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Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements for Your Pre- or Post-Workout Regimen

Wondering how to support your muscles before, during, or after a workout? Say hello to essential amino acids.

October 22, 2021

Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements for Your Pre- or Post-Workout Regimen

Wondering how to support your muscles before, during, or after a workout? Say hello to essential amino acids.

October 22, 2021

Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements for Your Pre- or Post-Workout Regimen

Wondering how to support your muscles before, during, or after a workout? Say hello to essential amino acids.

October 22, 2021

What is an essential amino acid?

Amino acids make up thousands of proteins in our bodies. These amino acids belong to one of two categories: non-essential (the kind our bodies naturally make) and essential (the type that we must obtain through diet).

How many amino acids are there? There are 20 different amino acids, nine of which are essential. The remaining are non-essential.

Both categories of amino acids play a vital role in supporting a healthy body and exercise endurance. That’s why taking amino acid supplements before, during or after your workout can help you make the most of your workout routine. Wondering how? Here’s everything you should know about amino acid benefits thanks to Marissa Arterburn, a nutrition scientist for XS™ products.

What do essential amino acids do?

Essential amino acids can only be obtained through diet and consist of nine different proteins, three of which are considered branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). All nine uniquely support your body:

  • Isoleucine (BCAA): Supports healthy muscle metabolism, and the conversion of fats and carbohydrates into energy.
  • Leucine (BCAA): Impacts blood sugar, converts fat into energy, helps repair muscle, and supports  protein synthesis.
  • Valine (BCAA): Supports muscle growth and converts carbohydrates into energy.
  • Lysine: May support collagen and protein production as well as calcium absorption.
  • Histidine: Helps support nerves.
  • Methionine: May play a role in the development and metabolism of energy from food.
  • Threonine: Supports fat metabolism, and structural tissue.
  • Phenylalanine: Can assist in enzyme and neurotransmitter function.
  • Tryptophan: Helps to produce serotonin and melatonin.

Foods with amino acids

Since these amino acids are only present in foods, you’ll want to make sure you include them in your diet. There are many foods with amino acids, and those that contain all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins.

Complete proteins include beef, lamb, pork, tuna, poultry, eggs, yogurt, salmon, shrimp, soy, buckwheat and quinoa. Because most of these are animal proteins, vegetarians and vegans should take extra steps to ensure they’re consuming enough essential amino acids.

“Getting essential amino acids from the food you eat is the best way to give your body the nutrients it needs,” Arterburn said. “If you like to eat beef, chicken and eggs all day every day, that is one way to get these essential amino acids. But if that sounds unrealistic, essential amino acid supplements are an easy way to fill any gaps you might have in your diet.”

Can help with exercise performance & results

We’ve talked a lot about how essential amino acids can impact your workout regimen—but just how helpful can they be? Some essential amino acid supplements can support muscle protein synthesis, which is important especially after intense exercise.

“Certain essential amino acid dietary supplements may also provide your muscles with the proper nutrients to help them reach a muscle-building state,” Arterburn said, “not to mention that they may help speed up recovery and improve performance for your next workout.”

May improve body composition

While it’s not always easy, it is possible to burn fat while building and maintaining muscle. Perhaps you’ve heard that higher-protein diets may help you achieve this goal. That’s because protein can shift your muscle metabolism to an anabolic state, where it builds and repairs muscles rather than breaking them down.

But would you believe us if we told you essential amino acid supplements could help, too? Studies have found that consuming enough of these nutrients may have the same effect since they include six additional amino acids. In essence, when adequate amounts of essential amino acids are available for muscle protein synthesis, your body is more likely to burn fat instead of muscle during a workout.

Leucine benefits

The branched-chain amino acids – isoleucine, valine and leucine – are designated as such because of how the molecules are structured compared to the other amino acids.

“Another thing they share is that they all impact your muscles, either through metabolism, growth or repair,” Arterburn said. “That’s why they are often found in essential amino acid supplements that are popular with athletes or those with highly active lifestyles.”

The three amino acids work more effectively as a team. Isoleucine delivers an energy boost needed to fuel workouts, while valine helps prevent the breakdown of muscles. Leucine is the key amino acid for muscle recovery and building lean muscles*, so it’s often highlighted in essential amino acid supplements.

When to take essential amino acid supplements

There are several times throughout the day when taking essential amino acid dietary supplements can support your body, Arterburn said.

  • After lifting weights: To make the most of your workout, you may want to supplement with essential amino acids. Bodybuilding and other styles of resistance training can be draining, but these vital nutrients may complement the positive effects of muscle protein synthesis when consumed post-workout.
  • Between meals: We know that essential amino acids can help facilitate muscle protein synthesis. So, it should come as no surprise that taking them regularly throughout the day can provide your muscles with a steady supply of extra support.
  • During endurance workouts: Endurance training—like running, cycling and swimming—can be catabolic, which means it can cause your body to break down muscle and fat. Taking essential amino acid supplements during long training sessions may help your muscles repair more quickly. We know what you’re thinking—the last thing you want to do is eat or drink something heavy during a long run. The good news is that essential amino acid dietary supplements are typically lighter on digestion than complete protein sources.

Not sure when you want to take essential amino acid supplements? Then choose an option formulated for any time of day, like the XS™ Muscle Multiplier* Essential Amino Acid Supplement. This unique blend delivers all nine essential amino acids plus an extra amount of the nonessential amino acid l-arginine.

XS Muscle Multiplier is also free from lactose, dairy, gluten, sugar, cholesterol and GMOs, so it’s easily suitable for many dietary preferences.

When it comes to post-workout, the best essential amino acid supplements are the ones that make your body feel its best.

“When combined with other healthy habits like prioritizing sleep and nutrient-dense food, you can help give your muscles the support they need,” Arterburn said.

*When combined with regular weight/resistance training and a healthy, balanced diet.