Here are the most anabolic amino acids required for muscle growth. Every athlete should know this list to heart and proceed to use every day. Without fulfilling the basic amino acid principles laid out here, full muscle building potential cannot be reached. A diet sufficient in carbohydrates, fats, and unrefined protein is the prerequisite for the mechanisms below to be effective. That means, your caloric intake must exceed your caloric burn.
Top 4 Anabolic Amino Acids
The Amino Acid Methionine is essential to all muscle growth due to the fact that it is the only amino acid that can be at the head of a growing protein strand. With that being said, receiving enough Methionine in your diet is absolutely critical. If you do not consume 1g of protein per pound of muscle mass, then you may be at risk of not receiving enough Methionine. Though, over-supplementing methionine has not been shown to significantly rev up protein synthesis, methionine deficiency is detrimental.
Every single day your muscle cells are undergoing amino acid oxidation. Amino acid oxidation is the process of breaking down amino acids to be used as an energy source. These aminos can either originate from muscle tissue, or from free-floating amino acids awaiting use. This process cannot be altered, however by eating and supplementing a healthy diet rich in proteins you can out-compete amino acid oxidation producing a net muscle gain. (This is what building muscle is all about)
L-Cysteine can be produced by Methionine, however a cysteine deficiency can in turn result in a methionine shortage. L-Cysteine plays an important role in muscle growth (growth beyond standard muscle mass), and is often supplemented with alongside glutamine. While L-cysteine can be synthesized from methionine, it is only naturally present as 2% of most protein sources. Therefore, the addition of Cysteine (often in the form of NAC) can improve muscle growth results and is widely used by bodybuilders.
The prefix “L” appearing before amino acids represents the amino acids conformation. “L” stands for the conformation which is bio-available, meaning our bodies can recognize and make use of these amino acids.
Glutamine singlehandedly makes up for roughly 50% of the amino acids in muscle tissue, and the array of other bodily tissues. Therefore, in order to build muscle mass – there is a high demand for Glutamine in order to cash that check. In addition, additional oral Glutamine supplementation at just 2 grams a day has been found to raise growth hormone levels by up to 70%. Furthermore, glutamine has been linked to increased immune defense, gastrointestinal recovery, as well as increased wound healing and muscle loss prevention after surgery.
Instances of Hypoxia (oxygen depletion), heat-shock, and very low blood sugar completely stop muscle production in its tracks; while amino acid oxidation continues! More reason to take amino acid supplements while exercising…
1.) L-Leucine – The Most Anabolic Of Them All
L-Leucine is the single most anabolic amino acid for building muscle. The previous amino acids played an important role in ‘filling the gaps’ and ‘being available for use’, however L-Leucine has a more involved role. While the exact mechanism is quite complicated, it has been confirmed that L-Leucine concentrations regulate, and in sufficient amounts – promote protein synthesis.
What does this mean? A well-rounded diet receiving an influx of Leucine (immediately after workout) expresses a greater affinity for building muscle. Therefore, with proper diet and supplementation of L-leucine – you can influence your genetics and build more muscle.
Note – after exercise Leucine levels drop significantly due to utilization. However, high Leucine concentrations are still required for enhanced protein synthesis (muscle building), Therefor, supplementing additional Leucine immediately post workout or even during workout raises leucine concentrations allowing for ‘muscle building orders’ to continue being sent even after molecules of leucine itself start becoming incorporated into growing muscle proteins and continued amino oxidation.
While these amino acids are critical for enhanced muscle growth, it is vital to note that all amino acids are necessary to muscle growth. With that being said – be sure to eat an excess of protein in a well-rounded diet, and form there you can add these specific amino acids to turbocharge your muscle growth.
Research Data Works Cited:
1.) Layne E. Norton, Donald K. Layman. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr. 2006 February; 136(2): 533S–537S
2.) Baines M et al.: The Association between cysteine, bone turnover, and low bone mass; Calcif Tissu Int. 2007