Essential Amino Acids (EAAs): Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re at least aware of the existence of amino acids, and likely know that they are what comprise protein, without which, you can’t gain muscle. What you might not know, however, is what essential and non-essential amino acids are, and why some are considered essential while others are sort of “optional.” So this is going to serve as a quick reference guide for you, to explain which are which and why.
Though there is some debate regarding the exact number of total amino acids, science has identified nine of them as “essential.” These Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) are aminos that your body cannot produce, which is why they’re considered “essential”- you need to consume them in order to function.
The 9 essential amino acids are:
Histidine- Histidine isn’t “essential” to any lifting pursuit, really. It basically just aids in digestion. It’s also in just about every food source, so it’s pretty unknown to have a deficiency. You need 8-10mg of histidine per kilo of bodyweight.
Isoleucine- Isoleucine is a branched chain amino acid that promotes muscle recovery, regulates blood sugar and stimulates GH release. 10-12mg per kilo of bodyweight is a solid baseline.
Leucine- The strongest of the three branched chain amino acids, Leucine is one of the most anabolic substances on Earth. 16mg per kilo of bodyweight will have you on the path to hugeness.
Lysine- Lysine is one of the most important of the amino acids. It maintains your nitrogen balance and helps to create lean body mass in addition to antibodies, hormones, enzymes, and collagen. You need 12mg per kilo of bodyweight, at least.
Methionine- This bad boy is important for fat metabolization and good digestion, plus it helps detoxify your liver. 12mg per kilo of bodyweight is a good baseline for this one.
Phenylalanine- This one has gotten a bad rap in the press, but it’s incredibly important in the production of neurotransmitters, and toxic doses are fairly difficult to reach. As such, you don’t need to worry about limiting your artificial sweeteners
Threonine- Threonine helps with the absorption of protein and overall good health, and you need 8mg per kilo of bodyweight.
Tryptophan- Tryptophan is an essential amino that aids in the creation of neurotransmitters and serves as a precursor to a couple of compounds your body produces. You need 3.5-6mg per kilo of bodyweight for optimal health.
Valine- Valine maintains nitrogen balance and helps regulate blood sugar. Ideal levels of this are 16mg per kilo of bodyweight, and overdoing this stuff can lead to hallucinations, so don’t go nuts with it. Read about Essential Amino Acids (EAAs).