What Do Amino Acids Do?

What do Amino Acids Do? - The Basics

Amino acids are critical to life and have many different roles in our metabolism. One of the most important functions is as the building blocks of proteins. We all know that protein is essential for building skeletal muscle.

Every protein is defined by a sequence of amino acids. Much like letters in the alphabet can be combined to form different words, amino acids can be linked together in varying sequences to form a large variety of proteins.

There are twenty-two standard amino acids and they are used to either synthesize protein and other biomolecules or they are oxidized to carbon dioxide as a source of energy.

Of the twenty-two standard amino acids, eight are called essential amino acids because the human body cannot synthesize them from other compounds at levels needed for normal growth, so they must be obtained from food. It's hard to make general statements on dietary requirements for some amino acids because the amounts needed by our body depends on an individuals age and health.

What Do Amino Acids Do? - Other Applications

Amino acids have industrial applications in the production of biodegradable plastics, drugs as well as additives for animal feeds.

Animal feeds, such as soybeans, have low levels or even lack some of the essential amino acids. Thus, amino acids are used to enrich a wide variety of animal feeds.

The food industry also uses amino acids to create artificial flavor enhancers and low-calorie artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame.

In terms of biodegradable plastics, amino acids have their uses in making environmentally friendly packaging and in medicine for the construction of prosthetic implants.

What Do Amino Acids Do? - Supplements

Amino Acid supplements have proven to be a great addition to any exercise regimen. Whether you are trying to build muscle or burn fat, Amino Acid powders or Amino Acid capsules are a great way to bolster your effors and speed-up results.

They are inexpensive and easy to take. You can mix them in with your protein shakes or favorite juice or take them in capsule form in the same way you would any multivitamin.

The supplements are BCAA's - Branched Chain Amino Acids. Branched Chain Amino Acids are named because of their unique branching structure and are essential amino acids, which means that the body alone cannot produce them.

Therefore sufficient quantities must be obtained from dietary sources such as food or supplements.

BCAAs are unique in that they are metabolized directly by muscle tissue. During workouts BCAAs are burned as fuel to provide up to 15% of your total energy requirement. Since your body only has a limited store of these essential amino acids, it is forced to break down lean muscle tissue when dietary sources aren't meeting your needs.

Consuming sufficient BCAAs before and after training helps to prevent training-induced muscle breakdown thereby improving recovery times. BCAAs may also play a key role in delaying fatigue so you can push yourself harder, faster, and longer through the most intense training bouts and competitive events.

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