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Here's a little info on the Aminos - The BCAA's that are sold in supplement form & are in most protein powders are L-Valine, L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine.

L-Alanine: Alanine is an important source of energy for the muscles, the brain and the central nervous system. It also helps in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids and strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies. There is evidence that Alanine also serves as a cell volumizer.

Alanine supplements are rare, however, their is evidence supporting the important role Alanine may play for improving gym performance.

L-Arginine: Arginine is an muscle critical amino acid that is absolutely indispensable for optimal muscle growth and tissue repair. It is highly important for muscle metabolism as it acts as a vehicle for the transport, storage and excretion of nitrogen. Supplemented Arginine has also been shown to be instrumental for the body to increase the natural release of growth hormones such as Human Growth Hormone. These hormones help to increase muscle mass while decreasing the amount of body fat. Arginine also plays a very important role in wound healing as it provides a base for collagen, the main supportive, fibrous protein found in bones, cartilage and other connective tissue. Further, Arginine has been shown to stimulate the immune system responses to bacteria, viruses and tumor cells, to combat mental and physical fatigue, to help regenerate the liver and scavange ammonia which is poisonous to living cells. Finally, Arginine has been found to increase sperm count. Arginine will also transform to the amino acid L-Ornithine.

L-Aspartic Acid: Aspartic Acid isn't very high on the list of amino acids which help the muscle to perform better. It does have many other useful effects in the body, however. Most importantly, it is central to the formation of both RNA and DNA which are the proteins responsible for carrying genetic information. Recently, it has also been shown to be important in helping the circulatory system rid itself of highly toxic ammonia. Further, it helps in producing antibodies and immuno-globulins which are keys ingredients in a healthy immune system. Finally, aspartic acid also helps to protect the liver and the salts of aspartic acid increase stamina and endurance.

If you eat a healthy diet or take any of the various protein supplements, there is no research out there indicating that supplementing aspartic acid individually will help your performance.

L-Carnitine: Carnitine is a very popular amino that is used for ìfat burning.î Research demonstrates that it has a dramatic effect on fat metabolism and the reduction of blood fats such as triglycerides. It helps to transfer fatty acids across the muscle membranes to be burned by the mitochondria for energy. Additionally, Carnitine can preserve muscle glycogen and reduce fatigue.

Carnitine is used by many people who are interested in reducing body fat. Unfortunately, most people using Creatine will never see the results they hope for as it appears that for Carnitine to work you must supplement at least 4 grams daily. This dose requirement tends to get very expensive as most Carnitine supplements are typically only 500 milligram capsules. My advice would be to save your money.

L-Cysteine: Cysteine is a sulfur containing amino that detoxifies many harmful chemicals including those from cigarette smoke, pollution and alcohol as well as copper and heavy toxic metals. Cysteine can prevent hangovers and promotes healing and the immune system. Since Cysteine is a central amino in the protein keratin, it has been found to increase hair growth by as much as 100%, to increase the diameter of hair shafts and to harden the nails. Cysteine is a powerful anti-oxidant that has been shown to help protect the cells against X-Ray and nuclear radiation. One note of caution; Cysteine can affect insulin effectiveness so diabetics need to exercise caution when using this amino.

There is no question that Cysteine helps improve the look of the hair and the hardness of nails. Most people take between 500 mgs. and 1,000 grams of Cysteine daily. This is an amino that works very well in supplement form.

L-Cystine: Cystine functions as an antioxidant and is a powerful aid to the body in protecting itself from free radical damage and the harmful effects of pollution. It may also slow down the aging process, neutralize toxins and help in the synthesis of proteins. Cystine stimulates white blood cell activity which helps the immune system to resist disease. It is especially useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders such as bronchitis as well as promoting recovery from burns and surgical operations. Finally, Cystine is essential for the formation of skin and hairs.

There are some Cystine supplements out there but they have mostly given way to it's more powerful amino cousin Cysteine. If you have a choice, definately reach for the Cysteine.

L-Glutamic Acid: This amino is absolutely critical to the proper functioning of the brain. In fact, it actually acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter as well as transporting potassium across the blood brain

barrier. Glutamic acid also is the key to forming other amino acids including the muscle specific amino L-Glutamine. Recent research demonstrates that it helps speed the healing of ulcers, gives a boost following fatigue and helps to control the craving for alcohol. Finally, Glutamic acid helps to metabolize sugars and fats and may be helpful in increasing blood sugar for those suffering from hypoglycemia.

Glutamic acid is rarely found in supplement form although certain protein sources such as wheat gluten are very high in this amino. Most athletes choose to directly supplement Glutamine rather than its precursor Glutamic acid.

L-Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid found in the blood and in skeletal muscle. In fact, over 60% of the amino acids found in muscle are actually Glutamine. Glutamine plays a variety of important roles in the body. It acts as an important brain fuel, can protect the tissue against alcohol poisoning, is used in the treatment of schizophrenia and senility, supports the immune system, scavanges cell debilitating ammonia, improves insulin metabolism and inhibits fat storage. Most important for gym trained athletes or bodybuilders, Glutamine promotes the synthesis of glucose and helps preserve muscle mass in times of stress. Unfortunately, prolonged exercise results in a drop in both circulating and skeletal muscle levels of glutamine. This increases catabolism or muscle wasting. Obviously then, it is important to supplement glutamine during times of intense training.

At molecular level, glutamine prevents the loss of a specific protein called myosin heavy chain (MHC) which determines skeletal musclesí contractile properties.

L-Glycine: Glycine is the simplest of the aminos and plays a primary role in a wide variety of critical muscle metabolic processes. Additionally, Glycine is of special value in helping the body make and utilize Creatine, break down glycogen to free energy and perform as a cell volumizer. Gylcine also serves as a nitrogen pool for the synthesis of non-essential amino acids, can help build up the immune system, improve the bodyís ability to manufacture hormones and decrease stomach hyperacidity. Additionally, Glycine can help eliminate body odor and bad breath.

Glycine is one of the most important amino acids any athlete can supplement. This is especially true in that most of the common protein sources are actually rather thin when it comes to Glycine content. We recommend a minimum of 5 extra grams of Glycine daily.

L-Histidine: Histidine is an amino that is very important in the production of red and white blood cells. It is often used as a treatment in anemia, stomach ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis and allergic diseases. Histidine deficiencies result in poor hearing.

Athletes need not supplement Histidine unless they have special needs arising from diseases or allergy conditions.

L-Isoleucine: Isoleucine is one of the branched chained aminos that is primarily metabolized in muscle tissue. Donít ask me to bore you with the details of why they are called branched chains. It has to do with their interlocking methyl group configurationÖand I am sure you could care less. Isoleucine is also essential to the formation of hemoglobin as well as other essential biochemical components in the body and should always be used in proportion with the two other branched chain aminos L-Leucine and L-Valine.

Many athletes find it useful to supplement Isoleucine through the use of branched chain amino products.

Personally I am not a huge believer in the need for supplementation of the branched chain aminos if you eat a protein rich diet. But if you are superstitious, go ahead, it wonít hurt your performance.

L-Leucine: Leucine is one of the branched chained aminos that is primarily metabolized in muscle tissue. Isoleucine also promotes healing of the skin and mending broken bones as well as lowering elevated blood sugar. Leucine has been shown to improve alertness and to provide the muscle with energy and should always be used in proportion with the two other branched chain aminos L-Leucine and L-Valine.

Many athletes find it useful to supplement Leucine through the use of branched chain amino products. Again, personally, I find it non-useful. I should mention that Leucine releases a metabolite called HMB or beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate. HMB has shown many interesting muscle building and fat burning properties. Fortunately, HMB is available as a specific product and athletes do not need to rely on the turn-over from mega doses of Leucine. We will cover the positive effects of HMB in a later chapter.

L-Lysine: Lysine performs a number of very important roles in the body. It is best known as inhibiting the growth of viruses and is used in the treatment of herpes simplex virus. Lysine is also fundamental in creating the non-protein amino L-Carnitine which improves fat metabolism, increases energy and improves stress tolerance. Lysine also aids in the absorbtion of calcium and promotes bone growth by helping to form the fiberous protein collagen. Lysine deficiencies result in tiredness, an inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, a lack of growth, hair loss, anemia and reproductive problems.

It is not necessary for athletes to supplement the amino acid Lysine.

L-Methionine: Methionine is a sulfur containing amino that prevents the premature loss of hair, fungus of the nails and a variety of skin disorders. Methionine interacts with other components of the bodyís chemistry to detoxify harmful chemicals (such as ammonia) in the liver, the bladder and the kidneys. It is also a natural chelating agent that eliminates heavy metals from circulation. Finally, it acts as a lipotropic agent that prevents the liver from storing excess fat and reduces cholesterol by stimulating the production of lecithin.

Some marketers claim that since it is one of the three aminos that make up Creatine, taking mega amounts of Methionine will help to enhance the effect of Creatine. There has never been any scientific evidence to back this up and frankly I think it is stupid. If any athlete wanted to make a case for taking extra Methionine I would expect that the fact that it significantly helps the body in absorbing the mineral Selenium would be more interesting. Selenium has been shown to help carry oxygen, reduce fatigue and assist weight gain in ìhard gainers.î In general though, it is my feeling that most athletes will not find an appreciable difference in either their performance or their health after supplementing Methionine.

L-Ornithine: The presence of Ornithine helps the body to release hormones which assist in increasing muscle mass while decreasing body fat. Ornithine also helps to scavange cell toxic ammonia, builds up the immune system and assists the liver in maintaining itís health. Ornithine, stacked with Arginine, were extremely popular supplements in the 1980ís. Athletes believed that these aminos would increase Human Growth Hormone and therefore muscle mass. Unfortunately, there has never been any replicated research demonstrating that this is the case. There is an interesting cousin to Ornithine which is a compound called OKG or Ornithine Ketoglutarate. This compound is discussed in a later section.

Ornithine is an amino acid that is widely supplemented by athletes everywhere. Unfortunately, most people are simply wasting their money as they are not supplementing a high enough daily dose to force the hormone changes to occur. Actually, this is good as the research also indicates that there may be many unwanted side effects from mega doses of Ornithine. My advice is to pass on the individual Ornithine supplements.

L-Phenylalanine: Phenylalanine is an interesting amino that is used in the food industry as a sugar substitute. You may recognize it by itís trade name, aspartame. It may also serve the allied purpose of behaving as an appetite supressant. This suppressant action occurs in two ways; first by stimulating noradrenalin and dopamine and second by releasing the satiation chemical cholecystokinin (CCK). Research into Phenylalanine has also proven it a key to the production of neurotransmitters such as norepinepherine and has been shown to help to elevate mood, sexual libido, alertness, ambition and to enhance memory. Finally, Phenylalanine has been found to play a significant role in dopamine transmission and hence is used in the treatment of certain types of depression.

Although Phenylalanine is an interesting amino, it is not expected that supplementing it will improve athletic performance in any appreciable way. Further, many people who supplement Phenylalanine develop rather severe headaches and need to discontinue their supplement regime. Also, people taking MAO inhibitors should be careful of their Phenylalanine intake, as the combination of the two causes dangerous spikes in blood pressure. Finally, you should also be aware that a very tiny part of the population suffers from a disease called phenylketonuria (PKU). People suffering from PKU lack an enzyme in their liver which metabolizes Phenylalanine. Although extremely rare, it is a very serious disease and anyone suffering from it must completely avoid Phenylalanine.

DL-Phenylalanine: DL-Phenylalanine is a combination of synthetic (D) and natural (L) Phenylalanine which serve to produce brain endorphins. It is a very effective pain reliever, often better than opiate derivatives such as morphine and has the additional benefits of being non-toxic and non-addictive. Further, it acts as a strong anti-depressant and has a reverse tolerance effect, in other words, it has a better effect as time goes on.

L-Proline: Proline is a necessary amino for the proper functioning of the joints and tendons as well as the heart muscle. It is a glucogenic amino that stimulates the storage of glucose in the liver and the muscles to be used later for energy. Proline is also a major consituent of collagen which is the main protein in bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

Proline is a major part of many joint rehabilitation supplement complexes. Based on the research, there is no real reason to supplement the amino Proline.

L-Serine: Serine enables the muscle and liver to store glucose. It also strengthens the immune system by helping to supply it with antibodies. Finally, it supports the nervous system by synthesizing the fatty acid shealths around nerve fibers.

There is no evidence that points to Serine supplements improving muscle function or athletic ability.

L-Taurine: Taurine is second most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue (Glutamine is first). It is a potent cell volumizer that also mimics Insulin, improving glucose and general amino metabolism. Additionally, Taurine stabilizes the excitability of membranes which in turn help to control epilepsy. Finally, Taurine helps to diminish the negative effects of free radicals and generally helps to slow the aging process.

Taurine supplements are increasingly being used by gym trained athletes to improve their muscle pump and the general look of the muscle. Since Taurine is depleted by intense exercise and stress, I recommend all athletes to take a minimum of 1-3 grams of Taurine immediately after exercise.

L-Threonine: Threonine is an important constituent of collagen, elastin and enamel protein. It also helps to prevent the build-up of fat in the liver and improves the functioning of the digestive and intestional tracts.

I can't imagine why anyone would be interested in supplementing this amino acid. I can remember, however, many top bodybuilders in the very early 80ís using Threonine with the purpose of ìthinningî out the look of their skin. Personally, I have never been able to find any scientific evidence backing up this belief. Not to mention the fact that tissue paper thin looking skin isnít normally a rational goal for most athletes.

L-Tryptophan: Tryptophan is a natural relaxant that helps to alleviate insomnia, reduce anxiety and improve mood. It is probably the most sought after supplement for people suffering from sleep disorders as it leads to increased slow wave sleep. It has also been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of migraine headaches and other forms of chronic pain. Further, Tryptophan helps reduce the risk of heart spasms and works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels. Trypthophan was one of the most popular aminos in the 70ís and 80ís until 1988 when the United States FDA banned it. This occurred as a result of one Japanese company Showa Denko exporting a tainted batch of Tryptophan into the US. The Showa Denko amino was manufactured with a new, untested process that skipped an important filtering step. The result was a number of deaths attributed to a rare blood disease which resulted from the use of this product. Tryptophan continues to be banned in many nations despite the overwhelming evidence that it is a safe sleep inducing product. As far as supplementing it for athletic gains, before it was banned, there were no consistent performance improvements seen in athletes supplementing Tryptophan. So why bother. Not to mention the fact that there are high amounts of Tryptophan in all protein rich foods, especially cottage cheese, milk, meat, fish, turkey, bananas, dates and peanuts.

L-Tyrosine: Tyrosine is a highly important amino for athletes as it stimulates the release of growth hormone which can cause muscle growth and body fat reduction. It also plays an important role in the function of the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands and help to generate both red and white blood cells. Tyrosine has also been proven to be a potent mood elevating substance and is used in the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Additionally, Tyrosine produces norephedrine, an appetite inhibitor and dopamine. Finally, Tyrosine produces melanin, a pigment in skin and hair.

Tyrosine may play numerous important roles for athletes of all types. It might also be of value to people who are trying to maintain a deeper tan for longer periods of time.

L-Valine: Valine is one of the branched chained aminos primarily metabolized in muscle tissue. Valine is a glycogenic amino that promtes mental vigor, muscle coordination and emotional calm. It should always be used in proportion with the two other branched chain aminos L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine.

Many athletes find it useful to supplement Valine through the use of Branched Chain Amino products.

Ideally, it's your best bet to find a good protein supplement that has the right ratios contained in it's amino acid profile. It is always a superior idea to supplement all aminos at once as opposed to.

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thanks for being so thorough!

at the moment Im halfway through a tub of ON (Optimum Nutrition) 100% Whey.

Can you suggest a decent bcaa supplement or is it all in the powder?

It depends really - I normally only use my BCAA powder before I do my morning cardio to help stop my muscles chewing themselves up for fuel.

As for post workout, I also use ON 100% Whey & there are enough BCAA's in there (about 8g in 2 scoops).

I was putting it in my water during my workout as well but I keep forgetting :shifty:

I just found this place the other day http://www.nzmuscle.co.nz - pretty reasonable prices for your ON 100% powder.

I use a BCAA powder called Scivation Xtend - I get it online from the US because I haven't found it over here yet

also how bad is it for me to be eating a bowl of tuna with a small amount of brown rice at this time of the night (nearly 9pm)?

I know it's a whole lot better than a whopper burger, but what IS the story with carbs in the evening? I am trying to lose about 5% bf

Probably not the best idea eating complex carbs so late at night if you're trying to cut some bodyfat.

Carbs are converted to ATP which, through a long process gives us energy for everyday activities. If we stock up on carbs & don't use them (burn them off) then they will end up turning into fat.

Most of us don't do too much at night that requires too much energy (except from the obvious :pfft: ) - we especially don't need all this energy when we are sleeping.

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also how bad is it for me to be eating a bowl of tuna with a small amount of brown rice at this time of the night (nearly 9pm)?

I know it's a whole lot better than a whopper burger, but what IS the story with carbs in the evening? I am trying to lose about 5% bf

In the grand scheme of things.. what really matters is how much food you've eaten over the whole day. Its also dependant on when you workout. I usually finish training at around 9-10pm, so my last meal of the day (after the PWO shake) has protein and lotsa carbs, and this is at about 11pm.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Phenylalanine is an interesting amino that is used in the food industry as a sugar substitute. You may recognize it by itís trade name, aspartame

I'm not sure where you heard of this but it is completely false. Aspartame is a combination of Aspartic Acid, Phenylalanine and methanol. Phenylalanine is not used as a sweetener and differs hugely to Aspartame. It would be like saying hydrogen is the same thing as water.

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  • 3 months later...

Hey Cammo,

I'm really interested in your messages and it's clear to me that you know what your talking about. I'm 6weeks in to my training, and the supplements I have to date are Whey Protein, Creatine(Powder), Glutamine(Pill) what are the other supplements that you would recommend to Kick start my training and dieting??????

Cheers mate.



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The best supplements in my opinion are (in order of importance):

Whey powder & Multi-vitamin (on an even par)

Fish oil & flaxseed oil

Creatine (Kre-Alkaline is my favourite)

BCAA powder

Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM (joint support formula)

If there's any money left after that I'd get Magnesium, Zinc & B6 to have before bed (it's sold in single pill format as ZMA but I prefer to buy mine as seperate supplements).

as for the glutamine - I have bought & used it in the past but wouldn't bother again - most whey powders have more than enough in them.

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