Protein powders, BCAA, amino acid drinks, protein bars....all of these products are being thrown in our faces on the daily basis telling us we need them to recover after our workouts. Why is that, what do they actually do to our bodies, and what is the actual importance of amino acids?
Amino acids are building blocks for all of our organs, tissues, hair, skin & muscles. They are organic compunds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group, which when combined - form proteins and synthesis of hormones & neurotransmitters, which are involved in all cell functions.
There are 3 groups of amino acids:
- ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS (9) - can't be made by the body, need to come from an outside source
- NON ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS (11) - can come from food, but are also made by the body
- CONDITIONAL NON ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS*
In order for our body to function properly, we need all 20. Whether it's coming from whole foods or supplements, we should be getting the whole number on a daily basis. *Some of the non-essential are considered conditionally essential and become essential if we're suffering from an illness, or stress, but let's face it...we are under stress ALL THE TIME. Although they are important for literally everything that goes on in our bodies, we want to turn our attention to muscle development & repair, reducing fatigue & enhancing performance, as that's when the protein powders, BCAAs and other supplements come into play.
Working out requires energy which increases our body's requirement for calories and amino acids, causes micro ruptures in our muscles that need repair in order to grow, and exhaust & fatigue our bodies so we need replenishment. Certain essential amino acids (also called BCAA - branched chain amino acids) may be particularly necessary for improving workout performance and muscle repair, while supplementing with protein powders works more on the development side. People who don't include animal products in their diet need to make sure to take all essential amino acids, as it's harder to do because there aren't many plant protein sources which contain all 9. (I don't want go deeper into this topic as it tends to get very controversial, let's just say people are still fighting over what's true and what isn't - the biggest truth is irefutable though - animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) contain ALL 9). This is the main reason for all the supplementation arguments - we don't take enough amino acids on the daily basis & our bodies need more of them to function properly, especially if we're very active individuals.
Technology advances have changed the whole game and brought new and exciting things to the market. One of the companies I am extremely happy to have found is Forté Elements and their Forté Amino Acid Powder which provides a balanced blend of glutamine, arginine, lysine, taurine and serine (a combination of essential and non-essential amino acids). They proudly state how their exclusive formulation promotes wound healing and tissue repair; reduces surgical or traumatic stress; and supports the immune and central nervous systems for overall good health. It was formulated by a physician, and what the science nerd in me particularly love about this company is that they are transparent with their whitepapers! The research is there for anyone who wants to know more about it and dive deeper into the background of this amazing product. I've been using it after my workouts (yoga, kickboxing, running...) and I wanted to test it for at least a week, if not more, to really document my results.
What I've experienced from using Forté Elements?
Being a very active person and teacher, my body gets fatigued on the daily basis and being plant-based for over a year now, I can struggle with getting my protein in. Forté made it easier for me to replenish my body, repair my muscles & boost my energy levels. I definitely feel less sore, have more endurance throughout my workouts, and my muscles feel healthy and strong. I've experienced less water retention (meaning less stress caused by exercise) and bloating, as well as improved sleep. Since I'm a certified nutritionist, I would definitely recommend this to all my clients, and therefore, all my readers as well. The Forté team has been kind enough to offer you all 10% discount when you use my code KARLA10! So, don't just take my word for it, try it out yourself!
Amino acids are the crucial components of our bodies, and we cannot exist without them. That's why it's so important to understand that unfortunately, due to the state of today's food and overall environment, we cannot count on getting everything we need from our diets alone. As with minerals & vitamins, we do need to supplement our amino acids - moreso if we're active and working out. All that being said, I do urge you to do your research before simply going into the closest store and buying the first thing that screams "amino acids" from the shelves. A lot of today's companies have poor quality ingredients and additional fillers, artificial preservatives and colorings, and that's why I loved Forté and decided to give them a try - only natural ingredients and available, transparent research on their website.