Essential Amino Acids, or EAAs, are a mix of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own and need to be consumed through the foods and supplements we take.
The Nine Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, meaning they are crucial in muscle growth and prevention of muscle health, as well as for your mental health. Most types of meat, fish, eggs, pulses, quinoa, chia seeds…etc, are all considered complete proteins, because they contain all of the nine essential amino acids your body needs.
Essential Amino Acids
EAAs are usually sold in pill or powder form, however, the powder form is generally cheaper. While neither form of 100% pure EAAs contain calories, it should be mentioned to always check the nutrition label because some brands will add things like a sweetener to caffeine to them to make them taste better or give you a bit of a buzz from them. If you can, only take the purest form of EAAs as this will give you best benefit.
Who Needs To Take EAAs?
The fitness industry seems to be very divided when it comes to taking EAA supplements. Many think that since our diet is varied enough to include foods that cover all nine of the amino acids, we do not need to supplement our bodies with extra amino acids. However, others believe that by taking extra EAAs you can do wonders for preserving your muscle, especially in a fasted state and reduce exercise related fatigue.
The group of athletes who won’t get any extra benefit from taking EAAs are people who are eating in a calorie surplus, who have never trained in a fasted state or who have a pre/post workout meal full of protein and carbs.
However, if you ever train on an empty stomach, don’t have time for a proper meal post workout, or are trying to lose weight and get rid of excess fat, EAAs can most definitely help you!
What Do EAAs Do?
EAAs, especially while in a fasted state, is to help prevent any muscle catabolism that might occur during exercise. This is basically where your body begins to break down and use your muscles for energy.
Anyone trying to slim down for the summer might want to cut out that post workout shake and replace it with a drink rich in EAAs and much lower in calories. This has been shown to be just as effective as a protein shake for muscle recovery and synthesis. Perfect for your cutting season!
If you are following an intermittent fasting routine, supplementing your body with EAAs can be beneficial, giving you peace of mind that you can go the full 16 hours without any food and not worry about losing any muscle mass. To put it simply, if you’re eating in a calorie deficit, your body is going to burn muscle along with body fat, and the additional EAAs will help to preserve as much muscle as possible without adding any extra calories to your diet.
Our recommendation is to take a small EAA supplement if you know you’re going to be without food for an extended period of time. Otherwise, just make sure you eat a healthy and well balanced diet and you should be fine.
You can’t overdose on EAAs so no negative effects will come from taking this supplement, especially if you make sure the company you buy the product from is reputable. All you will end up doing is wasting your money as your body pee’s them out.
The best thing you can do for your body is eat a clean and healthy diet and you are giving yourself the best chance of success in the gym.
The Fitness Focus Team