With the increasing trend of health optimization and disease prevention, individuals look for multiple approaches for weight loss. While some in the health industry cling heavily to the “calories in , calories out” model, unfortunately not everyone can expect the same results and many of the patients I work with know this from first hand experience. People who suffer from chronic inflammations and cellular damage, chronic stress, anxiety and clinical depression, Cushing’s disease, PCOS, Hashimotos/Hypothyroidism and other hormonal problems often face a resistance from weight loss with these common practices. Getting to the unique root cause for each individual is key to long term sustainability and success. While each individual will require a modification for their unique needs one thing I find common between patients is the increased need for additional amino acids in their diet. In fact, amino acids are regarded as one of the most important constituents of almost every meal and scientists have developed the notion that different types of amino acids affect the basal metabolic rate of our bodies in a different way. (1)
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are considered as the building blocks of proteins.(2) These organic compounds have a potential to combine in different ways to give more than hundred thousand different types of proteins; however the human body is composed mainly of 8 types of proteins. Amino acids are classified mainly as essential and non-essential based on their consumption requirement by humans. Essential ones are those which must be supplied to the body through diet. These types are important for the normal functioning of the body and cannot be synthesized by the body itself. However, the non-essential amino acids, as the name indicates, are not needed to be supplied through diet because the body has the natural potential of synthesizing them. Biochemically, the amino acids can also be categorized as Branch Chain Amino acids (BCAAs) and Straight Chain Amino Acids. BCAAs usually fall in the essential amino acids type. Essential amino acids are clinically significant because if they are not furnished to the body in the normal range, the regular functions can be greatly altered causing pathological conditions.
How Amino Acids Help in Weight loss?
The skeletal muscles of our body has a percentage weight of 40% which is made up of 70-75% proteins. To simplify this concept in a practical way, building the body mass by weight lifting and increasing the muscular weight of the body helps in losing body fat because the skeletal muscles require the most energy during physical activity. To compensate for this energy, the body melts down the fat in order to provide energy to the muscles. Since the intake of amino acids helps build proteins, it will increase your muscular strength resulting in fat loss from the adipose tissues. At the same time, the higher intake of proteins and amino acids induces a feeling of satiety, thus reducing the overall food intake.(3)
A study (4) conducted on rats presented the importance of amino acids while attempting weight loss strategies. The group of rats which received the essential amino acids showed an effective fat reduction as compared to those who did not. The amino acids helped them retain the lean muscle dissolving the fat molecules at a rapid rate.
This is just one aspect of where the caloric expenditure model of weight loss starts to fail patients. It lacks the emphasis on the important of protein/amino acid intake. Sustainability and consistency overtime is key and in order to achieve this amino acids are a must. This is why there are multiple places I include amino acids in my Metabolic Reset Program.
As a busy mom myself, I know consuming optimal amounts of protein can be challenging. This is why I specifically created Amino Lean as a way to supplement (not replace) with amino acids. I personally add 1 scoop of amino lean fruit punch with 1 scoop Relax & Focus to meals lacking protein or as a way to keep me satisfied before my next meal.
The Science Behind Amino Lean
LEUCINE* Top Ingredient in AMINO LEAN
This is an essential amino acid found in high quality protein and is the key amino acid that drives muscle protein synthesis. It’s also a modulator of insulin signalling, a fuel for skeletal muscle, and a primary nitrogen donor for production of alanine and glutamine in skeletal muscle. In addition to muscle protein synthesis, Leucine also increases your ability to burn fatty acids (FAT FOR FUEL)>
That all sounds well and good, but think about how you age. As we age, our muscles become less efficient at the critical processes of repair and replacement of existing proteins. This aging process is called anabolic resistance. We succumb to what’s known as sarcopenia, the gradual loss of our muscle tissue. However, the good news, we can blunt or mitigate this aging process with the right choices of exercise and protein. This means Leucine is even more important as we get older, and it’s also why our protein intake, both quantity and quality, should increase with age. ** This is also why women around age 40 start to experience health symptoms – protein break down accelerates and to begin with they were not consuming enough protein.
LYSINE * Second ingredient in AMINO LEAN
This one, in addition to starting with the letter “L” and having two syllables and sounding kind of similar to Leucine, is another essential amino acid, which means you can only get it via your diet. Lysine plays a large role in synthesizing proteins within your body. Not only that, Lysine is also responsible for the proteins specifically in your connective tissues, tendons, which connect a bone to a muscle, and ligaments, which connect bones to bones at a section called a joint. Your tendons and ligaments are composed of a structural protein called collagen, and Lysine is instrumental in collagen formation. Lysine also forms the backbone of the molecule called carnitine essential to help your muscles burn fats for fuel.***
METHIONINE * 8th Ingredient in AMINO LEAN
Finally, we come to an amino acid that has more than two syllables and doesn’t start with the letter “L” but is just as important as its friends. Methionine is responsible for making creatine (that thing you might think is a steroid because weight lifters love it, but it really isn’t a steroid and is one of the most researched supplements around). Methionine is also important for the synthesis or carnitine, which is instrumental in fatty acid oxidation (IE IF YOU WANT TO BURN FAT FOR ENERGY) and in the synthesis of another amino acid, cysteine, which leads to Glutathione, an antioxidant that helps with your immunity, detox, and for production of DNA and taurine. Methionine also plays a role in detoxification of metals like lead and mercury as well as protecting the cell from pollutants due to its sulfur side groups. Finally, methionine is always the first amino acid transcribed from mRNA so without enough of it, protein synthesis doesn’t even start. Methionine is often in low amounts in plant proteins, especially in legumes, lentils, and nuts .
What other roles do Amino Acids Play
Now that you are beginning to understand the vital role that protein/amino acids play, I wanted to emphasize their function is not limited to building new muscle and weight loss. For instance, antibodies, used in an immune response, are made of proteins. When a toxin or otherwise foreign substance, known as an antigen, enters your body, your antibodies protect you by fighting them off. In addition, many of your hormones, such as insulin, are made from proteins; and some like thyroid hormones, for example, are made from amino acids and transported by proteins. Thyroid hormones help to regulate your blood glucose and metabolic rate, and can impact growth hormone secretion and bone health. Although all proteins are made of amino acids, not all proteins contain the correct balance of amino acids your body needs. Amino acids are the key to understanding protein needs, and I want to highlight three of them.
I want to emphasize that it is very important to always choose whole food first. You can absolutely obtain an optimal level of proteins/amino’s through diet alone. In some cases supplementation may be helpful but remember you can never out supplement a poor diet. Lastly as you get closer and close to your weight loss goal you are at increased risk of losing lean muscle mass so the leaner you get the more you need to consider if you are getting enough amino acids especially if you are also practicing intermittent fasting.
Yours in health,
Dr. Breanne Kallonen, ND
- Protein, amino acids and obesity treatment. (2020). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7455583/
- Hou, Y., Yin, Y., & Wu, G. (2015). Dietary essentiality of “nutritionally non-essential amino acids” for animals and humans. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 240(8), 997–1007. https://doi.org/10.1177/1535370215587913
- Westerterp-Plantenga, M., Nieuwenhuizen, A., Tomé, D., Soenen, S., & Westerterp, K. (2009). Dietary Protein, Weight Loss, and Weight Maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 29(1), 21–41. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-nutr-080508-141056
- Chang, Y. O. (1975). Effect of feeding diets lacking various essential amino acids on body composition of rats. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1165167/
- Cummings, N. E. (2018b, February 15). Restoration of metabolic health by decreased consumption of branchedâchain amino acids. The Physiological Society. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/JP275075
- Lynch, C. J. (2014, October 7). Branched-chain amino acids in metabolic. . . Nature Reviews Endocrinology. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2014.171?error=cookies_not_supported&code=f4c1ab8b-bdaa-4fc7-8904-cc688c31fc68
- Novin, Z. S. (2019). The Weight Loss Effects of Branched Chain Amino Acids and Vitamin B6: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Obese and Overweight Women. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30841823/