Are you planning to take amino acid supplements? There are various options including protein powders, tablets, and even real food. It’s important to know which essential amino acids (EAAs) your body needs daily. This will help to determine which ones you should take for results like building muscle mass and faster recovery. You should also know the best time to take amino acids like before or after workouts. This will help to provide the best results when taking dietary supplements. Some of the most popular reasons for taking aminos include muscle-building, less workout fatigue, and faster post-workout recovery.
However, you might also be wondering the time of day to take aminos. Should you take them early in the morning, in the middle of the day, or just before bedtime? This will be based on the particular aminos you’re taking. Other possible factors include the purpose for taking the aminos and whether you have certain medical conditions. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you start any new dietary supplement. He/She can help guide you about the ideal time to take particular amino acids. For example, you might even need to wait X minutes before or after meals/workouts to get the best results.
What in the World Are Essential Amino Acids?
Fun Fact: The human body contains 20 amino acids. Among this number 9 of them are essential amino acids (EAAs). In other words, they’re essential because people must get them from food/supplements. This differs from the 11 non-essential aminos that the body can make by itself.
The top source of aminos like other nutrients is always food. Some of the best choices include:
These foods are all “complete proteins.” In other words, they include all 9 EAAs that humans need for body/brain function.
Besides food, you can also get EAAs in dietary supplements. They include tablets and protein powders. The most popular powder is whey protein but there are others like casein, egg, beef, and soy.
Another option is tablets with amino acids. One of the most popular options is something called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). They’re named for the chemical structure of the aminos that “branch” off to one side.
Why would you need more aminos? If you want to build lean muscle mass then you’ll want to boost your protein in general. Health experts recommend boosting your protein up to about one-third of your calories.
This might not seem like a lot but it is. That’s because foods that are high-protein might not be high in fats or carbs. So, it’s critical to do macro-counting so you’ll know how much of each macro (carbs, protein, fats) you’re getting in your foods.
There’s a caveat. If you’re boosting protein it can be tough to get it all from food. In theory, this should be your goal. However, based on factors like your body weight and workout intensity, making 30% of your total calories from protein might be a whole lot of food. It’s the reason you might want to consider protein/amino supplements to get enough of both.
When’s the Best Time to Take Amino Acids?
In terms of workouts, the main options are pre, intra, or post-workout. It can be tough to sort through because supplement makers often recommend taking supplements throughout the day. This isn’t surprising since they’re selling the stuff.
The key is to get the timing right so you get the best results for your investment. There are certain times that help you get the best results. The only real exception would be if your amino acid intake is super-low. In that case, you should probably try to take aminos throughout the day.
Here are some of the main times to take aminos:
- Before/During/After Workouts
- With Low-protein Meals
There are different benefits you can get from taking amino supplements pre/intra/post-workout. If you take the supplements before your workout you’ll have during-workout fuel, which can help to keep muscle break-down from happening. The right dosage can keep the benefits of going after your workout.
Intra-workout aminos are the most popular timeframe. There’s nothing “wrong” with this option. However, there’s some debate if it’s the best option. The theory is that it helps people get past plateaus and take their workouts to the next level.
It turns out you can probably avoid hitting a wall by taking a few basic steps. They include drinking enough water pre-workout and taking your aminos before you start your workout.
Another option is to take your aminos after workouts. This is done to speed up the recovery time. There’s also nothing “bad” about this option. However, some studies show that pre-workout aminos can be just as effective as post-workout aminos. In some cases, they’re actually better.
Finally, you can also take aminos between meals. The goal is to prevent muscle breakdown. The problem with this concept is it’s “bro science.” The reason is when you eat blood sugar increases and growth hormones decrease. In fact, at the end of fasts growth hormones are rock-bottom.
Top Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements
1. Burn Fat
Besides building muscles, aminos like BCAAs can help you burn fat. This is critical when you’re on a cutting diet, for example. If you’re on a low-carb diet then you’ll also want to get into ketosis so your body gets energy from stored fat versus food carbs. Aminos can help with the process and speed up how fast you can get into ketosis.
2. More Endurance
This is an overlooked benefit of amino supplements. When you do workouts your body’s first option for energy is carbs/fat. A major problem of athletes and weightlifters is low blood sugar levels due to high-intensity workouts. Amino acids can help since they’ll replenish energy, which especially helps when doing exercises like sprints.
3. Less Fatigue
This will give you more energy for your workouts. BCAAs and others are good options to achieve this goal. If you’re getting fatigued less soon, you’ll have more energy for your gym workouts. That, in turn, will improve your athletic performance and produce results like more muscle/strength gains.
4. Increased Focus
Aminos not only provides physical benefits but also mental ones. Aminos can help with issues like better processing and short-term memory. This can help to improve your workouts and keep you more focused. In fact, you can even stay in the “zone” for hours.
Another benefit of aminos is they can help to prevent muscle breakdown. That’s a situation you’ll want to avoid since it can affect your workouts. This could be related to different factors including age-related muscle “wasting.”
This is one of the top benefits of amino acid supplements. One of the best ones is Leucine, which is included in BCAA supplements. When you get enough aminos your body has everything it needs for building muscle tissue. This is one of the reasons you should consider the best time to take amino acids.