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What are isolated amino acids?
Amino acids form the structure of proteins. When we choose a supplement, it can be the whole protein or the amino acids that make it up in isolation.
Each amino acid is related to a number of specific functions and tasks: they are necessary to support muscle mass gain, energy production and many other functions.
Isolated amino acids are sports supplements in which an amino acid or several amino acids selected for a particular purpose are included in their composition. There are a total of 20 different amino acids.
The two main groups of isolated amino acids
In order to classify the isolated amino acids according to whether they can be produced by the body or whether they must be introduced through food, we divide the amino acids into two groups: essential and non-essential.
Non-essential amino acids include those that our body produces in certain quantities without needing to be supplied in the food we eat every day. Essential amino acids, on the other hand, cannot be synthesised naturally by our body and must be supplied through food.
The 9 essential amino acids are: Isoleucine, Valine, Leucine, Methionine, Histidine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Phenylalanine and Lysine.
What are the functions of the isolated amino acids?
Among the 20 total amino acids, each is involved and performs a number of specific functions within the body. Generally speaking, amino acids are involved in protein synthesis, help repair various damaged tissues, are involved in the production of various hormones, as well as in energy production.
Unlike a protein supplement, isolated amino acids do not need to be broken down once they have reached the stomach, their digestion and absorption is much faster. In the field of sports, they help to maintain and gain muscle mass.
What isolated amino acids can we find?
There are a total of 20 isolated amino acids. Among them, the most important in the sports field are:
- Leucine: necessary to create an anabolic environment: it is involved in the activation of the mTor pathway.
- Valine: required for the maintenance of muscle mass, repair of damaged tissues.
- Isoleucine: contributes to post-exercise recovery and is essential for haemoglobin formation.
- Glutamine: provides muscle fuel when needed, regulates insulin secretion and promotes protein synthesis.
- Taurine: necessary for energy production and has an antioxidant effect. Contrary to popular belief, it does not have a stimulant effect.
- Tryptophan: helps control anxiety levels, stress, appetite control and is involved in growth hormone production.
- Lysine: a precursor of carnitine, which promotes fat loss.
- Alanine: necessary for muscle growth and in the metabolism of glucose, vitamin B6 and other amino acids.
How to take isolated amino acids?
Isolated amino acids do not cause slow or heavy digestion: they are easy to take and assimilate. They can be taken at different times throughout the day.
- Before training: to promote energy production, maintenance of muscle mass and increased vasodilation.
- During training: they provide the muscle with the nutrients it may need.
- After training: they are necessary for the recovery of muscle mass and damaged tissues.