Amino Acids

structure of amino acids

What Does it Mean to Denature a Protein?

What's the Big Deal About Protein Denaturing?

Raw foodies, and those selling so-called raw whey make a lot of noise about proteins being denatured by cooking and so losing their natural goodness. So what does it mean for a protein to be denatured? Well, proteins are big molecules with a complex 3-dimensional shape. For a protein within your body, this shape is integral to its function. So, they have it right when they say that denaturing of a protein renders it "nonfunctional."

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What Are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are the individual building blocks of proteins. Proteins are a fundamental ingredient of all forms of life on Earth. They fuel and direct biochemical actions and provide the structure of our bodies. Proteins can act as cell to cell signalers (hormones and cytokines), molecular transporters, enzymes, neurotransmitters and a host of other functions. In fact, all major structural and functional actions in the body are carried out by proteins, including the passing of genetic information though DNA and RNA. When most of us think of protein, however we think of muscle. Muscle is the largest reservoir of protein in our bodies and the second largest store of energy, next to adipose tissue (fat). The muscle tissue of other animals is the largest source of protein in our diets.

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Dietary Supplement Ripoffs to Avoid: Amino Acid Pills

There is no long-term advantage for the strength trainee to taking expensive free form amino acid powders over simply ingesting whole proteins. However, if you do buy an amino acid powder (which I don't suggest) you expect it to contain single free form aminos acids, right?

Never trust the front label. Check the ingredients. The supplement ripoffs I am referring to are so-called amino acid capsules that actually contain overpriced whey or casein protein. Not free form single aminos but whole proteins compressed into a pill or put in a capsule. They will typically list an amino acid profile very prominently on the back of the label. This profile is nothing more than the typical amino acid yields of the whey or casein sources they use. When whey is used it is usually a mixture of whey protein concentrate or a mixture of concentrate and even cheaper non concentrated whey. Some may contain concentrates and isolates.

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Tryptophan Supplements: Do They Work and Are They Dangerous?

Many people, with or without any scientific evidence, are firmly convinced that the particular foods they eat have a direct influence on their mood, anxiety level and alertness. Perhaps the most well known manifestation of this belief is that certain foods make us sleepy, particularly those with high levels of the amino acid tryptophan. Turkey, at least in the US, is thought to cause sleepiness due to it's high level of tryptophan and this is said to explain why we are so desperate for a nap after Thanksgiving dinner.

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