Athletes and weightlifters have long supplemented with protein to provide muscles with extra fuel for maximum growth. But what if there was a better way? Why not forego the extra calories and carbs in your protein powder and focus on just the nutrients your body needs?
This article will look at essential amino acids (EAAs) versus whey protein and explore the benefits of EAA supplementation. Hint: They go far beyond muscle growth.
What Are Essential Amino Acids? #
You’ve probably heard of amino acids, commonly known as the building blocks of protein. They’re necessary for building and repairing muscle and human tissue. Also, they are key precursors to neurotransmitters and hormones. Without EAAs, your body can’t function.
Our bodies make use of over twenty amino acids for healthy daily operations. Of these, eight are considered essential. Essential amino acids are those the body can’t synthesize on its own; you need to get them from your diet.
While many claim that nine are essential, adults can go without histidine for 48 days or more without experiencing negative side effects1. Unlike the other eight, the human body can compensate for the absence of histidine over long time periods.
Missing out on just one essential amino acid means the body can’t make use of the others. This results2 in muscle breakdown, a reduced resting metabolic rate, loss of physical performance, and increased risk of injury.
A full resource of essential amino acids maintains nitrogen balance, promotes lean muscle growth, increases fat loss, and reduces recovery times. For anyone who cares about fat loss in addition to building muscle, ensuring you’re well supplied with essential amino acids should be a priority.
The Essential Amino Acids You Need #
While muscle growth and fat loss may matter most to strength trainers, essential amino acids’ impact goes far beyond the musculoskeletal system. EAAs are necessary for optimal performance of the nervous system, immune system, digestive and reproductive systems.
The following EAAs, found in each scoop of Fortagen, are optimized for anabolic utility but equally ensure total body wellness.
Leucine3 is necessary for metabolic functions, including the growth and repair of muscle and bone. Growth hormone synthesis is dependent upon leucine, as is blood sugar regulation. This EAA is essential for wound healing and prevents muscle protein breakdown that can occur after intense workouts.
Valine4 is related to Leucine and also promotes muscle growth and repair. Also, Valine influences athletic performance by improving muscle coordination, mental vigor, and emotional stability. Valine supplements help increase both physical and mental energy.
Isoleucine5 detoxifies the body from nitrogenous waste, aids in wound healing, and promotes the secretion of beneficial hormones. It’s essential for the production of hemoglobin, which improves athletic performance and immune function. Like leucine, it has a role in regulating blood sugar levels, which contributes to energy regulation.
L-Lysine HCL #
Lysine6 is also necessary for tissue growth and repair. In supplement form, L-lysine promotes the uptake of calcium and improves immune function. It’s essential for the production of collagen, which keeps connective tissue healthy and helps heal wounds. Lysine is a precursor of carnitine 7, which athletes know improves mitochondria oxidation and energy production.
Phenylalanine8 is essential for the synthesis of dopamine, tyrosine, and norepinephrine. These three neurotransmitters control key brain functions9, such as vigilance, action, memory, learning, and reward pathways. These cognitive tools are absolutely related to improvements in athletic performance.
Threonine10 is an important contributor to structural proteins such as collagen, elastin, and even tooth enamel. It influences the immune system and fat metabolism. It also helps prevent fats from building up in the liver. As a supplement, it’s known to improve digestion and mood, alleviating mild anxiety and depression.
Methionine11 is important for the growth and repair of tissue. It strengthens hair, skin, and nails. An important detoxifier, methionine assists in the excretion of heavy metals such as lead or mercury. This EAA protects cells from aging, and like threonine, prevents fat from accumulating in the liver.
Tryptophan12 is best known for its role as a natural sedative but contributes more to the human body than you may realize. A precursor to serotonin, tryptophan is essential for our feelings of contentment. It regulates appetite, mood, and sleep, as well as our response to pain.
Reliable Sources of Essential Amino Acids #
Essential amino acids come from dietary protein, which gets broken down through the process of digestion. Complete proteins are sources that include all nine essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins, mostly from vegetable sources, include just a few, although there are exceptions.
The following complete proteins provide all the essential amino acids:
- Poultry and Eggs
- Dairy Products
- Hemp seeds
- & more
While complete proteins will certainly provide you with each of the essential amino acids, they do so in a package that’s high in calories and additional nutrients such as carbohydrates. If you’re looking to build muscle and lose weight or decrease body fat, it’s difficult to get the amount of protein needed for anabolic use without contributing to excess energy.
In scientific studies 13, soy-based proteins result in less muscle synthesis than animal-based proteins. While the exact reasons are still being studied, researchers hypothesize it’s due to the lower digestibility of plant-based proteins and the higher rate of amino acid secretion through urine.
The recommended solution is to consume greater amounts. This is not a feasible option for those watching their diet, since consuming greater amounts of vegetables would mean consuming extra carbohydrates too.
Animal-based protein is more efficient, but anabolic utilization varies widely depending upon variables 14 such as the meal context, the amount of protein needed for metabolic processes, meal timing, and one’s specific workouts. Ensuring maximum uptake requires eating more 15.
Thus, supplementation is recommended for those seeking to fuel their muscles without eating too much. Whey protein supplements are common but, like plant-based proteins, fall behind on the anabolic use scale at 18%.
What Makes Fortagen Different Than Other EAAs? #
Fortagen outperforms whey protein and other essential amino acid supplements because it provides only the amino acids your body actually needs. It provides them in the optimal ratio to be used directly in muscle synthesis.
Whey protein is full of nonessential amino acids that your body already has a cellular surplus of. These extra amino acids that aren’t used for muscle building can instead be metabolized for energy, essentially serving as empty calories that interfere with one’s efforts to be a healthy weight.
What About the EAAs in Whey Protein? #
Other EAA products suffer from a similar defect when they adopt non-optimal EAA ratios. Some products provide the same amount of each EAA, or worse, provide an excess of cheap amino acids while skimping on others.
These supplements are less effective because your body won’t have enough of the amino acids it needs and may have an excess of amino acids that can’t currently be used for muscle building. In this case, you’ll see less muscle-building potential per serving and more wasted calories, just like with whey or vegetable proteins.
Essential Amino Acids vs. Whey Protein #
Bioavailability is the most impactful difference between sources of protein. Fortagen is digested in under 30 minutes, while whey or vegetable-based proteins can take up to 6 hours. But this isn’t the only reason you might choose EAA supplements as a source of essential amino acids versus whey protein.
Lactose Intolerance #
Intestinal sensitivity to protein powders is common. Lactose intolerance can lead to bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. Whey isolate has less lactose than whey concentrate, but it still contains lactose, which causes issues in some people.
Milk proteins can cause inflammation, even in those without lactose intolerance. An inflammatory response can look like bloating, excess mucus production, or an allergic reaction such as hives or itchy skin.
Those who adhere to an anti-inflammatory diet or paleo diet should avoid whey protein.
Caloric Restriction #
Whey protein includes each of the essential amino acids, but that’s not all. A single scoop may contain upwards of 120 calories, and flavored varieties often include sugar.
If you’re on a calorie-restricted diet or intermittent fasting, why not get your essential amino acids in a more efficient package?
Insulin Response #
Essential amino acid supplements such as Fortagen won’t trigger an insulin response. This means your energy remains balanced, and if you’re fasting, it won’t break your fast.
Recommended delivery is 30 minutes before bedtime, so you can rest assured Fortagen won’t keep you awake.
And because it’s best to take it at least one hour from any other protein consumption, it’s nice to know Fortagen won’t trigger a hunger response either.
Vegan Proteins #
Whey protein is not an optional protein source for vegan athletes, nor are many essential amino acid supplements. Soy protein is a feasible option for those without sensitivities.
Hemp protein serves as a high-quality, nutrient-dense protein source for vegans and meat-eaters alike. However, it’s low in certain amino acids, particularly lysine.
Fortagen is unique because it’s vegan, gluten-free, and delivers the essential amino acids needed for anabolic growth with zero carbohydrates or sugars and only 4 calories.
The Benefits of Amino Acids vs Protein for Muscle Growth #
Supplementing ensures your body has an adequate supply of each essential amino acid for maximum protein synthesis. Supplements like Fortagen deliver your EAAs in a ratio that mimics the specific human pattern of use. You’ll never be short on one while another is in surplus. Nothing is wasted.
We can’t say the same for whey and plant protein supplements.
Skyrocket Lean Muscle Growth #
By scientifically optimizing every EAA required for muscle growth, Fortagen provides you with a way to reach peak level performance. You’ll accelerate lean muscle growth and development in the shortest time possible.
Lose Body Fat #
An increase in lean muscle means an increase in your resting metabolic rate for a higher calorie burn, even while you’re resting. While a pound of fat is the same weight as a pound of muscle, muscle is far denser. Watch your body composition, not the scale.
In a randomized, double-blind study17, weight lifters who supplemented with essential amino acids during an 8-week resistance training program decreased their percent body fat despite greater gains in overall body weight and muscular strength.
Decrease Recovery Time #
Increased protein synthesis reduces recovery time and allows you to train harder, heavier, and longer than ever before. EAAs effectively offset any muscular and systemic fatigue that can crush your muscle gains.
A 2017 study18 found that supplementing essential amino acids outperformed passive recovery and rest after varied and exhaustive exercises. Improved recovery times were related to reduced muscle soreness and improved muscle function.
Lose Weight #
Fortagen clocks in at just 4 calories per serving. As a result, you’ll get the maximum benefit from a significantly lower caloric intake. Muscle gains require a minimal intake of .7—1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. To get this much high-quality protein from whole food sources requires a lot of eating. This is counterproductive if weight loss is your goal.
In a 2012 weight loss study20, participants who received EAA supplements lost more fat and less lean muscle tissue than those on meal replacement shakes. Another study found EAA supplementation has a promising therapeutic effect21 in the treatment of obesity.
The Bottom Line? #
Your body needs essential amino acids to build muscle and optimally function. But when you’re training hard and living life, it’s just not feasible to eat all day. Especially if you’re trying to lose weight, whey protein will give you the EAAs you need, but why not just cut to the source? In the whey versus essential amino acid debate, EAAs win for ease of use, bioavailability, and efficiency.
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