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What are Bodybuilding Amino Acids?

Jennifer Voight
Jennifer Voight

Bodybuilding amino acids are basic components of proteins that are essential in the formation of protein and help to build muscle mass. Professional and amateur bodybuilders use amino acids as a natural supplement to help muscles repair themselves faster, prevent catabolism, or breakdown, of muscle, and make faster increases in size and strength. Essential amino acids must be obtained from food because the body cannot manufacture them. The body makes non-essential amino acids from other amino acids obtained from the blood. All protein is made up of combinations of various essential and non-essential amino acids.

Although most bodybuilders eat a protein-rich diet and supplement with protein in the form of bars and powders, protein must be broken down into individual amino acids before it can be used by the body. As a result, they supplement with amino acids in the form of capsules, pills, or powders that can be mixed with water or juice. Taking bodybuilding amino acids in this form bypasses the digestive process and makes amino acids available to muscle more quickly, sometimes within minutes. This is referred to in the bodybuilding field as bioavailability.

The structure of lysine, an essential amino acid.
The structure of lysine, an essential amino acid.

Speed of delivery is essential after an intense workout because blood flow to the muscles is increased and the amino acids can be delivered quickly to the muscle, preventing breakdown of muscle tissue for energy. Immediately after intense exercise, the muscles are particularly receptive to nutrients. In order for the muscle to make more tissue, it needs plenty of amino acids in the right combinations to synthesize protein into muscle. If it lacks any necessary amino acids, protein synthesis stalls until it becomes available.

A bodybuilder.
A bodybuilder.

Muscles are also in need of energy after an intense workout. When carbohydrates and fats are in short supply, the body can use protein for fuel, although it is not very efficient. Having excess amino acids in the blood may prevent the body from breaking down muscle tissue into protein to use for fuel. Supplementing with bodybuilding amino acids may help prevent the body from catabolizing its own muscle tissue, especially when energy is low after an especially intense workout.

Bodybuilding amino acids are commonly sold in powder form.
Bodybuilding amino acids are commonly sold in powder form.

Some of the most important bodybuilding amino acids used in muscle protein synthesis are glutamine, arginine, and glycine. Taurine is also important in that it helps prevent fatigue and preserves muscle function that is frequently lost with aging. Each amino acid has a different function in the body. Individuals take bodybuilding amino acids in varying combinations depending on the desired result.

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