There are 20 different amino acids from which all proteins in the human body are formed. Twelve of them can be produced by the body itself. They are therefore called non-essential amino acids. The body cannot replace the remaining eight acids by its own biosynthesis. Since they are essential (indispensable) for the human organism, they must be taken in with food. In times of high stress or strong physical strain, the body may need more of a certain amino acid than it can synthesise itself. An amino acid that only needs to be supplied when there is an increased protein requirement is called semi-essential.
The amino acid L-glutamine is involved in a number of important chemical processes in the brain, the digestive tract and the liver. However, the greatest concentration of this amino acid is found in muscle cells, where it is mainly produced. Without L-glutamine, there would be no muscle growth. It controls water retention in the cells and ensures that they swell during physical exertion. This cell swelling has a strong, anabolic signalling effect. Protein synthesis is promoted and muscle growth can take place.
BCAA is the abbreviation for Branched-Chain Amino Acids. This refers to the branched-chain amino acids valine, isoleucine and leucine. All three are essential acids and must therefore be taken in with food. The BCAAs are components of important body proteins. Leucine plays an important role in protecting muscle tissue. It promotes protein synthesis in the cells of the muscle and liver, supports healing processes and counteracts the breakdown of muscle protein. When sufficient protein is available to the body, BCAAs can also serve to produce energy and nourish the muscles. This is important when the body needs to draw on its reserves during periods of hunger or prolonged exercise. Strength and endurance athletes want to ensure that any signs of fatigue occur later by taking BCAAs. They also want to promote muscle growth while reducing muscle breakdown.
EAA is the abbreviation for “essential amino acids”. These are 9 amino acids that cannot be produced by the body itself, which is why it is dependent on external supply. Lysine, methionine, leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, threonine and histine.
EAAs contain BCAAs.
EAAs have a better bioavailability than BCAAs. Isolated forms of amino acids like those in BCAAs do not occur in nature, which is why BCAAs have been virtually displaced by EAAs. The body can absorb this protein better and is therefore a better helper in terms of muscle building and maintenance.
The amino acid L-arginine is semi-essential. In the growth phase, in old age, during stress, illnesses and strong physical strain, it must be additionally taken in with the food. L-arginine has numerous positive effects on the organism that have been very well researched. In 1991, scientists discovered that arginine stimulates the formation of natural killer cells and thus strengthens the immune system. L-arginine is an important source of nitrogen for humans. Without arginine, nitric oxide cannot be formed in the organism. Nitric oxide is an important messenger substance that is mainly needed in the blood vessels and in the brain. It causes a series of chemical reactions in the muscle layer of the blood vessels that lead to the dilatation of the veins. This vasodilatation enables better blood circulation and lowers blood pressure. Sufficient intake of L-arginine is therefore very important to protect the heart and blood vessel system from damage. Taking L-arginine can also lead to long-term improvements in potency disorders, as these are usually caused by circulatory problems. Taking L-arginine also improves the quantity and motility of sperm, which is why it can help with male infertility. Athletes report a better feeling during training after taking L-arginine. Due to better blood circulation, the muscle is optimally supplied with nutrients and oxygen and thus “pumps” better. Researchers at Texas A&M University found in a laboratory experiment with rats that L-arginine stimulates protein synthesis in the muscle and has a muscle-building effect.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that does not serve as a protein building block. Nevertheless, it is indispensable for the human metabolism. The body produces carnosine from beta-alanine and histidine. Carnosine is mainly found in fast muscle fibres. In anaerobically trained athletes, such as sprinters, higher concentrations of carnosine are found in the muscles than in endurance athletes. Carnosine causes the buffering of acids. Studies on strength and endurance athletes give hope that supplementation can lead to performance improvements during repeated high-intensity exercise (interval training, weight training).