Amino acids are referred to as the building blocks of life or the building blocks of protein. They are organic compounds that the human body uses to help form protein.
Proteins provide the essential structural components of your muscles, brain, nervous system, blood, skin, and hair. Therefore, athletes and bodybuilders pay close attention to their amino acid consumption. If used correctly, amino acid benefits in increasing endurance, recovering faster, reducing muscle soreness, and avert metabolic syndrome.
It's essential to know the benefits of these peptides to understand how they can help you maintain good health and achieve your fitness goals. We will discuss the nine most important amino acids you need to focus on in this article and list their benefits and food sources.
Types of Amino Acids
There are 20 amino acids that our body needs for daily functioning and maintaining good health.
Essential Amino Acids: Of the 20 amino acids, nine amino acids are required to be obtained from your daily diet since your body cannot produce these amino acids on its own.
Non-Essential Amino Acids: These eleven are the ones that your body can produce on its own.
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
Branched Chain Amino Acids: Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are critical nutrients for human health. They are proteins that can be found in food sources. These amino acids are converted into energy by your muscles. The term "branched chain" refers to the chemical structure of the compound.
Conditional Amino Acids: There is a situation when amino acids can be "conditionally essential". This happens when an amino acid has become essential because the body is having difficulty producing it due to a disorder, illness, or the natural ageing process. E.g., Cysteine, Tyrosine, Proline, Serine.
The 9 Most Important Amino Acids
Following are the nine most important amino acids that you need to focus on to achieve your fitness goals, along with their benefits and food sources.
L- Glutamine (Non-Essential)
Food Sources - chicken, fish, cabbage, spinach, dairy
Benefits - It is a building block of protein and a critical part of the immune system. It plays a unique role in maintaining your intestinal health.
Food Sources - lean beef, pork, cheese, gelatin
Benefits - Threonine plays a vital role in forming structural proteins such as collagen and elastin, which are important components of the skin and connective tissue. It is also important for the metabolism of fat and strengthening the immune system.
Food Sources - meat, cheese, eggs, soybeans
Benefits - Lysine plays a significant role in protein synthesis, hormone and enzyme production, and calcium absorption. It is vital for energy production, immune function and the production of collagen and elastin.
Food Sources - pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, lentils, eggs
Benefits - It plays a critical role in protein synthesis and muscle repair. It also helps regulate the body's blood sugar levels, stimulates wound healing, and produces growth hormones.
Food Sources - chicken, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, legumes
Benefits - Helps in improving the antioxidants level in the body and reduces oxidative stress.
Food Sources - meat, fish, lentils, seeds
Benefits - It is involved in muscle metabolism and is heavily concentrated in muscle tissue. It's also essential for immune function, hemoglobin production and energy regulation.
Food Sources - soybeans, cheese, peanuts, mushrooms, veggies
Benefits - Valine helps stimulate muscle growth and regeneration and is involved in energy production.
Food Sources - meat, fish, dairy products, human milk
Benefits - It is essential in several of the body's metabolic processes and has antioxidant properties.
Food Sources - chicken, meat, pumpkin seeds, peanuts
Benefits - It helps in muscle protein synthesis, which results in the muscle-building process and aids in stimulating the growth hormone. Although L-Arginine is not considered “Essential” it’s a conditional Amino acid that is essential in terms of need like when recovering from a hard workout or a bout of sickness.
Do You Need to Supplement It?
Now, the biggest question arises whether you need to supplement these amino acids separately for better results or your diet is enough?
The answer to this question is - It depends. It depends on the kind of diet you are following and the nutrition you are getting from it. As you can see, most of the food sources mentioned above for these amino acids come from animal sources like chicken, meat and dairy. If these are part of your diet, you don't have to worry about your amino acid's intake.
But, if you are someone who follows a vegetarian diet, then you need to supplement these amino acids from an external source. And this need not be a separate supplement for every amino acid out there. A good multivitamin like Maximult from Epicvita, available for Men and Women, contains all the above mentioned nine amino acids as per RDA. So, it is more than sufficient to reach your daily amino acids intake.
Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality? (2017). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/
Effect of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Recovery Following Acute Eccentric Exercise. (2018, October 1). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212987/