Amino Acids: Role, Why, When and How to Take Them

Amino Acids Role, Why, When and How to Take Them

What Are Amino Acids And What Do They Do? 

If you haven't heard it before. amino acids are the "cinder blocks" to build all protein.

In the body, all proteins and muscle tissue are formed from a unique sequence of 21 different amino acids.

In terms of chemical structure, amino acids are characterized by an amino group having a nitrogen atom at the base of this group.

The presence of a nitrogen atom makes amino acids different from other nutrients that we consume in our diet such as carbohydrates for example, and it is for this reason that they are the only components capable of forming tissues, organs, muscles, skin, and hair.

When people think of protein, they automatically think of muscle and bodybuilding, but amino acids are an important component of everyone's diet, especially people who are physically active. Amino acids can be separated into three categories: essential, semi-essential, and non-essential.

Amino Acids: Role, Why, When and How to Take Them

Essential amino acids

Essential amino acids? But why "essential"? Essential amino acids are those that cannot be produced or synthesized by the body alone, so they must be consumed through diet or supplementation. There are 9 including the famous BCAAs.


Leucine, Lsoleucine and Valine

Of the 9 essential amino acids, 3 are sub-categorized as branched-chain amino acids. These 3 amino acids are Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. BCAAs have a unique chemical structure compared to other amino acids and that is why they have several specific properties.

Compared to other amino acids, BCAAs are absorbed faster and at a higher rate, for them, absorption does not take place in the stomach, they are directly absorbed by the muscle that needs it.

To learn more, you can take a look at our article on BCAAs.

Other essential amino acids

The remaining essential amino acids are histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and lysine which are essential in the body for a variety of psychological functions.


Histidine is an aromatic amino acid that has a series of vital functions in the body such as the synthesis of hemoglobin, the functioning of the immune system, and the repair of tissues. Histidine is an important amino acid for recovery after illness and during periods of growth.


Lysine is an amino acid that plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system. In addition, lysine can work in cohesion with other semi-essential amino acids to synthesize proteins like collagen that help us keep our skin, hair, and nails healthy.


Tryptophan is an aromatic amino acid characterized by a group of functional indoles. This amino acid has different functions on the body, especially on the nervous system such as its role as a chemical messenger. Unlike other amino acids, L-tryptophan is not soluble in water and is heat resistant, which means that not much is lost in the process.


Methionine is a sulfurous amino acid (which contains a sulfur atom) that is a precursor to other amino acids such as taurine. This amino acid has many functions since its antioxidant properties protect us from the action of certain substances that are harmful to our bodies. This amino acid also plays an important role in building proteins and the secretion of certain hormones such as adrenaline and melatonin.


Phenylalanine is a nonpolar amino acid with a benzyl chain known to have antidepressant effects. This amino acid plays an important role in the production of dopamine and adrenaline.



This amino acid is a polar molecule which when metabolized converts to pyruvate and plays an important role in the production of glucose and ATP.

Non-Essential Amino Acids


Non-essential amino acids are those that the body can produce on its own. So if they are synthesized by the body, why should they be consumed? It's a good question. By exercising, after using carbohydrates for food, the body looks for other sources of fuel.

Amino acids can therefore be used to supply your muscles with the right amount of energy during exercise. However, the body often cannot produce these amino acids at a rate high enough to meet your needs during exercise. This is why we need more amino acids whether they are essential or not.


Alanine is the simplest amino acid in terms of chemical structure as it is classified as a non-polar amino acid. In the body, alanine plays a key role in the glucose-alanine cycle between the liver and body tissues. Simply put, this amino acid reacts in tissues to generate pyruvate and then glucose as a form of energy.


Glycine is the smallest amino acid linked to the formation of collagen with proline and lysine. In addition, glycine also plays a role as a neurotransmitter in the spine, brain cells, and retinas.

Aspartic acid

This amino acid plays a role in the urea cycle in the body and also participates in the process of glycogenesis (the metabolic way of producing glucose). In addition, aspartic acid acts as a neurotransmitter to stimulate specific receptors in the nervous system.


Asparagine is necessary for the nervous system and plays an important role in the synthesis of ammonia.

Semi-essential amino acids


Semi-essential amino acids, how can something be “near essential”? These amino acids can be produced by the body, however, under certain circumstances, the amount produced by the body is not sufficient for regular physiological functioning. This happens with certain illnesses or during strenuous exercise.

The Serine

Serine is a proteinogenic amino acid that has several biological functions in the body. Serine is important for metabolism, enzyme response, and cerebral signaling.


Arginine also has several functions in the body including its role as a precursor of nitrogen oxide, it reduces injury recovery time as well as the time to repair damaged tissue while helping to reduce and improve pressure. blood.


Tyrosine is a proteinogenic amino acid that plays a role in signaling cells.

The Proline

This amino acid has exceptional rigidity due to its chemical structure, which is used to produce the collagen necessary for the maintenance of hair, skin, and nails.


Ornithine plays a key role in the urea cycle and prevents fatigue from exercise. The urea cycle is a biochemical cycle that produces urea to remove ammonia from the body.


Glutamine is one of the most popular semi-essential amino acids with athletes because it regulates acidity in the kidneys, creates cellular energy, and aids in muscle anabolism.


Cysteine plays a role in the reaction of enzymes in the body and also takes part in metal binding as well as being a precursor for specific antioxidants.

The Benefits of Amino Acids

Amino Acids: Role, Why, When and How to Take Them

Amino acids are a huge part of our body and the bodily processes that take place daily. Maintaining the correct amino acid balance through supplementation has shown an endless list of benefits ranging from aiding muscle growth to helping improve the immune system.

1. Muscle Anabolism, Prevent Muscle Fatigue and Help Muscle Recovery.


The biggest benefit of amino acid supplementation is its contribution to muscle anabolism, aiding muscle recovery and preventing fatigue.

6 amino acids are metabolized in a muscle at rest: leucine, isoleucine, valine, asparagine, aspartate, and glutamate. These amino acids support many metabolic processes ranging from fundamentals such as protein synthesis to roles as an energy source or precursor for glutamine and alanine.

During the first 10 minutes of exercise, a reaction called the alanine-amino transferase reaction is established to maintain high enough levels of certain amino acids during training. When the products of this reaction are used, the muscles can go into a state of fatigue.

However, Glutamine has several functions on the body such as being used to fuel muscle, so supplementing with Glutamine can increase muscle energy and according to a study by Wagenmaker (1998) plays a central role in the energy metabolism for the muscle that is being trained.

These benefits of amino acid supplementation make it not only ideal for bodybuilders but also for other athletes such as marathon runners, sprinters, or those who train hard.

Additionally, in a study by Rasmussen et al (2000), an experiment was designated to determine the response of muscle proteins to amino acid consumption. 6 men and women received treatment with a drink containing 6g of essential amino acids or a placebo one hour after strength training.

For those who consumed the amino acids, there was an increase in phenylalanine, which was not seen in those who consumed the placebo. This increase produces an anabolic response. This study, therefore, showed that amino acids can stimulate muscle anabolism and protein synthesis.

In addition, a review by Layman (2003) showed that an increased Leucine concentration can potentially stimulate protein synthesis under catabolic conditions associated with a dietary restriction or after strenuous exercise.

2. Weight Loss


Amino acids are not only useful for those who want to gain lean mass and improve their recovery. Indeed, they also help in weight loss. For example, two people trying to lose weight, these two people can go for a diet rich or low in amino acids. After 16 weeks, the person who consumes more amino acids will have lost much more body fat and less lean mass than the other person.

In general, a diet rich in protein and Amino Acids, and low and carbohydrates allows better weight loss while sparing protein in the body.

3. Diabetes


Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels and secrete insulin effectively. One example is when you eat carbohydrates and your blood sugar rises.

Being diabetic means we cannot secrete insulin effectively to bring levels down to normal, which leads to hyperglycemia. Amino acid supplementation can have benefits on blood sugar.

For example, arginine is a precursor to nitrogen oxide, a substance that has a direct influence on insulin sensitivity, which is very important for cells to be well sensitive to insulin.

4. Inflammation and Arthritis


Another benefit of amino acids is that they can reduce the effects of inflammation on the body.

For example, in a study by Thomas and West (1973), it is shown that amino acids containing ester and sulfide such as cysteine and methionine are effective as anti-inflammatory agents that can reduce edema, anaphylactic shock and even reduce inflammation and improve the condition of people with early arthritis.

5. The Immune System


Although this may sound new to you, a deficiency in dietary protein or amino acids has long been linked to the onset of certain diseases. For example, a scientific journal of

Peng et al (2007) found that a combination of recent studies showed that amino acids (arginine, glutamine, and cysteine ​​in particular) play an important role in the mechanisms of the immune system and the infection response system.

For example, certain amino acids play a role in activating various lymphocytes, killer cells, and macrophages to prevent proliferation while affecting the production of antibodies, cytokines, and other cytotoxic substances. In addition, this study shows that amino acid supplementation can improve the status of the immune system and help reduce morbidity and mortality.

6. Fertility


This is a thought found in many recent studies saying that amino acid supplementation can increase fertility levels. For example, a study conducted on a total of 132 people with a fertility deficit received supplementation rich in amino acids for 3 months. As a test group, 73 other people with impaired fertility used a placebo.

All figures showed a marked improvement in fertility compared to the test group. During the 6 months of the study, a total of 34 pregnancies were reported among those supplemented.

Amino Acid Supplementation


Flavorless Protein

As for supplementation, if you are already getting all of the nutrients you need from your diet, amino acid supplements may not be necessary. However, it should be remembered that during exercise your body's need for amino acids is greatly increased.

So if you work out a lot and need to build muscle, recover or lose weight, amino acids are often of great help.

Amino Acids Powder

Amino Acid Powder is often available in many flavors and can therefore be mixed with your favorite juice or just with water. You can also have the possibility of taking it plain which allows you to add it to your whey shaker etc.

Amino Acids Tablets

Amino Acids tablets are perfect if you are in a hurry and want a quick intake of Amino Acids.

When to Take Amino Acids in Supplements?

Amino Acids: Role, Why, When and How to Take Them

Amino acids are most effective as a first food in the morning, pre-workout, post-workout and before bed to limit muscle fatigue and maximize recovery and anabolism.

Related article: The Best Supplements To Gain Muscle Mass

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