Aminos! What are Aminos? Aminos are those drinks the absurdly ripped guys use during their workout, right? You ingest aminos, you get muscles! Easy peezy. Not much else to it.
Well, no. It’s a bit more complex than that. Let us begin with a bit of history on Amino Acids.
The first amino that was discovered was an amino acid called Asparagine. It was first isolated in 1806 by two chemists, Louis Nicolas Vaquelin and Pierre Jean Robiquet. I’m sure the name of the amino is a dead giveaway, but it was found in high amounts in asparagus juice, which is what it was isolated from and thus named after.
The term Amino Acid in the English language arose around 1898. The German name for it, which was Aminosaure, was used up until then.
When proteins are ingested, they are broken down into individual aminos. Aminos are utilized in a multitude of processes throughout our bodies. They are building blocks for proteins, necessary for lipid transport, the creation of collagen, essential in the creation of hormones, and a ridiculous amount of other processes. Amino Acids are considered the building blocks of life because of how important they are.
There are different groups of Aminos. We have essential, non-essential and conditionally essential, as well as metabolites of aminos and slightly modified forms, such as Beta-Alanine.
Essential amino acids are deemed essential because our bodies cannot manufacture them, so it is imperative that we get them within our diets. Non-essential amino acids are the exact opposite. Our bodies produce them in sufficient quantities, so it is not necessary for us to get them through our diet.
Conditionally essential amino acids are considered conditional because our bodies usually manufacture enough, but in times of stress or due to physical activity we may require more.
The essential amino acids are Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Histidine, Methionine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Threonine and Tryptophan. In young people, the amino acid Arginine is considered essential as well.
The non-essential amino acids are: Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, and Glutamic Acid.
The conditionally essential amino acids are Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Tyrosine, Glycine, Ornithine, Proline and Serine.
We get the majority of our aminos through our food. The food that we consume will usually provide us with more than enough aminos. Complete protein sources provide us with a complete amino acid profile. This means that it provides all of the essential aminos that our bodies require. Complete protein sources include Meats, dairy, eggs as well as a few plant-based sources such as quinoa.
Incomplete sources of protein will not provide a complete amino acid profile and should be paired with other incomplete sources to make a complete source of protein. The majority of plant-based protein sources are considered incomplete because they lack 1, 2 or more essential aminos. Examples of complete protein pairings would be Beans and rice, peas and carrots, tofu with rice, hummus, and pita bread, etc.
Even though we normally get more than enough amino acids in our diets, isolating certain aminos away from protein sources can have different effects. For example Taurine, which is a conditionally essential amino acid, can have cardiovascular benefits as well as aiding in cramps.
The drink that the unquestionably jacked guy in the gym is drinking, is usually BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids). I will cover this supplement in a future post, as well as amino acid deficiencies.
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