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Old 03-25-2010, 03:26 PM   #1
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Question Amino acid question #2

A friend of mine claims to feel better after taking amino acid supplements. So it brought the idea to my attention and it makes me wonder what it is that would make a person feel better? This person is healthy and very athletic, eats meat and eggs but no dairy. Is the supplement acting as a placebo?

Another question: Protein contains amino acids but I guess it's safe to say that amino acid supplements do not contain protein. Is that a true statement?

What if you eat a vegetarian meal that doesn't contain all the essential amino acids. Would it be possible to bring balance by taking an amino acid supplement? Is that the purpose of taking a supplement?


 
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:12 PM   #2
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Re: Amino acid question #2

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Originally Posted by JohnR41 View Post
Another question: Protein contains amino acids but I guess it's safe to say that amino acid supplements do not contain protein. Is that a true statement?
An amino acid supplement may or may not contain complete protein (i.e. protein with all of the amino acids that are essential for humans).

If someone consumes sufficient protein from varied sources, s/he should not have any problems with amino acid deficiency.

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What if you eat a vegetarian meal that doesn't contain all the essential amino acids. Would it be possible to bring balance by taking an amino acid supplement? Is that the purpose of taking a supplement?
If such a supplement contained enough of the "missing" amino acids. Though in practice, common vegetarian foods eaten together, like peanut butter sandwiches or beans and rice, contain complimentary proteins so that they would not be too low in any particular amino acids (though total protein or protein density may be an issue for those doing intense athletic training, or trying to lose body fat while maintaining muscle).

 
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Old 03-26-2010, 02:44 PM   #3
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Re: Amino acid question #2

Thanks tjlhb,

I realized later that I forgot to specify what the suplememt contained. According to my friend, it contained all of the essential amino acids.

What concerns me lately is the thought that different books make different recommendations. The author of "The China Study" tells his readers not to worry about getting enough protein. He says, "just eat a wide variety of plants" and you'll be okay. In the book, "Reversing Heart Disease", Dr. Dean Ornish recommends 2/3 grain to 1/3 beans as being the "ideal proportion".

For the past 4 years I have been measuring about 1/2 cup dry beans and combining that with about 1/4 cup dry grain or rice. I guess I was influenced by the packaging that said, "1/4 cup of rice equals one serving".

I survived 4 years with no problem but I'm wondering if I should change to at least half & half, beans and rice. Or should I follow Dr. Dean's advice exactly. If I reduce the amount of beans I'm not sure I will be getting enough protein.

Last edited by JohnR41; 03-27-2010 at 09:18 AM. Reason: word deleted & changed "The Paleolithic Prescription" to Dr. Dean's book "Reversing Heart Disease".

 
Old 03-26-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
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Re: Amino acid question #2

In the paleolithic times (pre agriculture), wouldn't grains and beans be occasional finds, as opposed to the staples that they became in the neolithic (agriculture) times? Paleolithic humans likely got sufficient protein from meat (wild hunted or fished, probably much leaner than most meat today). It is also likely that they ate enormous (by today's standards) amounts of vegetables, which have a relatively high percentage of calories from protein (though low total calories).

By "amino acid supplement", do you mean protein powder?

In practice, protein intake is mainly an issue in these types of situations:

1. Intense athletic training, particularly strength training (heavy weights and the like; endurance athletes also need more protein, but their increased calorie needs typically result in consuming more food that brings more protein with it).
2. Calorie restriction for fat loss while maintaining muscle through exercise. In this case, the person may need to increase the protein density of his/her food to ensure muscle maintenance while losing fat.
3. Diets that are very restricted and lacking in high or moderate protein foods for some reason. Sometimes, this is due to medical problems; in poor countries, this may be due to poverty. People whose diet is almost entirely junk food could also face this problem.

With regard to rice and beans, the beans have more protein, more fiber, and a lower glycemic index than rice, so there are some arguments for increasing the beans relative to the rice.

Last edited by tjlhb; 03-26-2010 at 06:51 PM.

 
Old 03-27-2010, 09:55 AM   #5
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Re: Amino acid question #2

I corrected a mistake in my previous post. The book recommending two-thirds grain to one-third legumes was not "The Paleolithic Prescription", it was "Reversing Heart Disease" by Dr. Dean Ornish. And he gave those measures as the "ideal proportion", not something that is "critically important".

You're right about Paleolithic times. They did eat lean wild game. I reviewed the section of the book about protein. And they ate a wide variety of plants. I assume they ate lots of plant foods whenever they couldn't find any animal protein.

I agree with you about the beans and rice. I think I'm going to keep the same measurements of 1/4 cup rice to 1/2 cup beans (measured uncooked). Rice is higher in calories and starch and much lower in protein. And I'll continue to concentrate on eating a wide variety of vegetables.

About the amino acid supplement: I understood my friend to mean that it was in pill form. Protein powder was never mentioned. But next time I see this person I'll ask about it to make sure.

 
Old 03-27-2010, 02:18 PM   #6
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Re: Amino acid question #2

If paleo man were only eating the muscles of animals, as is common today (in the U.S., at least), indeed they would be eating a leaner product. However, paleo man archaeological sites abound with piles and piles of broken bones. They were most likely extracting the marrow. They were most likely eating any part that was edible - like all the organs. Check the lipid contact on some of this stuff. Paleo man was definitely not eating low fat.

 
Old 03-27-2010, 03:17 PM   #7
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Re: Amino acid question #2

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Originally Posted by auntjudyg View Post
If paleo man were only eating the muscles of animals, as is common today (in the U.S., at least), indeed they would be eating a leaner product. However, paleo man archaeological sites abound with piles and piles of broken bones. They were most likely extracting the marrow. They were most likely eating any part that was edible - like all the organs. Check the lipid contact on some of this stuff. Paleo man was definitely not eating low fat.
While some of the organs are higher in fat than the muscles, the wild animal organs were probably lower in fat than the organs of today's domesticated animals. More importantly, wild animals that eat mostly green vegetables and run around trying to avoid becoming someone else's meal have different kinds of fat compared to today's domesticated animals. The fat from wild animals was probably a lot healthier (less saturated, better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio among the polyunsaturates) than the types of fat commonly consumed today (e.g. saturated fat from today's domesticated animals, hydrogenated vegetable oils in processed foods).

 
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