What are EAAs (Essential Amino Acids)?

Are you looking for the right supplement to add to your daily routine but need help determining which one is best? It may be time to consider essential amino acids. These are particular amino acids your body requires to function at its best, but they can't be produced on their own.

As a result, it's essential to include them in your diet to support your health and fitness-focused goals. In addition to discussing what essential amino acids are, we'll cover the benefits and differences between amino acids. So if you're curious about how essential amino acids can help you feel, and perform your best, continue reading!

What are Amino Acids?

Everything you incorporate into your daily routine should serve a purpose, so what’s the purpose of amino acids? When building anything, you need the right materials to ensure it functions properly. 

Amino acids are this for our body, as they are the building blocks of protein, which we need for recovery, maintenance, growth, overall health, and optimal performance. There are 20 different amino acids; 9 are considered essential, and the rest are non-essential. 

What is the Role of Amino Acids in the Body?

Amino acids are involved in a wide range of processes. In the grand scheme, they don’t receive as much light shined on them as they deserve. 

Amino acids help build and repair tissues throughout the body, support immune function, and create hormones and enzymes that help regulate our body functions. 

Have you ever wondered how nutrients are transported or properly stored? Amino acids help with this as well. You can help support these essential functions and maintain optimal health and performance by consuming sufficient amino acids throughout the diet and supplementation. 

How do Amino Acids Help with Exercise?

Carbohydrates might be the primary source of energy for the body, but don’t turn your back on amino acids. During demanding physical activity or stressful events, amino acids can be used as an energy source. 

The many benefits of essential amino acids are why you’ll see people at the gym sipping on colorful beverages during their training sessions. Amino acids provide energy, promote recovery, increase muscle gain, and even benefit weight loss goals. 

While many are focused on consuming only branched-chain amino acids due to the leucine content, research shows that a blend of essential amino acids increases muscle protein synthesis. 

Amino Acids and Post-Workout Recovery

Chances are high that you’ve heard about the benefits of eating a high-protein meal or drinking a protein shake after a workout. But, one of the most significant recommendations inside of that is to make sure there’s around 10–12 g of EAAs and  1–3 g of leucine in the 20-40 grams of protein you consume to reap the benefits of an increase in muscle protein synthesis. 

Why do we want this? To help gain muscle mass, prevent muscle loss due to intense physical activity or caloric deficits, and promote recovery. 

What are Essential Amino Acids?

Humans lack the metabolic pathways to create the following amino acids independently. 

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Tryptophan
  • Threonine
  • Isoleucine
  • Methionine
  • Histidine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine

This is why they are known as the “essential amino acids,” we must eat a balanced diet filled with nutrients that provide these nine amino acids. 

You may have even experienced symptoms caused by inadequate essential amino acid intake. For example, If you’ve had difficulty eating for multiple days due to a loss of appetite, symptoms could range from fatigue or weakness to depression and anxiety.

Are there Non-Essential Amino Acids?

The word “non-essential” can be misleading for some because although we need them to function properly, our body can also produce them on its own. So, there’s less concern about getting these amino acids from your diet and supplementation. Here are the 11 non-essential amino acids:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Although it’s common for most people's bodies to be able to produce these amino acids on their own, certain health conditions may require assistance or other sources. This is where it can get tricky and is referred to as “conditionally essential.” 

Do We Get Amino Acids From Food?

We get amino acids from our food, but the question is, what foods are you eating, and are they providing enough amino acids to reach your goals? For most, a diet high in carbohydrates or plant sources won’t offer as many amino acids as high protein or animal-based foods. 

Some foods are considered complete proteins because they provide all nine essential amino acids. Those that provide some of the nine essential amino acids but not all of them are considered incomplete proteins. 

A few examples of complete proteins are:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy Products
  • Eggs 
  • Soy
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat

Is it Necessary to Take an Amino Acids Supplement?

Do you have to take an amino acids supplement? No, it may not be necessary if you have a balanced diet and eat foods that are complete proteins. 

However, like many things in life, you must consider what is optimal, not “just” acceptable. If you are an athlete or someone very active, you should be looking to be above the “average” or standard recommendations. 

Compare this to looking at various health markers; there are “normal ranges,” and then there’s a range you’d want to be that’s proven to show increased longevity and improved quality of life. 

Who Can Benefit From an Amino Acids Supplement

If you have a fitness or health-related goal, you can benefit from taking an amino acid supplement. It doesn’t matter how long you have been training, your age, or your gender. All humans need amino acids to reach optimal health and performance. 

But, if you are still considering taking an amino acid supplement. Ask yourself if you are trying to accomplish any of the goals listed below: 

  • Build muscle mass
  • Lose weight 
  • Maintain muscle mass
  • Increase performance 
  • Improve overall health 

If so, then it’s definitely worth taking an essential amino acid supplement to help you increase muscle protein synthesis and reach your goals. 

Bottom Line on EAAS

It truly comes down to where you are in your health and wellness journey and what changes you want to make. There are many benefits of adding essential amino acids to your daily routine, whether through diet or a supplement like this EAAS

Remember that most of the changes you want to see stem from your nutrition choices. While It’s great to follow a healthy & balanced diet, there’s also no harm in taking research-based, high-quality supplements that can aid your recovery and help you progress on your journey.