Best Food Sources Of Amino Acids

best food sources of amino acids

Amino acids are organic compounds that serve as the building blocks of proteins, which is an important component of every cell in your body.

They are essential for numerous biological processes and are crucial for the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues in the body. There are 20 different amino acids that are commonly found in proteins.



Amino acids



Photo source: Amino acids – National Human Genome Research Institute



Amino acids can be categorized into three groups: essential amino acids (which the body cannot produce and must be obtained from the diet), non-essential amino acids (which the body can synthesize on its own), and conditional amino acids (which are normally non-essential but may become essential under certain conditions or in certain individuals – such as under stress or when having an illness).

Amino acids play a vital role in various physiological processes, including protein synthesis, enzyme production, neurotransmitter synthesis, immune function, and energy production. They are obtained through the consumption of protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.



Why are amino acids important in the human body?


It’s important to note that different amino acids have specific roles and functions within the body. Each amino acid has unique properties and biochemical functions that contribute to overall health and well-being.


Amino acids play several important roles in the body. Here are some of their key functions:


Muscle protein synthesis: Amino acids, particularly the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are essential for muscle protein synthesis. During exercise, muscle protein breakdown occurs, and the body requires an adequate supply of amino acids to rebuild and repair the damaged muscle tissue. By providing the necessary building blocks, amino acids support the process of muscle protein synthesis, promoting muscle recovery and growth.


Energy production: Amino acids can serve as an alternative energy source during prolonged or intense exercise. When glycogen stores in the muscles become depleted, the body can break down amino acids for energy through a process called protein catabolism. This helps to sustain energy levels and delay fatigue during prolonged exercise.


Decreased muscle damage: Intense exercise can lead to muscle damage, inflammation, and soreness. Some amino acids, such as glutamine, arginine, and citrulline, have been studied for their potential to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation. These amino acids may help enhance recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and improve overall exercise performance.


Endurance performance: Amino acids, specifically BCAAs, have been shown to benefit endurance athletes. They can help delay fatigue and improve exercise endurance by reducing the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of fatigue during prolonged exercise. By inhibiting its release, BCAAs can help athletes maintain mental focus and delay exhaustion.


Immune function support: Intense exercise can temporarily suppress the immune system, making athletes more susceptible to infections. Certain amino acids, such as glutamine, have been shown to support immune function by enhancing the activity of immune cells. This can help reduce the risk of illness and support overall health in athletes.



Best food sources of amino acids


You may have seen lists of foods with “high amounts of amino acids,” such as eggs or quinoa.

The majority of animal protein-based foods contain all the necessary essential amino acids required by the body, and there are also numerous plant-based protein sources that can serve as excellent providers of amino acids.

There are various food sources that provide a rich supply of amino acids. Here are some examples:


Animal protein sources:


  • Lean meats (such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pork)

  • Fish and seafood (such as salmon, tuna, shrimp, and cod)

  • Eggs

  • Dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, and cheese


Plant protein sources:


  • Legumes (such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and soybeans)

  • Quinoa

  • Tofu and tempeh

  • Chia seeds

  • Hemp seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Nuts and nut butters (such as almonds, peanuts, and cashews)




  • Whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, and whole wheat)

  • Amaranth

  • Buckwheat


Dairy and dairy alternatives:


  • Greek yogurt

  • Cottage cheese

  • Almond milk

  • Soy milk

Vegetables and greens:


  • Spinach

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Peas

  • Asparagus

Other Sources:


  • Spirulina (a blue-green algae)

  • Seaweed

  • Bee pollen

It’s worth noting that while animal-based protein sources typically provide all the essential amino acids, plant-based protein sources may be lacking in one or more essential amino acids. However, by combining different plant protein sources throughout the day (e.g., legumes with grains or nuts with seeds), it’s possible to obtain a complete amino acid profile from a plant-based diet as well.





In a small 2017 study, resistance-trained athletes who took a BCAAs supplement showed improved performance and muscle recovery and decreased muscle soreness compared with those who took a placebo.

A review of eight studies found that taking BCAAs was superior to rest for promoting muscle recovery and reducing soreness after exhaustive exercise.


Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy


A perfectly blended mix of amino acids to aid in muscle recovery. Energy blend with 100 milligram of caffeine coming from green tea and/or green coffee extracts to supply you with a boost of energy to help you get through the day, support your energy levels and focus in the gym.


Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy

Visit the Optimum Nutrition Store




XTEND Sport BCAA Powder Blue Raspberry Ice


The World’s Number 1 BCAA Brand has been perfecting recovery since 2004 with 7 grams of BCAAs. Stay hydrated pre-, during, and post workout with electrolytes. Formulated for athletes for optimal performance – consume a minimum of 14 grams of BCAAs per day.

Proudly NSF Certified for Sport, an independent certification program recognized by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the Canadian Football League.


XTEND Sport BCAA Powder Blue Raspberry Ice

Visit the Scivation Store




Thorne Amino Complex


Supports sports- and fitness-related activities, helps provide energy and promote lean muscle mass. 

The active ingredient formula is backed by more than 25 years of scientific and clinical research. The product is NSF Certified for Sport.


Thorne Amino Complex

Visit the Thorne Research Store




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