The body produces 10 amino acids naturally and the remainder must be provided from diet and supplements. A steady supply of essential amino acids is required daily as the body does not store them up for later use. A recent study published in Cell Metabolism Journal found that taking supplements of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) not only increased energy but also extended the overall lifespan in mice by an average 12%. In addition, the mice showed improved motor skills and endurance compared to those not given the amino acid supplements.
The test showed that BCAA supplements increased mitochondria, which provided cells with energy. The SIRT1 gene, which affects longevity, also showed increased activity. BCAA supplements could prove beneficial to those suffering from a lack of energy as well as athletes needing a quick boost to recovery.
Good Sources of Energy-Boosting Amino Acids
The three main amino acids that affect metabolism and energy are tyrosine, phenylalanine and lysine.
Tyrosine is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry and eggs as well as in amino acid supplements. When protein is digested, amino acids enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they boost mental alertness and energy.
The body breaks down phenylalanine and converts it into tyrosine, activating adrenaline and energy. The artificial sweetener aspartame contains phenylalanine although more natural sources are better for your overall health. Poultry, beef, pork, fish, milk, dairy products and soy products are all high protein sources of phenylalanine which will quickly counter a lack of energy, problems with concentration, confusion or memory problems.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the body. It is found in many protein-rich foods including red meat, pork, poultry, cheese, eggs, nuts, soybeans, legumes sardines and cod. It is also available in amino acid supplements. Lysine produces carnitine which in turn converts fatty acids into energy. Lysine also helps the body produce collagen which is essential for developing bones and connective tissues.