Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. They are compounds that play a vital role in building proteins but they also have a big role to do with the proper functioning of hormones and neurotransmitters. Amino acids are commonly used by those who are trying to gain mass. That said there are certain Amino acids that are very beneficial for people trying to relax or de-stress. L-Theanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in tea which is believed to have calming properties.
You can get amino acids naturally through your diet. Most foods from animal protein sources contain all the key amino acids. There are also lots of plant-based foods which contain lots of protein and amino acids. Common plant-based sources of protein include peas, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans.
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All you need to know about Amino Acids
Which foods contain amino acids?
We need to get many of the amino acids our body needs through our diet. You can get amino acids through protein-rich foods such as red meat, tofu, eggs, dairy, leafy greens and vegetables, rice and beans. Meat and fish contain high amounts of histidine, while dairy products like milk and cheese, legumes and beans are a good source of leucine. People who follow vegan or vegetarian diets may not find it so easy to get the amino acids they need, therefore an amino acid supplement may be beneficial.
Do I need to take amino acids?
If you do not get enough branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), you may need to take an amino acid supplement, as your body cannot make these amino acids itself. The main BCAAs you need are isoleucine, valine and leucine. They are called 'branched chain' because of their chain-like molecular structure.
Can amino acids help with post-exercise fatigue?
Yes – especially BCAAs, which can combat muscle tiredness and soreness. The body uses BCAAs during exercise, which results in blood levels decreasing. When blood levels of BCAAs drop, the brain releases the amino acid tryptophan, which is then converted to serotonin (which is believed to cause fatigue during exercise). Those who take part in frequent high intensity exercise may benefit from an amino acid supplement to improve focus, performance and to combat fatigue and muscle tiredness after training. Consult your GP if you feel you might benefit from amino acid supplements to combat post-exercise fatigue.
Do bananas contain amino acids?
Bananas contain plenty of vitamin B6 and the amino acid tryptophan, which in turn produces the happy hormone serotonin, which can boost your mood. Bananas are not high in protein or groups of amino acids. Banana peel is high in nutrients, but bananas alone do not provide all the amino acids your body requires.