What Is It?
Essential Amino Acids - Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Of the 20 amino acids that make up dietary protein, 9 are essential and 11 are non-essential.
An amino acid is considered essential because the body cannot make it from other dietary components. Therefore if one's diet does not contain a full complement of the essential amino acids, a nutritional deficiency exists.
What Does It Do?
During exercise, protein breakdown increases with no rise in protein synthesis. This means that training and competing can be very catabolic times, no matter what type of exercise you do. Fortunately, during the post-exercise period, this muscle catabolism can be slowed as protein synthesis begins to rise.
However, this increase still isn't enough to counter the protein breakdown that's still occurring. The net result of this workout and post workout catabolism is that muscle recovery and improvement (if endurance exercise is your thing) or growth (if strength exercise is your thing) is hampered.
Current research in dietary supplementation has targeted these catabolic times, attempting to minimize the catabolism and maximize the anabolism (including recovery, improvement, and/or growth). This research has demonstrated that essential amino acids (alone or with carbohydrates) ingested before, during, or after exercise promote huge increases in protein balance.
Where Does It Come From?
Essential Amino Acids are basic dietary components that comprise all of the proteins we eat. However, the provision of these amino acids individually (or as part of an easily digestible complete protein like hydrolyzed or isolated whey protein) can lead to more rapid digestion and absorption and faster recovery.
Furthermore, 3 of the 9 essential amino acids are the often-discussed branched chain amino acids (BCAA). These amino acids are important to muscle metabolism and may prevent central fatigue.
How Do I Use It?
Strength and endurance athletes will benefit from approximately 6g per 70kg mass of EAA ingested immediately prior to and/or during exercise.
Alternatively, athletes could choose to consume 0.4g/kg of rapidly digesting protein like whey hydrolysate or whey concentrate/isolate. For further benefit add 0.8g/kg carbohydrate to enhance the recovery effects of these amino acids.
4/4 - This supplement/regimen has significant scientific backing and can produce significant benefits in most individuals.
3/4 - There exists a sound theoretical basis for its ergogenic effects; may work in certain individuals; further research is needed to elucidate their respective effects.
2/4 - Science is equivocal, animal data and human data may be conflicting; or mechanism of action may be unclear.
1/4 - Little or no science as well as poor theoretical foundation.
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