They may be present in your favorite protein powders and are found in most of the food you eat but believe it or not, most fitness enthusiasts and in particular, bodybuilders know very little about amino acids and the significant role they play in their muscle-building efforts. This in part can be blamed to their devotion to protein and the many benefits it offers, particularly in muscle growth and recovery.
Well, it’s time to put an end to the many misconceptions and myth surrounding their importance in bodybuilding. Let us start by first defining what they are, how important they are in bodybuilding and why you need them. First off, amino acids are the building blocks of protein and of muscle tissue. When proteins are digested by your body, it is broken down into specific amino acids that are put to specific uses within your body.
In particular, these bodily functions concern the physiological processes relating to energy, recovery, mood swings, brain function, weight loss and the increase of your muscle gains and strength. While there are officially 23, 9 of them are categorized as essential or indispensable amino acids (IAA) that we need to get from our nutritional intake. The rest of them, classified as dispensable amino acids (DAA) or non-essential because they can be manufactured by the body from other amino acids.
Another thing you need to realize is that the nutritional value of the food we eat is wholly dependent on amino acids. Their composition is essential in supporting maximum growth and it is also important to take into consideration how these IAAs are delivered to the tissues where they are needed as these have influence on the way we digest and absorb nutrients as well as bioavailability, which is the measure of the efficiency of the delivery and how much of what is ingested is actually used by the body. Their bioavailability is determined by factors like how much fat is contained in the protein source and the length of time they become available for use.
In bodybuilding, exercise, hormones and nutrients will cause muscle growth, as well as the proper amino acid supplementation. This is why they are best taken after training, when the muscles are best receptive to nutrients and blood flow to them is high and to optimize our post-training recovery and growth, a meal composed of protein with both simple and complex carbohydrates is recommended.
The best advantage, however of these supplementation is the fact that unlike food, it doesn’t require digestion. They are free-from which means they move rapidly through the stomach and are absorbed just as rapidly into the bloodstream and when absorbed are processed by the liver so that the amino acids are delivered to the tissues, particularly those that are recovering after your training.
As far as increasing your energy is concerned, amino acids help replenish ATP stores in your muscles, so you can keep up with those intense training routines. In weight loss, amino acid supplements help ensure proper fat transportation and mobilization so that your fat gets used as fuel and not re-stored in the body. They also aid in preventing muscle catabolism, which means your muscles don’t grow sore and shrink that it can lead to injuries during training.
And lastly, each of the IAAs has specific advantages for bodybuilders. Histidine for example, improves digestion, while lysine revitalizes the body by combating fatigue and overtraining. Phenylalanine on the other hand, allows maximum muscle contraction and relaxation and BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) ensures your muscles don’t enter into the catabolic or muscle-wasting stage.
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