The Value of Amino Acids

Amino acids comprise protein, which is roughly 75% of the body's dry weight. Additionally, there are 20 different ones, each with different functions related to growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. Of these 20, almost half of them cannot be made by your body- the "essential amino acids"- meaning you have to eat them.

This last paragraph is the reason amino acid supplements are produced in staggering quantities. The reasons why people purchase them to the same unspeakable degree are varied, and wrong.

As of now, you can buy all 20 amino acids as individualized supplements inside of bottles that list a slew of benefits you'll achieve by taking them in this form. They also sell the all-in-one "branched chain amino acids", the capsule containing every single one.

I can see the appeal of both of these approaches. Solid work marketers. But we'll start with branched chain aminos'. Purchasing these is I think a larger waste of money than just lighting it on fire. At least fire generates heat. A serving of branched chain aminos' give you virtually nothing more than one and a half medium-sized swallows of milk in capsule format, cost about 35 times as much, and taste bad. I really don't understand the appeal. I lied earlier when I said I did. And that's all I'm going to say about BCAA's. If you purchase a single pill, you should be hung so that your genetic predisposition to be a moron is not bread into any offspring that will gradually lower the average standards of human development and achievement.

The individual amino acid market isn't quite as comical and awful, but also isn't any more valuable to you, and certainly isn't worth the money. Don't buy them... I'll go on- and think realistically with me for a minute here: your body is designed to utilize protein in its complete form, i.e. all of the amino acids at once. When you take a huge amount of a single amino acid, that kind of doesn't help at all to have any more complete protein. That's not to say that taking amino acids by themselves is useless- it's to say that it's not as useful as you're led to believe by people with a financial incentive.

Nutritiony- physiology lesson: the human body is made to deal with the food found in nature. Pure lysine is not found in nature. Raw meat is found in nature. The amino acid sequence in raw meat has the closest relation to your muscle. This makes it very easy for your body to build muscle with raw meat. Does this mean eat raw meat all the time? No. Probably not. But it does mean that the more naturally complete the protein is, the easier your body can use it. 10 grams of glutamine compared to 10 grams of protein from sashimi: you're looking at the fish being more useful. Real science says the whole protein beats the amino acid regardless of what gym science tells you. Gym science also tells you there's an inner and outer chest and that NO2 works.

Alas, if you have to experience the novelty of taking an amino acid in supplement form, do take glutamine. It's the most concentrated amino acid in all the skeletal muscle, so it does have something working in its favor. Also, it promotes your anabolic hormone release and suppresses your workout-induced catabolic hormones slightly. Protein in any digestible form does this greatly, but glutamine alone does it fairly well. Just consider the cost-benefit analysis here. Virtually nothing beyond regular human-diet protein for tons of money. If you need the novelty though, glutamine's the best one.