Amino Acids 101 - Building Blocks of Protein To
Gain Muscle Mass
is not just important, it is essential. Every single cell in your
body is made up of protein. For example, brain cells are 10 percent
protein. Muscle and red blood cells have as much as 20 percent.
Overall, protein is the second largest building material of the
human body (preceded only by water) comprising approximately 15%
To keep your cells alive, you must regularly give
them protein. Even though it is not a superb source of energy such
as carbohydrates and fats, you need protein and specific amino acids
to keep the body functioning.
But not all proteins are the same. Proteins are made
of amino acids that are linked together in long chains. Some amino
acids can be made in the body and others must be consumed through
the diet. What differs one protein from another is their amino acid
content. There are about 20 commonly known amino acids which mix
up and twist together in many different ways making between 10,000
and 50,000 different kinds of protein in the body.
What Are Amino Acids
Protein in our food cannot directly be used by the body, so it must
break the protein down into it’s smaller subunits known as
Amino Acids. Proteins consist of chains of hundreds or thousands
of amino acids joined with peptide bonds. When you consume protein
in food, the bonds linking the amino acids together are broken by
digestive juices and enzymes into isolated amino acids. Only after
this process is complete, your cells inside the digestive tract
can absorb the nutrients and make them usable for the body.
Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle - protein is the puzzle
and amino acids are the pieces that make it. If one or more pieces
are missing, you can't see the beauty of the picture. Same thing
with protein - unless all amino acids are supplied through the diet,
your body cannot make up proteins that are imperative in optimal
growth of new healthy cells.
body can't store amino acids and will break down its own protein
sources, including healthy muscle and organ tissues to meet its
need for amino acids. If you want to keep your brain, muscles, bones,
joints, all internal organs, even blood and lymph performing their
functions you should constantly provide amino acids from a well-balanced
Out of 20 amino acids required for proper body functioning
and optimal health, your body can make 8-10 in sufficient amounts
from glucose and other proteins. These are called non-essential
and include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine,
glutamic acid, glycine, proline, and serine.
The remaining amino acids have to be supplied through
your diet as your body is not able to make them, hence the name
"essential amino acids". These are tryptophan, lysine,
methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine, and isoleucine.
Their function is to serve as nitrogen donors to make other amino
acids and supply the most important structural material for the
new cells to develop and replace the old ones.
Semi-essential amino acids are arginine and histidine
as the need for these increases if they get depleted at times of
stress. Usually adults can make enough of these to maintain normal
balance, just like nonessential amino acids. But children, those
injured, ill, and even elderly need additional amounts to support
muscle tissue growth due to higher metabolic demands.
What Do Amino Acids Do
Besides building cells and repairing tissue, amino acids form proteins
such as antibodies to combat invading bacteria and viruses, and
hemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body. Proteins also have many
other roles including nucleoproteins that replicate your DNA for
cell growth, make enzymes that perform numerous functions throughout
the body, and even proteins that help produce more proteins!
It's not the quantity of protein you take, but the
quality and ratio of amino acids that keeps the body healthy and
stable. The body can make 20,000+ proteins from
essential amino acids, but it can only make as much as allowed by
the least amino acid present in the body. For example, if one amino
acid is only present at the 60% level the assimilation
of all amino acids will be limited to that 60% level.
This is called rate limiting and it makes balancing amino acid metabolism,
using food protein, more difficult.
|Essential Amino Acids
||Nonessential Amino Acids
*May require increased amounts in times of bodily stress
Voropay & Lydia Green