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Lab Lesson: Anabolic Amino Acid Profile

Written by: Cindi Lockhart, RD, LD, Weight Loss Coaching Program Manager

What is an Anabolic Amino Acid Profile?

The Anabolic Amino Acid Profile is a blood test that measures the levels of amino acids (building blocks of protein) in the body. It tests the nine (9) essential amino acids that cannot be produced in our bodies and must come from diet.

The profile also tests the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are metabolized in the muscle vs. the liver and support lean muscle mass building and energy production. It includes the non-essential amino acids, which are important in overall metabolism.  Finally, the test identifies precursors (signaling molecules in the production of energy) and metabolites (substances necessary for metabolism and products of metabolism) of amino acids, so it is a complete amino acid assessment. 

Anabolic amino acids and health:

Amino acids make up 75% of our body – including muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, hair, skin, nails, hormones, enzymes, body fluids.  Since amino acids are used by every body system, deficiencies can create imbalances in metabolism and other critical functions in our body such as digestion, heart health, enzyme production, detoxification, immune support, blood sugar regulation, hormone and neurochemical balances plus muscle, bone, and connective tissue health.

Amino acid imbalances can also indicate specific nutrient deficiencies, which ultimately impact our energy production.  Although most Americans tend to consume adequate amounts of protein, certain populations may be at risk of deficient amino acid levels, such as: bodybuilders, endurance athletes, vegetarians, those with eating disorders or on protein-restricted diets, or individuals taking anti-ulcer medications, which can decrease protein absorption.

Who would benefit from this lab test?

With its name Anabolic Amino Acid Profile, it may seem this test would only be useful for strength and power athletes trying to build as much muscle as they can. Since amino acids play such an important role in the function of our body, it is useful for many other individuals as well.  As stated, amino acids make up 75% of the body and impact EVERY system of our body including immunity, heart, brain, hormone balance, enzymes, and connective tissue. 

Endurance and strength athletes would benefit from this test to assure their amino acid pools are sufficient to build lean muscle mass, make recovery easier and, therefore, optimize physical performance.  Those who specifically have difficulty gaining lean mass or progressing in strength programs should confirm that their amino acid pools are adequate. 

Another population that would benefit from this test are vegetarians — vegan, lacto ovo or otherwise. This population tends to run short on protein, which impacts every system’s function in our body including our immune system.

 If you are taking anti-ulcer medications, your body tends to suppress the hydrochloric acid levels in your stomach that are responsible for adequate protein digestion and therefore can depress amino acid pools in your body.

If you get sick frequently or can’t seem to shake a flu/illness, make sure your amino acid pools are sufficient to support your immunity.

How diet affects amino acid levels:

There are specified recommendations based off each separate amino acid, however a great nutritional foundation includes:

  • Consume adequate levels of lean, high quality protein sources: organic, grass-fed if possible (beef, poultry, wild fish, game, eggs, dairy) at every meal, including snack time.
  • If tolerated, consume organic sources of full fat or lowfat dairy:  milk, yogurt, cheese.
  • Consume adequate filtered water:  half your body weight in ounces per day.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.

How lifestyle affects amino acid levels:

To best support immunity, overall health, and amino acid pools, you should sleep 7-8 uninterrupted hours a night. Many Americans today are also under significant amounts of stress, which depletes our amino acid pools and increases our daily protein needs, so focus on managing your stress levels every day. This may be achieved via daily meditation, deep breathing, yoga and reducing an intense exercise load. Overtraining is very stressful and inflammatory to the body. Try 30-minute sessions of higher intensity exercise, 4-5 days per week. 

To assist in the body’s detoxification process, make sure to consume adequate filtered water to support the kidneys, limit processed foods to support the liver, consume adequate fiber to support the intestines, and (if possible) utilize a dry or wet sauna three days a week to support chemical detoxification via the skin. If you smoke, stop.

Supplements to support optimal values:

These, too, will vary depending on specific amino acid values. A good core supplementation protocol would include:

  • AM/PM performance multivitamin
  • Omega 3 fish oil
  • Protein powder as needed: whey isolate, Vegamax, or FastFuel Complete

Getting the test

If you are struggling to achieve lean muscle gains, athletic performance goals, are a vegetarian, following a strict protein-restricted diet, or are on anti-ulcer medications you should consider getting a Anabolic Amino Acid Profile test.  Contact your club’s Registered Dietitian, Weight Loss Coach, or any of the Personal Training staff to get it ordered. The cost of the profile includes a FREE full hour consultation with a Registered Dietitian to explain the results to you and create a customized lifestyle protocol (nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation) to help you restore your levels to an optimal range —for optimal results!

Find out more about Life Time Personal Assessments. <>

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Reader Comments (1)

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July 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramino acids

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