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Amino Acid Dose: How and When to Take them

Amino Acid Dose: How and When to Take them

Amino acids are present in proteins and, depending on their origin, we will get a different aminogram. Our organism breaks down proteins into amino acids to build and regenerate tissues

Amino Acid Supplements

When we talk about amino acids supplements sometimes we confuse them and relate them directly with the Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAA's.

So, we should not confuse them with the EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids – BCAAs belong to the EAAs…). Therefore, when we talk about amino acids, we should try to be more specific because we could be talking about creatine, glutamine, tryptophan, lysine, aspartic acid, HMB… not just BCAA’s.

Amino Acids Supplements

We are going to distinguish the different types of amino acids, and we do not mean to do this in a generic way. Each one will have its own mode of administration, use, and objective

Amino Acids Types

The distinction is clear: Essential Amino Acids (leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, histidine, methionine, lysine, threonine, phenylalanine) and Non-Essential Amino Acids (alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, ornithine, serin, tyrosine). The first ones should be added to our diet almost compulsory, since they are not synthesized by the body. On the other hand, our organism is capable of producing those that belong to the second group.

Conditionally Essential Amino Acids

There are some exceptions within the “non-essential” group which are the so called conditionally essential amino acids. A clear example would be glutamine, because even though our body can synthesize it, there are some cases when the supply does not meet our requirements. This can be due to certain diseases related to the immune system or digestive apparatus.

Amino acids are not only in charge of the synthesizing proteins, but they are also responsible for the creation of certain hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters…

What are the sources of Amino Acids?

Following a healthy diet is a fundamental pillar that will help us to meet our needs so that we can reach our objectives, there is no doubt about it. However, there are some factors that can shape this statement.

Amino Acids Sources

Is it enough to follow the general recommendations when it comes to proteins? It seems that this is not so clear for athletes… There is not an exact dose of amino acids, even though research and studies seem to acknowledge the role of amino acids, both at a sport level as well as for health and even the elderly

Following a diet that will provide us all the nutrients we need thoroughly is quite complicate. If we also do sport with an objective in mind, the issue becomes even more complex. Amino Acids Supplements provide support, specially when there is a lack of certain nutrients at specific moments, like the period around the workout.

Is it Necessary to Take Amino Acids?

It depends on several factors. They will be highly useful for some cases, while they may not produce the expected effects in others, which can happen due to a incorrect dose, or maybe because there is no deficiency, or due to the intensity and/or workout stimulus, among other things.

Amino Acids for Training

They are still nutrients that you can find them in proteins. Do you consume all the macronutrients perfectly?

Do I need to take Amino Acids?

Two sessions per day, 4 times a week… alternating Crossfit with Swimming and Running. Moreover, I have to go to work. Sometimes, I do not have much time to eat what I should… This could be an example of someone who, even though is not a professional, is passionate about training and practising sport. I believe that there is a difference between this person and someone who just trains 5-7h a week… Context matters and everyone has a different situation and interests as well.

Who can benefit from Taking this supplement?

Mainly sportspeople and athletes. These people undergo a high physical wear due to their workouts and competitions.

Amino Acids and Athletes

Will a competitive triathlete take amino acids and other supplements?

However, anyone can benefit from them if he/she is disciplined in terms of following a diet and a workout program that include high intensity sessions in order to improve the physical composition or to accelerate and enhance the recovery.

For Vegans

Another important issue: depending on the diet you follow you can have some kind of deficit. This is the case of those who follow a vegan diet which, since it suppresses all foods from animals, is reducing or almost limiting the supply of certain nutrients, like creatine or taurine.

In other cases, some vegetable protein sources tend to lack some specific amino acid, we can increase the nutrient supply by adding, for example, lysine.

Amino Acids for Vegans

A proper use of this supplement can contribute to improving the following processes (as long as the rest of conditions are met: training and diet adjusted to the objective)

In addition, Beta Alanine supplementation can increase the muscle carnosine concentrations in vegans.

Uses of Amino Acids

Recovery

  • One of the main benefits of taking amino acids could be related to improving our physical and muscle recovery. According to the research, taking BCAA’s after physical exercise can shorten the recovery and even reduce the consequences of overtraining or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Preserve the Muscle Mass

  • HMB is a leucine metabolite (leucine is a precursor form of HMB). This substance produces an effect that consists of preserving the muscle mass during periods of a higher volume and intensity of training, while improving the physical composition. To put it briefly, it reduces the loss of muscle mass.

Performance

  • BCAA’s can become a source of energy when necessary, mainly during physical exercise, so that they even reduce the breakdown of muscle fibers. On the other hand, they can also decrease the fatigue.
  • Creatine, which is made of 3 amino acids (glycine, methionine, and arginine), can be classified as one of the most important elements when it comes to improving the performance. Specially for short and high intensity activities, when we will experience all its benefits.
  • Beta Alanine also improves the performance, specially during high intensity activities that last at least 40-60 seconds.

Muscle Growth

  • Leucine, which is one of the BCAA’s, is the most anabolic amino acid. The anabolic property of a protein can be assessed with the leucine content from its aminogram. This is the reason why, if a meal has more leucine, we could say that it will be more anabolic.
  • Taking essential amino acids (EAA’s) before doing physical exercise.

Improve your Health

Not all the amino acids are related to muscle growth, in fact, they can be used for other purposes. For instance:

  • Leucine can be used to reduce the sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass in old people).
  • Tryptophan, has properties to improve the mood, since it is a precursor form of serotonin, which is a type of neurotransmitter.
  • Taurine is present in foods that come from animals, which is why it can be missing from the diet of vegan athletes, since it is involved in cell osmoregulation. This lack could increase the risk of suffering muscle cramps…
  • Theanine is another amino acid that increases the feeling of wellness by encouraging relaxation and calmness, but without causing somnolence…

Sunset

How to take Amino Acids

The powder format is the best way of taking amino acids because can combine them more easily. You will be able to adjust the dose according to the body weight of the person.

Moreover, we will be able to combine it with other products depending on the supplementation protocol that we are looking for.

Supplement powder

Whey Protein is an excellent source of EAA’s

We can also use amino acids supplements in capsules or tablets due to different circumstances (travelling, comfort…)

The best time to Take Amino Acids

From my point of view, if you take amino acids to do sports, it should be around the workout, that is, the Peri-Workout, since it will be the best moment to take advantage of this supplementation.

However, it is also possible to take other servings at other times of the day:

In the Morning

Theanine is advised in cases of stress, but it can even be combined with caffeine to feel more active and with a better mood. But it will not produce symptoms like anxiety or nervousness. The dose is around 200mg.

Before Sleeping

Generally, it is advisable to take amino acids before going to sleep in order to rest properly or to shorten the recovery. This would be the case of Tryptophan against insomnia, when it is advisable to take a dose between 1-2g before sleeping.

With the Meals

If they are «poor» or limiting in terms of amino acids, we can use supplementation.

Loading Phase

In this case, we can take creatine by carrying out a loading phase, 4-5 servings daily for 1 week. Beta alanine is also a supplement that allows a loading phase (90mg per kg/body weight) with a dose that also has to be distributed throughout the day (including before and after the workout).

Hydration

We can follow this advice when it comes to taking amino acids

Taking Amino Acids Before Training

Two choices:

  1. From a source of protein: the first choice would be WPC (Whey Protein Concentrate) or WPI (Whey Protein Isolate). For the latter, the aminogram and BCAA content (specifically leucine) is slightly higher. The dose will be between 20-40g.
  1. Directly from Amino acids: the second choice would be BCAA’s or Branched Chain Amino Acids. In this case, we could use a powder format with a 2:1:1 rate adjusting the dose (0.07-0.09g of BCAA’s per kg of body weight).

Amino acids During the Workout

If we take amino acids before training, regardless of our choice, and the session does not last longer than 60-90min, they will not be necessary. Otherwise, we have two choices once again:

  1. Protein: it has to be hydrolyzed protein and the best choice would be PeptoPro® due to its properties. The dose will be between 10-20g.
  1. Branched Chain Amino Acids Peptides: we choose PepForm™ Leucine Peptides which have the highest absorption rate, since they come in di- and tri-peptides.
In both cases, depending of the physical activity as well as its duration and intensity, it is advisable to add a fast absorption carbohydrates source in order to encourage muscle recovery and energy recharge.

Amino Acids After the Workout

Finally, we can also get amino acids from these two sources:

  1. Protein: My personal advice would be, once again, a hydrolyzed protein if we want to take a more effective protein in terms of absorption. Evohydro would be a great choice (1-1.5 scoop). However, we could consider any other protein source, like the ones we mentioned previously.
  1. Branched Chain Amino Acids: Again, my personal advice would be Evobcaas which have a 12:1:1 ratio, apart from having a little dose of glutamine, which we can increase by adding 5-10g of glutamine. The dose of Evobcaas will be a scoop (11g). We can also add a dose of Creatine at the same time by adjusting it to our weight (1g of Creatine per 10kg of body weight).

Sources

  1. Kevin D. Tipton, Blake B. Rasmussen, Sharon L. Miller, Steven E. Wolf, Sharla K. Owens-Stovall, Bart E. Petrini, and Robert R. Wolfe. Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise
  2. Kevin D. Tipton, Arny A. Ferrando, Stuart M. Phillips, David Doyle Jr., and Robert R. Wolfe. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids
  3. Brad Jon Schoenfeld, corresponding author1 Alan Aragon, Colin Wilborn, Stacie L. Urbina, Sara E. Hayward, and James Krieger . Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations
  4. Matthew Stark, Judith Lukaszuk, corresponding author1 Aimee Prawitz, and Amanda Salacinski. Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training
  5. Peri-Workout Supplementation

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