Proteins are made upon amino acids. The proteins we intake is further broken down into amino acids, each of which has an important role to play in our body. Amino acids are needed by us to play numerous roles in our body like muscle synthesis, repair, synthesis of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and immune cells.
Depending upon various factors, we categorise amino acids into three types - essential amino acids (EAA), conditionally essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. In this article, we will specifically focus on EAA and their roles in our body.
We have a total 20 amino acids out of which 9 are categorised under essential amino acids. All 20 amino acids are equally important for us but the reason for calling these 9 amino acids important is because our body cannot synthesise them on their own. Therefore, EAA should be provided externally through diet or supplement.
9 EAA are leucine, isoleucine, valine, methionine, histidine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, lysine and threonine. They are present in foods like eggs, chicken, fish, quinoa, milk and soybean. Due to their potential health benefits, athletes often consume EAA supplements to meet their increased needs.
Though EAA can be consumed at any time during the day, athletes often prefer using them as an intra or during a workout. Studies have also shown that when EAA are consumed during or before exercise on a fasted state then they reduce the rate of muscle breakdown, fatigue and assists in speedy recovery.
Consuming EAA can prove fruitful for active people, especially those who are intermittent fasting or consuming inadequate protein in their diet. In addition to preventing catabolism and stimulating anabolism, EAA also helps improve your mood and sleep. Serotonin has been shown to reduce our stress and anxiety levels, calm our nerves and improve sleep quality. Tryptophan is one of the most essential amino acids required for the synthesis of serotonin.
EAA helps reduce post-exercise muscle soreness, improves strength and stamina. Additionally, EAA preserves lean body mass, prevent its breakdown and promotes fat burning. This is another reason why EAA supplements are most loved by fitness enthusiasts.
Negro M. et al in 2018 conducted a study to investigate the effectiveness of EAA mixture supplement as a pre-workout and post resistance exercise session. Results observed a significant improvement in terms of endurance capacity, reduced and delayed muscle fatigue.
EAA is also required for the synthesis of other non-essential amino acids in our body. Phenylalanine is needed for enzyme production, methionine is required for the absorption of minerals like zinc and selenium, threonine is involved in collagen synthesis and histidine is needed to preserve our myelin sheath surrounding our nerve cells.
Hence, it is well-evident that essential amino acids are vital for our tissues, muscle and brain health. Some of them also play a critical role in promoting weight loss, augmenting athletic performance and improve mood. If you are an active person or looking to meet your daily essential amino acid needs then opting for an EAA supplement can be a great alternative.
Negro. Massimo, Segreto. Valentina, et.al.(2018), Essential Amino Acids (EAA) Mixture Supplementation, Frontiers in Physiology. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6107748/