Can amino acids contribute to athletic performance?

Athletes, particularly long distance runners, need food to not only fuel their next workout, but also for the essential vitamins and minerals needed to help turn food into energy, keep bones strong, boost immunity, repair strained muscle tissue and for general health1.

With the 2019 Comrades Marathon taking place soon, we look at what vitamins and minerals are needed, as well as the role that amino acids play in athletic performance.

While it is still best to obtain vitamins and minerals from food1, there are many factors that influence the body’s ability to fully utilise nutrients. These include reduced soil quality2, food processing and food preparation3 as well as irregular meals and snacking3. Our busy on-the-go lifestyles often mean that meals are fast and convenient, and may at times be low in vitamins, minerals and fibre yet high in calories, fat, sweeteners and sodium3.

When athletes are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, this can negatively affect their fitness goals. Not getting enough vitamin D or calcium, for instance, may increase their risk of stress fractures. If someone is low in B12, they might feel overly tired and be unable to perform at their best1. Important vitamins and minerals, particularly for athletes, include calcium, vitamin D, B Vitamins, Iron, Zinc and Magnesium1.

50% of our bodies are made up of protein4, and protein is composed of amino acids, making these compounds an important consideration to include in ones diet3.

Some foods that provide amino acids include animal products such as milk and eggs and plant foods such as legumes and beans. Once again, the quality of the protein consumed as well as the food combinations that provide what is referred to as an optimal amino acid profile, are not always present in our daily diet3, which is why you may want to consider adding a multivitamin and mineral supplement to your daily diet.

Furthermore, food processing, such as adding sugar or salt to food, can make amino acids resistant to digestion, and heating of food can reduce its amino acid content3.

Your body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly, although 9 of the 20 are deemed essential5.

Of particular importance to athletes are the amino acids L-arginine, L-glutamine, L-glycine, L-lysine, and L-ornithine6-14.

L-arginine has been found to possibly enhance muscle strength and immunity6, 7, 8. L-glutamine may increase energy to enhance performance9 and L-glycine has been linked to improving muscle performance, strength and may even prevent muscle degeneration10.

L-lysine, one of the essential amino acids, has the potential to improve energy, performance and muscle strength11, 12 and L-ornithine may improve athletic performance and support muscle growth 13, 14.

A combination supplement such as StaminoGro® contains all 5 of these amino acids as well as antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. StaminoGro provides additional nutrition, and works synergistically to help promote wellbeing and vitality.

Whether we are endurance athletes, or not, we all require optimal nutrition which sees a balance between the nutrients we take in and the nutrient we require, in order to promote growth and development, maintain general health, support daily living and help protect against disease and illness3. Amino acids, which are often referred to as the building blocks of protein, are an important part of our nutritional needs5.

Long distance runners need to make an extra effort to ensure they are getting all the nutrients, and amino acids, that their body’s need1.

For more information, go to www.staminogro.co.za or speak to your doctor or pharmacist about options for combination supplements for your nutritional needs.

 

References:

  1. Fleet Feet. Vitamins and Minerals every runner needs (2016) at https://www.fleetfeet.com/blog/
  2. Dean, C. Magnesium-The missing link to better health. Better Nutrition Magazine 2011.
  3. Mahan, L.K. et al. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 13th edition. United States of America. Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. 2012.
  4. The Basics of Chemistry by Richard Myers, [Online] Available from: https://books.google.co.za/books
  5. Essential Amino Acids: Definition, Benefits and Food Sources (2018) at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/essential-amino-acids#bottom-line
  6. Arginine/L-Arginine. [Online]. 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: http://aminoacidstudies.org/l-arginine/.
  7. Natural Medicines Therapeutic Research Centre. L-Arginine. Monograph. [Online]. 2017. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=875.
  8. Pure pea protein is considered one of the best protein supplements. [Online]. 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from : http://aminoacidstudies.org/pea-protein-supplements-build-muscle-mass/.
  9. Natural Medicines Therapeutic Research Centre. Glutamine. Monograph. [Online] 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=878.
  10. What is glycine. [Online]. 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: http://aminoacidstudies.org/glycine/
  11. Natural Medicines Therapeutic Research Centre. Lysine. Monograph. [Online] 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=237.
  12. [Online]. 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/lysine.
  13. Natural Medicines Therapeutic Research Centre. Ornithine. Monograph. [Online] 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=200.
  14. L-ornithine. [Online]. 2018. [cited 2018 Mar 16]. Available from: http://aminoacidstudies.org/l-ornithine/
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