What are amino acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Along with protein, they form a powerful combination when trying to build lean muscle. They are either Essential, meaning the body needs to be given the amino through food or supplementation, or Non-Essential, which means the body produces it naturally. Branch chain aminos refer to Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. The three aminos associated with muscle building. These are commonly found in meat and eggs, but supplementation has been shown to work as well.
When a person is exercising and weight lifting, the muscle fibers are being literally torn apart. When the body rebuilds these fibers, a person may see muscle growth. The amino acids act as a catalyst for this rebuilding stage so they enhance muscle repair and growth.
You will see people drink amino acid blends during their workouts because they prevent the muscles from breaking down too quickly, which leads to longer workout capabilities. Drinking amino acids after a workout is also critical because it speeds up the repair process.
Do they work?
Yes! Many people will get plenty of aminos through diet however supplementation may be needed for many people. Aminos are safe and relatively inexpensive. The body handles them well. There are definitely some aminos that work better than others though.
The undisputed King of Amino Acids. It is a BCAA (branched chain amino acid) that has been proven to be the most critical when building muscle. It is extremely effective in stimulating and aiding protein synthesis, which is how muscles are built. A dose of Leucine has actually been shown to be more effective at building muscle than an equal amount of mixed BCAAs. You can purchase it separately, however the other aminos have other uses.
It is not the muscle builder like Leucine, however it has been shown to promote glucose consumption (increase energy) and uptake. It also acts as an anti-catabolic agent, which simply means it prevents muscles from breaking down. It makes a good partner to Leucine which builds the muscle back up.
Commonly found with the other two BCAAs it doesn't have much scientific backing alone. It may have some properties of the other two, but it doesn't do it as well so it's clear role is not quite known.
Non-essential amino that plays a role in moving key nutrients in and out of the heart cells. Simply put, it is a carrier and a messenger of important cargo for proper functioning.
Non-essential amino found commonly in pre-workout products. This is because it is converted to Nitric Oxide in the body which increases blood flow and muscle pumps.
An amino acid that produces Dopamine and Noradrenaline which are the feel-good hormones in the brain. It can act as a stimulant so take it with care.