When you think of recovery in the sense of muscles, what comes to mind? Muscle soreness? Muscle growth? Nutrient replenishment? All of the above? When it comes to exercise, recovery is a necessary response to tearing down muscle fibers and using up key nutrients that allow muscles to function properly and efficiently. Should the muscle not recover properly, it can lead to deficiencies within the muscle, which can then lead to issues in performance and the possibility of muscle catabolism. That’s where EAAs come into the equation.
What are EAAs?
EAAs are essential amino acids and consist of histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylethylamine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. What deems them “essential” is the fact that the body cannot manufacture them on its own – yet they are necessary for proper functioning and therefore need to be included in the food we consume or the supplements we take.
Should you decide to take in your EAAs through whole food sources, look for items such as beef, eggs, fish, pork, Greek yogurt, and even quinoa.
Amino acids are the building blocks for muscle tissue growth. Without proper amino acids, your recovery and muscle-building efforts can be snuffed. For that reason, if you exercise regularly, you need to pay special attention to your amino acid intake.
When Should You Use EAAs?
There really is no right or wrong way to use EAAs, but there are some instances that may bode better than others.
You can use EAAs pre-workout to improve muscle protein synthesis. You can use EAAs during your workouts to help your body stay anabolic and prevent muscle tissue breakdown to fuel your training session. You can use EAAs post-workout to kickstart the recovery process. And finally, you can use EAAs throughout the day, such as between meals, to further increase muscle protein synthesis.
Regardless of when you want to supplement with your EAAs, there are advantages you can benefit from when it comes to staying anabolic and putting yourself in a prime position to build lean muscle tissue.
How Do EAAs Improve Recovery?
For those who exercise regularly, you are continually breaking down your muscle fibers and causing micro-tears that need to be repaired and rebuilt. Through this process of repair, your muscle fibers are able to become bigger and stronger (muscle hypertrophy). This process also creates DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) that can last several days. The good news is, EAAs have the ability to help diminish DOMS and reduce overall muscle soreness.
Even those who are not interested specifically in building lean muscles need to focus on their recovery through EAAs. Any form of exercise you engage in will tax the muscles and system – therefore, needing to be replenished and refueled through amino acids.
An essential part of muscle growth comes down to nitrogen balance. The goal should be to have yourself in a net positive nitrogen balance. This can be achieved when your rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than your rate of muscle protein breakdown.
Researchers looked at trained individuals and had one group supplement with EAAs while the other group was the control. They found that following intense bouts of training, the group who supplemented with EAAs showed a greater net nitrogen balance – priming them for muscle growth compared to the control group.
When your body is in a positive nitrogen balance, it allows your body to be put in an anabolic state to help build lean muscle tissue.
Quickly Kickstart the Repair Process
Following workouts, many individuals prefer to consume a protein shake. While there’s nothing wrong with this, there may be a faster option – which is through EAAs. When you consume a protein shake, the protein source needs to be broken down into usable amino acids. This is an extra step when compared to supplementing with EAAs, which are already in a usable form that the body can quickly pull from and utilize.
Preserve and Build Muscle Tissue
Regardless of your goal, EAAs have the ability to help preserve and build lean muscle tissue. Why is this important? It’s important because if you do not provide your muscles with the necessary nutrients to support the lean muscle tissue, it can be broken down and used as fuel for the body. This becomes incredibly important to those while on a cut where you’re in a caloric deficit, and the body is looking for energy.
Through the use of EAAs, you can provide your muscles with the nutrients they need to repair muscle tissue fibers while staying anabolic to preserve your hard-earned muscle. Should you forgo putting your focus on EAAs, not only could you potentially lose muscle, but you could also slow down your metabolism, which can lead to weight gain.