If you’re looking to build muscle, burn fat and gain strength, protein is the single most important nutrient in your dietary arsenal.

Protein is responsible for building and repairing damaged muscle tissue and is the only nutrient that can directly improve body composition on its own.

Protein is made up of individual building blocks called “amino acids”.

There are typically around 20 recognized amino acids found in the human body, 8 of which are considered “essential” since they cannot be manufactured and must be consumed through your diet.

Because of the central role that amino acids play in the muscle building process, many supplement companies offer formulas containing a wide spectrum of various amino acids in liquid or pill form.

But are amino acid supplements worth your cash?

Here’s the reality…

The body is incredibly efficient at the process of digestion and absorption, and all of the regular proteins you’re consuming throughout the day will be eventually broken down into these individual amino acid building blocks anyway.

Amino acid supplements simply provide these building blocks in pre-digested free form so that they can be utilized by the body at a faster rate. However, having them utilized at a faster rate does not provide any unique advantage over consuming regular whole proteins.

If you’re following a standard bodybuilding diet that includes at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily, you’ll always have a steady stream of amino acids available for use when the body needs it.

There’s nothing wrong with amino acid supplements from the standpoint of effectiveness – it’s just that you’re paying a much higher cost on a gram for gram basis for a product that is essentially protein in compressed tablet or liquid form.

A much more effective and economical route is to supplement with a high quality whey protein powder.

Whey protein will be much less expensive per serving and will provide your body with a protein source rich in the most anabolic amino acids available, such as l-leucine, l-valine and l-isoleucine.

Whey protein is also going to be far more beneficial from a satiety standpoint, and has also been demonstrated to provide a variety of health benefits that you won’t get from free form amino acid supplements.

What about singular, isolated amino acids?

While I don’t recommend bothering with multi-spectrum amino acid supplements, there are a few singular amino acids that areworth supplementing with individually in higher amounts that you won’t get from these multi-spectrum formulas.

Here are the ones I would recommend…

Beta AlanineRaises intramuscular levels of “carnosine” which improves muscular strength and endurance. A reliable dosage is 3.2 grams daily.

Acetyl L-Carnitine Has been shown to have positive effects on fat loss and cognitive function for improved focus during workouts. I recommend 1-2 grams taken 30-45 minutes pre-workout.

L-Carnitine L-TartrateImproves muscle recovery and increases androgen receptor sensitivity, making the muscle tissue more sensitive to the effects of testosterone. The study dose for LCLT is 2 grams daily.

L-Tyrosine1-3 grams taken 30-45 minutes pre-workout has been shown to improve mental focus, performance and fat loss when combined with caffeine.

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