Science

The Role of Muscles in the Body

OPTIMAL BODY FUNCTION & REGENERATION

  • Skeletal muscle plays a role in maintaining the amino acid pools constant, especially in between meals. This amino acid pool feeds our vital tissues and organs as they regenerate.
  • They prevent metabolic conditions like diabetes and hypoglycemia by regulating our blood sugar levels after and in between meals
  • They lay a major role in protein metabolism which is critical to every part and system in your body 1

         

ENERGY BALANCE & WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

  • Muscle needs more energy to function. This forces your body to produce more energy which increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the amount of calories you’re burning even at rest. The increased BMR helps prevent weight gain and obesity.
  • Our muscles house the energy centers of the body known as the mitocondria. The more muscle you have, the more mitocondria you need and the more raw energy you’re able to produce for your body to use in the form of ATP.
  • Energy balance is central to maintaining a healthy weightif we can increase the rate of ATP turnover we increase the calories we burn and we are able to lose weight while maintaining our strength and muscle mass.

HEALTHY AGING, INCREASED LONGEVITY & BETTER SURVIVAL RATES

  • Can help increase your survival rate in the case serious illness, heart attacks and the need for intense medical treatments3
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis or loss of bone with aging 3

The more muscle you have today the better off you will be tomorrow.

We naturally start losing muscle mass in our early 30s and by our 50s most people are losing a significant amount.Muscle loss can be accelerated under severe stress and or in the case of injury, illness and surgery.  In your 70s is typically when you start to see the effects of the muscle loss in your daily life.

It’s much easier to retain muscle mass than it is to regain it once it has been lost.

Once you have suffered severe muscle loss you could lose significant function which limits you to the amount of exercise you’re able to do, and at this point your body may longer be as receptive to diet and exercise for a period of time 

Our muscles are made of protein, and protein is made from a combination of essential and non-essential amino acids.

 

Understanding Amino Acids

 

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF PROTEIN.

There are over 300 amino acids in the body, only 20 of which occur in proteins in the body. These 20 amino acids are broken into two groups the non-essential amino acids (NEAA)  and the essential amino acids (EAA)

 

There are 11 non-essential amino acids (NEAA) which our bodies can produce on their own. In other words, they are not essential to our diet. There are some instances where our bodies are not able to produce enough to keep up with the demand,  in which case they could be considered conditionally essential. 

The other 9 are essential amino acids (EAA) we have to ingest in some way. We either get them from dietary protein or supplements

 

GETTING THE ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS (EAAS) WE NEED TO THRIVE

Protein is the only macro nutrient we need to survive because getting the 9 EEAs is so critical to maintaining our vital organs and tissues, brain function, as well as our muscle.

The quantity and quality of dietary protein is your diet is important to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of EEAs. To learn more about quality protein click here.

Another option is to take a quality free form EAA supplement at the right ratio and concentration which has been proven to be 3x more effective that dietary whey protein in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.

 

A Delicate Balance

All proteins in the body are in a constant start of turnover, they are being broken down and rebuilt throughout the day.

Most vital tissues and organs maintain a balance of this turnover, meaning they regenerate fat enough to keep up with the rate of breakdown. They pull the essential amino acids they need for this process from the amino acid pool that circulates in the blood and is kept at a constant concentration.

Our muscles on the other hand go through periods of anabolism and catabolism, their job is to keep the concentration of EAAs constant in the blood in the absence of dietary protein

 

CATABOLIC STATE – MUSCLE BREAKDOWN

In this state muscle protein is being broken down faster than it can be regenerated in order to keep the amino acid pool concentrations stable and supply other vital organs and tissues with the amino acids needed for regeneration.

We typically enter into catabolic state:

In between meals when you’re no longer absorbing amino acids

When we’re sleeping

Low protein diets

Low energy or calorie restrictive diets

In the extremes case hunger strikes / anorexia

We also enter into a catabolic state during different types of exercise.

Stress, illness and other physiological responses can increase the demand for amino acids as well. These situations cause muscle protein to break down at an even faster rate in order to keep up with the demand for amino acids. In severe cases breakdown may persist even when amino acids are ingested, this condition is called anabolic resistance.

     

ANABOLIC STATE – BUILDING MUSCLE

In an anabolic state muscle mass is increasing, the rate of which muscle protein is being created exceeds the rate at which it’s being broken down. The amino acid pool is stable and the body has plenty of NEAAs and EAAs to keep up with demands all around.

Things that contribute to an anabolic state:

  • Taking a free form EAA supplement that peaks concentration of EAAs in the amino acid pool, this directly relates to the magnitude of muscle protein synthesis that is stimulated. 1
  • Sufficient quality dietary protein (food or supplements) that provides enough EAAs to peak blood concentrations.

 

Muscle Protein Synthesis, Stimuli & Blockers

You have a blueprint in your body for every protein in your body. These blueprints are translated, delivered and constructed by different molecules, each with a very specific role.

Each type of protein in the body is comprised of a unique combination of amino acids. Human skeletal muscle also has a unique amino acid profile as well.

Muscle protein synthesis can be stimulated, or initiated by various factors but every piece of the puzzle, or amino acid, has to present at that time for the final product to be completed.  Other wise the translation process from blueprint to protein will not completed.

The amount of muscle synthesized is related to the concentration of the EAAs in the amino acid pool at the right ratio.

 

STIMULI

  • EAAs are considered rate controlling to the process of muscle protein synthesis and thus are also the most potent stimuli as well when taken as a free form supplement. Learn more about EAAs here.
  • Dietary protein intake
  • Some BCAAs have been found to trigger the process but this does not guarantee that the process is completed. Learn about the BCAA myths here.
  • Resistance Training

 

RATE-CONTROLLING FACTORS, OR BLOCKERS

  • Sufficient amino acids are not available during the translation process, being short of just one can stop the whole process
  • Anabolic resistance where initiation factors aren’t as responsive to EAAs or dietary protein. Resistance can be triggered by stress, illness or aging. There are ways to jumpstart the system with the right ratio of EAAs

 

24 Clinical Studies on EAAs

 

Like to geek out on primary research? So do we.  Here’s the list of studies that paved the way for the INVISIBLE FORCE revolution: nearly forty years of clinical research that led to the discovery of the most powerful protein yet known.

 

Depending on your specific goals you can use EAAs to lose weight and tone up, gain mass or just use them as a way to prevent muscle loss, stabilize your mood and get natural energy.

  1. Biolo G, RYD Fleming, SP Maggi, RR Wolfe. Transmembrane transport and intracellular kinetics of amino acids in human skeletal muscle. Am. J. Physiol. 268:E75-E84, Jan 1995.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=7840186Description of a model to quantify protein synthesis, breakdown, and amino acid transport in humans. How to measure the effect.
  2. Biolo G, BD Williams, RYD Fleming, RR Wolfe. Insulin action on muscle protein kinetics and amino acid transport during recovery after resistance exercise. Diabetes 48:949-957, May 1999. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10331397The ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake and alanine transport and to suppress protein degradation in skeletal muscle is increased after resistance exercise.
  3. Volpi E, AA Ferrando, CW Yeckel, KD Tipton, RR Wolfe. Exogenous amino acids stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in the elderly. J Clin Invest, 101:2000-2007, May 1998.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=9576765.
    Demonstrates the effects of exogenous amino acids on muscle protein anabolism.  Aminos increase muscle mass in elderly. FSR rate .44 to .92 aminos by IV solution
  4. Tipton KD, BE Gurkin, S Matin, RR Wolfe. Nonessential amino acids are not necessary to stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in healthy volunteers. J Nutr Biochem 10:89-95, Feb 1999.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=15539275.
    Only the essential amino acids are required to stimulate muscle anabolism. Aminos peak at 30 minutes and stay up to 2 hours, starts in 10 minutes, Net nitrogen (N) balance changed from negative (-495 +/- 128 nmol/mL) prior to consumption of EAA to a peak positive value (416 +/- 140 nmol/mL) within 10 minutes of ingestion of the drink. EAA resulted in an estimated positive net N uptake of 307.3 mg N above basal levels.
  5. Volpi E, B Mittendorfer, SE Wolf, RR Wolfe. Oral amino acids stimulate muscle protein anabolism in the elderly despite higher first-pass splanchnic extraction. Am J Physiology 277:E513-E520, Sep 1999.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=10484364.
    Muscle anabolism can be stimulated to the same degree in older and younger subjects with oral amino acids. This proves works at any age, 15 young and old
  6. Volpi E, M Sheffield-Moore, BB Rasmussen, RR Wolfe. Basal muscle amino acid kinetics and protein synthesis in healthy young and elderly men: New insights into the development of sarcopenia. JAMA 286:1206-1212, Sep 2001.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=11559266.
    Fasted muscle protein turnover is the same in young and older subjects. 26 young/elderly fractional synthesis rate, 0.0601 (0.0046) %/h vs 0.0578 (0.0047) %/h; P = 73.
  7. Tipton KD, BB Rasmussen, SL Miller, SE Wolf, SK Owens-Stovall, BE Petrini, RR Wolfe. Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am J Physiol 281:E197-E206, Aug 2001. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11440894Greatest response of muscle anabolism to essential amino acids occurs when given just prior to resistance exercise. Take before you exercise.
  8. Borsheim E, KD Tipton, SE Wolf, RR Wolfe. Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol 283:E648-E657, Oct 2002. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=12217881.  There is a dose-dependent effect of essential amino acid ingestion on muscle protein synthesis.
    Tipton KD, E Borsheim, SE Wolf, AP Sanford, RR Wolfe. Acute response of net muscle protein balance reflects 24-h balance after exercise and amino acid ingestion. Am J Physiol 284:E76-E89, Jan 2003.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=12388164The acute response of skeletal muscle to essential amino acids and resistance exercise reflects the cumulative daily response. Non essential aminos are not required.
  9. Volpi E, H Kobayashi, M Sheffield-Moore, B Mittendorfer, RR Wolfe. Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in healthy elderly adults. Am J Clin Nutr 78:250-258, Aug 2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=12885705.  Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid-induced stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in the elderly. Non essential do little
  10. Miller SL, KD Tipton, DL Chinkes, SE Wolf, RR Wolfe. Independent and combined effects of amino acids and glucose on muscle protein following resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35:449-455, Mar 2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=12618575.  Prior intake of carbohydrate and/or amino acids does not diminish subsequent anabolic response of muscle.
  11. Paddon-Jones D, M Sheffield-Moore, XJ Zhang, E Volpi, SE Wolf, A Aarsland, AA Ferrando, RR Wolfe. Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. Am J Physiol 286:E321-E328, Mar 2004. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=14583440.  Essential amino acid supplementation acutely stimulated muscle protein synthesis in both young and elderly individuals.
  12. Paddon-Jones D, M Sheffield-Moore, RJ Urban, AP Sanford, A Aarsland, RR Wolfe, AA Ferrando. Essential amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation ameliorates muscle protein loss during 28 days bedrest. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 89:4351-4358, Sep 2004.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=15356032.  Essential amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation ameliorated the loss of muscle mass and strength during prolonged inactivity. Works even with no exercise, FSR was higher in the EXP group on d 1 (EXP, 0.099 +/- 0.008%/h; CON, 0.075 +/- 0.005%/h) and d 28 (EXP, 0.093 +/- 0.006%/h; CON, 0.055 +/- 0.007%/h) works long term as well
  13. Borsheim E, A Aarsland, RR Wolfe. Effect of an amino acid, protein, and carbohydrate mixture on net muscle protein balance after resistance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 14:255-271, Jun 2004. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=15256687After resistance exercise, a mixture of whey protein, amino acids, and carbohydrate stimulated and prolonged muscle protein synthesis more than carbohydrate alone.
  14. Paddon-Jones D, M Sheffield-Moore, A Aarsland, RR Wolfe, AA Ferrando. Exogenous amino acids stimulate human muscle anabolism without interfering with the response to mixed meal ingestion. Am J Physiol 288:E761-767, Apr 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=15572657Carbohydrate/Essential Amino Acid supplementation produces a greater anabolic effect than ingestion of intact protein, but does not interfere with the normal metabolic response to a meal. Ingestion of a combination of CAA supplements and meals resulted in a greater mixed muscle FSR than ingestion of the meals alone (SUP, 0.099 +/- 0.008; CON, 0.076 +/- 0.005%/h; P < 0.05)
  15. Katsanos CS, H Kobayashi, M Sheffield-Moore, A aarsland, RR Wolfe. Aging is associated with diminished accretion of muscle proteins after the ingestion of a small bolus of essential amino acids. Am J Clin Nutr 82:1065-1073, Nov 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=16280440Aging results in a diminished accretion of muscle proteins after ingestion of a small dose of essential amino acids, indicating that a greater amount of amino acids may be required by the elderly to enhance muscle anabolism. Take more 7 grams too little of a dose for muscle growth
  16. Paddon-Jones D, M Sheffield-Moore, CS Katsanos, XJ Zhang, RR Wolfe. Differential stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in elderly humans following isocaloric ingestion of amino acids or whey protein. Exp Gerontol 41:215-219, Feb 2006. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=16310330Both essential amino acids (EAA) and whey supplements stimulated muscle protein synthesis; however, EAAs may provide a more energetically efficient nutritional supplement for elderly individuals. EAAs are better, increase was greatest in the EAA group with values of 0.088 +/- 0.011% h-1 (EAA) and 0.066 +/- 0.004% h-1 (WY), 15 elderly in study
  17. Katsanos CS, H Kobayashi, M Sheffield-Moore, A Aarsland, RR Wolfe. A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 291:E381-E387, Aug 2006. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=16507602Increasing the proportion of leucine in a mixture of EAA can reverse the blunted response of muscle protein synthesis in elderly.
  18. Fitts RH, JG Romatowski, JR Peters, D Paddon-Jones, RR Wolfe, AA Ferrando. The deleterious effects of bed rest on human skeletal muscle fibers are exacerbated by hypercortisolemia and ameliorated by dietary supplementation. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 293:C313-320, Jul 2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=17409123An essential amino acid/carbohydrate supplement preserves muscle function during periods of relative inactivity.
  19. Borsheim E, QU Bui, S Tissier, H Kobayashi, AA Ferrando, RR Wolfe. Effect of amino acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength and physical function in elderly. Clin Nutr 27:189-195, Apr 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=18294740Supplementation of the diet with essential amino acids + arginine improves lean body mass, strength and physical function compared to baseline values in glucose intolerant elderly individuals.
  20. Borsheim E, QU Bui, S Tissier, MG Cree, O Ronsen, B Morio, AA Ferrando, H Kobayashi, BR Newcomer, RR Wolfe. Amino acid supplementation decreases plasma and liver triglycerides in elderly. Nutrition, 25:281-288, Mar 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=19041223Supplementation of diet with essential amino acids lowers plasma triglycerides, total cholesterol, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, and liver lipid content in impaired glucose tolerant elderly. Plasma TG decreased approximately 20% from the initial value of 1.45 +/- 0.18 nmol/L (mean +/- SE, 128 +/- 16 mg/dL), with the greatest decrease in the subjects starting out with the highest concentrations (r = 0.83). Similarly, liver fat content (liver TG/intralipid standard) decreased approximately 50% from the initial value of 0.34 +/- 0.06 (P = 0.021, n = 8),
  21. Katsanos CS, A Aarsland, MG Cree, RR Wolfe. Muscle protein synthesis and balance responsiveness to essential amino acids ingestion in the presence of elevated plasma free fatty acid concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 94:2984-90, Aug 2009. PMCID: PMC2730875.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=19454587Elevated plasma fatty acid concentrations mimicking insulin resistance do not interfere with the response of muscle protein synthesis to a bolus ingestion of essential amino acids.
  22. Ferrando AA, D Paddon-Jones, NP Hays, P Kortebein, O Ronsen, RH Williams, A McComb, TB Symons, RR Wolfe, W Evans. EAA supplementation to increase nitrogen intake improves muscle function during bed rest in the elderly. Clin Nutr 29:18-23, Feb 2010.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citration&list_uids=19419806Increasing protein intake above the RDA with essential amino acids preserves muscle function in the elderly during compulsory inactivity.
  23. Ferrando AA, MM Bamman, SE Schutzler, HJ Spencer, AM Dawson, RP Evans, RR Wolfe. Increased nitrogen intake following hip arthroplasty expedites muscle strength recovery. J Aging Res Clin Practice 2:369-375, May 2013. http://www.jarcp.com/all-issues.html?article=175Increased nitrogen intake via amino acid supplementation improves the rate of recovery of leg muscle strength following THA.

 

1.Robert Wolfe, Essential Amino Acid Solutions for Everyone ( 2016), 31.

2.Robert Wolfe, Essential Amino Acid Solutions for Everyone (2016), 53.

3.Robert Wolfe, Essential Amino Acid Solutions for Everyone (2016), 38.

4.Robert Wolfe, Essential Amino Acid Solutions for Everyone (2016), 114.

5.Robert Wolfe, Essential Amino Acid Solutions for Everyone (2016), 115.