Amino Acids | What They Are and Why You Need Them

There are a lot of buzzwords out there in the world of nutrition and it can take a lot of brainpower to understand what they all mean, and why we should care about them. We get it, we’re real humans just like you! Sneakz was born out of a necessity to simplify the choice around getting the nutrients we need to fuel our best lives. We’re committed to keeping things simple around here, but that doesn’t mean we skip on the important stuff.

So let’s talk about some of that important stuff.

Enter - Amino Acids.

You’ve probably heard this term before and heard that it’s important to get all of them. And maybe, you’re still scratching your head a bit on why they matter so much and where to get them from.
We’re so glad you asked!

What They Are

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are part of the “macro” family of nutrients. Their function and importance in our overall picture of health are vast and contribute to more of your scope of wellness than you’d think. They play a role in your hormones, wound repair, forming healthy tissues in nearly every part of your body, and keep your metabolism running smoothly, among many many other contributions to your scope of wellness. We need Amino Acids to build and maintain muscle - sure. But would you have guessed that you need AAs for collagen production and that certain AA’s like Glutamine can even be supplemented to help heal your gut?

When we consume Amino Acids through the proteins we eat, they link with the proteins in your body to form large protein molecules, which are a major structural component of your cells and the membranes of those cells. They’re more important to us than we think about every day, but Amino Acids do incredibly important jobs for us, all day every day.

Essential vs. Non-essential

There are 22 Amino Acids. Some of them are - fun fact - actually produced naturally by our bodies. This means that in order to satisfy all of our AA needs, we must get the other nine from the foods we eat. These nine AAs are referred to as “essential”, while the others exist in two other categories labeled “non-essential” and “conditional”. The nine essential AAs are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
In short, your body needs us to supply those nine essential Amino Acids. Lucky for us, they’re available to us in either complete form or through combining a wide variety of whole foods. If you’re regularly eating a rainbow of whole foods, you’ve probably got your bases pretty well covered.

Complete Proteins

You might assume that complete proteins only come from animal products, and you’d be sorely mistaken! There are a number of plant-based foods that give us the complete spectrum of essential AA’s we need. Here’s a list of foods with all nine essential AA’s:
  • beef
  • poultry
  • fish
  • wild game
  • eggs
  • dairy
  • quinoa
  • buckwheat
  • hemp seed
  • chia seed
  • whey
  • soy

Looking for a snack that gives you that complete protein package? 

Our friend Laura Wells from @a_plant_based_trainer used our Chocolate Meal 2 Go to make these amazing Crispy Brown Rice Cacao Squares - check out the full recipe here