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Essential Amino Acids vs BCAA's

Often when I talk about amino acids or essential amino acids, people think right away, branch chain amino acids.

Oh, you're talking about branch chain amino acids and yes, branch chain amino acids are essential amino acids, but they are not the only ones. The essential amino acids are essential because without them, we can't create all the other non-essential amino acids. So that's why we have to get them via diet, supplementation, protein shakes, protein-containing foods like meat. 

Foods like rice or beans are not a complete protein, because they don't have a sufficient amount of all the essential amino acids. Whereas goat whey has a robust amount of essential amino acids. Red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, they all have a great amount of essential amino acids even casein has a good amount of essential amino acids to be a complete protein.

That's why pea protein, rice protein, and hemp protein are not complete proteins.

And really why over and over again, we talk about goat whey because it's loaded with essential amino acids, which enable protein synthesis, muscle repair, and the immune supportive detoxification effects that protein can provide us.

Essential amino acids vs BCAA's

Essential amino acids, literally, make all the difference. Branch chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, valine. They are also essential amino acids. But you need more than just branch chain amino acids. We're finding out more and more that leucine is of high value as a strong protein synthesis stimulator, but there's an end to it.

The issue is if you keep pummeling the body with more and more leucine, you're not going to get the results you want. Whereas you can get massive results consistently on the realm of recovery and on the realm of maintenance of muscle tissue and stimulus of protein synthesis to build and repair tissue. 

If you have all the essential amino acids in the right ratio, currently there's been over 20 studies on the ratio of amino acids that we use in EF Amino. I think that's why it is so effective for protein synthesis stimulation, for tissue repair, for helping basically increase overall nutrient absorption, like electrolytes.

Essential Amino Acids vs Electrolytes

I did a talk not too long ago about how taking essential amino acids is probably more beneficial for most people than taking an electrolyte drink, because the essential amino acids are what enable the body to actually uptake and promote the uptake of the sodium, potassiums and chlorides.

When sweating or doing a lot of endurance activity or hot weather activity, essential amino acids should be right on the top of your list along with electrolytes.

As we age, our ability to preserve muscle tissue and muscle mass goes down. By having enough essential amino acids on board, we can help preserve that muscle mass, slow down the loss, and keep the stimulus going for protein synthesis without having to basically consume insane amounts of protein.

At some point, if you consume insane amounts of protein, you're going to have too many calories coming in and you're not going to know what to do with it.

If we're finding that our recovery is subpar then essential amino acids in supplemental form is something to consider.

Essential Amino Acids and the Aging Athlete

Essential amino acids can be a game changer for anyone in the 35 and older category.

For example, my dad, who's almost 70 is still hitting it hard, doing CrossFit working out five, six times a week needs to be taking aminos. 

When we did a comparison of his fat to muscle ratios through a water submersion test before and after he started taking aminos, there was a major difference. The amount of muscle mass he'd gained compared to his coach, who was supposedly working out consistently and just in his early 30's was 3 or 4x the amount his coach had gained.

Aminos can make a big difference for the older athlete but also for 30 year olds. It's at this age that we start slowing down our protein synthesis stimulation. Our repair mechanism starts slowing down, and it just slowly but surely trickles down.

A way to help offset this slowdown is to use essential amino acids on a regular basis. When you take essential amino acids, especially EF aminos, you really want to just mix in water.

We want to have the right ratios of amino acids coming in and being absorbed all at once, so that we can get the most of the amino acids such as growth hormone activity and better repair of muscle tissue, better stimulus for protein synthesis, which is what I would say the aging athlete, especially the 35 plus athlete, is really looking for.

Who Can Benefit from Essential Amino Acids?

  • If you're 35 and older
  • If you can't gain muscle despite doing strength training
  • If you can't lose weight

If you take essential amino acids, you can consume less calories, because even though there are calories in amino acids, they're an energy source the body uses because they're already in their amino acid form. They do not carry the amount of calories like protein would carry coming into the body. I have used amino acids with patients trying to lose weight, especially in their fasting windows to help regulate their appetite or take post workout to get the stimulus they need to repair and regenerate tissue without the extra calories onboard.

  • If you're getting really sore after workouts. Taking essential amino acids can be helpful in decreasing soreness by stimulating and improving the speed of repair of tissue including connective tissue not just muscle tissue.

Essential amino acids are used across the board, whether you're talking about tendons, ligaments, bone structure, our hormones, neurotransmitters, they're coming from amino acids. And so you need these essential amino acids to just build up that whole umbrella of activity that leads to a younger being across the board.

  • If you're experiencing depression, anxiety and feel like their nervous system just gets slammed with big workouts. They feel lethargic or fatigued, after working out and their iron levels are good, their thyroid is good. Utilizing essential amino acids can support the nervous system.
  • Endurance athletes. Amino acids are good for both for increasing mitochondrial production and the density of mitochondria in tissues, which essential amino acids are shown to help increase mitochondrial density. If you have more mitochondrial dense tissues, then your physical exertion is going to be easier because you can create more energy per cell, per tissue.

As an endurance athlete, excessive or prolonged sweating can lead to fluid loss. Essential amino acids can help the body hold on to fluid intercellularly, and they can help bring electrolytes more readily from your mouth, digest system and into your bloodstream.

  • If you're experiencing low motivation, a lack of drive.
Branch chain amino acids, which, like I mentioned, are essential amino acids in this essential amino acid formula, can help clear out serotonin built up in the brain and allow for pushing through where you thought you couldn't push through before and helping with motivation. Mix a big scoop of aminos in water in the morning when you wake up, or mid afternoon. This will help flood your nervous system with these amino acids that will help clear out some of the excess serotonin that's building up in the brain.
  • People with high training volumes. And if you are a CrossFit athlete, a professional athlete, you got two a days going on, then I would definitely be looking at essential amino acids.

Don't sleep on aminos, they are essential to showing up in life as your fittest self.

What's been your experience with amino acids? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

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