydrolysis. Free-form amino acids, usually isolated (glutamine, arginine, glycine, and others), but complexes are also found. Hydrolysates are broken down proteins that contain short amino acid chains that can be quickly absorbed. Di- and tripeptide forms are essentially also hydrolysates, only the amino acid chains are shorter, and consist of 2 and 3 amino acids, respectively, are absorbed very quickly. BCAA is a complex of three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are most in demand in the muscles, are absorbed very quickly. 

Form Function and value Advantages Disadvantages Recommendations for use
Free form Do not require digestion. Absorbed into the blood quickly. Quickly enter into the muscles, which help prevent muscle catabolism. . High Cost. Recommended to be taken only before, during and after training.
Hydrolyzed form The fastest digestible form (studies have shown that it is digested much faster than the free form) Muscle nutrition, prevention of catabolism, triggering anabolic reactions. Contains amino acid chains that must break down before amino acids enter the bloodstream. For maximum growth of strength and mass: 10 g before and 10 g after training. You can also take 10 g in the morning.
BCAA The main amino acids of the muscles. They serve as a source of energy and prevent catabolism, trigger muscle growth. They have a wide range of positive effects.

Quickly absorbed.

High price Heavy training: 4-5 g before and after training.
Di – and tripeptide form Muscle nutrition, prevention of catabolism, triggering anabolic reactions. Fast assimilation.  High price. A rare product in the bodybuilding market. It is usually taken in the same way as the hydrolyzed form.

 

Forms of Amino Acids

Amino acids are available in the form of powder, tablets, solutions, and capsules, however, all these forms are equivalent in effectiveness. There are also injectable forms of amino acids that are administered intravenously. Injecting amino acids is not recommended, since it does not have any advantages over oral administration, but there is a high risk of complications and adverse reactions.

When to take amino acids

When gaining muscle mass, it is most advisable to take amino acids only before and after training, as well as (optionally) in the morning, since at these moments a high rate of amino acid intake is required. At other times, it’s wiser to take protein. When losing weight, amino acids can be taken more often: before and after training, in the morning and in between meals, since the purpose of their use is to suppress catabolism, reduce appetite and maintain muscle.

Optimal dose

Amino acids in bodybuilding are used in a very wide dose range. It is advisable that a single dose be at least 5 g, although the maximum result is achieved with 10 to 20 g at once. When buying amino acid complexes, pay attention to the size of the doses of the supplement. Some manufacturers make doses very low in order to increase the cost per unit weight of the product.

Combination with other supplements

Amino acids can be combined with all types of sports nutrition, but they cannot always be mixed (drink at the same time).

Side Effects and Safety

The duration of the intake of amino acids is not limited; breaks and cycling are not required.

Amino acid quality check

  • Amino acids in powder are highly soluble in water, with the exception of BCAA.
  • The BCAA amino acids taste bitter.
  • Color and consistency are as described on the label.
  • The packaging is properly sealed and meets factory standards.
  • Check expiration date.

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