What’s the best way to prepare for your bodybuilding show? Fun Fact: Eugene Sandow is known as the Father of Bodybuilding. It’s well-known that protein is needed to build lean muscle mass. However, it’s critical to consider that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. This includes amino acid benefits in bodybuilding. Aminos are important for several body functions related to bodybuilding. They include ones like muscle building/repairing, energy boosts, and mental focus. These are some of the many ways amino acids can help bodybuilders reach their fitness goals in terms of strength/muscle gains. Some of the health benefits of amino acids might be surprising.
There’s no question that amino acids provide several benefits for bodybuilding. However, it’s important to know the types/amounts required for optimum results. For example, there are 20 amino acids and the human body produces about half of them naturally. In recent years branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been trending. However, these are just one-third of the total number of EAAs. So it’s critical to know which EAAs are most critical and the amount needed of each kind. This can help you choose wisely when picking foods/supplements to consume. This can help to maximize your workout sessions.
What Do Amino Acids Do?
Protein is one of the three macronutrients besides carbs and fats. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins so your body must get all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) in particular. These are the ones that people must get from foods/supplements.
Here’s why. The body produces non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). Sometimes it doesn’t make enough so you have to add those aminos through food/supplements. What’s important is that your body has high enough levels of all 20 amino acids to get the best results.
Athletes, weightlifter, and bodybuilders often focus on EAAs. This makes sense since we consume food/supplements daily to boost our levels. When you’re tracking your macros it’s a lot easier to add up your EAAs.
On the other hand, NEAAs is a different story. The body produces them naturally and in most cases makes enough of them. However, factors like normal aging and health conditions can affect this process.
You could be maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise. However, if you have various health conditions, for example, your body might produce enough NEAAs. That, in turn, can affect factors like muscle gains and workout recovery even if you’re getting enough EAAs in your diet.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been trending in recent years. They’re considered important EAAs for various functions like muscle building/repairing, slower fatigue, etc. If you’re getting enough EAAs then extra BCAA can help take your strength/muscle gains to the next level.
However, you must first make sure you’re getting enough of all EAAs including BCAAs. Once you have this foundation you can start building on it through supplements like protein powders, tablets/capsules, and even liquid aminos.
That said, it’s important to get most of your aminos/proteins from real food. That includes:
Amino Acid Benefits in Bodybuilding
1. Mental Focus
This might be surprising. Amino supplements can help to boost mental processing and short-term memory. This is critical in different situations. They include long workouts and bodybuilding competitions.
In both cases staying mentally sharp can be the key to winning your next show. On the other hand, a lack of focus could prevent you from taking home a trophy.
2. Workout Fatigue
It’s fair to say if you’re not getting tired during workouts you’re doing something wrong. That said, the key is to slow down the process so you can get through brutal workouts. Studies show that EAAs like BCAAs can help to fight off physical/mental fatigue. This can help to improve your workouts, strength/muscle gains, etc.
The process is related to signal-sending neurotransmitters. It’s about boosting your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters, which can help to slow down physical/mental fatigue. EAA supplements seem to help.
3. Muscle Breakdown
It’s important to minimize this process while boosting “protein synthesis.” One of the best ways is through supplements with amino acids. This process is also known as “muscle sparing.” Intermittent fasting is one cause of being at a higher risk of muscle breakdown.
4. Workout Recovery
It’s critical to speed up the recovery process after workouts. This involves various issues like muscle soreness. When you have a hard workout it causes small tears in muscle fibers. These are helpful for muscle gains. Amino acids through food/supplements can speed up this process.
5. Muscle Soreness
A key benefit of amino supplements is it can speed up the process of muscle recovery. This starts up to one day after your workout and lasts for up to a full three days. One of the solutions is amino acids. That’s because it can help speed up the process so you can get back into the gym to reach fitness goals.
Amino Acids for Bodybuilders: Food or Supplements?
As a bodybuilder, it’s important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to a tee. This involves taking steps like tracking your macro split of carbs/protein/fats. This is important to help make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need in terms of macronutrients.
How much protein do bodybuilders need? Experts recommend 1.2g to 1.7g of protein per kg of body weight. If you’re not a fan of tracking amino acids you can simply make sure you’re getting enough aminos through various high-protein sources.
The main options are food and supplements. You can find lots of protein powders on the market that are sourced from different high-protein foods like meat, milk, eggs, and soybeans. Studies show that such dietary supplements might provide various health benefits.
You could add aminos to your diet through dietary supplements. For example, this could include a BCAA tablet in the morning, a protein shake in the afternoon, and liquid aminos at dinner. The key is not to overdo it.
By definition “supplements” are used to add to your daily diet of real food. Make sure you’re getting most of your aminos from food versus supplements. This is critical to get the best results. Beat, fish, whole grains, nuts/seeds, beans, and dairy are some of the best food sources of protein.
This is a foundation you could then build on with some amino supplements. You could have a breakfast shake mid-afternoon and fruit/green smoothie in the mid-afternoon. The key is to avoid replacing your food-based aminos with supplement-based aminos. It’s not a nutrient-for-nutrient substitute.
One of the best approaches when doing meal planning is to build your meals around protein. This could include eggs for breakfast, turkey/fish for lunch, and beef/pork for dinner. These are complete proteins so they provide high-level amino acid benefits in bodybuilding.