11 May 2021

What Are Essential Amino Acids? – Think You Know About Time 4 Essential Amino Acids? Think Again…

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A term you often hear in fitness and bodybuilding circles is ‘essential amino acids’, or EAAs. Typically, it is used in relation to building muscle. This is because like constructing a house, building and maintaining a healthy, fit, lean and muscular body requires building blocks. In the human body, these are the amino acids, organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which combine to form the various proteins needed by the body for tissue growth and repair.

There are 20 amino acids that make up the estimated 2 million different types of proteins. Of these 20, 9 are referred to as ‘essential’ because they cannot be produced by the body and so must be obtained from dietary sources, such as meat, eggs, fish, dairy products and plant-based proteins (e.g., soy, buckwheat and quinoa).

In addition to tissue growth and repair, essential amino acids (EAAs) are involved in numerous important functions within the body, ranging from immune function to energy production.

Although they often work together, each essential amino acid (EAA) performs specific roles within the body:

  • Leucine is important for muscle protein synthesis and many other functions including the regulation of blood-sugar levels, growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue, growth hormone production, and wound healing. It also prevents the breakdown of muscle proteins after trauma or severe stress. It is leucine which provides the signal to switch from a catabolic state, in which muscle tissue is being broken down, to an anabolic state in which it begins to rebuild. The quicker your body receives this signal after training, the sooner it switches from breaking muscle down to building and repairing it to ensure a full and speedy recovery.
  • Isoleucine is concentrated in muscle tissue in humans and has a range of functions including regulating blood sugar and energy levels, assisting wound healing, stimulating immune function, promoting the secretion of several hormones, and haemoglobin. It may also help to prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue during exercise, and so enhance recovery.
  • Valine plays a role in muscle growth, tissue repair, and energy It also maintains mental vigour, muscle coordination, and emotional calm.
  • Phenylalanine plays an important role in the structure and function of proteins and enzymes and the production of other amino acids. It is also a precursor for various neurotransmitters such as dopamine, and the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine.
  • Threonine plays an important role in fat metabolism and immune function. It is an important component of many proteins, such as collagen and elastin.
  • Tryptophan is the least plentiful of all 22 amino acids. It plays an important role in nitrogen balance and is a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is essential in regulating appetite, sleep, mood, and pain, and melatonin, a hormone, which regulates sleep and wakefulness.
  • Methionine plays an important role in tissue growth, metabolism and detoxification. It also slows cell ageing, prevents the build-up of excess fat in the liver, and is necessary for the absorption of various minerals essential for good health.
  • Lysine plays an important role in protein synthesis, calcium absorption, and hormone and enzyme production. It is also involved in energy production, immune function and the production of collagen and elastin.
  • Histidine is essential for growth and tissue repair, and for maintenance of myelin sheaths, a protective barrier that surrounds nerve cells. It is used to produce histamine, a neurotransmitter that is vital to immune response, digestion, sexual function and sleep-wake cycles. Histidine is also required for blood cell manufacture and protects tissues against damage caused by radiation and heavy metals.

You may think that if all of the essential amino acids (EAAs) are contained in good quality sources of protein, why would I need a supplement?

If you consume a plant-based diet, you may find it challenging to obtain all of the essential amino acids (EAAs) in the requisite amounts from plant sources. Or perhaps you are intolerant of certain sources of protein, such as dairy. If you are trying to reduce your levels of body fat while maintaining muscle mass, you will need to boost the amino acid content of your diet without significantly increasing the energy content.

This is where Time 4 Essential Amino Acids can be valuable addition to your diet. Here at Time 4 Nutrition, we pride ourselves on employing the findings of latest cutting-edge research to produce the most effective and innovative products. In this article, we are going to review some of that research and explain how there’s a lot more to Time 4 Essential Amino Acids than the name suggests.

What’s In Time 4 Essential Amino Acids?

Time 4 Essential Amino Acids is a potent combination of substances designed to enhance the body’s essential amino acid content and provide a range of health and performance benefits. These include Time 4 Nutritions specially blended formula of all 9 essential amino acids needed by the body to optimise muscle growth, repair and recovery, plus glutamine, vitamin D, Astragin and vitamins B6 and B12. As we look at each of these ingredients in-depth, you’ll begin to see why Time 4 Essential Amino Acids is such a great product and how it may benefit you.

How Will EAA Supplementation Benefit Me?

Supplementation with essential amino acids has been shown scientifically to provide a number of potential benefits for health and performance. These include, but are not limited to:

Here are just a few examples of the many studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of EAA supplementation:

Increasing Muscle Mass

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The International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise by Jäger et al., (13) provides an objective and critical review related to the intake of protein for healthy, exercising individuals based on the current available literature. It states that rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids (EAAs) and adequate leucine, are most effective in stimulating MPS. The position stand further suggests that while it is possible for physically active individuals to obtain their daily protein requirements through the consumption of whole foods, supplementation is a practical way of ensuring intake of adequate protein quality and quantity, while minimizing caloric intake, particularly for athletes who typically complete high volumes of training.

A study by Tipton and colleagues (11) investigated the response of net muscle protein synthesis to ingestion of amino acids after a bout of resistance exercise. Subjects consumed in random order 1 litre of 1) a mixed amino acid (40 g) solution (MAA), 2) an essential amino acid (40 g) solution (EAA), and 3) a placebo solution (PLA). Arterial amino acid concentrations increased approximately 150-640% above baseline during ingestion of MAA and EAA. The authors concluded that ingestion of oral essential amino acids results in a change from net muscle protein degradation to net muscle protein synthesis after heavy resistance exercise in humans similar to that seen when the amino acids were infused.

Vieillevoye et al., (17) evaluated the effects of an EAA supplementation on muscle mass, architecture and strength in the early stages of a heavy-load training programme. 29 young males trained for 12 weeks. They were divided into a placebo (PLA) (n = 14) group and an EAA group (n = 15). The results of the study showed that EAA supplementation has a positive effect on muscle hypertrophy and architecture

Reducing Exercise Induced Fatigue

Negro et al., (2) investigated the acute effects of a single oral administration of an essential amino acids enriched mixture (EAA) on myoelectric descriptors of fatigue and maximal force production after a resistance exercise protocol (REP). The results of the study showed that acute EAA enriched mix administration help prevent the loss of force-generating capacity during MVC following a REP.

Enhancing Post-Exercise Recovery

Matsui and colleagues (3) investigated the effect of a leucine-enriched essential amino acids mixture on muscle recovery. Ten untrained males (age, 23.0 ± 1.6 years) were asked to repeatedly flex and extend their elbows for 10 counts/set × 5 sets at full power while using a dynamometer. The participants took 3.6-g supplements (LEAA mixture or placebo) 3 times daily on day 0 and for the next 7 days. The results of the study showed that LEAA consumption suppressed exercise-induced elevation of muscle damage markers in blood, which suggests that LEAA could attenuate muscle damage and aid muscle recovery.

Reduction Of Muscle Soreness And Damage

A study by Nosaka et al., (15) investigated the effect of a supplement containing 9 essential and 3 non-essential amino acids on muscle soreness and damage by comparing two endurance exercise bouts of the elbow flexors with amino acid or placebo supplementation. The results of the study showed that that amino acid supplementation attenuates DOMS and muscle damage when ingested on recovery days.

What Is Vitamin D?

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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which plays an essential role in many functions of the body including the regulation of phosphorus and maintaining the structure of bone and teeth, and normal immune function.

 How Will Vitamin D Benefit Me?

Although essential for general good health and function, the inclusion off vitamin D in an essential amino acids supplement may not at first, seem relevant. However, a number of recent studies have highlighted vitamin D’s role in building and maintaining muscle, particularly when used in conjunction with amino acid supplementation and resistance exercise (18,1920). This is because the exposure of skeletal muscles to vitamin D influences the genetic processes that enhance muscle cell type, function and growth. At the same time, vitamin D suppresses the expression of myostatin, a protein that regulates muscle size by inhibiting growth.

In addition, vitamin D increases the number of type II or fast twitch muscle fibres and in particular that of type IIA cells, resulting in an increase in muscular power output, while its deficiency causes type IIA cell atrophy and a loss of strength (21). The importance of vitamin D supplementation becomes evident when we consider that 50% of the population are vitamin D deficient.

Here are just a couple of examples of the many studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation:

In a review of the effects of vitamin D on skeletal muscle and athletic performance, Abrahams and colleagues (20) noted vitamin D supplementation has been shown to increase muscle strength, particularly in people who are vitamin D deficient. Higher serum levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced injury rates and improved sports performance. In a subset of the population, vitamin D appears to play a role in muscle strength, injury prevention, and sports performance.

Koundourakis et al., (21) conducted a review of the muscular effects of vitamin D in young athletes, non-athletes and the elderly. The muscles are major targets of vitamin D. Exposure of skeletal muscles to vitamin D induces the expression of multiple myogenic transcription factors enhancing muscle cell proliferation and differentiation. At the same time vitamin D suppresses the expression of myostatin, a negative regulator of muscle mass. Moreover, vitamin D increases the number of type II or fast twitch muscle cells and in particular that of type IIA cells, while its deficiency causes type IIA cell atrophy. Furthermore, vitamin D supplementation in young males with low vitamin D levels increases the percentage of type IIA fibers in muscles, causing an increase in muscular power output. Vitamin D levels are strongly associated with exercise performance in athletes and physically active individuals. In the elderly and in adults below the age of 65, several studies have established a close association between vitamin D levels and neuromuscular coordination.

Combining Amino Acids And Vitamin D: What Does The Science Say?

As we have seen in this article, both amino acids and vitamin D play an important role in the structure and function of skeletal muscle, but is there any additional benefit to be gained from combining them?

A number of studies have demonstrated positive results when combining vitamin D and amino acids (19, 20).

For example:

A study by Takeuchi et al., (19) investigated the effects of branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) and vitamin D supplementation on physical function, muscle strength, muscle mass, and nutritional status in older adults suffering from a loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength due to ageing. The results of the study showed thatstrength, muscle circumference and body mass index increased significantly in both groups over time with significantly greater improvements in the intervention group. The authors concluded that an 8-week intervention of branched-chain amino acids and vitamin D supplementation with low-intensity resistance training improves muscle-related outcomes.

Maximising the benefits of Time 4 Essential Amino Acids

In order for nutrients to become available for use by the body, they must first be digested and absorbed.  How fully they are digested and absorbed will determine how much becomes available in the blood stream to be up-taken by the muscles. Our ability to do this, can be impaired due to a number of factors such as aging, poor diet, stress, lifestyle, certain medications and digestive disorders.

To ensure that you get the maximum benefit from Time 4 Essential Amino Acids, we have included a selection of ingredients designed to enhance absorption. These include Astragin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and glutamine.


AstraGin® is a 100% natural compound made from the plants Panax notoginseng, commonly known as Chinese ginseng, and Astragalus membranaceus, a traditional Chinese medicinal plant. It supports increased absorption of a wide range of nutrients, including amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids and creatine, for which it holds a US patent and multiple international patents.

AstraGin® increases nutrient absorption by up-regulating the expression levels of absorption transporters and proteins, which allow greater amounts of nutrients to be absorbed into the body. It also promotes gut health, including reduced inflammation in the intestinal lining.

It is commonly used in products that contain poorly absorbed nutrients, such as turmeric, amino acid-based sports supplements, products promoting gut health, and vitamin and mineral supplements. Due to its quality and efficacy, AstraGin® is used by some of the largest brands in the world in over 200 functional foods, beverages, and supplements.

Vitamin B6 

Pyridoxine is more commonly known as vitamin B6. It plays an important role in many functions in the body including energy production, the immune system, the metabolism of glycogen, regulation of hormonal activity, function of the nervous system, formation of red blood cells and the metabolism and transport of iron, and contributes to normal psychological function, the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions, the majority of which involve protein metabolism, including the breakdown and formation of amino acids. It also plays role in the absorption of amino acids in the small intestine.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is water-soluble vitamin. It plays an important role in the function of the nervous and immune systems, energy production, the formation of red blood cells, the metabolism of folate, bone health, DNA synthesis, and fatty acid and amino metabolism, making them available for use by the body. It also contributes to psychological function and a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B12 aids digestive health by helping to maintain the lining of the gut and encourage a healthy balance of bacteria. It promotes healthy digestion and reduced inflammation in the gut to aid the prevention of inflammatory digestive disorders, which can reduce nutrient absorption.


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Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body, accounting for approximately 60 percent of our skeletal muscle. Muscle tissue is a major site of glutamine production, where it forms the anabolic precursor for muscle growth. It is considered to be a ‘conditionally essential’ amino acid. This means that although the body can synthesise it from other amino acids, under certain circumstances, such as illness, surgery and periods of intense training, the glutamine needs of the body may exceed its ability to produce it and so it must be obtained from dietary source.

Glutamine also plays a vital role in gut health, as it can aid nutrient absorption and digestion and helps to protect the lining of the digestive system.

Do I Need Time 4 Essential Amino Acids?

As we have seen in this article, Time 4 Essential Amino Acids provide you with a potent, specially blended formula of all 9 essential amino acids needed by the body to optimise muscle growth, repair and recovery, plus vitamins D, B6, B12, glutamine and Astragin. They can help to boost the amino acid content of your diet without significantly increasing the energy content and are fat free and virtually carbohydrate free, making them ideal if you are trying to reduce body fat levels while maintaining muscle mass.

They can be taken in the morning on an empty stomach prior to performing fasted cardio to provide a dose of muscle building amino acids without making you feel full or bloated.

Time 4 Essential Amino Acids can be particularly beneficial for those consuming a plant-based diet, who may find it challenging to obtain all of the essential amino acids in the requisite amounts from plant sources, or for those individuals who are intolerant to certain sources of protein, such as dairy.

They are derived from corn and do not contain any animal by-products making them suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and are sugar, fat, gluten, GMO and dairy free making them suitable for individuals experiencing a range of intolerances.

You may feel that none of the above circumstances apply to you. However, it is important to note that in their position stand on protein and exercise, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (13) state that to maximise muscle growth, acute protein doses should contain 700-3000 mg of leucine and/or a higher relative leucine content, in addition to a balanced array of the essential amino acids (EAAs). These protein doses should ideally be evenly distributed, every 3-4 h, across the day.

This can be inconvenient and difficult to achieve, even if you have no dietary restrictions and are not trying to lose body fat. Time 4 Essential Amino Acids provides you with 1200mg of leucine per serving, plus the other essential amino acids, in a convenient and easy to consume format to help you meet these recommendations. They taste great too.

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