You might be familiar with the term amino acids, but have you ever stopped to think about what these powerful organic compounds do for you? Simply put, amino acids help your body produce energy and form tissues. There are 20 essential and nonessential amino acids, and all of them play an important role in keeping your body in great shape. Keep scrolling to learn more about the difference between essential and nonessential amino acids, and start reaching for the protein powder, chia seeds, nuts, chicken, fish and other great sources of amino acids.
Essential and Nonessential Amino Acids
Essential and nonessential amino acids both produce energy and build proteins, and some form neurotransmitters and hormones. The unique chemical structure of each amino acid determines its function. Amino acids are primarily made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Every protein contains a specific sequence of a few to a thousand amino acids (source). Once your body digests proteins, it is left with amino acids. Your body then uses amino acids to make other beneficial proteins that help the body break down food, grow and repair tissue, and generate energy. Amino acids are classified into two main categories: essential and nonessential.
Essential Amino Acids
There are nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Since your body can’t produce or store essential amino acids, it is important to regularly supply your body with these important building blocks. Fill your diet with chicken, eggs, fish, beef, tuna, soybeans, nuts, chia seeds and quinoa, and take a look at the amino acid content of your favorite protein-rich foods. To ensure your body is receiving enough essential amino acids, a good rule of thumb is to consume a minimum of 0.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body weigh every day. Older adults, children, and pregnant women might require more protein and should consult with a dietitian or physician for advice. Finally, if you’re an avid athlete 18 years or older, protein requirements are much higher and may range between 1.0 and 1.5 grams per pound of lean body weight to optimize recovery and lean muscle growth.
Nonessential Amino Acids
Don’t let their name fool you – nonessential amino acids fill essential roles. Nonessential amino acids support tissue growth and repair, immune function, red blood cell formation, and hormone synthesis. However, unlike essential amino acids, a healthy body can create these proteins if given enough protein sources with essential amino acids. There are 11 nonessential amino acids: arginine, glutamine, tyrosine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine, ornithine, alanine, asparagine, and aspartate. Of these, eight are conditional amino acids. Typically your body will be able to synthesize these amino acids. However, if you are stressed, sick, or not consuming enough protein and carbohydrates, your body might not be able to produce enough of them. The conditional amino acids are arginine, glutamine, tyrosine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine, and ornithine.
Are you looking for an easy way to add essential amino acids to your diet? At BarnDad Nutrition, we create high-quality protein products filled with amino acids, and we use only natural and active ingredients. You can enjoy the convenient quick fix of a protein shake or snack with our MEAT-SNX Crispy Protein Bites. Just one bag of MEAT-SNX Crispy Protein Bites delivers 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and only 9 net carbs.
Our products are designed to help curb hunger, support muscle recovery, and increase energy for today’s active, on-the-go lifestyles. To learn more about other supplements, snacks, and foods that can help fuel your healthy and active lifestyle, visit BarnDad Nutrition today. We would love to send you a free sample!