The Importance of Amino Acids

Amino acids. What role do they play in muscle building, weight loss and fitness? Learn what aminos are an how the effect your body.

Amino Acids Why do the majority of people who go to the gym to build muscle know so little of amino acids and protein, and their importance in achieving our goal of muscle building? Amino acids; everyone has heard of them, protein powders list them. So what is the importance of them? Do we really need them?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and also muscle tissue. And they also play a major part in physiological processes relating to our energy, recovery, mood, brain function, muscle and strength gains, and also in our quest for fat loss.

There are 23 amino acids and 9 of these are classed as essential or indispensable amino acids (IAA) that must be obtained from our nutritional intake. The others are termed dispensable amino acids (DAA) or non-essential due to the body being able to synthesise them from other amino acids.

When we eat a meal we don't pay much attention to the content and balance of amino acids but the content of the meal determines the body and health building value of the protein food or supplement. In addition the importance of the amino acids content of our meal is important to support maximum growth we also have to take another factor into account which is to what extent these amino acids are actually delivered to the tissues when they are needed which takes us to the issues of digestion, absorption and also the bioavailability.

What is Bioavailability?

Eating our protein foods such as lean meats and non-fat dairy products, or having our protein drinks are the most common ways that we get our amino acids, we also can obtain amino acids from vegetables, and legumes also have levels of most amino acids. We can also use protein drinks and amino acid supplements as a convenient means to supplement our dietary needs.

The reason we use these supplements is the bioavailability of the amino acids. Bioavailability is a measure of the efficiency of delivery and how much of what is ingested is used for its intended use by the body. There are factors which determine the amino acid bioavailability. One is how much fat is contained in the protein source and the length of time it takes for the amino acids to be available for use by the body.

Cooking also can affect the amino acids; some are more or less sensitive to heat and cooking may cause decomposition of some amino acids. The physical nature of the particular food is also a factor, whether it is solid, liquid, powder, or even tablet, and to what extent it is chemically pre-digested as some amino acid supplements are, fillers and binders also can have an affect on the digestion of the amino acid. The condition of our digestive system can also have an affect on amino acid digestion, genetics, age, health, specific diseases and illnesses all have an affect on our digestion.

Amino acids and Bodybuilding.

Exercise, hormones and nutrients will all cause muscle growth. As will supplementation of free form amino acids high in the branch chain amino acids (BCAA's) Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The best time for us to get our amino acids is immediately after our training when the muscle is especially receptive to nutrients and also blood flow to the exercised muscles which still remains high. The solution to optimising our recovery and growth after training is a s meal composed of protein with both simple and some complex carbohydrates. This is the time when ideally we require a fast digesting protein such as whey protein.

Amino Acid Supplementation.

The popularity of amino acid supplements has increased dramatically. Packaged workout and recovery drinks that contain hydrolysed (pre-digested) proteins and often some free-form amino acids can be found in most gyms. Also tubs of powdered or capsulated amino acids are being used by an increasing number of weight trainers. The good thing about these supplements is that they don't require digestion like food does. The term free-form means that they are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and as such move quickly through the stomach, into the small intestines where they are very rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. When absorbed, amino acids are processed by the liver. The liver can only process so many at one time, so by taking a dose of 3-4g of amino acids these will be rapidly absorbed and would exceed the liver's capacity which would result in the amino acids being directed to the tissues that would require them such as muscle that is recovering from your training.

Amino acids and Energy.

A lot of misconceptions exist about the muscle contraction and the use of energy substrates during heavy high intensity weight training. When performing your training using repetitive power workouts a substantial portion of your energy comes from non-carbohydrate sources. When your muscles contract they use stores of adenosine triphosphate (ATP, a substance vital to the energy processes of all our living cells) for the first few seconds. The compound used to immediately replenish these stores is creatine phosphate (CP). This is how the supplement creatine, became so popular to bodybuilders and strength trained athletes. Creatine is made from three amino acids: arginine, methionine and glycine. To keep our CP and ATP levels high, these amino acids must be kept elevated in our blood stream. The amino acids in creatine supplements can be supplied by foods in our diet but the process of elevating these amino acids takes a great deal of time in digestion, and also would be accompanied by fats and carbohydrates which may or may not be desired. So the use of free form amino acids, either alone or in combination with creatine supplements can provide direct source of energy for power and strength.

Amino acids & Fat loss.

In fat loss two major processes must occur (1) the mobilisation and circulation of stored fats in the body must be increased; and (2) Fats must be transported and converted to energy at the mitochondria (the powerhouse site of cells). Several nutrients can assist in the conversion of fat to energy including the amino acid methionine, which in sufficient amounts can help improve the transport and metabolism of fat. When attempting to keep our total calories down during dieting, amino acid supplements including BCAA's and glutamine can also help to keep our food volume down but still provide support directly to the muscles, liver and our immune systems which are critical to optimising our body composition.

Amino acids & Muscle catabolism.

Our body has the ability to breakdown our muscle tissue for use as an energy source during heavy exercise. This is part of a bodily process called gluconeogenesis which means producing or generating glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. The part of this reaction that is important to us as bodybuilders is known as the glucose – alanine cycle, in which the BCAA's are stripped from the muscle tissue and parts of them being converted to the amino acid alanine, which is then transported to the liver and converted into glucose. If we consume supplemental BCAA's the body does not have to breakdown our muscle tissue to gain extra energy. Studies have concluded that the use of BCAA's (up to 4g) during and after training can result in a significant reduction of muscle breakdown during training. Catabolism of muscle can cause shrinkage of our muscles and muscle soreness and may also lead us to injury.

Amino acids and the anabolic effect.

Resistance training generally stimulates both protein synthesis and protein degradation in exercised muscle fibres. Muscle hypertrophy (growth) occurs when an increase in protein synthesis results in the body's normal state of protein synthesis and degradation. The normal hormonal environment (e.g, insulin and growth hormone levels) in the period following resistance training stimulates the muscle fibres anabolic processes while blunting muscle protein degradation. Dietary modifications that increase amino acid transport into muscles raise energy availability or increase anabolic hormones should augment the training effects by increasing the rate of muscle anabolism and/or decreasing muscle catabolism. Either effect should create a positive body protein balance for improved muscular growth and strength.

Want more information about Aminos, diets or training? Join our forum and reach your goals faster with help and advice from our experienced members!

Amino acids. Barry Finnin, PHD. and Samual Peters .
Exercise physiology. 5th Edition, William D, McArdle. Frank I Katch, Victor L Katch.

About The Author
Doug is an ex-competitive bodybuilder with over 20 years fitness experience, specifically diet & nutrition, weight management and training techniques.

103 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 13:38

is it okay to use lipo 6 and amino 2222 together? if it is okay, how?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 14:10


For specific information on each product, including when and how to take them, please check out the following product pages:

Amino 2222...."Directions for Optimum Nutrition Amino 2222 Softgels:
As a dietary supplement consume 2 softgels before meals and again before and after training."

Lipo 6...."Directions for Nutrex Lipo-6:
For Fat loss: Take 2 liqui-caps 30 minutes before breakfast or morning workout and 2 more liqui-caps in the afternoon. Start off with only 2 liqui-caps on your first two days (1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon) and increase dosage by 1 liqui-cap every two days until maximum dosage of 4 liqui-caps is reached. For Extreme Fat Loss: Take 2 liqui-caps 3 times daily 30 minutes before a meal. Start off with only 2 liqui-caps on your first two days (1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon) and increase dosage by 1 liqui-cap every two days until maximum dosage of 6 liqui-caps per day is reached. Do not exceed 6 liqui-caps per day. Do not take within 6 hours of sleep."

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 11/21/2010 - 12:20

I crush two large Amino 2222 tablets mix with 24oz. and drink after workout. Will I get desired affect using that method ?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/22/2010 - 11:55

Hi Brian,

That should work fine.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/29/2011 - 23:03

can amino 2222 make you fat?

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Posted Wed, 07/06/2011 - 16:50

can i take lipo 6 black and amino 8000 max at the same time ?

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Posted Wed, 08/10/2011 - 06:32
sherif barakat

Adrian.. Amino acids products do not contain fats at all unlike the protein powder products that most of them contain some fats..

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 08/12/2011 - 16:44

Most protein powders contain no fat. You may be thinking of weight gainers.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 08/10/2011 - 06:35
sherif barakat

teto.. Yeah i am supplementing with both of them right nw , lipo 6 lose fat and amino max 8000 increase lean muscle mass fast..

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 08/13/2011 - 07:11
sherif barakat

yes adrian but also the other protein powders contain some fats may be low but if u are fat and want follow low fat diet u will not be in need to these fat , just supplement with amino acids products or even whey isolates poducts that contain very low fat in their dosage unlike others , whey isolates : ( iso pure zero carbs - dymaize iso 100 (doesnt contain any fat at all) - pro complex normal not gainer )

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 08/13/2011 - 10:36

Most protein powders contain no fat. Beyond that, overweight individuals need fat intake for health even when losing weight so a proper balance is still wise.

Whey protein is the top selling protein. Here are the fat content if the top sellers:

Pure Whey Protein Isolate = 0 grams of fat.
IsoFuel = 0 grams of fat.
100% Whey Gold Standard = 1.5 grams of fat.
Iso 100 = 0 grams of fat.
Scivation Whey = 1 gram of fat.

3 of the 5 top sellers contain no fat. The other 2 contain trace amounts.

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Posted Sat, 08/13/2011 - 07:14
sherif barakat

sry i mean steve :D

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Posted Wed, 08/31/2011 - 17:00

Is't ok to take aminos with protein that has amino

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 08/31/2011 - 23:35

<strong>Need more help? <a href="">Ask me on the forum.</a></strong>

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/06/2011 - 17:29

Im currently on potent BCAAs and whey isolate proteim..i just wanted to find out if i should add creatine ethylester to my stack to get great results??

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/22/2011 - 12:45

Creatine is a solid choice and a supplement with a proven track record. It's definitely worth consideration.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/12/2011 - 07:05

how many times do you drink amino in a day for best results?,what should i drink with this tablet?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/29/2011 - 14:07

Most lifters take amino acid/BCAA products on workout days. Some also take amino acids with every meal.

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Posted Tue, 02/18/2014 - 23:05
ravi thanki

dear steve i really like to ask you one thing i got lean muscle but they are in good shape i just want my lean muscle to be bigger then thay are right now can i take whey protein if yes then please suggest me product name and if any other then which one..thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/22/2011 - 12:50
average joe


im interested taking ON amino 2222 but im taking kirkland multivitamins...

is it ok to take amino 2222 on morning after i workout and take kirklad multivitamins at night??

thanks and more power!!!

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/29/2011 - 14:08


No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 09/24/2011 - 14:38
Mohd. Kh

Hi ..

Is it true that the muscles will reach a steady state where it doesn't grow more, unless we take amino acids or whey protein?? I am so confused when hearing this because I didn't think about taking any supplements, but if it is necessery, I will .. So please give me the advice and I will be thankful ..

thank you so much

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/29/2011 - 14:08

Muscle growth is limited naturally, but as long as you are working hard in the gym and eating properly you will be taking steps forward and building muscle.

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Posted Fri, 10/14/2011 - 11:10
Mohd. Kh

Hii Steve ..

What would happen if someone took amino acids for a certain time then stopped it suddenly, would he lose wait like in the case of protein?? Because according to my limited knowledge about it, if this happened with protein, I mean taking it for a certain time then stopping it, he will lose weight and muscles soo obviously .. am I right in it?? and is it the case in amino acids ??

thank you

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/14/2011 - 14:00

You wouldn't lose weight unless you aren't eating properly.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/30/2011 - 02:17

m a hardgainer and hv been gyming for about a year.
improvment is satisfactry bt my arms r nt growin
right now m consuming ON serious mass
now my insructor has advicd me for pre-workout suppement like jack3d and amino capsules along with serious mass
is it fine..?
will i gain mass on my arms...?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 14:40

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here are some articles that can help:

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 12/01/2011 - 10:41

Hi Steve,

Good day, Is it safe to take amino acid on an empty stomach? I'm acidic and recently treat my GERD. By the way I had both Amino 2222 Caps and Amino 2222 Tabs that I'm using. Please advise. Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 13:21

Perfectly safe.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/12/2011 - 00:17

Is it okay to stack allmax omega 3 with usplabs jack3d & gaspari amino max 8000

I'm taking..
Omega 3 & Anavite (multivitamin) with meals ( 3 times a day )
Jack3d 30 - 45 mins before workout
Aminomax 8000 before & after training.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 12/20/2011 - 13:49


No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 12/18/2011 - 11:07
Kim Carlo

Hi steve.. I'm a 5'7 tall and has only 110lb. I'm too thin.. Does amino 2222 helps me to increase my body size and build muscle? And can I take Both amino 2222 Capsule and Tabs while working out?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 12/20/2011 - 13:50

You will need to focus on eating more daily calories.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 01/17/2012 - 10:29
John Mark

Im trying to lose body fat, I am currently taking a weight loss pill. Would it be a good idea to take a free form amino acid complex with that after i lift? or will that curb the weight loss?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 02/11/2012 - 08:03
hesham omar

hey . I started playing two months and I am taking
serious mass and
I bought amino 2222 Will it be useful and what is the benefit from it . thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 03/18/2012 - 05:03

sir am 22yrs old an i want to build huge and strong muscles am a university champ, plz help me out plz mail me

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 03/19/2012 - 11:09

Hi Santosh,

Head over to the forum. You'll receive some good guidance.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/05/2012 - 19:27
robert ferdinando

hi fella im looking to found out how much protein is in each tab of Maximum Strength Amino 1500.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/05/2012 - 20:19

Hi Steve,
How many Amino 2222 pills should I consume per day? And how many scoops of hydrobuilder?
I'm looking forward for definition and mass.
Thank you

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 05/01/2012 - 01:31

can i take astymin 3 for body grow.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/02/2012 - 16:50

Hey Steve, Have you heard of PeptiBolic? It's an amino acid supplement with all 20 amino acids. Do you have an opinion on this? Is it worth it? Do amino acids need to be supplemented?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 05/03/2012 - 02:49

Well M going to gym from 2years till now i have not triad any supplements this is my fist time.. is it safe if i go for this????

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/20/2012 - 13:34

I m having
Universal fast gain with universal beef amino and on multivitamin
Will it work good for gaining muscle size

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 06/28/2012 - 10:00

hi steve
i have started gym from last 2 month i had good result i m 5.8 and my weight is 71kg i need to gain my weight upto 80kg with good muscles my instructur advise me for serious mass with amino 2222 capsule but i think serious mass will increase my weight and y should i use amino 2222 i m afraid amino 2222 will loose my weight because i need only gain no loose please advice me

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/17/2012 - 09:59

Do these pills factor into a daily protein intake? I noticed that they only contain 2 grams of protein. How does that work? Can you decrease protein intake while taking these pills since the body will use the amino acids to form polypeptides to create it own proteins?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/24/2012 - 07:29

Steve, do i need to take meal dite if am taking amino acid and going to gym 5times in a week...

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/24/2012 - 07:30

i feel always hungry since start taking amino 2222

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Posted Sun, 08/05/2012 - 21:08

Hi there.. currently im taking lipo 6 black 30 min before my meal. And also serious mass protein 30min before work out. An creatine during my work out. So what would be your best advise for me to take all this. And also im taking multivitamin and planning to take amino acid. Tq

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/06/2012 - 00:48

if i just take two bottle caps of 'liquid amino acids'and per day and nothing else will i see good imrpovements over the next month?

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Posted Mon, 08/13/2012 - 05:53

sir taking animo 2200 tab has many side effect