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Amino acids are the nutrients that make up all proteins in the body. In bodybuilding, amino acids are emphasized because muscles are almost entirely composed of protein , that is, amino acids. The body uses them for its own growth, repair, strengthening and production of various hormones, antibodies and enzymes. Not only the growth of strength and “mass” of muscles depends on them, but also the restoration of physical and mental tone after training, catabolism , lipolysis of subcutaneous fat and even the intellectual activity of the brain – a source of motivational stimuli. In total, there are 20 proteinogenic amino acids, of which eight are the so-called “essential” or irreplaceable(the body cannot independently synthesize them in sufficient quantities), the rest are called interchangeable. There are also a number of amino acids that are not part of the protein structure, but play an important role in metabolism ( carnitine , ornithine , taurine , GABA )

Amino acids are one of the most popular forms of sports nutrition .

Amino Acids in Bodybuilding

Rating of amino acids in bodybuilding and fitness

Scientists have found that amino acids are extremely important for muscle recovery after exercise, muscle retention during a drying or weight loss cycle, and muscle growth . BCAAs play a special role in bodybuilding. Muscle tissue consists of 35% of them, BCAA have a large number of biological effects, and are released separately.

Exercise, even at moderate intensity, depletes 80% of all free amino acids – this emphasizes the importance of amino acid supplementation for rapid recovery and further muscle growth.

Amino Acids in Foods and Supplements (Equivalent Content)

Effects of amino acids 

  • Energy source . Amino acids are metabolized in a different way than carbohydrates, so the body can receive much more energy during training if the amino acid pool is full.
  • Acceleration of protein synthesis . Amino acids stimulate the secretion of the anabolic hormone insulin , and also activate mTOR , two of these mechanisms that can trigger muscle growth. The amino acids themselves are used as building blocks for proteins.
  • Suppression of catabolism . Amino acids have a strong anti-catabolic effect , which is especially necessary after training, as well as during a weight loss or drying cycle.
  • Burning fat . Amino Acids Promote Fat Burning by Expressing Leptin in Adipocytes via mTOR

Benefit evaluation

There is no doubt that amino acids are very important and useful in bodybuilding, however, as mentioned above, protein consists of the same amino acids, it is protein that replenishes the need for amino acids in all people. Amino acids, as a sports supplement, differ from protein only in a higher absorption rate, and it is required only during and immediately after training, as well as in the morning. In addition, amino acids can be useful for losing weight, since they contain few calories, at the same time they well inhibit catabolism, reduce appetite and preserve muscles.

A significant disadvantage of amino acids is their high cost and small doses. If you are not under financial constraints, you can take 10 g of amino acids 4 times a day and get good results. On the other hand, you can take 20 grams of protein 4 times a day and you will get almost the same results in gaining muscle mass, as well as save 80% of money.


Complex amino acids have few advantages over whey protein and also lag behind (and are more expensive) than protein hydrolyzate . Give preference to protein and BCAA amino acids both when gaining muscle mass and when losing weight .

Гид по спортпиту для бегунов: аминокислоты и другие монокомпонентные добавки

Types of amino acids

Amino acid complexes differ in composition, amino acid ratio and degree of hydrolysis. Free-form amino acids, usually isolated (glutamine, arginine, glycine, and others), but complexes are also found. Hydrolysates are degraded proteins containing short amino acid chains that can be rapidly absorbed. Di- and tripeptide forms are essentially also hydrolysates, only the amino acid chains are shorter, and consist of 2 and 3 amino acids, respectively, and are absorbed very quickly. BCAA is a complex of three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are most in demand in the muscles, and are absorbed very quickly.

Many are confused when a manufacturer indicates a protein hydrolyzate in the composition or description , so there are often statements that it is actually a “compressed protein”. However, research has shown that hydrolyzed protein is absorbed faster than free forms of amino acids.  This is probably due to the fact that di- and tripeptides require fewer active substances-transporters in the gastrointestinal tract.

The form Function and meaning Benefits disadvantages Recommendations for use
Free form Does not require digestion. Absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. They quickly enter the muscles, which helps prevent muscle catabolism. High price Recommended to be taken only before, during and after training.
Hydrolyzed form The fastest-absorbed form (as studies have shown, it is absorbed much faster than the free form) Muscle nutrition, prevention of catabolism, triggering of anabolic reactions. Contains amino acid chains that must be broken down before amino acids can enter the bloodstream. For maximum growth in strength and mass: 10 g before and 10 g after training. You can also take 10 g in the morning.
BCAA Essential Muscle Amino Acids. They serve as a source of energy and prevent catabolism, trigger muscle growth. They have a wide range of positive effects. Absorbed quickly. High price Heavy training: 4-5 g each before and after training.
Di- and tripeptide form Muscle nutrition, prevention of catabolism, triggering of anabolic reactions. Fast assimilation. High price. A rare product on the bodybuilding market. Usually taken in the same way as the hydrolyzed form.

Forms of amino acids 

Amino acids are available in the form of powder, tablets, solutions, capsules, but all these forms are equivalent in effectiveness. There are also injectable forms of amino acids that are administered intravenously. It is not recommended to use amino acids injections, since it has no advantages over oral administration, but there is a high risk of complications and side reactions.

When to take amino acids 

When gaining muscle mass , it is most advisable to take amino acids only before and after training, and also (optionally) in the morning, since at these times a high rate of amino acid intake is required. At other times, it is wiser to take protein . When losing weight, amino acids can be taken more often: before and after workouts, in the morning and in between meals, since the purpose of their use is to suppress catabolism, reduce appetite and preserve muscles.

Optimal doses

Amino acids are used in bodybuilding in a very wide range of doses. It is desirable that a single dose be at least 5 g, although the maximum result is achieved when using 10 – 20 g once. When buying amino acid complexes, pay attention to the dosage of the supplement. Some manufacturers make doses very low in order to increase the cost per unit weight of the product.

Combination with other additives 

Amino acids can be combined with all types of sports nutrition, but they cannot always be mixed (drunk at the same time). Do not take amino acid complexes with protein, gainer , meal replacement or food together , as this reduces the rate of their absorption, which means that the meaning of their use is lost! Read the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully.

Side effects and safety

The duration of the amino acid intake is not limited, breaks and cycling are not required. Read the main article for more details: Harm and side effects

Quality control of amino acids

  • Powdered amino acids, highly soluble in water, excluding BCAAs
  • BCAA amino acids taste bitter
  • Color and consistency as described on the label
  • Packaging is properly sealed and meets factory standards
  • Check the expiration date


Post Author: Inessa