Amino Advantage

Amino Advantage

Most endurance athletes are hyper focused on their carbohydrate needs for training and competition. Few, however, focus on protein and fat requirements. The myth is fat will make me fat and protein will make me too big. My experimentation has proved differently and scientific studies are confirming my findings too.

As I approach 49 years old, I’m more focused on the longevity of my good health. I want to continue to perform at a high level as I age. I have many friends and athletes I coach that are decades older than me and are still smashing it on the bike. These athletes have inspired me over the last few years to look deeper into keeping the edge as I age.

One well documented aging fact is we lose muscle mass and bone density as we age. I’m doing everything I can to fight that battle by lifting weights and doing short runs twice a week year round (not just in the off season). I have also added a new step to my morning routine that includes 5g of Creatine and 8 capsules of Essential Amino Acids every morning.

Performance is all about ATP

Performance improvement begins at the cellular level; energy systems must be stressed and stimulated to produce more energy. Cells contain factory-like structures, called mitochondria, where oxygen is combined with fuel to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that stores cellular energy. When stressed, the cell manufactures more mitochondria per cell, so that it can produce more energy in the form of ATP when you become more physically fit, the cells get “fitter” too! The ability to manufacture more energy depends on the number of mitochondria per cell, but within the mitochondria there are enzymes that actually take the calories from our food and turn them into ATP. So as there are more mitochondria, there must be a great increase in energy pathway enzymes to facilitate this process.

Since the structure of mitochondria, enzymes, muscle fibers, and tendons is composed of protein, there is a great need for essential amino acids for this process to occur. If we have adequate essential amino acid intake, all of these systems can improve. If we don’t, then working out may produce little or no gain, as the deficiency of essential amino acids will limit the result. If you are working out and seeing no improvement in muscle strength, speed, endurance, or power, then this may be at the heart of your problem.

How much protein do I need?

People who regularly lift weights, or are training for a running or cycling event need1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight. Excessive protein intake would be more than 2 grams per pound of body weight each day. (1)

While it is possible for physically active individuals to obtain their daily protein requirements through the consumption of whole foods, supplementation is a practical way of ensuring intake of adequate protein quality and quantity, while minimizing caloric intake, particularly for athletes who typically complete high volumes of training.

The Myth: All proteins are the same.

In order for a foods protein to be used properly, it must contain the right balance of all eight essential amino acids. So the next time you see that yogurt has 14g of protein, be aware that only 16% is usable! A can of tuna fish has 16g of protein, of which 33% is usable. We call this the Aminos Acid Utilization (AAU).

Some athletes attempt to supplement their protein deficiency with BCAA’s or Branched Chain Amino Acids. They’ve been promoted for athletic recovery and as an aid in building muscle protein. BCAA’s include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are three of the eight essential amino acids, but sincefive essentials are missing, they also have an AAU of zero.

My supplement of choice: EAA’s

Essential amino acids have become a popular nutritional supplement marketed to athletes. In strength athletes, amino acid supplementation has been proposed to increase the availability of essential amino acids, enhance anabolic processes promoting tissue accretion, and accelerate the rate of recovery during training. In endurance athletes, amino acid supplementation has been proposed to improve physiological and psychological responses during endurance exercise and training. (2)

The optimal time period during which to ingest protein is likely a matter of individual tolerance, since benefits are derived from pre- or post-workout ingestion; however, the anabolic effect of exercise is long-lasting (at least 24 h), but likely diminishes with increasing time post-exercise. Rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids (EAAs) are most effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Endurance athletes should focus on achieving adequate carbohydrate intake to promote optimal performance; the addition of protein may help to offset muscle damage and promote recovery.

I have seen tremendous personal results by adding EAA’s to my routine. That’s the reason I’ve included them in the Strate Fuel catalog. Buy some today, and feel the results for yourself.

  1. Mayo Clinic Health System - Are you getting too much protein?
  2. PubMed - Amino acid supplementation and exercise performance. Analysis of the proposed ergogenic value

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