What Are Amino Acids?

The functions, benefits, and necessity of amino acids

When it comes to choosing your supplements, chances are you select your protein powder, a good pre-workout, and maybe a creatine to use. And you may have heard of the term “amino acids”, but there are a lot of mixed reviews saying that aminos are a waste of money, and a lot of protein powders include them in their formula, so why buy them separately?

Well, amino acids could be very beneficial to you and your gains. So, before you leave them on the shelf, read through this article and make your decision.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are affectionately referred to as the ‘building blocks of life’, and as extreme as that may sound it is actually very true. Amino acids are organic compounds made up of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen.

Typically, you will see aminos classified into twi categories, which are essential and branched chain.

  • Essential Amino Acids, and there are 9 of these, they are: histidine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, theonine, tryptophan, and valine (and arginine can be added to the list for younger adults)
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids, there are three of these that are considered branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Your body cannot produce amino acids on its own, so these would come from your diet, meaning the food and supplements that you consume.

Foods Containing Amino Acids

Luckily, there are plenty of foods available that contain amino acids.

Meat Eater/ Vegetarian Plant based options
–       Eggs

–       Turkey

–       Cottage cheese

–       Fish

–       Red meat

–       Chicken

–       Milk

–       Yogurt

–       Seafood

–       Tofu

–       Quinoa

–       Chia seeds

–       Legumes

–       Beans

–       Chickpeas

–       Soybeans

–       Nuts

–       Vegetables



Benefits of Amino Acids

  1. Can help with muscle growth 

Valine –  can help promote muscle growth, and with tissue repair.

Lysine – can help build muscle mass and aids in recovery.

Leucine – can help with the growth and repair of bone and muscle and with the production of growth hormone.

A 2008 study founds that if ‘EAA supplementation is maintained over time and can improve Lean Body Mass, possibly offsetting the debilitating effects of sarcopenia’ (which refers to the gradual loss of muscle mass).

  1. Can Improve Training Performance

Leucine – can help with the growth and repair of bone and muscle and the production of growth hormone

Isoleucine – this is important for immune function and with energy regulation

Valine – is also involved in energy production

These 3 amino acids are the only ones that have a chain that branches off to one side. And a 2016 study concluded that ‘BCAA supplementation in trained individuals performing resistance training while on a hypo-caloric diet can maintain lean mass and preserve skeletal muscle performance while losing fat mass’.

Another study from 2017 concluded that the ‘use of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), is better than passive recovery or rest after various forms of exhaustive and damaging exercise. The advantages relate to a reduction in muscle soreness and ameliorated muscle function because of an attenuation of muscle strength and muscle power loss after exercise’. This research is significant in the field of human nutrition as it highlights the potential benefits of amino acid supplementation in improving muscle recovery and performance during exercise.

This is why BCAA supplementation are so popular to gym goers everywhere.

And for anyone new to the gym, one study actually proved that taking ‘4 g/d of L-leucine supplementation may be used as a nutritional supplement to enhance strength performance during a 12-week resistance training program of initially untrained male participants’.

  1. Can help Improve your Sleep

Tryptophan – is a precursor of melatonin and serotonin, which help regulate sleep, which is crucial for making gains.

And low levels of Tryptophan have been linked to depression and also anxiety, with one study from 2000 concluded that ‘the panic-enhancing effect of tryptophan depletion as well as the potential protective effect of tryptophan administration in panic disorder patients can be explained by the Deakin-Graeff theory of anxiety.’ 

How Many Amino Acids do I Need?

The United States Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of amino acids for adults can be seen in the table below:

Adults RDA: 19 and older RDA per day




Methionine and Cysteine

Phenylalanine + Tyrosine




14 mg

19 mg

42 mg

38 mg

19 mg

33 mg

20 mg

5 mg

24 mg


Nonessential Aminos

These are amino acids that our bodies produce, and are mainly synthesized from glucose (or synthesized by the body from the food you eat)

Nonessential aminos include: alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.


Arginine – is a precursor to Nitric Oxide so plays a vital role in the dilation of blood vessels (which is why arginine is popular as a supplement). This gives you better muscle pumps in the gym.

Glutamine – beneficial for recovery, healing and is a major nitrogen transporter and is beneficial for a healthy nitrogen balance.

Tyrosine – is critical in allowing for the regular function of the thyroid gland and important in the production of dopamine and helps regulate mood.

Conditional Aminos

These are made by the body and are generally considered nonessential unless you become ill or stress induced, if this happens then the body will require a higher level of conditional amino acids and this will have to be obtained via your diet.

Conditional aminos are arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline and serine. 


Serine – helps support cognitive function

Proline – is essential for the synthesis of collagen

Glycine – helps with the maintenance of sleep, and also promotes glycogen storage

A Supplement We Recommend

Now, when it comes to getting in the proper amount of aminos, supplementation is great for that. But, with so many amino acid supplements on the market, which one reigns supreme?


MUTANT GEAAR is one of the better amino acid supplements on the market. Not only do they contain all 9 essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own, but they also have arginine, which is critical to include to optimize muscle-building and recovery which is great because of how it plays an important role in the metabolism of an organism.

MUTANT GEAAR is a superior amino acid product on the market. It has literally everything you need in an amino acid supplement. It has the 9 essential aminos, plus arginine and 4g of leucine, designed to pack massive amounts of muscle on your frame — with no synthetic colors or flavors.

This supplement also has 7 grams of BCAAs (branch-chained amino acids) to support muscle growth and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, to keep you training hard. And it’s packed with natural electrolytes to optimize recovery.

Check out our individual review for MUTANT GEAAR!

Wrap Up

So now you know about your Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s), and yes we need them in our lives. There are 20 different amino acids, including essential amino acids and nonessential amino acids, that help to grow and function properly. Be ensured to eat a balanced diet to obtain all your essential amino acid needs, and supplement accordingly when your body is feeling weak from illness, fatigued or stressed, as aminos can help keep us healthy, make us stronger and can give us all the tools we need for optimal digestion and to make every repetition count to ensure we can all become our optimum selves.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 





















Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.