You may have heard that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. While true, you should also know that aminos are crucial to just about every function that takes place within your body. So whether you’re looking to improve performance, recover faster, become more resistant to fatigue or even reduce hunger cravings, adding additional amino acids to your daily routine can go a long way. This is especially true for training on a keto diet or in a fasted state. But before we dive in, a very brief overview (additional resources in Supplement Your Keto Diet and Supplements 101 – BCAAs):
Essential Amino Acid Overview:
Our bodies use different amino acids to build all its protein. Of these aminos, there are 9 “essential” ones that our body cannot make on its own. These are the Essential Amino Acids (“EAAs”) and they must be obtained through diet and supplementation. Of these 9 EAAs, 3 of which are the Branched Chain Amino Acids (“BCAAs”). BCAAs are subcategorized within the EAAs due to their due to their unique, branch-like structure.
The key benefits of these essential amino acids for all dieters to enjoy, no matter when or how you choose to exercise, are well publicized and include:
- Stimulate muscle building
- Increase recovery and muscle repair
- Decrease muscle soreness after a workout
- Improve workouts and reduce fatigue
- Provide skeletal, enzymatic and hormonal system support
- Reduce hunger cravings and improve metabolism
- Improve immunity
- Enhance mental focus during a workout
But did you know that consuming these essential amino acids around your workout can be particularly beneficial for maintaining performance while in ketosis or in a fasted state?
Aminos on Keto and Intermittent Fasting
The consumption of certain foods (refined carbohydrates, added sugars, etc.) cause a hormonal response in our body that sets off a chain reaction that can lead to weight gain and disease. The goal of a ketogenic diet is to replace these foods with others that do not elicit the same hormonal response. Intermittent fasting takes this a step farther by completely abstaining from all foods for a period of time and thus totally eliminating any hormonal response whatsoever.
In order to understand why aminos are essential for peak performance on keto and intermittent fasting, it is critical to know that aminos are actually processed directly in your body’s tissue (i.e. metabolized in your muscle), rather than in the liver. As such, the consumption of essential amino acids does not cause the hormonal response that keto dieters and intermittent fasters work so hard to avoid. Simply put, the consumption of essential amino acids will not take you out of ketosis and will not break a fast.
Essential amino acids can also be ketogenic. Meaning that when glucose is not available as a result of a keto diet, the body can actually use some of these essential amino acids to form ketone bodies which are then used as a fuel source.
We also know that most intermittent fasting protocols involve fasting in the earlier part of the day and that working out in the morning while fasted might just fit best into your schedule. So not only can you optimize your workout in a fasted state with the consumption of aminos, but you can also still reap all of the benefits that come along with intermittent fasting. The (sugar free) icing on the (almond flour) cake? Aminos can also help suppress appetite throughout a fast, making the entire process more enjoyable and sustainable.
So keto dieters and intermittent fasters alike can revel in the fact that in addition to all of the well-known performance benefits, essential amino acids:
- Don’t break a fast
- Don’t take you out of ketosis
- Can be converted into ketones
- Maintain insulin sensitivity
- Suppress appetite