Basically, there are three major sources of nutrients to the body. We have carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Carbohydrates when broken down release glucose as a source of energy. Fats when broken down release fatty acids. And proteins when broken down produce amino acids. Protein is very important for bodily functions. And also for the growth of the body. For the body to remain in good health amino acids are needed. And you can get it from food sources high in amino acids.
Actually, there are about 20 amino acids that the body uses. And 9 of them are essential. This means that these 9 are gotten from external sources because the body can’t produce them. And the major source is from the food we eat. Generally, foods like meat, soy, tofu, eggs, buckwheat, and dairy contain a large amount of these amino acids. The importance of amino acids in our bodies can’t be ignored. Today, we’ll be having a look at the function of amino acids. And also sources of food sources high in amino acids. With this, you can be guided on what to include in your diet plan.
Overview of Amino Acids
The building blocks of proteins are amino acids. This means that in making protein amino acids are used. And also when proteins are broken down amino acids are also released. Protein plays a key role in the growth and development of the body. So we can indirectly say that amino acids play a role in the growth and development process.
That’s not all. Amino acids are also very important in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones. And these two substances play significant roles in our body.
So there are essential, nonessential, and conditionally essential amino acids. Let’s have a look at each classification.
Essential amino acids can’t be produced by the body. They only get into the body when they are consumed. Either through foods or supplements. They include phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, histidine, leucine, and lysine.
Non-essential amino acids, on the other hand, can be produced by the body. So it’s not mandatory that they are included in your diet.
Conditionally essential amino acids are actually non-essential amino acids. They become essential to undergo certain conditions. Such conditions are illness and stress.
Food Sources High in Amino Acids
It’s important to identify the different sources of amino acids. That way you would be able to include them in your diet from time to time.
- Lean meat: Red meat is actually known to contain very high amounts of protein. Lean cuts of beef would make 31 grams of protein available in a 3-ounce serving. With ham, it’s 28 grams. And then pork chops provide 21 grams. One thing though that has been found out is that when the cuts are fat there’s a lower amount of protein.
- Poultry: So if you’re not a fan of red meat then you can opt for poultry. With a 3-ounce serving of either chicken or turkey, you get 28 grams of protein. Which is a good one if you think about it.
- Eggs and dairy: These two sources would provide you with the large amount of protein you need. For dairy products, low-fat and non-fat products have more protein content. With a cup of yogurt, you would get 14 grams of protein. And with one egg you would get 6 grams of protein.
- Plant-based sources: So there are many plant sources that provide a good amount of protein. But there are two unique ones. They are quinoa and soy products. These two products actually contain all the essential amino acids. With a cup of soybeans, you can get as much as 29 grams of protein. A cup of cooked quinoa provides about 8 grams of protein. Well, there are other plant-based sources that have high protein contents. Such as beans and nuts. With beans, you get about 15-17 grams of protein for every cup cooked. And with nuts and seeds, you have 4-9 grams of protein for each ounce.
Benefits of Amino Acids
Improves mood and sleep
Amino acids have been found to have massive effects on sleep and mood. Amino acid tryptophan is needed for the production of serotonin. And serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, mood, and also the behavior of a person. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and sudden mood swings. So with sufficient amounts of tryptophan in your body, there would be a decreased probability of depression. At the same time, this would be of help if you have insomnia. You would be able to sleep well at night without any problem.
Boosts exercise performance
There are three major amino acids that have a great effect on exercise performance. they are isoleucine, valine and leucine. They are known as branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids help with reducing fatigue and improving your performance during exercise. That’s the reason why many athletes take BCAA supplements before and after their training.
Prevent muscle loss
Amino acids have an effect on muscle mass. They help prevent the breakdown of muscles. And at the same time helps preserve the entire muscle mass. This is the reason why amino acid supplements are given to patients on bed rest.
As unbelievable as this sounds it’s very true. Amino acids especially BCAAs help burn fat. This is of great benefit to athletes because they can get rid of belly fat. And that way they can remain fit.
Decrease muscle soreness
So many people experience muscle soreness after strenuous activity or exercise. Amino acids actually help out a lot with this. This becomes more effective when you take the supplement before you work out. And that’s because the repairing process in your muscle starts on time. With that, there would be reduced micro-tears in your muscles.
There’s no doubt that amino acids play a great role in our body. And their benefits are simply mind-blowing. So to avail of these benefits, you would have to take foods high in amino acids.