If you enjoy taking part in endurance events like marathons and triathlons, you are probably constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve your performance and level of strength and endurance, and if you haven’t already given them a try, amino acids supplements may be just what you’ve been looking for.
What are amino acids?
Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein and can be found in food sources such as beef, chicken and pork. So, most people do get them in their diet naturally, without having to take extra supplements.
However, if you are a competing athlete looking to build up your strength and stamina, amino acids supplements can help your body to burn more fat, retain muscle mass and improve your overall performance.
Active individuals, like runners, need more protein to sustain their muscles and bone structure, and amino acids supplements are known to be a very high quality source of protein.
Not getting sufficient protein in your diet could cause healthy cells to break down, and without the amount of protein the body needs, these cells cannot be repaired. This can lead to an increased risk of injuries, slower recovery time after workouts and an overall lack of energy.
Why branch chained amino acids are important
The branch chained amino acids, known as BCAA, consist of leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids are important to aerobic metabolism and work to enhance the body’s performance during endurance events of three hours or more.
When you are pushing your body to do something physical for an extended period of time, the BCAA levels decrease as they are used by skeletal muscle, which causes an increased feeling of fatigue. Additionally, a lack of BCAA speeds up the breakdown of muscle glycogen, and this can lead to premature muscle fatigue.
A research carried out in Sweden found that taking BCAA supplement prevents this from happening and helps the body to maintain a steady level of BCAA throughout an endurance event.
How and when to take amino acids supplements
Now that you know why you should be taking amino acids supplements, you are probably wondering when and how you should be taking them.
One of the biggest mistakes that athletes make when it comes to amino acids is getting carried away and taking too much of the supplement in an attempt to reach their goals faster.
Unfortunately, as you probably already know, there are no shortcuts when it comes to building up your stamina, and taking too many amino acids supplements can have a number of side effects.
Side effects of too many amino acids may include anxiety, depression, muscle tension and heart palpitations. In addition to these rather unpleasant side-effects, an overdose of amino acids may even cause weight gain.
Your body needs at least 0.8 grams of quality protein for every kilogram you weigh. If you consume more than your body needs, the extra amino acids will either be burned as fuel or be converted into fat tissue, which can cause you to put on extra weight.
So, how much of the amino acids supplements you need to take will depend a lot on your size and how active you are on a daily basis. Speak to your trainer or an employee at a vitamin store if you are unsure about how much you need to be taking.
When to take the amino acids also varies according to your routine. You could choose to take a dose in the morning and in the afternoon just before your work out, but it doesn’t really matter as long as you build it into your routine and grow accustomed to taking the supplements on a daily basis.
Skipping doses will prevent you from enjoying the full benefits that amino acids supplements offer, so it is important to find a way to include it into your daily routine. Perhaps you could always take a dose just before your work out, or even during your work out, while another dose could be taken in the morning before you head to work.
It’s all about figuring out what your specific needs are and what your body responds to, and then going with what works best for you.
Joyce Del Rosario is a blogger from www.foodfile.org, a helpful website for comparing food content. It helps people in balancing their diet. Join Joyce in the Food File community today.