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Can Amino Acid Supplements Replace Protein Powders?

Madhura Mohan

Posted on May 25 2019

 

While protein powders have gained a steady place in the world of supplements, amino supplements are not left behind, they too have gained an equally important place.

We often find fitness freaks sipping their protein/amino supplement before/after a workout, in order to beat fatigue, improve muscle recovery and prevent soreness.

Everything’s fine but the latest question that is bothering many is, what is the supplement that we actually benefit from, protein or amino?

Taking a supplement is such a simple job, but to decide which supplement to choose and to pass through the confusions whether to go for protein supplement/amino supplement is definitely a tough job.

Logically thinking, if aminos make proteins, why not take just proteins? Do aminos count as much as proteins?

Let’s break it all down with a step by step analysis.

 

What Are Protein & Amino Supplements?

Although both protein and amino supplement appear similar and are commonly used as a dietary supplement to boost muscle growth, decrease recovery time after a workout, there’s a whole lot of information to know about them which proves they are different.

Let’s take a look at the different types of protein/amino supplements.

Proteins (made up of long chains of amino acids) are the important nutrients for building muscle tissue. Protein powders are protein sources that comprise of a good range of amino acids. Protein powders offer a convenient way to increase your protein intake, which is needed to support muscle growth and a host of other bodily functions.

Single Protein Powder: is a protein supplement that contains one protein type. They may include carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For ex: Soy, Pea, Whey, Casein powders.

Blended Protein Powder: comprise 2 or more proteins to deliver more continued digestion and release of amino acids to the muscles. For ex: Mass Gainers generally comprise blended protein.

 

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and the fuel needed to carry on the vital function of the body. Amino acids are broadly classified as essential amino acids (those required to be consumed through the diet), non-essential amino acids (synthesized by the body itself) and conditionally essential amino acids (although manufactured by the body, during stress and injury, the body may not deliver enough of them). In order for the protein synthesis to occur, an adequate supply of both essential and non-essential amino acid is vital. If any one amino acid is missing, protein synthesis gets halted.

Amino acid supplements are extractions of amino acids found in protein. They have the ability to enhance workout performance, promote recovery and help build muscle.

Single Amino Supplement: comprise single amino acid, generally used for specific conditions, mostly to promote muscle development. For ex: Arginine, Glutamine, Carnitine, and Beta Alanine

Blended Amino Supplement: contain more than one amino acid. For ex: BCAA

 

Brief About Protein Digestion Mechanism

How is protein digested?

When we intake a protein, our body breaks it apart into individual amino acids, reorders them, refolds them and turns them into a new protein. The proteins thus synthesized become different things, such as enzymes, antibodies, hormones or they might become structural proteins such as muscle protein.

 

Difference Between Protein & Amino Supplements

The basic difference between protein powders and amino supplement is that protein powders are used to boost our protein need, contribute calories, support muscle building, fill in gaps in our diet, whereas amino supplement target very specific and diverse areas of metabolism.   

Protein supplements like Whey, Casein and Soy are complete protein sources that deliver all essential and non-essential amino acids.

Amino supplements do not contribute to our daily protein demand. Events that increase our metabolism such as increased muscle activity may impact the total protein we need. To ensure that our cells can synthesize vital proteins, we must consume enough of all essential amino acids daily.

 

PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT

AMINO SUPPLEMENT

Offers full scope of amino acids

Usually offers single amino acid

Can be used as a meal replacement

Not suitable for use as a meal replacement

Can make you feel fuller

Does not support satiety

Significantly aid in weight loss

May not contribute much to weight loss

Economical

Costlier

The differences clearly convey Protein supplement to be the better choice, but don’t come to a conclusion yet. We still need to learn about the requirement for amino supplements.

 

When Should You Consider Taking Amino Supplement?

The primary reason why people turn to amino supplement has to do with muscle growth. If you are a hardcore builder, athlete, or aim for faster recovery, you need to consider supplementing with amino along with protein. By supplementing with amino acids, you can improve your body composition and have a superior workout. Some amino acids like carnitine, taurine are not highly present in protein and so supplementation could still be considered despite high protein intake.

You need to also know that a high protein meal will not put significant levels of amino acids into your bloodstream until a couple of hours after you eat it. In such cases, the more reliable way to deliver specific amino acids is to take the particular amino acid themselves through free form amino supplements. Since free form of amino acids are free from chemical bonds to other molecules, they require no digestion and are absorbed into the bloodstream. The quick absorption of free form amino acid helps prevent catabolism. Amino supplements are also helpful in preserving muscle glycogen.

Comparatively, Protein is the better choice of the two but if you are on a mission for optimal gains, you are better off supplementing with both. Boosting your protein supplement with an amino supplement can provide additional beneficial support.

 

In the end, neither protein nor amino alone without training can result in muscle gains…

Your supplement usage should be purely based on your goals…

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Also read: BCAA+Whey= Extra Gains

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