Source: National Human Genome Research Institute [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The proteins in living organisms are huge molecules, but they’re composed of tinier building blocks, known as amino acids. There are over 500 amino acids found in nature, yet, of these, the human genetic code only directly codes for 20. Every protein in your body is made up of some linked combination of these amino acids.
Broadly, these twenty amino acids can be sorted into two groups: essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids are those which the human body is capable of synthesising, whereas essential amino acids must be obtained from the diet. The non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine; some of these can also be termed ‘conditionally essential’, meaning that they may be needed from the diet during illness or as a result of health problems. This sub-category includes arginine, glycine, cysteine, tyrosine, proline, and glutamine. The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Amino acids can’t be stored by the body in the same manner as fat and starch, so it’s important that we obtain those that we cannot synthesize from our diet. Failure to do so can lead to inhibition of protein synthesis in the body, which can have a wide range of subsequent health effects. Amino acids are obtained from the breakdown of protein in the diet, so a diet deficient in protein can impact on essential amino acid intake.
One of the factors that leads to fatigue during exercise is extra serotonin in the brain, which is caused by an increase in L-tryptophan, another amino acid . BCAAs compete with L-tryptophan and prevent its uptake into the blood, thereby preventing the fatiguing effects of serotonin . Like creatine, they have the added benefit of increasing muscle size and strength. A typical daily dose of BCAAs varies depending on bodyweight, but is around 20 grams of the three amino acids combined, taken 1-3 times throughout the day.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a type of L-carnitine, an amino acid that’s great at preventing fatigue during intense exercise. This is because carnitine can enhance the rate at which oxygen is delivered to muscles and help prevent the build-up of lactic acid, which may cause muscle soreness.
Supplementing with Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) can also provide a cognitive boost - that is, it can help users think more clearly by increasing energy availability in the brain. This is why we also include it in our Nootropics category. A month’s supply, assuming a daily dose of 1,000 milligrams, is very affordable.