Amino acids, BCAAs & supplement review

Amino acids, BCAAs & supplement review

Think that only bodybuilders need to take amino acids? Think again! Amino acid supplements are a simple way to benefit from amino acids which are usually found in food and drink.

optimum nutrition watermelon


Let’s get scientific (puts science goggle on…) There are currently 500 amino acids that are known and classified, but only 23 are involved in the process of building proteins. This group is known as the proteinogenic amino acids, which combine into peptide chains (polypeptides) to form the building blocks of a vast array of proteins.

Nine of the 23 proteinogenic group are known as “essential” because your body cannot create them from other compounds. This means you need to consume these amino acids – phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine through your diet.

BCAAs stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids; this refers to the three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Because BCAAs are the only amino acids not regulated by the stomach and liver, it means they head straight to the bloodstream and muscle tissue. Some studies have found that they lower lactate levels, making recovery faster and increase the release of growth hormone during exercise.

Although these occur naturally in certain foods, such as meat and eggs, supplementing your intake with sports nutrition can make it easier to improve muscle protein synthesis and boost recovery. To clarify, you don’t HAVE to take amino acid supplements to get the benefits, you can find these naturally in food, however supplements are a good choice if you cannot get enough from your diet.

Optimum Nutrition AmiN.O Energy Review

For the last month, I have been using Optimum Nutrition’s Essential AmiN.O. Energy supplement in the flavour watermelon, it contains both amino acids and caffeine so it’s the perfect pre-workout drink. I like to mix 2 scoops with a large bottle of water in the mornings before I work out because I find that it gives me an edge that a cup of tea just doesn’t have.

Here are some things I liked about it:

  • The powder form mixes well and doesn’t feel gritty or thick like others
  • It’s a sweet watermelon taste, but doesn’t taste sickly or too ‘fake’
  • It contains vitamin C
  • I could feel the effects after about 30 minutes, it gives great burst of energy for workouts (cardio and lifting)
  • However, due to the high caffeine content I can’t drink it after 3pm or I struggle to sleep (I’m very sensitive to caffeine)

Overall, I’ve noticed a difference in my energy levels on the days that I’ve drank this. I can do longer length sessions in the gym and don’t feel as ‘worn out’ as I usually do the next day.  I use it as a pre-workout for my morning workouts because once I drank it at 4pm and I couldn’t sleep for that evening.

So there you have it, if you’re looking for a new pre-workout I’d definitely recommend Optimum Nutrition’s Essential AmiN.O. Energy supplement. There are loads more flavours I want to try like Blue Raspberry, Strawberry lime and peach cranberry. Some protein powders contain BCAAs so definitely lookout for those too, you can read my review of one here. 

Do you use pre-workouts, I’d love some recommendations in the comments if you do!


*Product was gifted to me, however all opinions are my own*