I wrote this piece as part of an assignment: to educate people about the importance of amino acids. While not published, it showcases my ability to quickly learn about a new topic and present information well. If you'd like to see the back-work on creating this piece, just let me know.
Amino Acids, Legos, and Athletic Performance
Just over halfway through your longest training session of the week, your once bungee-sprung legs are leaded down, you’ve turned up Bowie’s Modern Love to mute your heavy breath, and real talk: you’re peckish. Focused on finishing strong and real-time recovery, you gnaw on a Stroopwafel (we recommend Coconut, an old fave in the office) to end on a high note, and hit the shower with your favorite recovery drink in hand.
Somewhere between repeating your lather and rinse, a question bubbles up: how did that particular snack help you out? You’re in luck, we’ve got a shower-length science lesson for you here.
Say hello to our little friend, amino acids
Athletes of all stripes know about protein. Well, amino acids are the organic materials that make up protein. Think of them as Legos, and proteins as the finished product. Stack the bricks just right, and voila! You’re using the 22 amino acids to build human proteins.
Each of those amino acids powers a different kind of protein. Various aminos might grow your hair, invigorate your immune system, sharpen your focus, or, of course, help grow and repair the muscles you just taxed during that long workout. Your body knows just where to put them so they can do the most good.
All aminos are important, but some are essential
Amino acids are categorized as either non-essential or essential. While all aminos are important, you produce non-essential amino acids just by being alive. As far as essential aminos go, your body doesn’t produce them naturally, so it’s essential that you get those through your food — hence their name.
If you don’t get enough essential amino acids in your diet, your body will find them for you…by pulling from any aminos stored in your muscle tissue. In other words, your body will take itself apart if it doesn’t get the amino acids it needs (Legos down!).
These mighty aminos protect, restore, and energize
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are three of the most essential of the essential aminos. Along with delaying fatigue during a workout, they protect your lean muscle from becoming a target of your body’s voracious assault on its own tissue when your amino acid stores are running low. Throw in the fact that they reduce muscle soreness and damage in both resistance training and endurance sports, and they’re pretty much any athlete’s BFF.
Now, back to the Stroopwafel
So why do you feel so good when you gulp down a Stroopwafel? Like our Gels and Chews before them, it’s not just the carbs or delicious flavor. It’s the aminos. We specifically include amino acids in every Gu Energy product, so your body has what it needs to convert protein into fuel and your muscles are protected during a long workout.
Kind of makes you want to replace that recovery drink with a shower-Stroop. Go ahead, we won’t tell.