All bodybuilders know the importance of incorporating amino acids in your training. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle protein and as such, are essential to your aims of gaining muscle mass. Getting your required amounts of it, however, can be difficult because your stores are used up rapidly when you train or exercise and lack of amino acids can actually accelerate muscle breakdown, causing you to get tired and feel weak easily.
Amino acids are divided into two groups: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured by the body naturally and have to be acquired from selected food sources. Non-essential amino acids on the other hand, are those that can be synthesized within the body or derived in the body from essential amino acids and contribute greatly to proper metabolism. The most important essential amino acids to bodybuilders are the BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids that are composed of leucine, isoleucine and valine. This because they are metabolized in the muscles rather than in the liver, utilized to build more new proteins and to serve as fuel for more energy.
However, as bodybuilders also aim to lose weight, particularly body and belly fat to achieve that lean physique, the tendency to lose muscle mass is greater than the tendency to lose body fat especially with lack of BCAAs. While dieting can get your shredded, it can also shave off a significant amount of muscle from your biceps and this is one reason BCAAs are important in any bodybuilding routine – it prevents your muscles from going into a catabolic state or that state wherein your muscle tissue and essential fat deposits are depleted.
When you go on a diet, your body becomes susceptible to muscle breakdown. The leaner your body gets, the more likely it loses muscle mass as it tries harder and harder to hold on to your fat stores. In time, it will turn to your muscles to get what it needs and this doesn’t bode well for those who are aiming for a lean, hard body. This is where BCAAs come in. They will work hard to promote protein synthesis by reducing the rate of protein breakdown so you don’t go into a catabolic state and instead gain more muscle mass or increase your muscle growth.
To choose the best amino acid supplements, you must first do research on what each type can do for you and how it can help you achieve your fitness goals. If you are like most bodybuilders who aim for muscle growth, then choose supplements with healthy doses of leucine. Studies show that taking in about 3 to 20 grams of leucine per day results in better muscle growth, better protein synthesis and less muscle soreness.
You should also go for supplements with the ideal BCAA ratio of 2:1:1, which is leucine:isoleucine:valine. As more and more manufacturers realize the importance of leucine, they tend to increase its amounts more than isoleucine and valine. The 2:1:1 ratio has been proven to have significant benefits so bodybuilders shouldn’t go any higher than that.
Another ingredient you should look for in your amino acid supplements is glutamine. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that gets rapidly depleted every time you exercise and unfortunately, can’t be made fast enough by the body. Taking glutamine supplements enhances the immune system and helps you recover quickly so you can do more reps and maximize your training.
And last but not the least, don’t forget your electrolytes. Since amino acid supplements are designed to rebuild and protect your body from muscle damage, it is important you get enough electrolytes to increase your muscle functions and to reduce soreness and cramping. It will also help to find one with added potassium and sodium which are also two nutrients lost when you exercise. Make sure to look for supplements with all these ingredients and you are guaranteed the best results every time.