Building Blocks of Protein: Why Amino Acids are Critical for Your Fitness Regime

NDTV Food | Inputs from Bodypower  |  Updated: September 17, 2017 12:22 IST

Building Blocks of Protein: Why Amino Acids are Critical for Your Fitness Regime
  • can aptly be termed as the building blocks of proteins
  • Some of these cannot be created from other compounds by the body
  • Conditional amino acids are generally in times of stress or illness

For all those fitness junkies out there, this guide will certainly come in handy. We all know about the importance of carbs and the significance of protein in achieving the maximum from our workout regime. But unknown to most, there is another type of essential micro-nutrient that is pivotal to strengthening muscles and helping our fitness game - amino acids.

These can aptly be termed as the building blocks of proteins. Some of these are essential for humans as they cannot be created from other compounds by the body. Therefore, the only way to meet the daily supply of these amino acids is through adequate diet or via supplements. Let us take a closer look at some of the most essential amino acids for human development - these are vital for protein development.

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Essential Amino Acids


This amino acid directly contributes to muscle protein synthesis. It affects the ability to recover from both stress and exercise. Leucine facilitates cell growth as well as the formation of sterols which are used in the process of forming hormones like estrogen and testosterone.


This group of amino acids assists the body in the utilisation of fatty acids and ketone bodies - a process essential for fat mobilisation and utilisation. Isoleucine is the "keto diet" friendly amino. Its deficiency can hinder the body's ability to mobilise fat, and can also lead to cerebral dysfunction.


Medical research links together Valine and brain chemistry. It is suggested that the amino acid affects brain chemistry which may have an effect on our physical performance. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, Valine - like the other branched-chain amino acids - can be broken down and converted to glycogen for use as fuel primarily when your diet is deficient in specific proteins and amino acids, or when your carbohydrate stores are low.

Conditional Amino Acids

These are generally not essential, except in times of stress or illness.


This one is the most abundant and naturally occurring amino acids in the body. It circulates in the blood stream and also gets stored in the skeletal muscles. Glutamine intake becomes conditionally essential in case of illness or injury. It also assumes importance after intensive workouts for the need to repair muscles and to facilitate growth.


This amino acid is essential for the production of protein. L-arginine also helps the body get rid of ammonia - a waste product. L-arginine is also used to make nitric oxide - a compound that helps in relaxing the blood vessels. Some use L-arginine to boost the immune system; it is also associated with improving athletic performance, and speeding the recovery process after an injury or a surgery. As it induces speedier recovery, L-arginine enjoys much popularity among bodybuilders. It is also used for treating high-blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.


creatine bodypower

This one also joins the band of naturally-occurring amino acids. It helps build up protein and is commonly found in fish and meat. Creatine is easily made by the human body in kidneys, liver, and pancreas. It can be made naturally in the body from other amino acids such as L-arginine, L-glycine and L-methionine.

Creatine is often tied to improving performance in high-intensity as well as short-duration activities such as sprinting and weight lifting as it increases the production of ATP - an energy source for muscles needed during brief and explosive periods of physical activity. However, creatine has not been found to help with endurance sports such as marathon running.

Creatine may also decrease muscle fatigue. It is suggested that the amino acid helps to reduce lactic acid that causes muscle fatigue. Some of the most recent studies have also shown creatine to help in building lean muscle mass.

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Creatine should be had with caution. High doses can adversely affect kidneys, liver and heart. Overdose may cause kidney damage as creatinine - creatine's by product - is filtered through the kidneys into urine.

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