By Spencer Kwasnicki, M.D.

Keeping yourself in the best possible health is one of most people’s main goals in life. To do that, you must understand some of the important elements and complex systems within your body. Amino acids, for example, help to create the protein that keeps your muscles healthy and strong. Let’s take a look at amino acids, what they do, and how you can keep your body in great shape without running yourself ragged!

What Are Amino Acids?

If you think of your body as a puzzle that is comprised of many different pieces, then amino acids are undoubtedly one of the most important. They work to build protein, a vital substance that your body uses when creating muscle. If you don’t take in enough amino acids, your body won’t be able to form the protein it needs to keep your muscles in good shape. Additionally, keep in mind that muscle mass is an important element of weight loss. If your muscles aren’t as strong as they should be, you might find yourself struggling to lose weight and get in shape. Amino acids–particularly branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs–are something that you should ensure you’re getting enough of.

What Impact Do Amino Acids Have on Health?

Essential amino acids can have a major impact on your health. Higher intakes of amino acids are typically associated with body leanness and overall health while lower intakes have the opposite connotation. One BCAA, in particular, to keep an eye out for is leucine, which works hard to prevent muscle breakdown and increases the speed at which your body builds muscle in general. This is important for your health because, as briefly mentioned above, muscle mass is vital to a healthy body. Another amino acid that keeps your body running smoothly is histidine, which is responsible for promoting tissue repair and growth as well as generating white and red blood cells.

How Can I Make Sure I’m Getting Enough Amino Acids in My Diet?

With all of the above said, it is important to note that amino acids are not something that your body can create on its own (with the exception of non-essential amino acids). That means that you have to ensure you are eating foods that are rich in those substances in order to keep your diet balanced and your body’s systems running smoothly. You’ll find that meats like pork, beef, chicken, and turkey are especially high in amino acids, as are dairy products like cheese and yogurt. You can also get essential amino acids from plant sources like soy products and other legumes.

If you are vegan or have a dietary sensitivity that prevents you from eating foods high in essential amino acids, however, you might need to look into a supplement instead. Amino acid supplements can help you up your intake in easy-to-swallow pill form, while powdered supplements can be mixed with water and easily consumed. You can even find amino acid products that are created to help with specific issues or circumstances. For example, there are liquid amino acid boosters that are designed specifically to help athletes promote healthy muscle growth.