What are amino acids? What types are there? What are they for?
are the basic building blocks of proteins in the human body. There are 20 main amino acids and each contains a specific amino group (NH2) and a carboxyl group (COOH), a carbon atom and a hydrogen atom. They also play an important role in muscle development. In practice, there are more than 150 amino acids, but in the composition of proteins there are only the basic 20.
No two amino acids are the same. Each differs from the other because of its composition, side group, or because of the hydrocarbon skeleton, chain (R), that it contains.
Types of amino acids
Depending on the type of chain, amino acids are of two types – essential and interchangeable. The essential and basic amino acids are eight in number – methionine, threonine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine and valine.
They are essential because they are not produced in the body, but need to be absorbed through food (or from sports supplements, dietary supplements or medications).
The other 12 amino acids are replaceable (non-essential), i.e. the body can produce them if it needs them. Leucine, isoleucine and valine are called “chain branched chain amino acids” (CBAA/BCAA). An important non-essential amino acid for bodybuilders is arginine.
Sources of amino acids
The richest foods in amino acids are those that have a high protein content – meat, fish, dairy products, legumes, etc. Animal sources of amino acids contain more essential amino acids than plant products and are therefore more recommended for use. On the other hand, they also contain more fat.
Classification of proteins in food products
- Depending on their origin, proteins are of vegetable (soy, wheat, rice, etc.) or animal origin (dairy, egg, bovine.
- According to the composition of the amino acids they contain. They are usually proteins rich in chain-branched-chain amino acids (CBAA/BCAA), aminoessential proteins (containing only the eight essential ACs) and proteins containing ACs with a modified profile (containing some non-essential ACs in addition to the essential ACs).
What are amino acids for?
- BRAK and AK with a modified profile are the most effective for mass gain. However, AKs with a branched profile can also serve as relief, depending on what AKs are added to the essential.
- Amino acids help to rebuild muscle tissues. They are also involved in muscle growth and development. When the body absorbs the amino acids it needs, it can produce over 50 000 different proteins and over 15 000 enzymes.
- But amino acids not only take part in the synthesis of enzymes in the body. They also affect mood, concentration, aggressiveness, sleep, sex drive and most moods.
Simple intake of amino acids and ingestion via food supplementation
There are supplements high in free amino acids. The effect of taking free amino acids is greater than taking protein concentrates. This is due to their better perception by the human organism.
Once proteins are taken up by the body, they are broken down in the digestive system to di- and tri-peptides (compounds containing two to three amino acids). These peptides are “sucked up” by specialized cells in the small intestine, broken down to free amino acids, and the already released amino acids are transferred into the bloodstream.
After entering the bloodstream, the individual amino acids are transported to all the cells that need them, pass into them and are used for the synthesis of the necessary and cell/tissue/organ specific proteins and enzymes. Thus, protein synthesis (including the increase in muscle mass) during occurs only after the breakdown of dietary proteins into amino acids.
This is where the difference between regular intake and ingestion through supplementation comes in. When amino acids are taken as a dietary supplement, muscle building starts much faster, as the “building material” does not need to be digested, but is in a form ready for use by the cells. That’s why amino acid supplements also have a stronger effect than protein powders in the short term, getting into the bloodstream during the “golden hour” of post-workout recovery.
Even if you do not take amino acids in the form of a preparation, this is done indirectly through the food you eat (especially if it is rich in protein). Most often, protein intake equates to 1-2 g per body weight depending on the goal of the person “taking” them. There are people who take well over 2 g (3-4) per body weight, but this is not recommended.
Because you get the amino acids from food, you don’t need large doses when using them as preparations. But if you still decide to take, then 1-2 grams a day are enough. This dose is sufficient to supply the body with the amino acids necessary for digestion and protein synthesis.
When taking amino acids, it is also important to take in enough calories as there is a danger that your cells will use them for fuel instead of as structural units.
Most athletes prefer to take them about half an hour after training, when the body is inclined to a more complete absorption of the substances taken.