Several amino acids have been theorized to help decrease the incidence of overtraining. As stated earlier, BCAA supplementation before and/or during exercise has been suggested to be an effective nutritional strategy to delay the onset of central fatigue.
Although there is strong theoretical rationale to support the potential use of BCAAs as an ergogenic aid, research investigating the effects of BCAA supplementation on physiological and psychological responses to exercise and exercise performance is mixed.
Several studies indicate that BCAA supplementation before or during exercise increases BCAA levels, minimizes increases in the free tryptophan to BCAA ratio, and may affect physiological and psychological responses to exercise.
However, other studies have found limited effects and few studies have found that BCAA supplementation actually improves exercise performance capacity. Studies that have reported improved physiological and/or psychological responses to exercise typically involve ingesting 4 to 21 g/day BCAA during training and or 2 to 4 g/hr of BCAA with a 6-8% GES drink before and during prolonged exercise.
Additionally, there are several studies that indicate that ingesting carbohydrate with BCAA and\or protein before and or following exercise during training helps promote greater training adaptations. In our view, the greatest potential application of BCAA supplementation is to help athletes tolerate training to a greater degree rather than a performance enhancement supplement.
However, more research is needed to determine the role of BCAA on exercise capacity and markers of overtraining before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
The second amino acid that may help lessen the incidence of overtraining is glutamine. As stated earlier, glutamine serves as the primary fuel for the lymphocyte, Some have suggested that glutamine supplementation may help athletes maintain immune function because exercise has been reported to decrease glutamine availability and immune function.
Additionally, glutamine has been reported to regulate cellular hydration status, which has been shown to be an important regulator of protein synthesis. Consequently, glutamine supplementation (e.g., 6 to 12 g/day) has become popular among athletes attempting to increase muscle mass and/ or maintain a healthy immune system during training.
Although there is a strong scientific basis to support a theoretical use of glutamine in athletes, studies on athletes are mixed or lacking. Several studies indicate that BCAA and glutamine supplementation can preserve and/ or increase glutamine levels during exercise. Theoretically, a maintenance and or increase in glutamine levels should help lessen the negative impact of intense exercise on immune function.
Studies investigating this hypothesis, however, have not consistently observed improved immune status. We are also not aware of any study that has evaluated the effects of glutamine alone on strength and muscle mass alterations during training. Consequently, additional research is necessary to determine whether glutamine supplementation may affect immune function and training adaptations before conclusions can be drawn.
Another compound that may play a role in lessening the incidence of overtraining is creatine. Classified as a methylglycocynamine, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase intramuscular creatine and phosphocreatine stores and improve performance capacity during intermittent high-intensity exercise. Additionally, creatine supplementation has been reported to allow athletes to maintain greater training volume and promote greater gains in strength and muscle mass.
These findings suggest that creatine supplementation may allow an athlete to tolerate a greater training volume while maintaining positive training adaptations. Although it is unclear whether creatine supplementation may have a direct role in preventing overtraining, creatine supplementation during intensified periods of training may help an athlete tolerate training to a greater degree and thereby lessen the susceptibility to overtraining.
More research is needed to investigate this hypothesis. Can amino acid supplementation help prevent overtraining Although more research is needed to determine the potential ergogenic value of BCAA, creatine, and glutamine supplementation, it is our view that athletes involved in intense training should ingest a diet high in BCAAs, creatine, and glutamine. This can be accomplished either by selecting high-quality protein sources in the diet (e.g., caseine, whey protein, etc.) andlor by ingesting carbohydrate/protein supplements that contain quality protein, BCAAs, and glutamine.
It is also our view that given the evidence regarding the ergogenic value and medical safety, creatine supplementation can serve as an effective ergogenic aid for athletes involved in highintensity training. Whether creatine has a role in lessening the impact of overtraining remains to be determined.
Amino Acids – The Foundations Of Life
Amino acids – they’re the building blocks of proteins. Proteins in turn are the building blocks of just about everything else! Without these vitally important compounds, we wouldn’t exist. So what are amino acids? Let’s start right at the beginning. Before amino acids. Because even amino acids are ‘made’ from something else! Namely nucleotides.
Nucleotides – The Building Blocks Of Amino Acids
Everything boils down to just five base chemicals, or bases. The base chemicals used in DNA are adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). The fifth one uracil (U) is only found in RNA where it replaces thymine. These base chemicals are used to build nucleotides.
A DNA nucleotide is made up of one of the 4 base chemicals (A / C / G / T) plus a molecule of phosphoric acid and a molecule of sugar. RNA nucleotides are identical except U replaces T. Nucleotides are in turn joined together in sequences of three to form codons. Each codon encodes specifically for one of the amino acids. So the amino acid Methionine for example is encoded as ATG, meaning it contains adenine, thymine and guanine nucleotides in that order.
Twenty Amino Acids Represented By Sixty-One Unique Codons
If you do the math, you’ll discover that these 4 nucleotides can be arranged into 64 unique codons. Even though there are only 20 amino acids! Therefore, some amino acids are represented by more than one codon. Isoleucine for instance can be coded as any one of the following – ATT, ATC or ATA. Each codon only encodes for one amino acid however so you won’t find any other amino acids encoded as ATT, ATC or ATA.
Sixty-one of these codons encode amino acids. The remaining 3 are used as stop codons. Stop codons are used to signal the end of a sequence of codons or protein. A protein is effectively just a long string of codons or amino acids. The body manufactures more than 50,000 different proteins.
Essential And Non-Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are classified into two groups. Essential amino acids are those our bodies are not able to manufacture so it’s ‘essential’ we obtain them via our diet. The list of essential amino acids are:
- Isoleucine (eggs, soy, spirulina, dairy)
- Leucine (cheese, soy, beef, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, beans)
- Lysine (lean beef, cheese, turkey, chicken, pork, soy, fish, shrimp, shellfish, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, lentils)
- Methionine (nuts, beef, lamb, cheese, turkey, pork,fish, shellfish, soy, eggs, dairy, beans)
- Phenylalanine (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk)
- Serine (beef, dairy products, almonds, asparagus, chickpea, cow pea, flax-seed, lentils, sesame seed, walnut, soy beans)
- Threonine (lean beef, soy, pork, chicken, liver, cheese,shellfish, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils)
- Tryptophan (turkey, milk, cheese, oats and oat bran, seaweed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spinach, watercress, soybeans, pumpkin, sweet potatoes)
- Valine (cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, mushrooms, and whole grains)
Non-essential amino acids are still ‘essential’ in that we require them for the creation of functioning proteins. Our body however is able to manufacture them so long as the raw ingredients are supplied. The non-essential amino acids are:
- Alanine (poultry, a variety of fishes, meat, seaweed, eggs, dairy products)
- Arginine (turkey, pork loin, chicken, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, spirulina, dairy)
- Asparagine (dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, lactalbumin, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, whole grains)
- Aspartic Acid (dairy, ggs, chicken, pork, beef, fish, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, chestnuts, oats, corn)
- Cysteine (meat and poultry, eggs, dairy, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprout, oats, granola, wheat germ, sprouted lentils)
- Glutamic Acid (matured cheeses, cured meats, fish sauce, soy sauce and soy protein, mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, broccoli, peas, walnuts)
- Glutamine (beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs, beans, beets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, parsley, vegetable juices, wheat, papaya, brussel sprouts, celery, kale)
- Glycine (bone broth, meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs, fish, beans, spinach, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, banana, kiwi)
- Histidine (Apple, pomogranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.)
- Proline (meat, nuts, seafood, dairy products, eggs, fish, asparagus, avocados, bamboo shoots, beans, brewer’s yeast, broccoli rabe, brown rice bran, cabbage, caseinate, chives, lactalbumin, legumes, seaweed, seeds, soy, spinach, watercress, whey, whole grains)
- Tyrosine (cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, and whole grains)