Technically speaking, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. But they do so much to allow you to squeeze maximal results from your training – from boosting energy for better workouts to repairing muscle to promoting fat-burning – that aminos really should be considered the foundational building blocks of your entire supplement regimen. If you’re a muscle-minded guy or girl, make sure the following two amino acid supplements never leave your gym bag or kitchen pantry:
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): This trio of essential aminos (leucine, isoleucine and valine) shares a unique branched-chain structure and must be consumed in the diet, as the body doesn’t produce them (hence the “essential” monicker). BCAAs make up a large proportion of the total amino acid content in skeletal muscle, but they’re rapidly broken down (catabolized) for energy production during intense exercise. The best way to defend against BCAA loss is to keep levels elevated during and after training. Keeping your BCAA stores topped of has been shown to turn on anabolism, blunt catabolism and shorten recovery time. Since leucine is the major anabolic BCAA, make sure you use products with at least twice as much leucine as isoleucine and valine.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT): LCLT is a stable form of L-carnitine, which is readily absorbed by the body. And although it has been known for decades that elevated carnitine levels aid in fat metabolism, more recent work from the University of Connecticut illustrates that LCLT is more than just a fat-burner. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers reported that three weeks of LCLT supplementation up-regulated androgen (testosterone) receptor content in skeletal muscle and augmented luteinizing hormone secretion (a signaling hormone for testosterone production) in resistance-trained men. In layman’s terms, this basically means the supplement provides a safe means to naturally make your body more anabolic, particularly right after training, when creating a recovery-promoting environment is so important. In another study by the same research group, LCLT supplementation was shown to reduce exercise-induced muscle tissue damage after heavy squatting, likely due to heightened anabolism and protein synthesis.
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