Your Body's Building Blocks
What exactly are amino acids? Basically, they can be considered the “building blocks” of protein. After consuming protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids. These amino acids are responsible for various important biological functions, like repairing tissue, storing and transporting nutrients, and keeping your organs, tendons, arteries, and glands properly functioning.
It’s important to know that not every protein you eat will contain every amino acid that your body requires. In fact, your body naturally produces 11 out of 20 different types of amino acids. These 11 amino acids are considered “non-essential.” They’re called this because they are not an essential part of your diet: your body can generate them on its own using the remains of older protein cells. Keep in mind that some foods do contain non-essential amino acids, but your body can take care of manufacturing them regardless of your diet.
What you want to pay more attention to are fittingly known as the “essential” amino acids. These remaining amino acids can only be acquired from food or supplements. That is, they’re essential because you need to actively make sure they’re a part of your diet. They are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Another one known as arginine is considered “semi-essential;” its importance depends on your age. Infants and young children are unable to produce arginine on their own, and so it is considered essential for them. For adults, it’s another non-essential amino acid. (It’s for this reason that you may see conflicting information on the exact number of essential amino acids. Histidine, for example, was once thought to also only be essential for infants, until it was found to be essential for adults as well.)
A few foods contain all nine essential amino acids; these foods are known as “complete proteins.” Generally speaking, any kind of meat (including fish and poultry) or food with animal origins (milk and eggs) are complete proteins. Eggs, especially, can be considered the benchmark for complete proteins. It contains not only every essential amino acid, but it’s also one of the healthiest single sources of vitamins. In fact, the quality of other proteins are often measured up against the egg, which is considered a “perfect score” in biological value.
It should be noted that there are also complete proteins that aren’t derived from animals; soybeans and quinoa also fit the definition for complete proteins.
Supplements are also an option for obtaining essential amino acids, and Bodylean offers several products that are specifically designed for delivering them in high quantities. Supplements like Optimum Nutrition’s AMIN.O ENERGY and Gold Standard Whey Extract are complete proteins that deliver the amino acids not produced by your body.
For more information, and to see our pre- and post-workout supplements, visit our Bodylean store in Scranton to speak to our fitness experts or find us online at bodylean.net.