IFBB Pro Evan Centopani shares a complete guide to Essential Amino Acids - their benefits, how much is enough, timing, and who can take them.

Guide to Essential Amino Acids

I am an avid believer in the benefits of consuming essential amino acids, and Animal Nitro is one of my favorite supplements of all time. I’ve been using supplements since the late 90s and have tried everything from fat burners to mass gainers to prohormones and all things in between and feel that Nitro is one of the most useful, relevant, and effective products ever made. You may be sitting there wondering how or why I would have so much love for an amino acid supplement. Rest assured, I’m going to tell you. The science certainly stacks up in favor of the physiological benefits of EAA use, but so does the empirical data provided by those who have properly supplemented with them. Let’s shed some light on the proven benefits of EAA use and how EAA products like Animal Nitro and Juiced Aminos can be used to maximize your training and nutrition.

What are the benefits of using EAAs?

If there is one thing that has been shown over and over, it is the ability of EAAs to influence protein synthesis. Namely, their ability to initiate it, as well as their potential to increase its rate. These two factors are really the key to the long list of benefits for which EAAs are responsible. You could spend the next few years reading all the studies out there that support the ability of EAAs to enhance recovery, improve muscular endurance, increase muscle size and strength, and even reduce mental fatigue. Seriously though, there are that many. But again, as bodybuilders, powerlifters, and athletes, what we are mainly interested in is the ability of EAAs to spark and increase the rate of protein synthesis. At the end of the day, pretty much all of the positive effects that we are interested in stem from the positive effect of EAAs on protein synthesis.

Chances are that many of you have tried amino acid products and didn’t find the whole thing to be a very memorable experience let alone a life changing one. Not to sound overly confident, but if I were a betting man I would put money on the fact that you probably supplemented to the tune of a 3-5 g per day dose. Even if you doubled up and took as much as 10 g, I hate to be the one to tell you that you missed the mark and failed to realize the true potential of EAAs simply because the dose was too small. The key thing to keep in mind is that these are amino acids, not drugs. Still, even drugs have a dose that need to be met in order for them to be effective. Just as you wouldn’t expect miracles from a single 30 g dose of whey protein, expecting something significant from 5 or even 10 g of amino acids will only result in a forgettable experience. Amino acids need to be thought of in terms of what they are—the building blocks of muscle. And even though free form EAAs are a wildly efficient way to provide your body with amino acids, you still need enough of them, taken at the right time, to realize their true potential. 

How much is enough and when is the right time to use EAAs?

When it comes to timing EAAs, we have to consider the nature of free form amino acids. The free form amino acids used to manufacture Animal Nitro and Juiced Aminos are different from the amino acids found in the foods we eat. When we consume protein from whole foods, the digestive process is fairly inefficient. It’s slow and a considerable amount of waste is created. On average, we will utilize about 30% of the amino acids from the whole food proteins we eat with the rest being waste. If the meal you just ate contains 60 g of protein from chicken breast, you can hope to end up utilizing just under 20 g of amino acids. 

In contrast, free form amino acids are close to 100% efficient. If you take in 25 g of free form aminos, you can make use of damn near all of that because free form aminos require no digestion and can pass directly into the blood stream. What does this have to do with timing our intake of EAAs? Everything. When was the last time you tried to eat a meal during training? Bad idea. You could try drinking a protein shake during training, but you’re pretty much in the same boat as whole food when it comes to the digestion required and its efficiency (or lack thereof). Products like Animal Nitro and Juiced Aminos allow for the intake of large amounts of amino acids during training that can immediately go to work, exerting an effect that is both anabolic and anti-catabolic. The only thing better than training like a champ is training like a champ and recovering like one too. 

Anyone who has been in this game long enough will tell you that the key to training progress is the momentum gained by having record workouts and recovering from them as quickly as possible so that you can do it all again. Maintaining a positive nitrogen balance is everything. And granted, whole food intake and total calories are a massive part of this equation, but having the ability to take in 20+ grams of aminos during training without any digestive effort can give you the same amino acid yield as an entire extra meal. That’s huge. If you’re someone who takes eating seriously and is already consuming the maximum amount of nutrition from whole foods each day, this intra-training blast of EAAs can pay enormous dividends.

How much is enough? 

Based on massive amounts of empirical data, most hard training athletes notice significant results when they get up around 20 g of EAAs during training. Can you take too much? No. But considering the fact that most people don’t use the sufficient dose of amino acids because the cost will begin to add up, 20-30 g of EAAs during training offers the best bang for the buck. Animal Nitro has been my go-to for the past 15 years and I recommend it every chance I get. I have yet to have someone tell me that it fell short of doing exactly what I said it would do: decrease recovery time, boost stamina and energy, increase strength, lessen fatigue, and increase muscle fullness and density. Simply put, it does everything a hard training athlete wants a sport supplement to do. I recommend you do what I do: 1 pack at the start of training, 2 during, and 1 at the end.

Who can take EAAs? 

Anyone looking to make more of their training can use EAAs. Free form amino acids are one of the most time-tested, safest supplements on the market. Everyone eats whole foods to support their training. Whole food is ideal the majority of the time but is not feasible during training. Anyone wanting to maximize their nutrition can make use of EAAs during training in a way that whole food and shakes do not allow. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female—EAAs are non androgenic. It doesn’t matter whether you are off-season or in the middle of a show prep—the EAA formulations Animal Nitro and Juiced Aminos are calorie free. Animal Nitro contains packs of capsules while Juiced Aminos is a powdered product that you mix and drink. It’s up to you which you prefer.

EAAs have been proven to benefit the athlete. Their potent ability to stimulate and increase the rate of protein synthesis combined with their ability to be consumed in large quantities without taxing the digestive system makes for a synergistic effect during training, a time when the consumption of whole food is not feasible. Taking advantage of the intra training timeframe can afford the athlete a massive bump in progress that is measurable in performance and visible in the physique. Animal Nitro and Juiced Aminos are both world class EAA formulations tested for potency and purity and manufactured by Animal at their state of the art GMP facility. Aside from looking good on paper, they do exactly what they’re supposed to do when put to use. They work.

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