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Can Amino Acids Help You Gain Weight?
For many people, gaining weight is just as urgent a health issue as losing weight is for others. Left unchecked, a low body weight can lead to disaster: more frequent infections, chronic fatigue, failure to thrive, anemia, osteoporosis – the list goes on. To ward off these risks, individuals often have to adjust their lifestyles and eating habits to gain weight in a healthy and effective way, but there is some confusion surrounding the issue of proper weight gain. One question people ask has to do with the use of amino acids, a group of compounds that act as the building blocks of protein, both in food and in our bodies. For those who struggle with being underweight, the question is, “Can amino acids help you gain weight?” To find out, keep reading as the experts at ENU – makers of healthful weight gain protein shakes – discuss this common query.
The Role of Amino Acids in Healthy Weight Gain
When people talk about healthy weight gain, they’re referring to a weight gain process with two key characteristics: a moderate, steady pace and a balance of fat and muscle growth.
The first of these points is especially important, given the kind of society we live in – one in which instant gratification is often the expectation. If you need to gain weight, you may feel the temptation to chow down on high-calorie snacks and fast food as a way to speed up the process, but this should be avoided.
For one thing, fast changes in weight tend to be fleeting, often reversing themselves within weeks or months. This is the body’s way of returning to a state it’s long regarded as the norm; if you’ve been underweight for a long time, this could easily cause you to lose all the weight you gained. By moderating your rate of weight gain, you can allow your body to acclimate to the change and increase your chances of the new weight staying on.
Another common issue relates to the kind of weight people often gain – namely, visceral fat, the type that sits around your midriff. When you load up on simple carbs, sugary snacks, and fatty foods, the result is often the kind of unhealthy fat that’s commonly associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other dangerous conditions.
This is where the second point comes in: balancing fat gain with new muscle. Muscle tissue is far better for your body than visceral fat, and any attempt to gain weight should include an exercise routine and plenty of protein – the vehicle for amino acids. To build new muscle, you’ll need amino acids to serve as the raw materials for those tissues, and getting the right amino acids can even help boost the process, stimulating muscle protein synthesis and increasing gains. Plus, muscle is denser than fat, so steady muscle growth can help you gain weight quickly.
What Amino Acids Are Best for Gaining Weight?
If you’re doing everything right – hitting the gym, getting more calories, maintaining proper nutrition with the help of a nutrition shake – then odds are you’ll see the kind of weight gain you need before too long. However, ensuring that your body has the right amino acids can be a huge advantage in this process, so let’s look at which amino acids fit the bill.
The key is to focus on a particular group of amino acids called the essential amino acids. While all 21 proteinogenic (protein-making) amino acids are necessary for a healthy body, some of them can be made within the body itself; these are the nonessential amino acids. The “essential” variety comprises nine amino acids – histidine, methionine, leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, threonine, and lysine – that you need to get from foods or supplements; otherwise, there’s no way for your body to obtain them.
Even within this important group, there is one particular amino acid that stands out as the most potent part of any muscle-promoting diet: leucine, one of the branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs. Leucine has been shown to greatly enhance the benefits of weight training, which itself is the most effective form of exercise for gaining weight as muscle. By adding this amino acid – as well as the other essential amino acids – to your routine, you can hasten your body’s natural muscle growth and add weight to your frame that much faster.
To ensure that you’re getting all the essential amino acids, including leucine, look for sources of “complete” protein – the term for protein with all nine of these amino acids. All animal protein is considered complete, as are a few plant-based sources, such as soy or quinoa. That said, the best source of amino acids is arguably whey protein, especially whey protein isolates. This form of whey is quickly absorbed by the body, and its popularity means that it’s easy to find and affordable to use.
ENU meal replacement shakes offer 20 grams of protein from whey and soy isolates, plus more than 400 calories from natural food ingredients. This combination of complete protein – with all the attendant amino acids – and calories makes ENU shakes a great option for healthy weight gain.
Try an ENU Nutrition Shake or Powder for Healthy Weight Gain
Whether you’re after nutritional support for athletes or a balanced weight management shake, ENU has something to offer. Our nutrition shakes come with complex carbs, heart-healthy fats, and more than 20 vitamins and minerals – plus all that protein, of course. In addition, we offer the Pro3+ nutritional powder, which adds all three macronutrients, including a substantial amount of leucine, to any drink or moist food without greatly affecting its texture or flavor. If you’re struggling to gain weight, learn more about how ENU can help by visiting us online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.