Amino Acids that Promote Anabolic Gains
We all want to grow stronger and we all want to say that the training we are doing is promoting anabolic strength and power – but what about our recovery?
How many of you take a real good look at your recovery?
Do you notice that within 24 hours your muscles have recovered properly and are able to handle the stress of another training session?
This is where understanding the right amino acids and how they can promote anabolic strength is essential.
Not only do amino acids help in general recovery, but some amino acids even have unique tendencies to stimulate anabolic strength. When combined with a complete workout program that is structured for muscle development – you’re in for a wild training session.
First, let’s understand what amino acids are.
What Are Amino Acids?
On a very basic level, amino acids are structural components of proteins. You hear the phrase “building blocks of protein” quite often, and this is more or less correct – but amino acids are much more than building blocks.
When you ingest a calorie of protein it is broken down into amino acids. Each amino acid (and there are over a dozen) are then used for various roles in the body. While some are much better suited to energy, others are much more effective at being used as anabolic triggers.
Some amino acids even work to promote relaxation and can be effective supplements for sleep – a huge aspect to anabolic strength.
With this in mind, we can see why it is important to have a wide spectrum of amino acids each day. Yes, consuming a whey protein shake will provide you with a decent amount of protein and its amino acids, but different foods like fish, chicken, beans, legumes and even grains will contain different spectrums of amino acids to push you in a particular direction.
Your best shot at growing stronger will always come from a balanced approach. Although we are going to highlight some of the best amino acids for anabolic strength, we should never be reductionist and we should always aim for balance.
Best Proteins for Balanced Amino Acids
Understanding that balance is essential in your strength means understanding that when it comes to having power and complete recovery in the gym you need to be eating all sources of protein.
This means eating plenty of beans, fish, lean meats and many other food sources. One of the main issues I see with most people is that they become fixated on a particular protein source – say chicken for example.
Although this is a great source of protein, the amino acid spectrum is not as diverse as fish, and not nearly as high in certain amino acids as beans or some grains.
Having a balance of all the main sources of protein will help to provide your body with the core amino acids, like leucine and glutamine, but will also help to ensure you are getting a good supply of the underrated amino acids.
Best Amino Acids for Anabolic Strength
This one is probably the most obvious choice. Leucine is an amino acid that has been shown to be an almost perfect trigger for anabolic strength and recovery. Supplementing with 3-4g after a workout will help to signal muscle protein synthesis and improve your recovery time.
One of my personal favourite amino acids. This amino acid has a unique ability to act as more of an energy molecule. Isoleucine seems to have some signalling with acetyl-CoA and can help you to feel more energized and can even provide some energy to muscle contractions.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked amino acids in the fitness industry, L-theanine can help to promote relaxation and some clinical trials have looked at its effectiveness for mood and sleep. At the end of the day, we must not forget that the greater amount of quality sleep will reflect onto your ability as a strength trainer.
A pretty obvious addition to our list, but glutamine is an amino acid that has the benefit of limiting muscle wasting. This is a perfect supplement for recovery weeks or injury times. In doses around 5g, many people will experience no muscle loss – even if they are no longer training on a regular basis. Of course, this does not last forever, but it is a good supplement to use while you are recovering from an injury, or if you missed a workout.
One of the most unique amino acids on our list. Carnitine works as an energy molecule in the same fashion as isoleucine but it has the unique benefit of allowing your body to better utilize fat as a fuel source. It seems that carnitine can help your body to better enter into a state of lipid-oxidation, although this has not been clinically proven and dosage must be high for this to occur.
A potent and powerful amino acid that has the direct role of allowing for growth and development of tissue. When taken in higher doses, lysine can help you to build muscle and recover faster than ever before. This is not an amino acid you will want to miss.
D-Aspartic Acid (aspartic acid)
One of the most commonly used supplements in the testosterone improvement sector, DAA is an amino acid that has the benefits of providing a temporary boost to free-testosterone levels in the body. The obvious benefit to this is an increase in strength and power.
Personally, I like to take my DAA before a workout and have not used it as a long-term test booster, but merely a supplement that can help me push through that last rep before failure.
Bottom Line: Anabolism through Amino Acids
Whenever we look at the best ways to grow stronger and build more muscle the most effective way will always come with balance. Without a balance of all macronutrients, you will struggle to recover, and the same goes for your amino acid spectrum.
All amino acids are important for growth, recovery and general vitality, but some of the ones highlighted here are very effective for anabolic strength and size.
Your best shot at ensuring you are getting all these nutrients it to pack your body with a complete spectrum of protein sources. This means eating beans, fish, lean meats, whole grains, and many other protein-rich foods. Do not isolate yourself to one specific protein source – even if you believe the spectrum to be complete. Only by balancing your protein consumption will you achieve anabolic gains.
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.
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