Amino Acids: A Waste Of Money Or A Secret Performance Weapon?
If you an avid exercise enthusiast, you are likely using gels, protein bars, and sports drinks. I have been paying attention what is in these products, you may have noticed that Amino Acids are being added to many of these products.
Why are Amino Acids being added to all the gels, bars, and sports drinks and is it worth the extra money to buy products that contain Amino Acids?
Before we get into whether Amino Acids are worth the money, and more importantly, do they work, we need to talk a little about what Amino Acids are and what exactly they do.
When most people hear about Amino Acids, they think of Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins. However, the role of amino acids goes way beyond building blocks – they are essential for the synthesis of proteins, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and numerous other metabolic pathways in the body.
This might get a little boring, just like your 9th-grade biology class, but hang in there, this might just be your secret performance weapon.
Amino Acids fall into two categories; Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). In this article, we will focus on the Essential Amino Acids.
Essential amino acids can’t be made by our bodies, we have to get them from our diet. The essential amino acids, which are Phenylanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine and Lysine.
How can these EAA’s help your performance? Let’s break it down.
Phenylalanine has a pain-killing and antidepressant effect. This means you could be happier and feeling less pain while doing that killer hill or threshold workouts.
Valine, Isoleucine, and Leucine, are both Essential and Branched Chain Amino Acids. These essential amino acids can reduce the amount of damage to the muscles during exercise. This means amino these amino acids can help your muscles recover faster.
Serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that can reduce pain and the amino acid Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin. This means taking Tryptophan can increase your tolerance to pain and therefore you might be able to train or race a little harder.
Histidine has some antioxidant properties. This means Histidine could help you fight off the cell damaging free radicals you produce during exercise,
Arginine is a vasodilator, which means it increases blood flow. There have been many studies that show Arginine is helpful for people with cardiovascular disease. Does this mean it would be helpful for athletes? No real studies showing that it improves performance, but when I am running I will take improved blood flow over restricted blood flow any day.
So there are the basics on why these essential amino acids are showing up in sports nutrition products.
Are they worth it?
Amino acids allow you to push through pain, they allow your muscles to recover faster and they affect neurotransmitters that make you feel better. Could you have used any of those during your last race?
Dr Jeff Banas is a Superhuman Performance Coach, a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and an 8 Time Ironman Triathlon Finisher.
In addition to running a Sports Therapy practice in Mesa, AZ, Dr. Jeff coaches and trains individuals for weight loss, muscle strength, wellness, and sports performance. For more information about Dr. Banas, you can visit his website at www.BanasSportsTherapy.com or contact him directly at 480-633-6837 or email@example.com