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.

105 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 08/13/2015 - 04:28

Doug, I am 78 close to79 years old. Played most sports, had a knee replacement 3 years ago ,no good can onlyj just bend my leg, but work out 2 days a week at local gym doing leg exercises and upper body work. play golf twice a week walking the course. I take body science strength protein blend after workout .I think that after 5 weeks I have noticed an increase in my muscles in my arms and legs.. can a old man like me gain muscle and benefit from the protein drink. regards Bob

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Posted Mon, 10/19/2015 - 04:21

U r still alive and by doing exercise and use extra weight and doing little weight training u can add muscle like others and its not srange. Good luck

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Posted Fri, 02/06/2015 - 14:03

How to take on amino softgels 2222 this is a soluble or chewable

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Posted Fri, 12/12/2014 - 11:14

I would like to know if I can take pea powder with all the amino acids if I'm 60 yrs old and if I don't exercise?

Thank you!


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Posted Wed, 12/10/2014 - 07:38

Hey i am 1.70m tall and my weight is 64 kilos. Im 15 years old. 1 Year ago i was like 75 kilos but now im in good shape. I constatly run and swim. 2 Months ago i started in the gym and gained some muscles really fast i mean my arm became huge for just that small period (i guess because it was huge when i was fat but now the muscles are defined well). I want to ask what supplements can i take for building the muscles faster. I eat lots of vegetables,fruits, eggs, meat, drink watter like a lot and also take Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc and Multivitamins. Can amino acids help me build muscles faster or convert some fat to muscle ? Also is it true that you can grow a little bit taller with amino acids ? Because as far as i know proteins are built from Amino Acids.
Thank you.

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Posted Fri, 08/22/2014 - 22:01

i am only i am training 5 days per week.i want to become it safe by using serious mass with amino 2222 tab.will it gives any result.???

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Posted Tue, 05/20/2014 - 11:53

Steve, I'm 5'7 174lbs (my bf % is 13.4) and im trying to lose more fat. I'm taking amino acids and whey protein. I work out 6 times a week and I do cardio 20 to 30 mins after I work out. what kinda lose fat do you recommend? please help. thanks

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Posted Sat, 04/26/2014 - 00:13

I work construction and it is very labor intense and most days I feel heavy fatigue halfway through. I was thinking of taking amino acid for that much needed energy. Would amino acid be the best thing to take or would you recommend something else?

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Posted Mon, 04/14/2014 - 01:18

hey im a 15 YO guy and taking 3 times a day of amino acid 2222 is it ok?

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Posted Tue, 04/01/2014 - 07:56

hi steeve I am using Aminopur Powertabs 1600 .. can you tell me what are the effects and how to better use (how many times and when)
I am waiting in your answer, I really need your answer ...

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Posted Wed, 03/12/2014 - 13:45
atul arya

answer my question steve

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Posted Wed, 03/12/2014 - 13:39
atul arya

steve what is the best time to take amino tablets......actully i m taking amino tablet in mrng time after breakfast and one in evening time before workout is it okey........

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Posted Sun, 02/16/2014 - 15:00

Hi Steve I am 45 and I weigh 230 lbs . I wanna loose 45 lbs and I have done that in past 6 yrs ago. I am thinking of Lipo6 , what other supplements I should take with it like multivitamins and others to help me loose weight.

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Posted Fri, 01/24/2014 - 21:41

I'm trying to get toned and build muscle, is it okay if im taking NLA for her fat burning pills and amino acids but no whey protein? or is it best to take the whey protein as well with them?

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Posted Wed, 01/15/2014 - 10:18

Hi i used whey protein with multivitamin and the i used two month supplement gain fast but no result now one of my friend gave me amino max 8000 and im using this from one week and im going in gym with routine in the night around 03 am after my evening duty and after gym im sleeping.
the food im eating is provided by the company where im working and thats not good food but i have to manage with its even i dont like to eat it.
do i need any thing els to take with aminomax 8000?.
how i can burn the fat around the belly.
plz advise me.

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Posted Thu, 01/02/2014 - 16:24

Hi Steve,

This is Ravi and i am gyming hard and i am taking Mass Tech from Musceltech.just wanted to know is Mass tech good for gaining muscle mass? or can i add Amino build too?

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Posted Sat, 11/30/2013 - 03:22

I lost weight on my hips and butt from a cleanse I did...I am ok with the result, however I just dislike that I lost too much fat on my butt that makes it look uneven and it kinda has hole/ line that fat is needed.will amino acid help digest all my food all over my body?

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Posted Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:55

I want to ask about amino 24000 .. is it good to have or it is more stronger that I should have ???

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Posted Sat, 10/26/2013 - 18:53
yasser fouad

can I gain muscles while taking lipo 6 black and will it burn my muscles?

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Posted Fri, 09/06/2013 - 09:18


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Posted Wed, 08/07/2013 - 20:27

Currently taking ON Amino many pills should I be consuming for maximum effect...currently working out 5-6 days a week....7-8 tabs pre and post this safe and is it effective?

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Posted Sat, 07/27/2013 - 13:57

What are your thoughts on the aminos that universal animal pak has to offer?

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Posted Sun, 07/21/2013 - 20:15

I am taking super pump and amino2222 is it fine?
And can you lease tell me what amino2222 Actually does? Thanks

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Posted Sun, 07/21/2013 - 20:15

I am taking super pump and amino2222 is it fine?
And can you lease tell me what amino2222 Actually does? Thanks

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Posted Tue, 07/02/2013 - 07:52

hi im work out at the gym and also take serious mass will amino help further in building muscle

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Posted Fri, 06/21/2013 - 03:38
clark dominic

i am a 24-year-old man weighing 140 pounds. I have been lifting for 1 year and 8 months. i want 2 ask: How many grams of amino acids do you recommend me 2 take every post-workout? Let's say for exmple: i'm training 4-5 times a week with only 1 - 1.5 hours every session....

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Posted Tue, 06/11/2013 - 13:30
Ricardo Narine

Hey, Steve......
i am taking universal amino acids 1000 gram capsules and i want to know if it helps me with growth as well
i am 15 Years old and 5 foot tall
will it help me with growing

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Posted Sat, 06/08/2013 - 23:14

hi! i m using on platinum pre and gold standard whey protein..i want to add amino acid and casein also...can u suggest me abt amino acid ...i have muscular body and height 5'11 nd weight around 70 kg...

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Posted Sat, 06/01/2013 - 06:37

hey mate ijst wanna know if I can take L Arginine nd Lipo 6 Black together nd how to take it thanks

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2013 - 05:46

is ok if i use an amino,,, ??? is this not affected my sperm cell???

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Posted Sat, 05/18/2013 - 01:04

Hi Sir Steve,
Supplements are epensive, so if i were to chose from amino acids or creatine, what would you recommend?
Thanks and more power.

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Posted Tue, 04/09/2013 - 12:55


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Posted Sun, 03/31/2013 - 08:27
fauad saleem

Hi ... i just bought amino acids 2222 softgels and now i m getting confused if it does not effect your inner body or does not have side effects ... actually i m getting mixed reviews from my environment ... so please any one can guide me on this ... i will be very thankful.

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Posted Sun, 03/31/2013 - 04:18

Can i take amino acid 5600 and any weight gainer at the same time?

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Posted Wed, 03/20/2013 - 14:39

Hey hi i m mahesh and wanted to take amino 2222 is its really work 100 percent for making strong muscle

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Posted Wed, 03/13/2013 - 15:19

iam 82 years old and i have nerve problem originating in my cervcal, running thru my right arm , i like to know if i can take l-theanine amino acid to release my 24 hours pain ,t hank you

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Posted Fri, 03/08/2013 - 02:11

suggest me the best whey protein to build pure muscle..

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Posted Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:46

Can I take Hydroxycut Hardcore with AMINO 2300?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 01/31/2013 - 19:05

There shouldn't be an issue. Amino acids should not have any adverse reaction with Hydroxycut. Double check on the product labels for any warnings, however.

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Posted Sun, 12/23/2012 - 15:15

Is Amino 6000 good for building mass?

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Posted Wed, 12/19/2012 - 01:05

Hi Steve hey one question: what works better protein shakes or amino acids???

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Posted Fri, 11/16/2012 - 19:58
D Goodrow

I starting to take BCAA Complex 2200. Is it good to take 1000 mg of Fish Oil with this product? Thanks....

mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 19:20

BCAA's can be taken as a stand alone supplement, and you can take the fish oil with your BCAA's if you wish. I recommend that you take fish oil with food, however.

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Posted Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:23
M. Khatib

I am aiming to lose fats from around the muscles by taking amino acids and grow by whey protein .. what type of amino acids shoupd I take and how many pills per day? and I just want to know how many grams of amino acids should I take daily, I mean the range ..


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Posted Mon, 09/24/2012 - 03:28

I just had knee scope surgery. I had a torn meniscus. I'm tryn to recover quickly. Can I take a amino acid suppliament & will it help me regain my strength back????

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Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 02:45


I'm a young guy just starting out trying to gain muscle mass. Currently, I am taking a pre-workout supplement and a post-workout recovery drink. I admit that today, I just found out that I should add amino acids to my workout. My question is, I guess I know so little about what to take so in your opinion in addition to pre-workout supplement, recovery drink and amino acids, what else is crucial to be taking for mass gain?

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Posted Thu, 09/06/2012 - 00:23

Is it okay to stack, whey protein, amino 1000, L-glutamine and creatine x3?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/06/2012 - 13:04


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Posted Mon, 08/27/2012 - 18:37
farrukh ahmed

sirrrr i have question for u can we take amino acid 2222 with out whey protein or any other supplement which have best combination for it..????

Joey's picture
Posted Tue, 08/28/2012 - 12:16

YOu can take amino 2222 as a stand alone supplement. A quality whey protein will have a good amino acid profile.