Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles, as you already know. But, when should you be taking your amino acid supplements?
When You Should Take Your Amino Acid Supplements
You really only get peak benefits from amino acid supplements during specific times, unless you are in a state of malnutrition (hence why amino acid supplements benefit sarcopenia)(1)(2).
these specific times are:
- Around your workout (pre, intra, post)
- Alongside meals low in protein
That’s it! For real!
Benefits of taking Pre Workout Amino Acids
This is because the AAs will enter your bloodstream just in time to be utilized for fuel, thus preventing muscle breakdown (3). These benefits will continue into and even after your workout if you are getting a proper dosage.
Benefits of taking Intra-Workout Amino Acids
The majority of people take their amino acid supplements intra-workout. There isn’t anything wrong with this, it just may not be quite as great as taking them beforehand.
We believe that the intra-workout craze has grown from guys and girls hitting walls during their workouts, and thinking – “ok, now I need something”. But really, if your hydration is right from the start, and you take your amino acids before exercise – this wall may never occur.
Benefits of Taking Post Workout Amino Acids
The other amino acid crowd leans towards supplementation strictly post workout with the goal of maximizing recovery.
You can do this, it isn’t going to hurt you. But, we have read studies basically saying that taking amino acids pre workout is just as effective (and sometimes more), than the latter post workout crew.
Likewise, taking protein powder post workout is more effective for overall protein synthesis.
So in a nutshell, we say take your amino acids pre workout – if you can. Otherwise, do what works for you.
Benefits of Taking Amino Acids Between Meals
A lot of so called ‘fitness gurus’ recommend that you take amino acid supplements between meals to prevent muscle wasting.
We used to say this, when we were less educated on the science of muscle growth… But now we know it’s not the case.
Unless you are on steroids, you cannot afford to be constantly taking in food. It messes with your hormonal balances.
See, every time you eat – you spike your insulin. Every time insulin goes up, growth hormone goes down. Interestingly enough, when you practice regular fasting, towards the end of your fast – insulin levels are at super lows and growth hormone is way, way high!
This builds muscle, contradictory to the guru’s fear of ‘muscle wasting’.
This will give you the benefits of those awesome amino acids, yet contain it within your natural insulin meal spike. Then, between meals you allow your insulin to sink, growth hormone to rise, and fat metabolizing hormones to kick-in (which only kick in when insulin is low).
What Type of Amino Acid Supplements You Should Take
So, what is the best, most effective type of amino acid supplements to take? That answer is easy – BCAA powders (branch chain amino acids) from vegan friendly plant fermentation. This is the most ‘premium’ source of BCAAs that you can get…
But why BCAAs, aren’t all Amino Acids good?
Yes, all amino acids are good, but you are probably getting enough of them already through diet. BCAAs on the other hand are harder to obtain, and have been shown to have the best effect on performance and muscle growth. In the right dosages that is…
What to Ultimately Expect From Amino Acid Supplements
BCAAs are no miracle cure-all. But, they can make small changes that will add up, both physically, and mentally allowing you to push forward and continue on your path.
Expect BCAAs to give you a bit more endurance, a bit more lean muscle, and help shred down a bit more fat as a side effect from the above aforementioned.
What’s Better, Amino Acid Supplements or Protein Powder?
One isn’t exactly par-say better. But we will break it down into two camps for you.
- If you want your Amino Acid supplementation for during workout, then go the BCAA route.
- If you want a supplement to compliment your meals, then a high quality protein shake is superior.
It really is as simple as that. So to summarize what we learned:
- Taking amino acid supplements pre or intra workout is best.
- Don’t take them between meals, instead take them with or take protein instead with meals.
- The best type of amino acids for athletes are BCAA supplements.
- BCAAs are best used during exercise, Protein with meals.
Ask your Amino Acid and BCAA questions below!
I’m sure you guys have a few questions. Go ahead and ask them below, or follow that link above to our best BCAA supplements article to learn more about BCAAs as well as which brands make the best ones!