Protein is crucial to a healthy body, and it is a critical component of muscles. Amino acids are the components of protein – molecules that combine to form protein in the human body. It takes 23 amino acids to combine to make protein in the body – nine of them, the “essential” amino acids, cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from food or supplements. When we eat food that contains protein, the digestive system breaks that protein down into amino acids. Three of those amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine – are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are metabolized in muscles, helping to build muscle tissue and preventing breakdown of that tissue on the cellular level. They also have a role in keeping tendons and ligaments healthy and functioning. Conversely, a lack of protein will cause the body to break down muscle tissue for use as energy.
Because of their role in building lean muscle tissue, amino acids, in the form of supplements, are often taken by body builders and athletes. Even those who are not interested in building huge amounts of lean muscle mass need sufficient protein; symptoms of protein deficiency include weak nails, dull hair, and nervous disorders. Protein is essential to the functioning of the brain as well as the rest of the body, and lack of sufficient protein can have an adverse impact on one’s mood.
A high level of branched chain amino acids, and thus a high level of protein, keeps water in the muscles – which is crucial to their smoothness and elasticity –and helps athletes to recovery more quickly after exertion. They and body builders often take protein supplements, either as pills or in shakes, immediately after a workout so the muscles will receive amino acids when blood circulation is at its peak and the tissues can retain an optimum amount of protein. The timing of protein supplementation is part of the knowledge many body builders gain in order to maximize the effectiveness of their workouts.
Shakes made from protein powders are often preferred because a high number of protein tablets – which usually contain 1000 mg, or 1 gram, of protein per tablets – must be taken to get the amount of protein body builders require.
Among the most popular protein supplements is ISS Research Complete Amino 2220, which body builders especially like because of its role in aiding muscle growth as well as in speeding up recovery after a workout.
Universal Animal Nitro is another highly rated product. In this supplement the ratio of amino acids is identical to the ratio of amino acids in human muscle tissue. Also known as Human Muscle Protein Complex, it is especially popular with body builders.
SciVation Xtend contains a blend of amino acids formulated to provide quick energy, such as is needed for athletic performance of lifting weights. In addition to amino acids, this supplement contains glutamine, citrulline malate and Vitamin B6, all of which play a role in creating energy and quickening recovery time after exertion.
Finally, Optimum Amino 2222 Softgels is another popular supplement; each pill contains 2,000 mg of high quality amino acids.