Amino acids are organic substances that form proteins, which are part of the muscle composition, along with glycogen, glucose, salts and water. Therefore, the introduction of amino acids into the body forms proteins that enter the muscles composition.
Supplements containing amino acids are highly promoted, claiming they increase muscle mass during weight-carrying exercises and prevent catabolism (destruction) of proteins during endurance exercises. But which are the best amino acids for gaining lean muscles.
What are amino acids?
A simple definition would be that they are the bricks that make up protein molecules.
Proteins are composed of many amino acids. Each cell of our body contains amino acids and 3/4 of the body’s solid mass is made up of protein cells that in turn are made up of amino acids.
All bodybuilders, when they talk about proteins, think of biceps, triceps, quadriceps, and others without considering that the majority of the listed muscles contain a bunch of proteins, including hormones such as insulin, growth hormones, or enzymes.
There are 17 amino acids, which are divided into essential and nonessential.
The 9 essential ones are isoleucine, leucine, valine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, thiozine, tryptophan, and glutamine.
Theoretically, with a diet rich in these eight amino acids, our body will be able to produce all the other amino acids needed for growth, hormones, enzymes, and proteins.
However, bodybuilders also consider other 3 amino acids as essential, namely alanine, arginine and taurine.
Proteins considered complete by nutritionists and nutritionists are in fact incomplete for sportsmen, who need essential amino acid required by the body during the effort in higher quantities.
A protein-rich diet such as that rich in chicken and milk is not always the best way for a correct and balanced amino acid delivery.
Just by filling with powdered proteins that contain amino acids such as glutamine or taurine you will be sure of the success of muscle growth. In a more colloquial language, we can distinguish protein-enhancers from those who are not noble.
In the first case, we consider proteins containing all essential amino acids derived from milk, meat, eggs, fish. There are also poor foods in tryptophan, lysine and methionine, such as wheat and vegetables.
What happens to the amino acids and proteins in our body?
Once the protein is consumed, an enzyme called pepsin is activated in our stomach. Long chain amino acids are broken down into shorter chains, then partial digestion of proteins continues in the intestine, where pancreatic enzymes will once again break down the amino acid chains in the polypeptides.
Finally, the polypeptides will be cleaved one by one by another group of enzymes in dipeptides or tripeptides, which are two or three amino acid chains.
These will be absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the liver, where one in four will be transformed into a different amino acid, then used to form specific proteins.
Not all amino acids will be retained in the body. This depends on the momentary needs. For the bodybuilders, the main objective is to provide the body with the proteins needed for muscle reconstruction after intense training.
Amino acids for gaining lean muscle
Branch chained amino acids are the most common amino acids in bodybuilding, but they do not always succeed in delivering the wanted results. In certain situations, tryptophan and tyrosine have a direct effect on neurotransmitters.
Consuming amino acids such as glutamine and arginine will increase the risk of inhibiting growth hormone secretion.
Science has not yet ruled on everything that needs to be learned about this type of integration, and all the less about its role in muscle growth.
However, BCAA supplementation is proven as a valid muscle growth method. BCAA is composed of:
It is similar to valine, both serving as precursors of glutamine and alanine during intense workouts. Valine and isoleucine are the fuel of muscle cells, playing an important role in protein synthesis.
Indeed, an adequate amount of isoleucine in the muscle leads to rapid healing of muscle cell breakage, supporting the growth.
Isoleucine role in bodybuilding is fundamental.
It is definitely the best essential amino acid and determinant in the formation of all types of proteins included in muscle tissue.
Several scientific studies have demonstrated how a few grams of leucine may improve athletic performance.
The most recent study revealed the anabolic and anti-catabolic effects of leucine, comparable to beta-hydroxy-betamethylbutyrate, better known as HMB.
Together with isoleucine and leucine it interferes with protein production in the muscles. During exercises, a huge amount of valine is burned.
Additionally, gaining lean muscle is also helped by:
Involved in a wide variety of metabolic processes that regulate cellular volume, as a regulator of the balance between metabolism and catabolism of fat, carbohydrates and proteins.
Specialists recommend to all bodybuilders a daily supplement of L-glutamine in free form, at a dose of 10-12 grams.
It is one of those amino acids that are unleashed and released during intense exercises.
Like glutamine, it plays an important role in regulating cellular volume and helps stabilize blood sugar levels. It is considered indispensable to bodybuilders.
It is suggested an extra consumption of 2 grams at the end of the workout.
It is most present in muscle tissues.
Scientific studies have shown that administering 500mg three times a day can reduce protein loss by 20%.
Taurine is naturally produced in the body due to the union of two amino acids, in the presence of vitamin B6:
The intensity of exercises and stress can lower the level of taurine in the body. So 1g per day, after training, is a good idea.
L-Arginine is a great amino acid for gaining lean muscle because it is transformed in the body into nitrix oxide (NO).
NO is having a blood vessels dilation effect, increasing the blood flow in the muscles which means that the muscles will get more oxygen and nutrients, supporting muscle growth and postponing fatigue.
The bottom line
Whether you take them from supplements or from diet, the amino acids for gaining lean muscle are truly important in bodybuilding. Additionally, amino acids increase strength, postpone fatigue, are transformed in proteins, and support proteins synthesis. Therefore, for harmonious muscles and a healthy life, amino acids are the best solution.
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