Amino acids are extremely important, not just to athletes and bodybuilders, but to every person because it is imperative to the synthesis of proteins and the overall functioning of the body. In a nutshell, there are 20 total amino acids and 10 of them are classified as “essential,” (not naturally made by the human body and must be obtained from foods eaten). When diets lack these essential amino acids, the body will begin to break down existing protein, (muscle tissue). Why must people get them through food? Unlike fat, amino acids cannot be stored in the body for later use. So you only use what you eat on a daily basis. Our tissues, cells, stomach enzymes and brain all get nourishment and protection from amino acids, so it is crucial we eat them everyday.
For a quick breakdown of the importance of amino acids, here is a helpful list:
Helps reverse muscle breakdown
Retains muscle mass (specifically from leucine, which reduces the expression of genes that break down muscle during periods of inactivity)
Helps muscles recover after exercise
Decreases abdominal fat (isoleucine, valine and leucine),
Improves exercise performance
Improves sleep quality
Top Foods that contain the greatest amount of natural amino acids:
Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews and peanuts are all rich sources of the essential amino acid L-arginine. Arginine is known to boost immune function, assist in muscle metabolism and muscle mass and enhance collagen production and bone growth. Almonds and cashews are also top sources of isoleucine, another essential amino acid that stabilizes blood sugar and increases energy. Almonds and peanuts also boast high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine, which is thought to enhance mood.
Not only high is essential amino acids, hemp seeds also have a great amount of protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Try hemp milk or a rounded heap of hemp seeds in your morning smoothie or over oatmeal. They are very easy to digest and assimilate into the intestinal system well for most.
Wild fish of any kind (smallest on food chain is best) is another top source of many of the amino acids. Moreover, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring and sardines are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may have benefits in protecting against heart disease. Fish are abundant in the essential amino acids isoleucine, lysine and methionine.
Soybeans and soy protein (from natural, unprocessed: tempeh, NON GMO soy beans, tofu, homemade soymilk) deliver high concentrations of several essential amino acids. Natural soy is rich in the essential amino acids isoleucine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan and valine.
Though I suggest and recommend that people eat vegetarian diets, for those who cannot give up all sources of animal meats, have eggs, which contain plentiful amounts of amino acids, specifically: methionine, isoleucine and lysine. Health Information News adds that eggs are a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid involved in the production of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin and choline, a brain and eye developer for fetuses and new born infants” (Source: Livestrong.com)
Additional Sources: OrganicAuthority.com