Amino acids are the smallest units of protein available to the body. There are 20 amino acids that are important for the growth of human body. The body cannot build muscle tissue unless these 20 amino acids are available in the blood stream.
If there is a deficiency of amino acids the body can produce upto 11 amino acids and since they can be manufactured within the body they are known as non-essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be produced by the liver.
The 11 non-essential amino acids are
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic acid
On the other hand 9 amino acids need to be supplied by the diet. These are known as essential amino acids and cannot be produced by our bodies.
The 9 essential amino acids are
The body is capable of synthesizing thousands of varieties of protein molecules by combining different amino acids in different proportions.
Just as the dictionary can contain a million words built from 26 alphabets, the human body can build countless varieties of proteins from the above mentioned 20 amino acids.
The cardinal law of protein supply
- The body can never store protein for longer than 3 hours.
- If need be the body will break down already existing muscle tissue in the body to supply its metabolic demand of amino acids.
The body is unable to store protein for longer than 3 hours. so if you are serious about building muscle, you need to supply all the amino acids to your body on a consistent basis (every 3 hours or so).
Its not enough to just eat high protein food. You must ensure that your food can supply all the 20 essential amino acids. Foods that can supply all the 20 amino acids are called complete proteins.
When foods can supply complete proteins on a regular basis, the body stops all muscle cell breakdown and promotes muscle growth.
Our body is capable of storing carbohydrates in muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. The stored glycogen can be used whenever there is a perceived shortage… but our bodies cannot store protein except in the form of muscle and the muscle tissue will be broken down when there is an increased demand for amino acids.
There’s only a very small available pool of amino acids in the blood stream and this needs to be supplied either by food or the muscle tissue.
To maintain a positive nitrogen balance for muscle growth complete proteins must be eaten with every meal. This principle is followed by top body builders to stay in top shape, almost all the top body builders consume 6 meals every day and each of these meals has some source of complete protein.