In sports dietetics – we very often hear about the importance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. But it is very rare when athletes are told what amino acids are and even more rarely they mention their influence on the muscle structure. But amino acids, especially those that have a branched structure (BCAA) are among the most important. After all, they allow you to save the lion’s share of muscle tissue during hard diets while losing weight. In addition, they are able to get into muscle tissues almost immediately, bypassing the digestive tract, and, therefore, not digested by the liver, and not being converted to harmful sugar (which often happens with proteins).
So, what are amino acids and why are they so important for the athlete? Amino acids are the constituent parts of the protein. For the simplest comparison, we can say that sugar is the simplest component of complex carbohydrates. In any protein, regardless of its origin, there are amino acids. In the process, the vital activity of our body, a person can synthesize the amino acids necessary for existence from the food that enters it. Virtually all the elements necessary for life activity the body allocates from any products that it receives.
An interesting fact: some interchangeable amino acids, like glutamine, are able to be synthesized by the body in fact from carbohydrates, so that protein food is not always necessary for the full functioning of the body.
Why do we need amino acids. This question is rather complicated, but we will try to tell you extremely simply, without going deep into biochemistry, read the article about glycemic index. So:
- Amino acids are involved in the synthesis of internal protein. It is from them that all our muscles are built.
- They participate in the energy exchange. They allow you to transport digestive enzymes. Amino acids are involved in the transfer of cholesterol, hormones, and energy by blood.
- They can affect the synthesis of hormones in the blood. They are builders of parts of the hormonal system.
- Are components of the hormone insulin.
- Determine the functioning of all organs. Almost all our organs are made up of protein. Consequently, amino acids regulate the size of internal organs.
- Are capable to cause powerful anabolic reactions. The more building material in the body, the more likely it will start construction.
- Adjust the size of the fat depot. They penetrate the fat cells, binding them to convert and synthesize cholesterol, which takes them out of the depot itself.
- Regulate the size of the glycogen depot. All the same transport function. The ability to synthesize glucagon and insulin, which cover the excess of sugar (count energy) in glycogen depots.
- They are constituent cells of the liver during its regeneration. Almost all our organs are made up of protein. And consequently – amino acids – regulate the size of internal organs.
- Determine the level of the brain. Amino acids are involved in the transfer of cholesterol, hormones, and energy by blood.
And a hundred different factors.
But let’s outline the main ones that are important for taking amino acids for sports:
- Regulation of the level of hormone release. Insulin and testosterone. The main anabolic hormones.
- Maintain a level of energy balance. The more proteins, the less the chance of obesity.
- Synthesis of protein structures. Yes, yes, it is from the amino acids our body synthesizes muscles.
Replaceable and irreplaceable
Naturally, such important building elements must enter our body constantly. But since our diet does not involve eating dozens of kilograms of boiled meat a day, the body has learned to synthesize some of its amino acids from its own stores. How does this happen? Everything is very simple. When you get a protein – sometimes it divides the amino acids into even smaller details, which in turn uses it for adjustment to new ones. But it is natural and logical that this can happen only if the particles of amino acids can form a whole.
An interesting fact: some of the transport amino acids are bound to fat cells, permanently locked in a fat depot. This is necessary in case the body does not receive the necessary spare parts for a long time and so that it can make the necessary building elements from its own reserves.
Amino acids, which the body is able to synthesize on its own, are interchangeable amino acids. They are the most important, because they determine the functioning of our body.
Amino acids, which the body can not synthesize from its own stores, or digest them from other inferior amino acids are called irreplaceable. Usually these are rather complex structures that consist of many small details that individually can not simply prevent the main synthesis, and therefore do not participate in the basic energy processes. In particular, these are the amino acids that are involved in the work of the brain, and most importantly for the athlete in the structure of the muscles. After all, muscle structures are one of the most complex structures after hormonal in our body.
Major in sports
First of all, amino acids in sports are needed because they are the most important synthesizers of muscle protein. But in the structure of the protein involved a lot more different macro elements, which are usually not taken into account by athletes.
The list of irreplaceable includes:
Note: some of these amino acids are semi-replaceable. And this means that they can be synthesized on their own, but usually this does not happen because of a multitude of unfavorable factors, each of which does not allow the body to reproduce the desired amino acid independently.
|Amino acid||Her role in sports||Natural source|
|Leycin||He is the main participant in the construction of the whole muscular structure. It binds various amino acids, forms a glycogen depot. participates in mitochondrial synthesis. It is the precursor of dry mass. Helps to form proteins of the 3rd and 4th order.||Meat. Eggs.Milk. Dairy products.Cottage cheese.Vegetable protein.Proteins, heyners.|
|Isoleycin||Unlike the first, it is distinguished by the possibility of priority construction of a glycogen depot. Additionally, it is a participant in the main energy processes. It binds various amino acids, forms a glycogen depot.Participates in miotchondrial synthesis. It is the precursor of dry mass. Helps to form proteins of the 3rd and 4th order.||Meat. Eggs.Milk. Dairy products.Cottage cheese.Vegetable protein.Proteins, healers, BCAA.|
|Valin||It is one of the main building blocks for muscle mass.It is the main energy protein. It takes part not only in the structure, but also in the regulatory processes. In particular, it normalizes the metabolism, besides it is a participant in fat burning – as it penetrates with insulin, it destroys the integrity of the fat cell, thereby helping, destroying and turning it into energy.||Meat. Eggs.Milk. Dairy products.Cottage cheese.Vegetable protein.Proteins, healers, BCAA.|
|L-glutamine||L-glutamine is one of the most important energy amino acids that determines the level of glycogen synthesis and its transportation from the liver to muscle tissue. It is crucial in synthesizing glucagon, which ceases to break down glycogen from muscle tissue and switches the body to the heating rails of external glycogen, coming from sugar to blood with products.||Meat. Eggs.Milk. Dairy products.Cottage cheese.Vegetable protein.Proteins, gains, BCAA|
|Curcumin||Curcumin. is one of the most important energy amino acids that determines the level of synthesis of glycogen and its transport from the liver to muscle tissue. It is crucial in synthesizing glucagon, which ceases to break down glycogen from muscle tissue and switches the body to the heating rails of external glycogen, coming from sugar to blood with products. In addition, curcumin is a powerful anabolic, which, due to its susceptibility to ATP, increases the strengths by 5-7%.||Turmeric, meat, eggs, fish.|
|Arginine||This amino acid reacts to the binding of fluid in the blood. Helps without increasing the density of blood, increase the saturation with oxygen. Allows you to activate the pumping at the appropriate training.||Watermelon, meat, eggs, fish.|
|Creatine||This amino acid reacts to the binding of fluid in the blood. Helps without increasing the density of blood, increase the saturation with oxygen. Allows you to activate the pumping at the appropriate training.||Fish, seafood, sports supplements.|
|Carnitine||Transport amino acid. Regulates the level of cholesterol in the blood, helping to deliver to all the necessary cells. is a participant in fat burning – since, when penetrated with insulin, it destroys the integrity of the fat cell, thereby helping, destroying and turning it into energy.||Meat, eggs, milk, sour-milk products, cottage cheese, vegetable protein, proteins, geyners.|
|D-aspartic acid||It binds various amino acids, forms a glycogen depot.participates in mitochondrial synthesis. It is the precursor of dry mass. Helps to form proteins of the 3rd and 4th order.||Meat. Eggs.Milk. Dairy products.Cottage cheese.Vegetable protein.Proteins, heyners.BCAA.|
Where to draw
For many, amino acids are something akin to chemical additives. However, this is not so. In fact, they are in foods that do not even have enough protein. If considered very simply, then amino acids are small protein fibers from which the protein itself is built. Even if you eat high-grade meat, then the body first splits it into amino acids, and only then begins to convert into a full amino acid balance, in order to build a new, functional body from individual bricks.
Example: the simplest example is construction. You have cement – and there are ready bricks. And there is a ready building, which was earlier on the place where you are going to build a new house. Before you build a new house – you dismantle the old one. But you do not throw everything that was in it. On the contrary – you are trying to make the most efficient use of those bricks that were in the old house. But you can not use already hardened cement, which you just have to throw out.
There are several important factors that you need to know when calculating amino acids from foods:
- Denaturation of the protein.Initially, crude protein is a structure of the fourth degree. In fact, it has all the necessary amino acids for existence, which are combined into very complex structures – however, our body is not able to absorb raw protein at all. Have you ever tried to eat raw meat? No! And do not try. Because it is very dangerous. The protein will be very difficult to digest in the body, and undigested ingredients will cause the growth of pathogenic bacteria, which can even lead to death. In the course of cooking, denaturation occurs when complex bonds in the protein are divided into simpler ones. However, in this case, the protein loses some of the amino acids, which were the main binders for it. Therefore, know that in the boiled egg and cheese the amount and composition of amino acids is almost 2 times different. However, this is not a reason at all, there are raw eggs.
- Assimilability of amino acids. This follows from the preceding paragraph. Amino acids during cleavage have a very fragile structure, due to their simplicity. That’s why they can simply be unnoticed by our body. In particular, the famous curcumin can not practically be assimilated without black pepper. It is simply burned into glucose, and begins to participate in the energy balance at a completely different level, not on what the athlete would like.
- Ability to burn amino acids in glucose. Amino acids, which are part of the main proteins – are very susceptible to the effect of excess caloric intake. In particular, if the body lacks energy, it will break down the protein not into enzymes and amino acids, but quite the reverse. It is possible that he will split it to the level of simple sugars, which in the future will successfully pass into the fat depot.
Almost all these nuances are devoid of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). They are sold exclusively in special capsules (powder, liquid) and have a ready-made structure. And this means that they will not be burned into harmful sugar, and they will be assimilated by the body completely. Such BCAA can be found separately in stores or very often amino acids are enriched with protein mixtures.
Interesting fact: the latter is not really as useful as you think. It is sometimes easier to enrich a cheap raw whey protein, which is absorbed by the body almost completely, with additional amino acids, which will make the entire process cheaper than extracting the full composition of egg powder, or other more complex complex protein formulations.
Rationality of amino acids
And now let’s talk about one of the most controversial factors in the sport. Very often today we are advertised in gyms with amino acids branched chain. Their main purpose is to penetrate the circulatory system for the synthesis of new muscle proteins. Producers assure that this allows to reduce catabolic reactions, which is especially important with a general slowdown in metabolism on extreme diets, when almost all incoming nutrients are burned to sugar in order to ensure a normal energy balance in our body. Of course – this is true, but only partly.
First, the synthesis of new muscle tissue. The thing is that the synthesis of new muscle tissues is a process that lasts for several hours. Therefore, it is not necessary to close the protein window immediately after training. Especially on drying. There is a possibility that even split amino acids will be burned to glucose. In fact, they will simply circulate by blood, not participating in general anabolic processes, since the body will not be able to assimilate them all in one go.
Secondly, the digestive system does not fail. Unfortunately, if you have high acidity or you came to training hungry (which is especially common in athletes on drying), then the amino acids, when ingested into the formed gastric juice, will almost instantly disintegrate into glucose.
Thirdly, the cost price. Even if we take ideal conditions for the reception of amino acids, and consider only the benefits from them, the issue of cost remains. Amino acids (in any form) are much more expensive than the protein into which they enter. The only exception is those amino acids that are practically absent in the usual protein. They are sold as separate food additives – in particular, glutamine, arginine, and creatine. Sometimes carnitine.
As a conclusion, in spite of the obvious advantages of amino acids with a branched chain, the whey protein isolate will be much cheaper. In addition, it will provide the body with everything necessary and in greater quantity. After all, its decay rate is almost identical to branched amino acids. It does not matter when the chain enters the body, after 5 minutes or 30 seconds.
The only case where the use of amino acids with a branched chain is beneficial for the athlete is the closing of the window, which occurs under the influence of insulin immediately after the famine. This allows us to reduce the level of catabolism, and stop the momentary destruction of muscle tissue, which does not affect the synthesis of new proteins in the body.
Damage to pockets and other myths
Of course, if you ask the trainer at the gym, if there are any side effects from taking BCAA, or other amino acids, he will of course tell you that he does not. If you ask the nutritionist, then with a high probability he will turn his finger at his temple, but thinking, too, will not say. That’s right, because of the intake of individual amino acids, and even the main group (leucine, isoleucine, valine), there can be absolutely no side effects. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
There are certain side effects and even potential harm from taking amino acids.
Note: the further section implies only excessive use of certain essential amino acids, which can often not be used in combination with other drugs. Or the risk of side effects is extremely low.
- One of the most famous amino acids – L-carnitine – is one of the most dangerous. Proof of this was confirmed only in 2016, and even these data were not widely disseminated. The thing is that l-carnitine is the basis for the formation of D-carnitine. Therefore, any overabundance turns a useful carnitic into a harmful one. It is a transport cholesterol protein. And this means that you can not use carnitine along with meat products in one day. So, how it helps to transport not only useful carnitine, but also produces the metabolism of harmful cholesterol, which settles on the blood vessels on the vessels.
- Some acids (including glutamine and arginine), lead to the creation of fluid retention in the body. This is unacceptable on drying. In addition, it can lead to swelling, especially for those people who are prone to varicose veins during periods of increased stress.
In other respects, amino acids with a branched chain do not have any special contraindications, at the same time, when using poor-quality raw materials, one can encounter:
- With the formation of additional sugar in the blood. It is connected in the event that you break acid intake, or combine them with a geyner. In this case, they are immediately burned by our liver to glycogen, and most often they are directly transported to the fat depot.
- Indigestion. It is connected with the fact that amino acids are the constituents of protein. And they also have a shelf life.
- Stomach upset. Occurs in the event that overdo it with isoleucine and curcumin, which together can lead to the formation of milk sugar and lactose. To avoid this side effect, it is recommended to take breaks between consumption of whey protein and BCAA for at least 30 minutes.
Of course, today the fitness industry is rapidly advertising amino acids, as they really have huge benefits for athletes of any orientation. However, the editorial board believes that although amino acids are an important building element, they can burn anabolic reactions like “burn fire with dollar bills when there is an excellent bundle of firewood”.