Amino acid supplementation is important for every athlete who is pushing his or her body to the limits. Amino acids play a key role in all physiological processes in our body. They are the building blocks of protein and muscle. Proteins consist out of hundreds of amino acids and are very important for cellular health, organs, enzymes, hormones a...
Amino acid supplementation is important for every athlete who is pushing his or her body to the limits. Amino acids play a key role in all physiological processes in our body. They are the building blocks of protein and muscle. Proteins consist out of hundreds of amino acids and are very important for cellular health, organs, enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Protein also plays a key role in the human metabolism.
BCAA’s, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are extremely important for building muscle. BCAA’s help with preventing muscle break down and play a key role in building new muscle mass. The human body cannot produce BCAA’s and so all BCAA’s need to be obtained from food and supplementation. BCAA’s differ from other amino acids because they are immediately taken up by the muscles and are not stored in the liver.
Twenty percent of the human body is made up of protein. Protein plays a crucial role in almost all biological processes and amino acids are the building blocks of it.
A large proportion of our cells, muscles and tissue is made up of amino acids, meaning they carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure. They also play a key role in the transport and the storage of nutrients. Amino acids have an influence on the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries. They are furthermore essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism.
The importance of amino acids for human well-being is on the increase
Unfortunately, in the real world countless factors are working to prevent our bodies from receiving a full and balanced supply of these all-important substances. Among these factors are the pollution caused by burning fossil-fuels, the hormones fed to cattle, the intensive use of fertilizers in agriculture, and even habits such as smoking and drinking, all of which can prevent our bodies from fully using what we eat. Worse still is the amount of nutrition that is lost from our food through processing before we actually get to eat it...By providing the body with optimal nutrition, amino acids help to replace what is lost and, in doing so, promote well-being and vitality.
If the body is lacking in the minimum energy and nutrients, the body cannot carry out its bodily and mental functions. Without the necessary vitamins, proteins (amino acids), trace elements and minerals, there is a risk of debilities and metabolic disorders which can have serious consequences.
The amino acid pool has to be right
Almost every disease caused by civilisation is a result of imbalances in our metabolism. The amino-acid pool is jointly responsible for achieving a balanced metabolism.
The amino acid pool describes the entire amount of available free amino acids in the human body. The size of the pool amounts to around 120 to 130 grams in an adult male. If we consume protein in the diet, the protein in the gastro-intestinal tract is broken down into the individual amino acids and then put back together again as new protein. This complex biological process is called protein biosynthesis. The entire amino acid pool is transformed, or ‘exchanged’ three to four times a day. This means that the body has to be supplied with more amino acids, partly by protein biosynthesis, partly by the diet or through consumption of suitable dietary supplements.
The objective is that the amino acid pool is complete and maintained in the correct combination. If the one or more amino acids are not available in sufficient quantities, the production of protein is weakened and the metabolism may only function in a limited way.
Older people are not the only ones who this applies to, for young people can also be affected by the negative consequences of a limited supply of nutrients. These include weight problems, hair loss, skin problems, sleep disorders, mood swings and/or erectile disorders but also arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular imbalance (high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure) or even menopausal complaints.
This has been called the "King" of Amino acids. L-glutamine is best known among bodybuilders for being anti-catabolic. That means it prevents muscles from suffering tissue breakdown after hard exercise, thus resulting in faster recuperation. It also has an anabolic effect by creating a positive nitrogen balance in cells, which assists in the utilization of protein. This means speedier muscle tissue repair and rebuilding.
Glutamine, taken with a lot of water, has a "volumizing" effect on muscle cells. By increasing cell volume, more nutrients can enter. Increased cellular volume also results in an anabolic effect by sending signals turn on protein synthesis within the cell.
After workouts, glycogen is depleted. Glutamine increases the amount of glycogen synthesized in the liver and muscles, making muscles larger and fuller.
What is HMB?
HMB (short for β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate) is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine that, along with KIC (α keto-isocaproate) and isovaleryl-CoA, mediate the effects of leucine. Approximately 5% of dietary leucine is oxidized into HMB, and HMB appears to be the main metabolite of leucine that more effectively prevents the breakdown of muscle protein.
When compared to leucine, HMB appears to be significantly more potent on a gram per gram basis at attenuating the rate of muscle protein breakdown but is less effective than leucine at inducing muscle protein synthesis. Due to this, HMB is marketed as an anti-catabolic agent (purposed to reduce the rate of muscle breakdown) rather than an anabolic agent (purposed to increase muscle mass).
Human trials don't normally tend to be structured to properly assess the effects of HMB, as most of the studies are a standard diet paired with an exercise regimen investigating the role of HMB in promoting muscle protein synthesis (of which it is similar to leucine in the sense that there are positive results, but quite unreliably so); the limited evidence that assesses HMB during periods of muscle loss are either underpowered or not in athletes.
HMB, currently, appears to be a pretty interesting supplement for the purpose of reducing muscle wasting during periods where muscle atrophy is accelerated (cachexia, AIDS, bedrest) and should theoretically work in athletes on a calorie restricted diet but is not fully established for this role yet (which is a notable issue, since glutamine has a large dichotomy between clinical and healthy populations).
How to take HMB?
Supplementation of HMB tends to be in the dosage range of 1-3g daily for the purpose of reducing muscle mass losses over time (anti-catabolic). As HMB is said to be 20-fold more potent than leucine for this purpose, it is seen as equivalent to 20-60g of leucine supplementation.
For the purpose of muscle protein synthesis, HMB and leucine are fairly equivalent if not the latter (leucine) being more potent on a gram basis. HMB is not advised for inducing muscle protein synthesis since leucine is likely more effective as well as cheaper.
Supplementation of HMB prior to an exercise session would require the usage of an HMB free acid rather than a calcium salt, and the above dosage range still holds. For this specific purpose, HMB is to be taken 30-45 minutes before a workout.
Arginine, or L-arginine as it is called with its L-structure, is a semi-essential amino acid. Arginine is involved in many metabolic processes and important in the treatment of heart diseases and high blood pressure. Arginine improves the circulation, strengthens the immune system and has a positive influence on male libido.
Research suggests that the amino acid accelerates the rate of the healing of wounds, improves the burning of excess fat and can be used in weight-reducing diets. Its role in decreasing cholesterol levels can be ascribed to its function as biological precursor of nitric oxide (NO).
Potency can be increased through arginine
Besides the various chemical drugs, potency and sexual performance can be positively influenced by particular amino acids. This can mainly be applied to the amino acids arginine and ornithine.
In 1998, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was given for specific research concerning nitric oxide and its conversion from arginine. The amino acid L-arginine improves the circulation and oxygen supply of the coronary and peripheral vessels through the release of nitric oxide. When people take arginine, the nitric oxide level in the blood
Arginineincreases. Nitric oxide relaxes the walls of the blood vessels and thereby improves the circulation in the whole body, including the erectile tissue in the penis. Furthermore, arginine increases the nitric oxide level, which makes the arteries more elastic. This effect can lower blood pressure and improve the ability to have an erection. In addition, nutrients and oxygen is able to reach the organs quicker through the blood which on the whole has a positive effect on male potency, stamina and sexual performance.
Free of side-effects
Arginine’s ability to improve erections has been long since known. But the advantages of amino acids are so far only able to take pride of place when discussing the most well-known sexual enhancer pills. Ultimately arginine works in a similar way to synthetic pills, the difference being that it is cheaper and free from side effects. The difference between arginine and other potency pills is that arginine does not have an immediate effect and instead works over time. This is another reason why it is not dangerous to take arginine.
The vasodilating effect of arginine promotes hair growth
In addition to the potency-enhancing attributes, arginine is of great importance to hair growth, owing to its role as a precursor to nitric oxide. This is because the nitric oxide formed from arginine opens the potassium channels of the cells. This can improve the circulation to the hair roots and stimulate hair growth.4
Other functions of arginine
Arginine helps to reduce insulin resistance and increases glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Besides other measures which are important for diabetics, such as a healthy diet and weight control, arginine can help to minimize insulin requirements.5
Ammonia is a cellular toxin created from the building of protein. If there is too much ammonia in the body, for example because the liver isn’t working properly, ammonia can reach the brain and interfere with important functions. In some cases, insomnia can be the result of ammonia levels being too high. Simply put, taking supplements containing amino acids such as arginine, ornithine and glutamine can promote sleep, as they detoxify ammonia as part of the urea cycle.
Collagen is a protein which is a fundamental component of various connective tissues (such as cartilage) and bone. Arginine supports the production of collagen and is therefore an important contributor to bone growth. In turn, arginine supports the growth of the osteoblasts which form the bone mass. A study from 2002 has proven that an arginine deficiency, especially in older women, can be the cause of the emergence of osteoporosis.
D-aspartic acid is one of two forms of the amino acid aspartic acid. The other form is L-aspartate.
The benefits of D-AA are specific to it, and do not extend to aspartic acid or L-aspartate.
D-AA can be used as a testosterone booster for infertile men, and by athletes as a temporary booster. Elevated testosterone levels only last a week to a week and a half in healthy men, with testosterone returning to normal afterward.
D-AA works in the central brain region to cause a release of hormones, such as luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and growth hormone. It may also build up in the testicles, where it alleviates a rate-limiting step of testosterone synthesis, which leads to a minor testosterone increase.
Different studies have used different supplementation protocols. One study used 3,000mg for 12 days, taken daily, followed by a week with no supplementation. A different study did not cycle D-AA, and used 2,000mg of continual daily supplementation with no harm. Further study is needed to determine whether D-AA should be cycled.
D-Aspartic Acid is one of the enantiomers of the amino acid known as Aspartate, where the common dietary enantiomer is L-Aspartate. 'Aspartic Acid' and 'Aspartate' are similar stuctures with aspartate being the conjugate base of Aspartic Acid, and interconversion occurring depending on the pH of the solution. The D and L refer to the direction the molecule bends light (with D-isomers bending light to the right, and L-isomers bending light to the left) and for all intents and metabolic purposes these two can be considered as different bioactive molecules. Molecules that differ only in their ability to bend light (those denoted with a D or a L, like L-Carnitine) are known as enantiomers, and a mixture of both enantiomers is called a 'racemic' mixture.
D-AA is a naturally occurring alternate form of one of the main 20 structural amino acids
D-Aspartic Acid can be found naturally occurring in the diet, with rich sources being (and the percentages referring to how much Aspartate is racemized in the D-enantiomer):
Soy Protein (9%)
Soy Based Infant Formula (10.8%)
Simulated Bacon (13%)
Nondairy Creamer (17%)
Zein (corn protein) (40%)
D-Aspartate can also be created (racemized) from L-Aspartate during the process of cooking or heating, and it has been reported that a doubling of D-Aspartate may occur in raw milk during the pasteurization process (from 1.5% to 3%).
D-aspartate co-exists alongside L-aspartate, and may be racemized based on the stimulus presented to the amino acids, with heat being most implicated in turing L-aspartate into D-aspartate
1.2. Biological Significance
L-Aspartate is non-essential amino acid and can be incorporated into protein structures, although D-Aspartate is not commonly associated with protein structures. D-Aspartate has been found to be a constituent of human cartilage, enamel, and can be accumulated in the brain as well as being a constituent of red blood cell membranes.
Aspartate is a non-essential amino acid, and the D-isomer is not commonly used for structural proteins. It serves as a signalling molecule.
D-aspartate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. This seems to be present all across the brain, but to a higher extent in the pituitary and pineal gland.
Further research is needed on D-AA, as most studies attempt to assess D-AA’s role in the body under normal conditions, and not in the frame of supplementation.
The standard dose for D-aspartic acid is between 2,000 – 3,000mg.
D-AA is taken daily.
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