You probably haven’t heard of amino acids since your eighth grade biology class, right?
Well, it’s time to learn about them again – especially if your goal is to slim down or get healthy in 2015.
Aside from their primary functions (synthesizing proteins and oxidizing urea and carbon dioxide for energy), amino acids can actually have one more major effect on your body.
They can help you lose weight.
Recent studies have shown that the eight essential amino acids can actually aid in weight loss – and all in different ways.
By increasing your intake of foods that contain amino acids (or taking amino acid supplements in some cases), you can boost your weight loss efforts and improve your long-term results.
And doesn’t that sound great?
How Amino Acids Do It
Each of the eight amino acids can help you on your weight loss journey in a different way. Some work on your brain, some reduce your appetite and some even actually suppress weight gain.
Let’s take a look at each now:
This handy amino acid helps the brain better recognize hunger and fullness. It also encourages the brain’s desire to remain at a healthy weight once it’s been reached (i.e.: it prevents you from regaining!)
Tyrosine works with Phenylalanine to produce catecholamines, hormones like dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones speed up your metabolism, improve fat burning and activate weight loss reactions in the brain. Epinephrine also helps stave off cravings. Additionally, Tyrosine can actually make appetite suppressants more effective, and they can keep your body from building up a long-term tolerance to them.
You’ve probably heard of this amino acid around Thanksgiving time, as it’s often cited as the reason for that “post-Turkey nap” we all crave. While Tryptophan does have a sedative effect, it also can regulate your hormone and insulin levels, and ensure your blood sugar and metabolism remain stable. Tryptophan also helps release serotonin, which alerts your brain – and body – that you’re full. This helps prevent overeating.
This amino acid is often found in over-the-counter weight loss supplements and drinks, because it acts as a natural weight-gain suppressant. It transfers fat throughout the body to your cell’s mitochondria, which then metabolize that fat into energy. This ensures it’s not stored, which leads to weight gain and cellulite. Studies have also shown that carnitine reduces fat mass and increases muscle mass. (And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest!)
Leucine is the amino acid in charge of protein synthesis, a process that requires burning many calories in your body. Leucine can also increase those “full” feelings and help you retain muscle mass, thus improving your metabolism. A recent study actually found that leucine supplementation and diet produced a 22.4 percent loss in body fat (compared to dieting on its own.)
The moral of the story is simple: amino acids play a crucial role not only in our overall health, but in our weight loss journeys, too. If you want to improve your weight loss results, proper amino acid levels are vital.
How to Get Amino Acids
The body cannot create the eight essential amino acids, so these must from things you eat and consume. Eat enough amino acids, and you’ll see your weight loss efforts bolstered. Fail to get enough in your diet, and you could be making weight loss even harder in the long run.
The best way to get amino acids is to ensure you’re eating plenty of protein on a daily basis. Animal protein in particular is very high in amino acids, and it can even help suppress your appetite in many cases. Just make sure you’re choosing lean meats, as you want to avoid unnecessary fats when you’re trying to slim down.
You can also get amino acids through complex carbohydrates like grains and beans, but they don’t have nearly as many as proteins do.
Finally, there are plenty of amino acid supplements on the market that could help you get your levels in check. Before starting these however, it’s important to see your doctor for a full blood work-up. You want to see what your current amino acid levels are, and then customize your supplementation from there.
If you do go the supplement route, make sure to follow the directions exactly when taking. Many amino acid supplements must be taken with specific foods in order to be beneficial.
Are You Getting Enough Amino Acids?
Amino acids are crucial not only to weight loss, but to the proper function of our bodies on the whole. If you’re not sure you’re getting the proper amount of amino acids in your diet, then be sure to see a doctor and get your levels checked.
A few simple dietary changes, as well as possible supplementation, could be the push you need to get healthy, lose weight and feel great.
How do you get your amino acids? Has amino acid supplementation helped your weight loss goals? Tell me more in the comments.