I see weight lifters, bodybuilders, and personal trainers promoting individual amino acid supplements, such as glutamine, leucine, or BCAAs. BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids, specifically leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
What I would like to know is if there is research that differentiates between having dietary protein and having specific amino acids. Because, frankly, it baffles me why people would buy individual amino acids when consuming high protein foods such as various animal flesh (chicken, beef, turkey, salmon, tuna), dairy, eggs, soy, or other higher protein foods like beans and seeds. Supplement companies obviously want you to buy more product and will tell you anything.
In my frank opinion, if you are consuming adequate amounts of protein for your physical activity, i.e. active people need 1.2-1.7 grams protein/kilogram (1 kg = 2.2. lbs) body weight, and you are spreading your meals out throughout the day to maintain the pool of amino acids in your blood, then you should have more than enough amino acids available for anything your body is doing. This is more than the RDA for protein for the general population that is not exercising, which is 0.8 grams protein/kilogram body weight.
Additionally, bodybuilding supplements could be contaminated with substances that improve your workouts that aren’t even amino acids, since as previous posts have mentioned, the supplement industry is not tightly regulated for quality, purity, and unadulterated ingredient listed on labels.
This post does not hold true for those who may be in the hospital or have a specific medical condition for which there is clear research on the efficacy of providing individual amino acids. These cases often involve situations where dietary protein intake is limited for various reasons. Often, your physician will order a specific amino acid in cases like these.
However, for working out? Save your money, and go buy someone a present or donate to a charity you believe in.