Health and fitness is a huge industry in the modern world. With so many more people being more conscious of their bodies and what they put into them, there is a huge market for strategies and supplements that help people lose weight and, in many cases, develop muscle.
In recent years, amino acids have become a key ingredient in many supplements, with many companies marketing the ability of these acids to help supplement takers lose weight.
Of course, such claims are met by the sceptical with a fairly large grain of salt, calling to mind the old diet pills that certainly helped people lose weight, but also caused a bevy of side-effects that nobody wants to deal with.
Thankfully, amino acid tablets don’t go that far, however, the question is will they help you lose weight. Before we can answer that, we should first distinguish between the two types of amino acid that you will commonly find in nutritional supplements.
Essential Amino Acids
You may have heard the term essential amino acids thrown around before but may not know what they actually are. In essence, an essential amino acid is one that is needed by the body, but isn’t actually produced by the body. As such, you need to use external food sources, or supplements, to ensure your body receives as much as it needs.
Many people remember these amino acids via the Pvt. Tim Hall pneumonic, which outlines the essential amino acids as Phenylanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine and Lysine.
Each of these has a slightly different effect on the body. For example, Lysine is reputed to help in muscle repair and replenishment, meaning you can get your body back into working order again soon after a strenuous workout. However, if taking lysine as a supplement, the amount you would need to fully benefit from these regenerative effects is also enough to cause you some significant gastronomical distress. Now gastronomical distress may help with weight loss, but it probably isn’t the route that most people had envisioned when they started taking essential amino acid tablets.
By contrast, Phenylalanine is something of an antidepressant and mood elevator that also acts as a bit of a painkiller. Elevations in mood may help you avoid the sort of mental issues that result in comfort eating and weight gain, however, it doesn’t directly contribute to weight loss. The painkiller aspect of the amino acid is also useful in workouts, as it can lower your perceived exertion rate during exercise, pushing you to do more. Again, this may indirectly lead to weight loss.
The key with all of these acids, and there is a lot more detail about all of them here, is that they can help in muscle repair, mood, or pain tolerance, all of which are beneficial in exercise. However, when taken as standalone products with no variations in diet or exercise regime, it is unlikely that you are going to enjoy direct weight loss.
As is the case with many supplements, you need to complement the tablets with a healthy living routine to ensure you get the most out of them. As such, essential amino acid tablets can help with weight loss when part of a full exercise and nutrition routine, but they aren’t going to be burning any fat on their own.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
These are the more common forms of amino acids found in supplement pills. They include the likes of valine, leucine, and isoleucine, and they differ from the essential acids because they are processed directly by your muscles, rather than getting side-tracked by the liver.
This means the benefits you feel upon taking the supplements are more immediate, but does it mean they can help with weight loss. Again, much like with the answer for essential amino acids, it’s both a “yes” and a “no”.
BCAAs help with increasing exercise efficiency as they lead to faster muscle regeneration. Further, a number of studies have found that BCAAs may have a hand in increasing red blood cell count, helping you work out harder and recover quicker, in addition to lowering fasting blood sugars and allowing your body to store carbohydrates more effectively.
Again, this is all very useful to somebody who has a full exercise routine in place, but does it help you to lose weight on its own accord. The simple answer is most likely a “no”. Muscle recovery and enhanced workouts are great, but if you don’t actually do the exercise you won’t really feel the benefits that BCAAs have to offer you. Instead, you are going to find that your muscles feel great, but those extra pounds stay exactly where they are.
The Final Word
So what can we conclude from all of this? Well, as a standalone weight-loss supplement, which essentially means losing weight without having to contribute any effort beyond taking the supplements, amino acid tablets aren’t going to do a lot for you. Their main function is essentially to help with muscle recovery and pain tolerance during exercise, plus you may find that some of them help elevate your mood, which can indirectly lead to less comfort eating.
However, you shouldn’t discount amino acid tablets entirely if you are looking to lose weight. Though you won’t experience direct effects from taking the tablets alone, they can help if you have a nutritional and exercise plan in place. The direct benefits provided by amino acid tablets will help you to exercise harder, thus increasing your limits, while also ensuring your muscles recover quicker, allowing you to do more workouts that you would otherwise manage.
This makes amino acid tablets ideal for those who are looking to build a little bit of muscle, but also means they work for those who find themselves so exhausted after extensive cardio sessions that they are unable to jump back on the treadmill for a while.
So to conclude, amino acid tablets can support more traditional weight loss methods, but you can’t use them as a standalone supplement for weight loss.