Amino Acids: Classification, Functions in the Body, Effect on Athletic Performance and the Best Sources

Amino acids are primarily the towers blocks of proteins, but they moreover have a variety of functions in the body. Plane the most vital processes, such as digestion or immune protection, would not function properly without them. An example is glutamine, which serves, among other things, as an energy source for some cells of the intestinal mucosa and the immune system. Together with BCAAs or arginine, these are moreover popular supplements among athletes. In today’s vendible you will read all the important things you overly wanted to know well-nigh amino acids, including their effect on sturdy performance.

What are amino acids?

Amino acids (AAs) are the towers blocks from which peptides and then proteins are formed. There are thousands of variegated types of amino acids. You can simply think of the interconnection of individual amino acids as a kind of Lego towers block.

Each Lego brick can have a variegated shape, colour and size. If you want to build a spaceship, you have to place a unrepealable Lego woodcut in the right place. With a little imagination you can use the same bricks to build a house or plane a car. It’s all in the placement that counts. The same applies to amino acids. Depending on the order and how they are linked together, a specific type of protein is formed.

If chemistry was one of your favourite subjects, you probably moreover wondered what the formula of amino acids is. Each AA molecule contains a carboxyl group (COO) and an amine group (NH2). This is where the name amino wounding comes from. [1]

What are amino acids?

Classification of amino acids and their function in the body

In total, there are twenty types of amino acids that the soul needs to build and repair soul tissues, swizzle nutrients, and other processes necessary for your health. Some must be taken in through food, others can be produced by your body, and then there are moreover amino acids that you only need to supplement at unrepealable stages of life. Accordingly, they are categorised as essential, non-essential and semi-essential. [2]

What is the difference between the L and D forms of amino acids?

In general, amino acids are wontedly found in the L or D form in nature. An example is L-Leucine, which is the mirror image of D-Leucine. They have an oppositely positioned amino group, which affects their use in the body. Only the L-form of amino acids, from which proteins and other necessary substances are formed, is of use to your body. [38]

1. Essential amino acids (EAA)

Without these amino acids, your soul practically cannot do without them. It can’t produce them on its own, so therefore you are dependent on their intake from nutrition and supplements. There are a total of eight essential amino acids (EAA) and the soul uses them for muscle regeneration, muscle mass formation, hormone synthesis, neurotransmitter synthesis, and they also produce some non-essential amino acids.

Sometimes histidine is moreover widow to the list, but it is considered an essential amino wounding only in childhood. In adulthood, our soul can once produce it, so it is a semi-essential AMK.

In this section on essential amino acids, you will read well-nigh the pursuit AAs:

1. Leucine

Leucine is the first of the trio of branched uniting amino acids, which you probably know as BCAA (Branched Uniting Amino Acids). They make up well-nigh 35% of all the essential amino acids in your body. They are most wontedly associated with protecting muscle mass during exercise. And it is leucine that has the most to do with this. Equal to studies, it is worldly-wise to vivify the mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) signalling pathway, which is involved at the whence of the processes related to cell growth (muscle growth and anabolic processes) and muscle protein MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis). [3, 39]

If you want to learn increasingly well-nigh other interesting effects of leucine, you can find them in our vendible Leucine and its Effectivity on Muscle Growth and Recovery.

What are the effects of leucine?

2. Valine

Valine is the second representative of BCAA, which moreover participates in the most vital processes in the body. These include energy production, protection of muscle mass from breakdown (catabolism) during energy deficiency and muscle growth. However, equal to studies, it can moreover support the function of dendritic cells, which are an important link for immunity. [4, 40]

3. Isoleucine

Isoleucine is the third member of the BCAA family and, like its relatives, is associated with the protection and growth of muscle mass and energy metabolism. It has anti-catabolic effects and can thus contribute to protecting muscles from breaking lanugo (used as an energy source). Perhaps overdue this is its worthiness to increase the use of glucose as an energy source during exercise. [41]

It has moreover been shown in research to contribute to proper immune function. For example, through the vivification of protective peptides (β-defensins). These can protect your soul from wade by viruses and other pathogens. [5]

What are the effects of BCAAs?

4. Methionine

Methionine is one of the sulphur-containing amino acids. In the body, it is not only used to make proteins, but moreover forms the non-essential amino wounding cysteine. Together with glycine and arginine, it forms creatine, and flipside interesting fact is that it is moreover needed for the insemination of carnitine. It moreover has an effect on fat metabolism, immune system function and can trigger the production of the body’s main antioxidant glutathione. Because of this, it is linked to protecting the soul from oxidative stress. [6]

5. Threonine

Threonine, in turn, is most wontedly associated with the insemination of soul tissue. It is one of the vital components of tooth enamel, the protein elastin and moreover has an effect on maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosa, thus supporting digestion and indirectly immunity. In addition, it is essential for the synthesis of other amino acids in the form of glycine and serine. [7]

What are the effects of tryptophan?

6. Phenylalanine

The soul moreover makes a number of important substances from this AA, such as the neurotransmitter dopamine or noradrenaline. It is moreover needed for the insemination of the amino wounding tyrosine. In the specimen of phenylalanine, there is moreover one very important thing to watch out for. There is a hereditary disease called phenylketonuria (PKU), in which phenylalanine accumulates in the body, resulting in elapsed minutiae in children. This condition is then managed primarily by a nutrition low in phenylalanine. [8]

7. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is flipside AA that is used in the soul to synthesise neurotransmitters. In this instance, it is serotonin, which regulates want or mood. However, it is moreover at the origin of the production of the hormone melatonin, which in turn affects sleep. Therefore, in clinical practice, in the form of supplements, it is wontedly used in the treatment of sleep or psychological problems. [9]

8. Lysine

Like methionine, lysine is needed for the insemination of carnitine, which serves as a carrier of fatty acids (fats) to the cell’s power plants (mitochondria), where they are converted into energy. Lysine moreover plays a role in the traction of calcium, which is crucial for healthy bones. Equal to research, it is plane linked to the production of growth hormone, which has an effect on towers muscle mass. That’s probably why it’s often found in supplements in combination with BCAAs. Interestingly, in a number of studies, it has helped people with recurrent cold sores (herpes simplex) reduce the symptoms and frequency of this skin problem. [10, 37]

2. Non-essential amino acids

As the name suggests, they are no longer indispensable for your body. It can produce them from essential or semi-essential amino acids or glucose. But this does not detract from their importance. They are involved in the construction of soul tissue and are moreover involved in the most essential bodily functions, such as vitamin metabolism or digestion. [11]

In this section on non-essential amino acids, you will read well-nigh the pursuit AAs:

1. Alanine

Alanine is one of the most well-healed amino acids in skeletal muscle, where it moreover functions as a reserve energy source. It is moreover involved in the metabolism of vitamin B6 and glucose. It thereby helps maintain thoroughbred sugar (glucose) levels at normal levels. Last but not least, it is involved in the production of white thoroughbred cells, which are important for immune function. [12]

In wing to alanine, there is moreover the amino wounding beta-alanine, which is a popular supplement among athletes. Unlike alanine, it does not form proteins in the body, but together with histidine it is used to synthesise carnosine. The latter helps to reduce muscle acidification during intense activity by tightness hydrogen ions derived from lactic wounding (lactate), which can ultimately lead to improved performance.

You can learn increasingly well-nigh the effects of beta-alanine and its use in our vendible Beta-Alanine and Its Use in Sport.

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2. Aspartic acid

Aspartic wounding is involved in important processes in the body, such as hormone synthesis or nervous system function. In the ionised form of aspartate, it belongs among the excitatory neurotransmitters, which have stimulating effects on the nervous system. [13-14]

In dietary supplements, you may encounter it in the form of D-aspartic wounding (DAA). The latter is notably associated with effects on testosterone levels and male fertility.

For increasingly interesting information well-nigh D-aspartic acid, read our vendible D-Aspartic Wounding or DAA – All You Need to Know.

What are the effects of DAA?

3. Asparagine

Asparagine is an amino wounding that is worked from aspartic acid. It plays an important role in the insemination of glycoproteins (proteins with tying carbohydrates) and moreover binds to glut ammonia that is produced when proteins are wrenched down. It helps well-to-do it out of the soul and thus contributes to the body’s natural detoxification. [15]

4. Cysteine

Cysteine has an unrenowned sulphur content, which allows it to form the amino wounding taurine. Although it does not serve as a towers woodcut for proteins, it has antioxidant effects and may moreover influence energy production or calcium metabolism. In addition, cysteine is a key component of the antioxidant glutathione. As a result, it can help protect cells from oxidative stress. In dietary supplements, it is most wontedly found in the form of N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC). [16-17]

5. Glutamic acid

Glutamic wounding is found in the soul mainly in the form of glutamate. It is the most important excitatory neurotransmitter (activates the nervous system). In addition, it acts on specific taste cells on the tongue and produces the well-known umami taste. This is moreover why it is wontedly widow to foods as a flavour enhancer. [18]

What are the effects of glutamate?

6. Proline

Proline is important for maintaining cellular integrity and function. Together with glycine and hydroxyproline, it is one of the amino acids that make up collagen. It thus has an influence on the maintenance of skin, reasoned cartilage or tendon health. It is moreover associated with promoting wound healing. [19]

7. Serine

Serine is present in a upper concentration in the lamina wall and thus contributes to the maintenance of lamina integrity. It is moreover important for digestion, as it forms the enzyme serine protease, which helps to unravel lanugo proteins into simpler (easier to use) particles such as dipeptides, tripeptides and single amino acids. [20]

What are the effects of glutamine?

8. Glutamine

Glutamine is one of the most well-healed AAs in the human body. Compared to other amino acids, it contains twice the value of nitrogen, which is the understructure of all protein peptide immuration in your tissues. It is essential for the production of white thoroughbred cells and cytokines, which are part of your body’s defence mechanisms (immune response) to hostile substances. It plane serves as an energy source for some cells of the immune system and the intestinal mucosa. Moreover, it helps to alimony the intestine intact and impermeable. For this reason, it is often used as a nutritional supplement for Leaky Gut Syndrome. [23]

This is why it is often used by runners, cyclists and other athletes who train for several hours and want to ensure they maintain optimal amounts of this AA in their bodies. [23]

Learn increasingly well-nigh the effects of glutamine in our vendible Glutamine Is Essential for Athletes.

9. Glycine

Important compounds such as glutathione or creatine are worked from glycine in the body. It moreover acts as a neurotransmitter and is a component of collagen. Due to its properties, it is primarily associated with joint health. Equal to studies, its supplementation can moreover help improve sleep. Increased intake is sometimes recommended during pregnancy. [24]

10. Tyrosine

Your soul can make tyrosine from phenylalanine. It has a particular effect on smart-ass function, as it forms neurotransmitters such as dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which help you cope with stressful situations. However, during mentally and physically taxing times, their need is greater and thus the demands on tyrosine intake moreover increase. In addition, thyroid hormones are moreover produced from this AA. [25]

3. Semi-essential amino acids

These AAs are non-essential under normal conditions. However, there may be situations in which they wilt essential and need to be replenished. This happens expressly during a period of growth, during pregnancy, during major stress, during strenuous sports activities or without injuries. However, these substances can moreover be lacking during long-term trueness to low-energy diets or inadequate nutrition (malnutrition).

In this section on semi-essential amino acids, you will read well-nigh the pursuit AAs:

1. Arginine

Nitric oxide (NO) is worked in the soul from arginine, which is a signalling molecule for thoroughbred vessel dilation (vasodilation). Due to its vasodilating effect, it can increase thoroughbred spritz to the muscles, which can result in largest oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles. Through this, it can stupefy thoroughbred pressure or muscle recovery. In the form of nutritional supplements, it is particularly popular with athletes surpassing training. However, the influence on the dilation of thoroughbred vessels and largest thoroughbred spritz is moreover the reason arginine is moreover widow to erection support supplements. But it should not be forgotten that, like glycine and methionine, it is needed in the soul for the synthesis of creatine. [21-22]

2. Histidine

Histidine is a precursor of histamine, which is crucial in the soul for the triggering of an allergic reaction. It moreover gives rise to the same carnosine. It is semi-essential, as your soul cannot produce it in infancy. The same is true for people with uraemia (uremic syndrome) and the body’s natural production of histamine may ripen with age. [26]

Each of the whilom twenty amino acids thus has a specific function in the body. We have by no ways mentioned all the processes in which these substances are involved. What is certain, however, is that without exception they are all needed to maintain health.

What are the effects of histidine?

Can amino acids uplift sports performance?

For some amino acids we have once mentioned their possible influence on muscle mass, energy metabolism or oxygen supply to the muscles. Now we’re going to take a squint at BCAAs, glutamine and arginine to see what studies have to say well-nigh them in relation to sport.

1. BCAAs can contribute to muscle growth

  • Leucine, isoleucine and valine have the worthiness to prevent the loss (degradation) of muscle mass during strenuous exercise.
  • During endurance activities, they can in turn serve as a source of energy, leading to the sparing of glycogen stores and prolonged performance.
  • During performance, they can help delay fatigue and reduce perceived exertion.
  • After strength training, they may support anabolic processes associated with muscle fibre repair and growth.
  • According to studies, leucine has the greatest effect on muscle protein synthesis (MPS), or the process of muscle mass formation.
  • For muscle recovery and growth, however, it is most constructive to take a sufficient value of all the essential amino acids without training. Ideally in the form of protein, which can then be enriched with BCAAs or leucine vacated to increase its potential. [27]

If your goal is muscle growth, you should not miss our vendible 10 Nutritional and Training Tips for Maximum Muscle Growth.

Glutamine and sports performance

2. Glutamine can promote the utilisation of the stored carbohydrate glycogen

  • Glutamine is a source of energy for some cells of the immune system, which takes a vibration during prolonged activities. Its intake could thus lead to the preservation of immune functions during a taxing workout. However, the results of studies on the effect of glutamine on immunity in athletes are yet unclear and have yet to wait for confirmation of this effect.
  • Glutamine may moreover promote the use of muscle glycogen as an energy source, leading to longer maintenance of performance and delaying fatigue. [28]

If you’re into endurance sports and you’re wondering which other supplements could help your performance, trammels out our vendible 11 of the Best Supplements for Running, Cycling and Other Endurance Sports.

3. Arginine can aid in breaking lanugo lactate in the muscles

  • Supplementation with arginine surpassing exercise can lead to less lactic wounding (lactate) build-up in the muscles, which can be reflected in largest results plane during intense exercise. It has moreover been found to contribute to more efficient recovery of creatine and thus energy in the form of ATP. [29]
  • Arginine moreover had a positive effect on the athletes’ VO2max level, which is one indicator of sturdy performance. [30]

If you are wondering well-nigh other interesting effects of arginine, read our vendible Arginine and its 8 Proven Benefits for Health and Athletes.

How to supplement amino acids?

Amino acids are a staple in our diet. You can find them expressly in foods with a higher proportion of protein. The quality of these sources is unswayable by whether they contain all the essential AAs in the optimal ratio. You can moreover increase your intake of AAs by taking nutritional supplements.

1. Complete sources of amino acids

  • Contain essential amino acids in optimal amounts and ratios.
  • These include mainly unprepossessing foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products or whey protein.
  • Some plant sources, such as soy (tofu, tempeh), chickpeas or quinoa also come close.

For spare supplies sources of protein, trammels out our vendible Foods that Easily Add Protein to Your Diet.

Which foods contain amino acids?

2. Incomplete sources of amino acids

  • They do not have a well-turned value of essential amino acids, which reduces their quality.
  • Incomplete sources include lentils, peas, rice or nuts and most other plant foods.

Even in plant foods you can find all the EAAs, but often not in sufficient quantities to meet all your body’s needs. These missing AAs are called limiting amino acids. Fortunately, each group of plant foods lacks variegated amino acids, so by combining plant sources thus you can scrutinizingly get rid of this deficiency. For example, cereals are skimpy in the amino wounding lysine, while legumes lack methionine. By combining them, you get closer to an unprepossessing protein quality.

If you are wondering which plant foods are rich in protein, read our vendible What are the Best Sources of Plant Protein and Why Include Them in Your Diet?

Limiting amino acids in plant foods


Limiting AA

What foods to combine them with to replenish the limiting AAs?
Legumesmethioninegrains, nuts, seeds
Nuts and seedslysinelegumes

How to supplement amino acids?

You can moreover increase your amino wounding intake with increasingly well-matured supplements. You can segregate from single or multi-ingredient amino acids. Most often, they come in the form of soluble powder, tablets or capsules.

1. Single-chain amino acids

If you want to increase your intake of just some amino acids, you can try a single-ingredient supplement. Alternatively, use a few supplements to get a ramified product equal to your needs. What is the recommended intake of the most wontedly used amino acids?

  • Arginine in the value of 3-6 g surpassing exercise. Increasingly than 10 g at one time can rationalization digestive problems, so it is largest to divide the higher value into several daily servings. [31]
  • Glutamine in the form of l-glutamine at a serving of 5 g per day. [32]
  • Leucine at a serving of 2-5 g alone, with a meal skimpy in this amino wounding or as part of a post-workout drink to increase anabolic potential. [33]
  • Cysteine in the form of N-acetyl L-cysteine in a range of 600-1800 mg. [34]
  • Aspartic wounding in the form of D-aspartic wounding in a daily serving of 2000-3000 mg. [35]
  • Lysine is taken at a serving of up to 2 g per day divided into several servings with meals. This value is recommended for people who commonly develop unprepossessed sores (herpes simplex). [37]
How to take amino acids?

2. Ramified amino acids

In ramified products containing amino acids, you will most often find BCAAs or eight EAAs, which are sometimes supplemented with non-essential amino acids and other substances. An example is the product ProAMINO, which contains nine AAs, caffeine and extracts from untried tea and coffee. ProAMINO Stim-free on the other hand, is self-ruling of stimulants, but has six vitamins in its formula.

  • BCAAs are normally taken at a serving of 20 g, with the important detail stuff that it should contain a higher ratio of leucine compared to isoleucine and valine, for example 4:1:1 in favour of leucine. [36]
  • EAAs have a recommended serving of 10-12 g.
How to take BCAAs?

Do amino acids have any side effects?

As long as you take amino wounding supplements in reasonable amounts and equal to the instructions on the label, you should not wits any side effects. These will only occur in unrenowned cases and in people who have a hypersensitivity or allergy to the ingredients contained. However, rectal pain and indigestion may occur with excessive intake. Remember that this is only a nutritional supplement and a varied nutrition rich in protein should form the understructure of your amino wounding intake.

What should you remember?

From today’s vendible you have learned that amino acids are not just a material for towers muscle mass. In the body, they make important enzymes, hormones or neurotransmitters, without which your soul would barely function properly. They are involved in maintaining healthy skin, joints and the unshortened musculoskeletal system. They are moreover used whenever something in the soul needs to be repaired or healed. Therefore, it is important to ensure their unobjectionable intake, expressly of the essential ones, from your nutrition or through supplements.

If you liked our vendible and found it informative, please share it with your friends who will be interested to learn increasingly well-nigh the interesting effects of amino acids.

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