Amino Acids are wondrous things. Once you learn what they do in the body, you’re almost struck with amazement.
They fulfil the basic foundations of well-being like vitamins and minerals whilst also optimizing those micronutrients and providing the fuel for growth, health, good functioning of the body and genetic transcription. If I were to go into a rant about amino acids and their many functions I could easily fill a book.
As a matter of fact, if I went into describing the uses of every amino acid separately I’d already have a nice novella. That’s why I’m only going to discuss the ones that could be of potent benefit to the athlete. That’s probably still going to justify several pages.
Well, amino acids in food make up protein. When protein is digested it is once again broken down into specific amino acids that are then selectively put together for different uses. These new proteins formed in the body are what make up most solid matter in the body: skin, eyes, heart, intestines, bones and, of course, muscle.
That’s why understanding what each of these amino acids can do and getting more of them in your diet can be very beneficial to reaching specific goals, such as muscle building. Of course, one mustn’t exaggerate, because a good protein balance is what provides health and stability, without it any of the amino acids can become toxic.
An issue that has been brought up in the case of phenylalanine, but holds true for all amino acids. To counter potential harmful effects, getting enough vitamins and minerals is important because they insure proper conversion of protein to amino and vice versa.
Depending on who you talk to, there are around 20 to 22 standard amino acids. Of those 20-22, 8 to 10 of them are considered essential, which means that you need to get a certain amount of them in your diet to function properly – our bodies cannot synthesize them from other materials, so we only get them from food.
Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, I’m sure you get plenty of all of them, but this article + will show you the benefits of supplementing with extra free form amino acids, going in to deep detail of what too much or too little of several of them can do, what they do in the body and how much and when you should use them.
Next to the 8 essential amino acids, there are around 14 non-essential amino acids and a whole host of other metabolites classed as amino acids which are derived from the 8 essential ones. Next to the 8 essential amino acids, I will try to discuss a number of them that have made the headlines recently: L-Glutamine, L-Arginine, L-Carnitine, L-Cysteine, and HMB.