What Do Building Muscle, Mood and Brain Function Have in Common?

Amino acids are the building blocks of every cell in our bodies.  They’re derived from protein rich foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds.  Since we can’t store excess amino acids for later use like we do fats and starches, they must be consumed every day. About 20-percent of our bodies are made up of protein by weight and amino acids control almost every cellular process so it’s super important to eat enough every single day.

A good general rule of thumb is to consume about an ounce of protein per kilo of body weight.  To find out your minimum protein requirements divide your body weight by 2.2.   That means that if you’re 150 # you should be eating a minimum of 68 grams or about 10 oz protein each day.  Remember, this is the minimum and our demands increase during periods of stress, such as healing from surgery or broken bones, pregnancy, training for an athletic event or recovering from illness.  Emotional stress also increases our needs.  We actually recommend closer to 100 grams for 150# body weight for optimal health.

Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids that we can’t make, results in depletion of the body’s building blocks so that muscle, brain chemicals, and overall tissue repair is diminished.  If you’re going to the gym and working out and still can’t build muscle, you may be low in branch chain amino acids.  If you are depressed and anxious you may need serotonin. If you can’t focus, tyrosine.  The positive effects of these amino acids can sometimes be felt within hours of the first dose.

The 10 amino acids that we do produce are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. But even these rely on precursor amino acids that we must get from our diet.  A good example is the amino acids tyrosine, which  makes dopamine, the brain chemical we need for focus.  It is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, which