Your Guide to Amino Acid Supplements
The standard advice for those looking to improve their endurance and increase muscle gains is to add in a supplement to your daily routine. But supplements vary, not only in terms of what they contain but also in what fitness or health goal they support. For those of us who are newer to fitness and weight training and who may not know the exact supplements they need for their particular purposes, the number of choices can be overwhelming.
The good news is that Supplement Superstore is here to help! Some of the most popular supplements on the market today are amino acid supplements. You may remember, albeit vaguely, what an amino acid is from high school chemistry class. But what can amino acid supplements do for you in terms of getting you closer to your target weight and strength ability?
Let us walk you through the basics of amino acids and make some recommendations for amino acid supplements, as well as BCAA supplements (more on that later!), to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
What is an Amino Acid?
To start, let’s dive into a little bit of chemistry. Amino acids are organic compounds that make up proteins inside your body. They are the building blocks of life itself! Our bodies make use of the proteins created by amino acids to perform various bodily functions, such as breaking down food, repairing muscle tissues, and providing energy to the body.
Amino acids can be broken down into three categories:
- Essential amino acids
- Nonessential amino acids
- Conditional amino acids
For those of us who are improving our endurance and increasing our muscle gains, the amino acids we are concerned with are the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not naturally produced in the body, so we must get them from outside sources, such as food or amino acid supplements.
The Functions of Essential Amino Acids
In total, your body needs 20 amino acids in order to grow and function as it should. While all 20 are important and serve a purpose in the grand scheme of health and wellness, only nine of the 20 can be classified as essential. Essential amino acids are most prevalent in animal proteins, especially meat, eggs, and poultry.
Be sure you’re getting your dose of essential amino acids, whether through animal proteins or amino acid supplements, as an amino acid deficiency can lead to issues with your nervous, reproductive, immune and digestive systems.
For those of us with active lifestyles, essential amino acids can positively affect our health and fitness goals, such as reducing muscle soreness, decreasing exercise fatigue, and promoting weight loss.
Our Top Amino Acids Supplements
It’s one thing to understand what amino acids are and how they can help you reach your goals. It’s quite another to wade through the endless number of options for adding amino acids into your life! We at Supplement Superstore have several brands and products to recommend that will not only give you your amino acid fix but also be fun and straightforward to incorporate into your daily routine.
We’ve chosen our top amino acid supplements for you to take a peek at below:
- A:Cuts: This amino-charged energy drink is one of the tastiest amino acid supplements we offer. Allmax has combined 4.2 grams of amino acids and green coffee extract into this sugar-free drink mix. It also features C.L.A, a dietary supplement derived from safflower and sunflower oils. C.L.A. works to reduce body fat by preventing fat accumulation in fat cells.
Allmax A:Cuts offers you the perfect combination of ingredients to boost your energy, improve muscle mass, and help you burn fat. Try one to two scoops depending on the exercise you’ll be completing for maximum effect from this amino acid supplement!
- Amino IQ: Mental focus is imperative to get through tough workouts. Out of our favorite amino acid supplements, this is the one that will give you the most significant brain boost. It promotes alertness, wakefulness, and enhances cognitive performance. Amino IQ supports cognitive health, relieves fatigue, and improves endurance. If that weren’t amazing enough, the essential amino acids present in the formula increase muscular protein synthesis and assist you in building lean muscle mass.
Amino IQ is part of Beyond Yourself’s “Candy Shoppe Series,” meaning that, no matter which flavor you choose, you’ll feel like you’re eating dessert! Try out Green Gummy Frogs or Rocket Pop for a blast of sweet flavor while you sweat.
- Amino Energy + Electrolytes: We’ve all had a tough workout that has made working out the next day a chore. Your muscles ache, your energy level is zero, and the thought of hitting the gym seems criminal to you. Amino acid supplements can be the perfect energy booster to get you through this kind of plateau, and Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy + Electrolyte blend is our top choice!
Providing you essential amino acid delivery, a two or four-scoop serving provides the muscle recovery, energy focus, and rehydration you’ll need when sweating it out in the gym. Nothing is more natural or more effective at getting you the amino acids you need to perform at your peak!
The category of essential amino acids can be broken down even further, highlighting the three essential amino acids most critical to athletes. These amino acids are:
These three essential amino acids are known as branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs. BCAAs are crucial to protein synthesis that builds muscle and maintains glycogen stores. BCAAs stop your body from breaking down existing muscle tissue after a tough workout, so you can add to your muscle gains instead of losing them!
You may be wondering what the best way to consume BCAAs is. As is the case with other essential amino acids, BCAAs are not produced by the body and must be consumed in order for you to reap their benefits. Certain foods are high in BCAAs, such as:
- Chicken breast
- Canned tuna
- Beef flank steak
If the thought of digging in to some flank steak at the gym is making you squirm, fear not! One of the best ways of consuming BCAAs is by taking BCAA supplements.
Many BCAA supplements are structured in a 2:1:1 ratio, but when you see this on your supplement’s label, what does it mean? BCAA supplements often include a double dose of leucine compared to the amount of isoleucine and valine present. This is because leucine is slightly more effective at stimulating protein synthesis and suppressing the breakdown of existing muscle tissue.
Our Favorite BCAA Supplements
When your body is lacking in BCAA, you may experience decreased muscle growth, muscle soreness, post-workout fatigue, and increased cravings. Adding one of our top BCAA supplements into your routine is the simplest way to reap the most benefits from the hard work you put in at the gym.
- Mutant BCAA 9.7: When you live an active life, BCAA supplements are the perfect way for you to consume much-needed branched-chain amino acids. Mutant’s BCAA 9.7 delivers the perfect blend of amino acids in just one scoop. Their BCAAs come in a 2:1:1 ratio, meaning you get double the leucine for increased protein synthesis.
The 9.7 grams of amino acids, along with eight added electrolytes, ensure that Mutant BCAA helps you grow your lean muscle mass while staying hydrated during endurance workouts.
- ANS Performance Quench BCAA: We love ANS Performance Quench for many of the same reasons that we love Mutant BCAA. Not only does Quench also offer a 2:1:1 ratio, it also promotes hydration through naturally occurring electrolytes and minerals found in the blend’s coconut water and Himalayan pink sea salt.
So what sets ANS Quench apart from Mutant BCAA and other BCAA supplements?
QUENCH includes 1000mg each of L-Glutamine, Taurine and L-Carnitine L-Tartrate to help support muscle recovery and performance.
- BCAA Apocalypse: Living an active life, especially if you take part in any endurance sport, means that muscle breakdown will become a fact of life for you. Taking BCAA supplements helps to prevent muscle breakdown from derailing your gains while stimulating new muscle growth in the process. The amino acids found in this supplement will be absorbed by your muscles directly, rather than your liver, to stop muscle tissue breakdown in its tracks.
MuscleMaxx BCAA Apocalypse also features a blend of B6 and B12 to give your metabolism the kickstart it needs to help your muscles quickly absorb the BCAAs found in the formula. And as a final bonus, Apocalypse provides you a dose of Taurine to support your mental focus and keep your energy up in the gym.
Additional Supplements for Your Fitness Goals
Once you’ve had the chance to dive into the amino acid supplements and BCAA supplements we’ve suggested, you may want to explore other options for reaching your health and fitness goals. The next logical supplement to add to your daily routine is whey protein.
What is Whey Protein?
Protein comes in many forms - animal protein, protein concentrates, and supplements - and is crucial to your ability to recover from a hard workout and build the lean muscle you’re seeking. Whey protein is one of the most popular protein sources for first-timers and seasoned gym-goers alike.
Whey protein is high in amino acids, especially the amino acid leucine. Leucine is the BCAA that is most effective in protein synthesis, allowing your body to add to your muscle gains post-workout. The amino acids in whey protein allow for quick protein absorption, and, when taken during your anabolic window (the 30 minutes post-workout), whey protein maximizes your ability to repair and build muscle.
Our Favorite Whey Protein Supplements
Like amino acid supplements and BCAA supplements, we have favorite whey protein supplements to recommend to you!
- Gold Standard 100% Whey: If you’ve never tried a whey protein supplement before, we suggest trying out this formula out. The combination of Whey Protein Isolates (WPI) and whey protein concentrate (WPC) in this supplement delivers 24 grams of protein per serving for your post-training needs. Much like the other supplements included in this post, the Gold Standard Whey supplement is a quick and easy way to pack in your protein during your anabolic window.
- Allmax’s AllWhey Classic: This supplement is the closest thing you’ll get to a post-workout milkshake, with none of the sugar and all of the protein benefits! The formula is designed to combine digestion-enhancing enzymes with amino acids, resulting in much higher levels of protein absorption.
With flavors like French Vanilla, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Cookies & Cream, your favorite moment at the gym will soon become the first sip of your post-workout AllWhey Classic supplement.
- Beyond Yourself Whey Recovery: For effective protein absorption post-workout with no processed sugar, look no further than Beyond Yourself’s Whey Recovery protein supplement. Sweetened with natural stevia leaf, you’ll reap the benefits of 23 grams of whey protein per serving and avoid the crash that accompanies sugary alternatives.
It’s not just whey you’ll get with this supplement. Beyond Yourself has packed each serving with at least 5 grams of BCAAs, so you can be sure the whey protein and amino acids will work together to aid in muscle growth and recovery.
Top Tips for Using Supplements
Whether you’ve fallen in love with one of the BCAA supplements we’ve suggested, or you have a whey protein supplement you can’t get enough of, there are some best practices surrounding supplement use that you should know!
First, you want to pair your supplement with the right workout. If your focus is to gain muscle and weight, you’ll want to choose a supplement that combines both whey protein and amino acids, for quick absorption and muscle gain stacking. If instead you are focused on losing weight with heavy cardio, try a whey protein supplement as a meal replacement. It will keep you full and help avoid post-workout cravings.
You’ll also want to prepare, both pre and post-workout, to be sure you’re maximizing the supplement’s effectiveness. A pre-workout supplement will help boost your energy and focus on making it through a grueling sweat session, while a post-workout supplement will increase your muscle gains during your anabolic window.
No matter which way you slice it, supplements loaded with essential amino acids and whey protein will decrease muscle soreness, improve your mental focus, and allow for more significant gains with shorter recovery time. Find your favorite supplement from our suggestions above and get to gaining!