How Essential Amino Acids Can Prevent Muscle Loss During Bed Rest

Essential Amino Acids can aid the prevention of muscle loss as it serves as the building block of all proteins.

Essential Amino Acids can aid the prevention of muscle loss as it serves as the building block of all proteins.

Essential amino acids are important to the body and they have a variety of uses. On a cellular level, they are often seen in DNA synthesis and how they craft and synthesize the proper DNA. Other times, they are also used in improving the function of other cells such as improving neural functioning and how the nerves respond. However, the most important or the most visible relationship essential amino acids have is with the muscles. The muscles rely on protein (which is what amino acids are made of) in order to grow and repair themselves.

Often times, people think that bed rest can cause muscles to shrink. And while that is true to some extent, there’s a reason why the body has the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building block for proteins. Depending on the structure, amino acids then create proteins that can build muscle, repair the body, improve the immune system and many more. Some others include the writing of DNA when it comes to muscle recovery.

However, how do essential amino acids prevent muscle loss while one is resting? There are several mechanisms that amino acids go through in order to preserve muscle gain.

Protein Synthesis

This is one of the common methods that the body uses when it comes to essential amino acids. Regardless if resting or not, the body will perform protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is when the body synthesizes amino acids by forming polypeptide chains to form the ultimate protein. These proteins then are responsible for building up muscle or maintaining the muscles after a long hard workout.

Commonly to increase the amount of amino acids coming in, bodybuilders and athletes eat a lot of meat or a lot of food that includes protein. The most famous one is boiled chicken. Because it doesn’t have the high uric acid content that beef has nor does it have the high-fat content that pork has, most athletes and bodybuilders resort to using chicken. At the same time, chicken is a cheaper fare in comparison to the other two types of meat.

Reparation of Damaged Muscles

The damaged muscles happen during exercise. When doing a significant amount of exercise, the body undergoes strain. As it undergoes strain, it also damages the muscles. This subjects the body to a certain degree of physical stress which will trigger one’s sympathetic and parasympathetic responses.

During those times, the body will then try to repair the damage suffered by the muscles. Again, it also resorts to protein synthesis but with an entirely different motive. Instead of just preserving the muscle mass gained, the protein synthesis will then repair the muscles and strengthen them. This is taking into consideration that the muscles also did suffer from damage during the exercise.

Protection against Muscle Atrophy

As a person ages, muscle degradation increases in speed. If one has a high protein diet, this may be a possible way to slow it down. But first to further understand how amino acids prevent muscle loss, one has to first understand muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is when the muscles begin to shrink and stiffen up. And when that happens, the body is less capable of moving as it should. This often occurs in people of the late adulthood where their metabolism has considerably slowed down.

Because the body moves less and the person is more prone to bed rest at this stage, they are at a higher risk of muscle atrophy. To prevent this, the body continues to synthesize the amino acids into polypeptide chains. When it does, it starts stacking up which then forms proper chains which then can be used to preserving the muscles and preventing them from shrinking. It will also help the muscles sustain itself from any damage from any physical activity.

Essential Amino Acids

While there are many amino acids in the world, there are nine amino acids that work best with the body. These are also known as the essential amino acids which the body requires in order to continue functioning properly. Below are the nine amino acids that are important for the body:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Unfortunately, unlike the other amino acids, these particular amino acids cannot be produced by the body and must be sourced from food. A good source of amino acids are chicken, beans, nuts, pumpkin, seedy vegetables, fish, dairy, eggs, and a whole lot of other foods.

However take note, some of these are also allergens such as dairy and eggs. Before starting on a high protein diet, consult your doctor first about your allergens and also possibly a line of high uric acid and high blood pressure. Then, you’ll be able to tailor your diet to make sure you get the most amino acids with the least amount of effort.

Essential Amino Acids

Sources:

  • Volpi, E., Kobayashi, H., Sheffield-Moore, M., Mittendorfer, B., & Wolfe, R. R. (2003). Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in healthy elderly adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78(2), 250-258.
  • Eley, H. L., Russell, S. T., & Tisdale, M. J. (2007). Effect of branched-chain amino acids on muscle atrophy in cancer cachexia. Biochemical Journal, 407(1), 113-120.
  • Børsheim, E., Tipton, K. D., Wolf, S. E., & Wolfe, R. R. (2002). Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 283(4), E648-E657.
  • Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia: protein, amino acid metabolism and therapy. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 12(1), 86.
  • Cuthbertson, D., Smith, K., Babraj, J., Leese, G., Waddell, T., Atherton, P., … & Rennie, M. J. (2005). Anabolic signaling deficits underlie amino acid resistance of wasting, aging muscle. The FASEB Journal, 19(3), 422-424.
  • Katsanos, C. S., Kobayashi, H., Sheffield-Moore, M., Aarsland, A., & Wolfe, R. R. (2006). A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 291(2), E381-E387.

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