Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Amino Acids For Muscle Gain, Appetite Control, Injury Repair, Ketosis And More

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For my most up to date post all about amino acids, complete with the latest research, check out The Misunderstood, Misused Darlings Of The Supplement Industry (& How *Not* To Waste Your Money Or Damage Your Health With Them).

It seems these days that the building blocks of proteins, affectionately known as “amino acids”, are viewed as tiny little gold nuggets that bestow superhuman powers upon anyone lucky enough to stumble upon them in a sports gel, capsule, fizzy drink or cocktail.

After all, these little guys are starting to get put by nutrition supplement manufacturers into just about everything: from your engineered pre-workout snack, to your during workout beverage, to your post-workout smoothie mix.

But why are amino acids so prevalent now as the “darling” of the supplement industry?

And more importantly, do amino acids actually work any better or differently than, say, protein powder or eggs or a steak?

And of course, when it comes to your hard-earned dollars and which supplements you “prioritize”, do amino acids really help you exercise or function… or are nutrition supplement companies pulling a fast one on you?

You're about to find out, and have a bit of educational fun in the process. If you want to transform yourself into a real amino acid ninja, then a perfect audio companion to this article is the podcast I released a couple days entitled: Amino Acids, BCAA's, EAA's, Ketosis, Bonking & More With 41 Time Ironman Triathlete Dr. David Minkoff.



Since first publishing this article, I've received a lot of question on dosing, so here is a quick update to this article from Dr. Minkoff (I think the part about how pro cyclists use this stuff is pretty intriguing):

For most people who do not have gigantic bodies, 10 grams of amino acids 3 times a day would be maximum the body could use. If more are taken they will just be metabolized into sugar or stored as fat. Taking more than 10 grams of amino acids at a time can also will do the same thing. Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and Viatcheslav Eckimov did this regimen during the tour and were anabolic during the tour. That was something they were never able to achieve without this formula. They didn’t have body breakdown and were actually more fit at the end than the beginning. It allowed their bodies to accommodate to the stress and get stronger.

Update #2:

I have included a full list of research on amino acid utilization at the end of this article.


How Amino Acids Work

Let's start by taking a trip down memory lane.

When I took my freshman level biology class at University of Idaho, my professor described muscle like a big Lego castle (or Lego pirate ship, depending on your tastes), and then describied amino acids as all the little Lego parts that made up the giant Lego structure (your muscle).

Convenient explanation? Yes. Complete explanation? Not exactly.

See, the role of amino acids goes way beyond being Lego-like building blocks. Amino acids are essential for the synthesis of proteins, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, metabolic pathways, mental stabilization, and just about every function that takes place within your body.

So, using the “Legos-are-amino-acids” example, a more appropriate analogy would be that you dump all the Legos out of the box and they self-assemble in a magic pirate ship, then float into the air and fly around the room shooting miniature cannon balls at pesky flies, fixing holes in the drywall of your house, and then tucking you into bed for a refreshing night of deep sleep.

In other words, the function of amino acids goes far beyond being simple “building blocks”.

In the nutrition supplement industry (when I use that word, it seems to denote big fat guys in black suits sitting around an oak conference table, but in reality, most of these folks are skinny athletes in white shoes and geeky shorts), amino acid supplements fall into two basic categories: Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's).

And there's plenty of confusion about the difference between EAA's and BCAA's.

So let's start with the first category: the EAA's (and by the way, using the acronym like I do will make you seem super smart if you hang around any bros at the gym).


Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids, as the name implies, are essential because they can't simply be made by your body like all the other amino acids can. Instead, you have to get EAA's from your diet or other exogenous sources.

Have you ever heard of Private Tim Hall, AKA Pvt. Tim Hall? If you're a biology or chemistry geek, you probably have, because his name is the mnemonic commonly used to remember these essential amino acids, which are, drumroll please:

Phenylanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Methionine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine and Lysine.

Get it? PVT Tim Hall?

Thanks, Tim. We'll send you a check if we ever win money in Biology Trivial Pursuit.

Anyways, let's take a look at why the heck Pvt. Tim might do us good during exercise, starting with P.

P: Phenylalanine is traditionally marketed for its analgesic (pain-killing) and antidepressant effect, and is a precursor to the synthesis of norepinephrine and dopamine, two “feel-good” brain chemicals. This could be good because elevated brain levels of norepinephrine and dopamine may actually lower your “RPE” or Rating of Perceived Exertion During Exercise, which means you could be happier when you're suffering halfway through a killer workout session, an Ironman bike ride, an obstacle race, or any voluminous or intense event.

V: Valine, along with Isoleucine and Leucine, is a real player, because it is BOTH an Essential Amino Acid and a Branched Chain Amino Acid. It can help to prevent muscle proteins from breaking down during exercise. This means that if you take Valine during exercise, you could recover faster because you'd have less muscle damage. More details on that below, when we delve into BCAA's.

T: Threonine research is a bit scant. I personally couldn't find much at all that explained why threonine could assist with exercise performance, but would hazard a guess that it is included in essential amino acid supplements because it is just that: essential. And many of the studies done on EAA's just basically use all of them, rather than isolating one, like Threonine. For example, (and this is a bit interesting for people who are masochistic enough to like working out starved) there is a significant muscle-preserving effect of an essential amino acids supplement when ingested during training in a fasted state, and this includes decreased indicators of muscle damage and inflammation. This basically means that if you popped some essential amino acids, even if you didn't eat anything, you wouldn't “cannibalize” as much lean muscle during a fasted workout session.

OK, sorry, I got sidetracked there.

T: Tryptophan is an interesting one. It is a precursor for serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that can suppress pain, and if you're taking some before bed at night, it even induces a bit of sleepiness. The main reason to take tryptophan would be to increase tolerance to pain during hard workouts, games or races. But studies to this point go back and forth on whether or not that actually improves performance.

I: Isoleucine, another BCAA that has some of the same advantages of Valine. Again…more on BCAA's coming in a sec.

M: Methionine helps your body process and eliminate fat. It contains sulfur, a substance that is required for the production of the body’s most abundant natural antioxidant, glutathione. Your body also needs plenty of methionine to produce two other sulfur-containing amino acids, cysteine and taurine, which help the body eliminate toxins, build strong, healthy tissues, and promote cardiovascular health. Methionine is a “lipotropic”, which means it helps your liver process fats, prevents accumulation of fat in the liver and ensures normal liver function, which is essential for the elimination of toxins from your body. Methionine also supports liver function by regulating glutathione supplies – glutathione is needed to help neutralize toxins in the liver.

H: Histidine, as the name implies, is a precursor to histamine, and actually has some antioxidant properties and plays a key role in carnosine synthesis. What does that mean, exactly? Here's a clarification: histamine could help you fight off the cell damaging free radicals you produce during exercise, and carnosine helps you get rid of muscle burn more quickly, and helps turn lactic acid back into useable muscle fuel. Interestingly, though histidine is often listed as “essential,” it is not technically essential, because when you take an EAA supplement, the levels of histidine in your blood will rise within one hour. But Tim and biology professors worldwide might be pissed if we abbreviate Tim Hall to Tim All, so we'll roll with the mnemonic for now.

A: Next is arginine, and if you're reading this and you're an old man who has relied on a little blue pill called Viagra to have a happier time in the sack, you can thank arginine. Arginine helps with nitric oxide synthesis, and nitric oxide is a vasodilator that increases blood flow and could help with exercise capacity (in the case of the blue pill, for one specific body part). Most of the studies on arginine show that it also helps folks with cardiovascular disease improve exercise capacity.

L: Leucine is yet another BCAA.. Yes, as I keep promising, we will get to BCAA's very soon.

L: Lysine is something my Mom used to take to help cold sores that she got from eating citrusy foods. That's basically because it helps heal mouth tissue. But more importantly for exercising individuals, lysine may actually assist with growth-hormone release, which could vastly improve muscle repair and recovery, although if you take lysine in it's isolated form, the amount you'd have to take to increase growth hormone release would cause gastrointestinal distress, or as I like to call it, sad poopies. But combined with all the other essential amino acids, there may be a growth hormone response in smaller doses, and there is some clinical evidence that essential amino acid supplementation could stimulate growth hormone releasing factors.

OK, that almost wraps it up for good ol' Private Tim Hall.

The only thing I didn't mention is that the EAA's have a bit of an insulin and cortisol increasing effect, which confuses some people as to why EAA's would be good. But before you draw back in shock and go flush all your essential amino acids down the toilet because you heard insulin and cortisol make you fat, remember that both insulin and cortisol are crucial (in smaller amounts) for the “anabolic process”, or the growth, repair and recovery of lean muscle tissue.

So the amount of these hormones you get in essential amino acids is far different than the stress and insulin and cortisol response you get from, say, doing burpees with your mother-in-law while eating a pint of ice cream smothered in whiskey while working on an all-nighter project for work.

You can get more instructions and details on timing, dosages and effects of EAA's here.


Branched Chain Amino Acids

Next come BCAA's, the slightly less well-endowed (albeit much cheaper) cousin of EAA's.

BCAA's are quite interesting because they are metabolized in your muscle, rather than in the liver. This means that BCAA's, without any requirement for much digestion or “processing” at all, can be relied on as an actual energy source during exercise, and could therefore prevent premature muscle breakdown. There was actually one compelling study done by a guy named Ohtani that showed exercising individuals who got BCAA's had better exercise efficiency and exercise capacity compared to a group that didn't get BCAA's.

Other studies have found that BCAA's could increase a variety of factors that are really useful for anyone who cares about their physical performance…like red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit and serum albumin. They can also lower fasting blood glucose and decrease creatine phophokinase, which means less inflammation, better red blood cell formation, and better formation of storage carbohydrate.

But that ain't all.

BCAA supplementation after exercise has been shown to cause faster recovery of muscle strength, and even more interestingly, the ability to slow down muscle breakdown even during intense training and “overreaching” (getting very close to overtraining). Just Google the branched chain amino acid studies by Sugita and Kraemer for more on that (yes, shocker, this is a blog post, and not a peer reviewed scientific journal report with full citations, because if it was the latter, you'd be asleep by now – so if you're a science nazi, then go get busy on Google scholar).

OK, so continuing onto with the many cool things that BCAA's can do…

When you supplement with BCAA's, they can decrease the blood indicators of muscle tissue damage after long periods of exercise, thus indicating reduced muscle damage. They also help maintain higher blood levels of amino acids, which, if you recall from the EAA explanation above, can make you feel happier even when you're suffering hard during exercise. So as you may have guessed, low blood levels of BCAA's are correlated with increased fatigue and reduced physical performance.

Heck, they even use BCAA's in medicine. BCAA's could help people recover from liver disease, could assist with improvements in patients with lateral sclerosis, and could help recovery in patients who have gone through trauma, extreme physical stress (can you say “triathlon”, “Crossfit WOD”, “obstacle race” or “airline travel”?), kidney failure, and burns.

But here is what I think could be the two most interesting things about BCAA's, especially for fat loss:

1. In his book, “SuperHealth: The Last Diet You'll Ever Need”, my friend KC Craichy swears by them for significantly decreasing your appetite when taken 30-60 minutes prior to exercise.

2. When taken prior to a fasted exercise session, BCAA's could increase fat oxidation (and yes, I'll actually cite a study for this one, it was “Branched-chain amino acids supplementation enhances exercise capacity and lipid oxidation during endurance exercise after muscle glycogen depletion.“, by Gualano, et al)

3. My friend Dominic D' Agostino, ketosis researcher at University of Florida, swears by BCAA's for maintaining high-intensity performance while in ketosis, a strategy he recently outlined in this recent ketosis podcast with Tim Ferris.


How To Use EAA's and BCAA's

So if you've stayed with me so far, here's the take-away message about amino acids:

“If all EAA's are present, your appetite is satiated, muscle repair and recovery can start before you're even done with your workout, and when you need a fast, nearly instantly absorbable form of protein or you're mentally stretched toward the end of a tough workout, game or race, high blood levels of amino acids can allow the body and brain to continue to both repair and to work hard instead of getting cannibalized and shutting down.”

Based on all this, do I take BCAA's and EAA's?

You bet I do.

And I swear by them for enhancing mental focus during a workout, keeping me from cannibalizing muscle (especially during fasted morning workout sessions), and decreasing post-workout muscle soreness.

When racing triathlons or obstacle races or other long competitive events, I pop 5-10 grams of amino acids per hour, and after hard workouts, I'll pop another 5-10 grams of amino acids, often with a glass of wine (wine, although a tasty post-workout treat to finish off a hard evening workout, sadly does not contain any actual protein, darn it).

I also use these aminos when I can't get my hands on quality protein, such as when I don't have time to make a real meal after a workout, or on a plane flight when the “fish” that gets shoved in front of you in the airline meal appears to be a rubber doggie toy laced with chemicals, or during a week or a day when I'm limiting meat consumption (shocker for bacon enthusiasts: I actually do occasionally limit meat consumption as a longevity-enhancing technique).

Now here's what I didn't tell you yet, and something that is going to save you a ton of trouble when it comes to how many “bottles” of different supplements you use: any essential amino acid blend also contains all the BCAA's. So if you use an EAA formulation that is in the proper ratios, you get every single benefit you just read about in this article, without having to buy both EAA's and BCAA's.

That's why I don't use BCAA's. Not only are they only giving me less than half of the amino acid needs, but they also aren't necessary in a protocol that already includes EAA's. I only use EAAs.

So which amino acids do I personally take?

I can tell you that I do not take the popular brands that have artificial sweeteners like sucralose or added sugars like maltodextrin.

I also do not take any amino acids that don't come in the necessary ratios, because I do not want to completely waste my money, a concept my guest Dr. David Minkoff delves into in this podcast episode.

I rarely use powders simply because they're harder for me to travel with and more time-consuming to mix.

Instead, I use an essential amino acids blend called “Kion Aminos“, which comes in a convenient, portable tablet form as well as Cool Lime and Mixed Berry powders you can easily mix into water. Each capsule contains exactly one gram of EAAs (easy for calculating your dosages) and contains every single amino acid you've just read about in the exact ratios necessary for achieving lean muscle maintenance, immune system health, injury healing, staving off central nervous system fatigue during exercise, controlling food cravings, and every other benefit you've just got done reading about.

So why are Kion Aminos any different than other protein sources?

It all comes down to quality. The Amino Acid Utilization (AAU™) that Kion Aminos offers is dramatically greater than dietary protein sources.

  • At the low end of the spectrum are branched chain amino acids – only 1% of their content is utilized by the body, with 99% resulting in waste that your body must then process and eliminate.
  • Next are whey and soy proteins – only 18% or less of their content is utilized by the body with 83% leaving as waste.
  • Food like meat, fish and poultry fare just a bit better, with 32% being absorbed and 68% being wasted.
  • Eggs are the winners in the food category with 48% being utilized and 52% converted to waste.


…compare those numbers to Kion Aminos – a massive 99% is put to work by the body, with only 1% leaving as waste. Not only that, but Kion Aminos is absorbed by the body within 23 minutes. And there is only 0.4 of a calorie per tablet.

So this means that unlike, say, whey protein powder or meat or eggs or nuts, which can take hours to digest and absorb, Kion Aminos is fully digested within 23 minutes from its ingestion.

In addition, Dr. David Minkoff, who helped develop the Kion Aminos blend, tested the top selling amino acid blends on the market, including BCAA's. The net utilization of these blends, which is the percentage of them actually used by the body to make protein, only ranged from 0% (yes, 0%) to 20%. This seems pretty lousy when you compare to the Kion Aminos utilization of 99%. Even spirulina was tested, and I've talked about spirulina before as a much hallowed protein preference of vegans and vegetarians worldwide. But of 24 different spirulina products tested, the utilization ranged from a low of 0% utilized to a maximum of 6%. So spirulina may grow whales, but it is not necessarily a good protein source when compared to Kion Aminos for humans.

On an airplane? I pop 10 with a can of club soda to crush food cravings and keep me from digging around in my bag for chocolate.

Post-workout? I take 5-10 immediately, which is much easier than mixing a protein shake (and zero calories for those of you wanting recovery without the calories).

Injured or sick? I'll take up to 30 in a single day to give my body extra protein without creating digestive strain or inflammation.

You can click here to try a bottle of Kion Aminos now. They're in tablet, Mixed Berry or Cool Lime powder form, they're 100% natural, and they're very easy to use (this page contains full instructions).

Enjoy, and leave your questions, comments or feedback about amino acids below.

More Research:

The following is a list of research on both Biobuild and Master Amino Pattern (MAP), which were both used as the original formulations on which NatureAminos were built.















Master Amino Pattern (MAP) Weight Loss Paper  – Word Document format

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

164 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Amino Acids For Muscle Gain, Appetite Control, Injury Repair, Ketosis And More

  1. Hi!
    What is considered best for developing muscles? Natural foods that contain BCAA or BCAA supplements.

  2. Denise says:

    Hi, I have a 15 year old nationally ranked athlete. I have been giving him the aminos 3 in the morning and 3 before his grueling matches that last up to two hours. It has really helped endurance and recovery. Am I giving him the proper dose?
    I am giving him the Thorne electrolytes during his gmaes as well.

  3. So even with this amino acid mix containing BCAA’s it won’t activate mToR? Want to make sure I get this right bc I am trying to focus on emphasizing the benefits of longevity boosting by fasting yet need to make sure I get essential levels of amino acids and thus proteins.

    1. Weird Al says:

      Minimum 2.6g L-Luecine activates MToR, after 4 hours repeat to reactivate again. Check out protein experts Dr Gabrielle Lyon and Dr Don Layman, on Youtube and search engine.

  4. Matt says:

    Hi Ben,

    2 questions:

    – Since autophagy is reduced when supplementing leucine (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20844186/), will supplementing 10-15 gr of EAA per day reduce the benefits of a 72 hours fast? Since I’m also working out everyday (main goal: losing 4% of bf + building muscles) would it be a strategy you’d recommend or fasting would just be “energy restriction” without added benefits?

    – EAA from fermented source vs classic EAA. Some people are claiming that the first kind of EAA is the only one working. And the second kind of EAA has proved to be essentially almost useless. What’s your thought on that?

    Thank you!

    1. Hey Matt, these would be good questions to call into the podcast: https://speakpipe.com/bengreenfield

  5. JSJ says:

    Hi Ben!! Would you recommend taking AMINO as a PRE-WORKOUT (30mins-1hr before workout) and my POST-WORKOUT after a 2hrs training will be a WHEY (PROTEIN SHAKE)? Will this be good for the day? I heard that AMINO and WHEY are not a good combination.

  6. Anna C says:

    Hi Ben. I am recently hearing about the benefits of training fasted along with taking Kion Aminos pre-workout. Do you agree with this? If so, how many aminos do you recommend I take? Should I also take any after? Thanks so much!

    1. Yes this is a great way to fuel a fasted workout, while maintaining/building lean muscle mass… I'd recommend 5-10g as a preworkout (dependent on intensity). You don't necessarily need them after, unless you're planning on remaining fasted for a long time or have another intense workout within 8 hours. In which case, I'd recommend another 5-10g.

      1. Anna C says:

        Thank you! Do you recommend I take anything else with the amino acids (e.g., electrolytes) to fuel my workout?

        1. Personally I use Thorne Creapure and some Kion Aminos, especially for more strength based training. If you're doing endurance training or race, a mix of aminos, ketones and pure carb fuel source can be like rocket fuel.

    2. Erin says:

      Hello. I am a female trying to gain muscle. I use whey protein to help me get enough protein and to help me get enough calories in my diet. If I use eaa’s will i still need the whey? I dont want to overdo the aa’s but i still want to get my calories. Thank you

      1. Depends what your goals and protein intake is. I would recommend at least taking them separately, as the whey would throw of the amino acid ratio of the EAAs, making them absorb less efficiently.

  7. Jack says:


    I’m trying to reconcile amounts of Kion Amino with whey protein or really any protein. I get now that I really can’t take “protein” as an exact measurement but have to think with it in terms of “protein from what.” It almost seems as though PerfectAmino could straight up replace whey, meat or egg protein in my diet — to varying degrees.

    But as I’m used to counting calories when cutting or bulking, the 4 calorie per 5 tablets of aminos throws me and I’m trying to fit it into the understanding I have had.

    So I’m going to give some calculations i think are correct, but please correct me if I’m wrong so I don’t make a mistake.

    If I normally take 25 grams of Whey protein before a workout, which is 18% assimilable. Then in replacing it I should take… 4.5 grams of Perfect Amino, or roughly 5 grams. From what I see I would be getting the same protein utilization at that point.

    But I would then be taking “5 grams of protein” not “30 grams of protein” which throws off my calorie counting.

    So I guess I’m asking, should I just do my calorie counting and make rough translations between whey and Kion Amino or should I take it in addition to Whey?

    Please help a confused person. Thnaks!

  8. Jonathan Little says:

    How long could you supplement EAA after a fasted workout before needing some actual nutrition? The idea being to continue an interment fast after a morning exercise. I’ve heard 10g ever 2 hours until food replenishment. Is there a law of diminishing return here? Lets say you are fasted for 10 hours pre workout, and want to hit that 16 hour fast mark.

    1. I often like to do 10 g prior to workout and another 10g 1-2 post workout… Best not to exceed 30g/day

  9. Nic says:

    And you’ll die if you don’t drink a post-workout shake 15 minutes after your last set, right?

    If you read the article or did a basic Google search you would understand why other *essential* amino acids are not “filler”.

  10. Andrew says:

    Hi Ben,

    I thought about your podcast recently. Been listening for years. I’m about to start doing a fasted cardio regimen in the mornings before work. I wanted to take essential amino acids in tandem.

    I was reading this article and curious about the line where it’s stated EAA’s increase insulin and cortisol. (By chance do you have the source for that? I just want to understand the science.)

    I was confused by the latter statement. If the body releases cortisol to draw amino acids from muscle, wouldn’t the body not do so if there’s free amino acids in the bloodstream from the supplemented EAA’s?

    Is the takeaway:

    EAA’s stimulate an increase in insulin & cortisol, but the amount of insulin & cortisol released isn’t at any significantly damaging amounts (assuming within the max 10g, 3 times a daily dosage).

    Thanks for your time, Ben. Keep up the awesome show

  11. Freddan of Sweden says:

    Hey, Ben.

    Trying to throw in some fasted HIIT some mornings for mithocondrial sexyness. Will the ”fastedness” of said HIIT be in any way compromizrd by dropping some neutral EAA’s before doing it? If so, is there any negative Impact of running ’em fasted and going food after.

    Thx for some great resources and deep rabbitholes.

    1. Nope, that's what I do.

  12. Justin Swenson says:

    Hey Ben. What are your thoughts on glutamine? It’s an amino acid but not an EAA. If I supplement Kion EAA’s, is it beneficial or unnecessary to supplement glutamine?

    I train HIIT 3x per week or more, I throw kettlebells around often, I run… So I am moderately active.

    Thank you so much for your time. You are a genuine inspiration.

    1. The way that I recommend doing it is to take the amino acids but then to also have a cup of bone broth each day… That gives you some extra glutamine.

  13. Luis says:

    What is the difference between Master Amino Pattern (MAP) and Kion Amino?

  14. Johanna says:

    I just bought this and was curious about taking it 20 mins before fat or protein. I have a snack (granola with coconut yogurt) after work and before hitting the gym, but according to instructions I need to take aminos before. Does it matter that I take the aminos approx. and hour and a half before my workout? Or is it better to time it right before my workout? Thank you!

    1. Johanna, refer to this supplement guide which should answer your questions.

  15. Leanne says:

    Hi, Ben – I just received my first shipment of Kion Aminos – SO EXCITED! I was sharing my excitement with friends, and one of them told me her doctor recommended not taking aminos within 30 minutes of taking in any caffeine. Is there any validity to this? Could caffeine lessen the effects of amino acids? Sounds suspect to me… Thanks for always sharing an amazing wealth of information with us. I love your podcast and web site!

    1. Not in my opinion. I've seen it actually enhance the effects of AA's in some studies!

  16. Llwyd George Langdon Morgan says:

    hello, i’d like to know if taking bcaa’s supplements would i be better off eating carbs with them or proteins? I heard that it’s better to take bcaa’s when eating carbohydrates not proteins.


    1. What are you taking them for?

      1. Llwyd George Langdon Morgan says:

        hey Ben, well, I started taking L glutamine as I have IBS, and have since started taking other BCAAs on top. my IBS has been four years now and has been increasingly getting worse so much so that I sometimes cannot control my bowels and often don’t make it to toilet in time and have been recently given adult nappies by my doctor, I have not been able to gym in three years and getting out of the house even for a dog walk is increasingly difficult due to very low energy levels. On some investigations they found, so I was told, some kind of nerve problem in my large intestines. I am very much nauseous all day long and have very uncomfortable bloating.


        1. Llwyd George Langdon Morgan says:

          in addition, i am currently eating paleo 3 years now and keto for a little over a year.

          1. In addition to checking out the following articles, I recommend shifting from BCAA's to EAA's. Keep mind I am not a doctor and these are just my own personal thoughts and opinions! Please consult a doctor. I hope that helps!
            https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/digestio… https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/digestio… https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/digestio…

  17. dave says:

    Absolutely garbage product. This product is a proprietary BLEND (5g) of several aminos. You only need 3 aminos in your supps: Leucine; Isoleucine and Valine. The others are nothing but fillers. In addition to this, it does not show what ratio (or quantity) the different aminos are.

  18. Alice says:

    I have a 40 point spike (77 average to 117 average) in morning fasted glucose if I take 10 NatureAminos 30 minutes before a reading.

    I also have a 20 point if I take 10 NatureAminos before I go to bed and then test my blood glucose after 9 hours of sleep. I only take them in the evening after a hard training day.

    You said they “can lower fasting glucose” so why am I getting an increase?

    Thanks for your guidance-Alice

  19. Ned says:

    There is a logical fallacy in this article that I just couldn’t ignore.

    The article states (correctly) that Leucine, Isoleucine are both BCAA’s and EAA’s, yet the claim made in the infographic on “utillization” (which is a very ambiguous statement in and of itself) is that their proprietary blend of EAA’s are greater than 99% whereas BCAA’s (no mention of which ones either) are merely less than one percent when the fact is their EAA blend contains the BCAA’s Leucine and Isoleucine. Clearly not all BCAA’s have a “utillization” of less than 1%. This type of sensationalist reporting is extremely misleading, plagued by ambiguities and omissions. This is nothing more than a sophisticated sales pitch.

    1. Kirklan says:

      I’m thinking that this is due to the ratio of EAA’s present in the blood stream simultaneously allowing all of them to be utilized in protein synthesis. With bcaa’s, if protein synthesis is initiated without the present of all EAA’s, proteolytic breakdown will occur to pull the essential aminos from your muscle or organ tissue in order to follow through with the protein synthesis, or it is also possible that the branch chained aminos will simply be converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis, which can have an anticatabolic effect, but will not result in utilization toward protein synthesis.

      1. K says:

        Phew I’m glad Ben didn’t entertain your comment especially in regards to BCAAs which he and alot of others have addressed. I do however agree on the prop blend, but if you look around he gives through ratios, from there it’s math. There are other products out there that include the breakout and are less costly, nonetheless he uses his platform to inform and to sell his product. It’s up to you how to use the information and whether to use the product. It seems you haven’t done either, the latter you should be dissapointed with.

  20. Ben miller says:

    I just started using nature aminos and have noticed that I get incredibly tired afterward. Is this a sign of anything, or a deficiency somewhere? I usually take it on an empty stomach.

  21. Hey Ben,
    Consider coming on to CoreBrain Journal to talk about proteins and brain function, relevance of protein breakfast, supplements etc. – about 45 min on Zoom, easy.
    Apply here so we can get show notes together easily: http://corebrainjournal.com/guest

    This is why to get on: http://corebrainjournal.com/about.
    Talk soon!

    1. email my scheduling assistant [email protected]

  22. Richard says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great article. I realize you prefer amino supplement that does not have any sweeteners, but curious what your thoughts are on this company’s line of Amino protein products:


    They seem like a good blend of amino and convenient.


    1. It has a ton of fillers and so called "natural flavors" that definitely would make me think twice about using it…

    2. Stephen says:

      What are the fillers you see in this product? Stevia? They use vegetable use for their color and it has no sugar. I am just curious as to why your hesitation?They also use AjiPure amino acids, which are plant based and used in pharmaceuticals. With that, what is the source of amino acids in NatureAminos?

  23. Jen says:

    Hi Ben,

    I am starting Keto OS with Brain Octane….how does natureaminos fit into that scenario….mostly doing this for weight loss, but am hoping to build some muscle while I am at it…not an athlete, do med/light weights 3 times a week. Thoughts?


  24. robin says:

    HI Ben,,

    I hope you’ll answer these 2 question and that it’s not too late :)

    1. Regarding Perfect Aminos, if I am keeping track of grams of protein per meal, and want to eat about 15 grams per meal for a total of about 45 grams, give or take, would these pills count? For example, if I take 10 pills (I believe its 1 gram/protein per pill), do i count them as 10 grams/protein out of my allotted 45 grams? If so, would leave me with very much food to eat on the protein side of things…

    2. Since I know BCAA’a spike mMtor, a lot of people reserve these only for strength training days, when you want that anabolic boost. My concern in taking this everyday is that “id be stimulating mMtor all the time, since BCAA’s are part of this formula? I know you said it doesn’t boost insulin, but not sure about mMTor?

    Thanks so much!! I love your podcasts!! Also, can your team shoot me an email when you answer this, as i can’t regularly check this post?

    1. Hey Robin.

      1) Yep 1 pill is one gram!
      2) You only get this effect with branch chain amino acid's not the essential amino acids.

      Hope that helps!

  25. Betsy says:

    Hey Ben! So I’m used to tracking my macros and carb cycling. I work out 6 days a week. I’m also vegan/gluten free. If I don’t need to supplement with protein anymore, do I need to make up those protein calories? If so, that means I’m eating more carbs or more fat. I’m just worried it’s going to throw off my perfect Macro plan I have in place.

    1. Yep, you would more specifically need to make up those protein GRAMS, and you can definitely add up to 20g/day of aa's from NatureAminos from that. https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/natureaminos

      Also…I'd highly recommend you review this: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/how-to-c…

      1. Michael Davis says:

        Ben some people like the people at Fortagen and Eric Serano with Infinity Fitness are making the claim that you can substitute EAAS supplements for protein to during a cut/diet to save caloriea ,and 5 to 10g grams of EAAs are equivalent to 20 to 40 grams of whey protein depending on quality of the EAAS as far as protein synthesis because of higher utilization. They say if your protein goals 150 grams and you take 5 to 10 grams of an EAAs then you only need to take 130 to 110 grams of protein to hit your goals because EAAS are 3 to 6 times more anabolic per gram. Some even say you can replace 50 to 80 percent of your protein with EAAS . They use studies like the one linked below to justify it. It seems like you are saying EAAS are only worth one gram. Fortagen claims that three serving of 10 grams each can replace 140 grams of protein needs with only 160 worth of calories with their EAAS. Im confused here is the studies they are using to justify it.


  26. Jess says:

    BEN. THANK YOU. I’ve been meaning to write a review about your podcast after hearing you talk about the link between taurine and cortisol. You’re a legitimate lifesaver and this article and product is what I’ve been searching for. I hope I can meet you someday to thank you in person. I sincerely love you.

  27. CLS says:

    Tight hamstring.

  28. David says:


    Thank you for all the great work. It was your podcast that got me on to Amino Acids.

    Could you recommend how I would combine them with creatine? My strength coach suggested I start taking creatine to help increase strength and mass.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Easy. 5g creatine per day. No loading required at all. I recommend this stuff: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/thorne-creatine

      1. Craig says:

        Is anyone able to answer my question?

        1. Hi Craig, both Histidine and Arginine can be produced by the body, as long as the other 8 essential amino acids are present, such as in Nature Aminos. So additional Arginine shouldn’t need to be supplemented in addition. However, it is always recommended to speak to your health care professional as well, about such things.

        2. Craig says:

          Thank you Ben.

  29. Craig says:

    Hi Ben, I notice in your article you have histidine and arginine as EAA’s but

    I am not finding them in the ingredients listed on Nature Amino’s. I saw where

    you said histidine naturally occurs within and hour of taking EAA’s but I don’t see

    anything similar about Arginine. Could you expain/ elaborate please? Should I

    be taking an Arginine supplement as well? Thanks!

  30. Steve says:

    Hi Ben,

    How much should we be cutting our protein intake from whole food sources when taking these? I weight 160 pounds and I’m trying to gain muscle. I shoot for about 130g of protein per day and I just started taking 10 tablets a day preworkout. Should I be cutting down to say 110g to account for aminos, or my diet should remain unchanged? Thanks in advance.

    1. Each serving of aminos (1 tablet) counts as 1 gram, so if you take 10, you could decrease total daily protein intake by 10g, etc.

  31. Craig says:

    Hey Ben, Maybe I missed this, I saw your post workout suggestions, but how many
    tablets do you suggest for pre workout? Should that amount be different
    on a weight workout than a cardio workout?

    1. 5-10 pre and 5-10 post. If a bike ride or swim not as necessary but for a run, same for cardio as for weightlifting.

  32. Chriss says:


    Very interesting stuff. I am curious to know your thoughts on if aminos can help one recover from a chemotherapy dose, or on the other end, hinder its efficacy? I’m am avid crossfitter and continue to do as much as I can. Chemo obviously limits one’s ability to perform, and recover, because it destroys cells. I just don’t know how it affects muscles, if speed up apoptosis(cell death) or are neutral. My doctors don’t seem very aware of the benefits of rigorous exercise and proper supplements. Any thoughts or know of any colleagues who have looked into this? thank you

    1. Kyle Hanan says:

      I’ve done a ton of the harshest chemo cycles and have been an exercise and nutrition freak using aminos and supps for years. I studied the heck out of AAs & effect on chemo. My conclusion is to avoid them during a chemo cycle….especially if it’s multiple chemo drugs or higher doses. When cycles are complete, then it could be of benefit to help with recovery of medicine used to kill cancer. There’s more studies done with radiation and AAs. Same principle. You want to get the full benefit of chemo, then you can be back better than before. AAs risk interfering with the body’s complete response to chemo medicine.

  33. Jeremy says:

    Hey Ben,

    I am vegan, are this Aminos vegan?


    1. Hey Jeremy, they are yes, you can find out more here: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos

  34. Joe says:

    Hey Ben, I already have 3 large bottles of bcaas that I purchased from Poliquin’s store. As I’d prefer not to waste these, what dosing/timing would you recommend for someone taking solely bcaas?


    1. I don't recommend them. Period. Huge rise in your blood sugar and close to zero benefit in my opinion. Suppose I'd take the recommended 10-20g/hr for a hard workout session if I had to though.

  35. Darcie G says:

    Hi Ben,

    I’m an 18 year old female, rep softball player, and I’ve been trying for months to add more upper body strength and muscle in order to improve my hitting. At 5’4″ and 130 lbs, what dosage of amino’s would you recommend before and after my daily workouts (1-1.5 hours of strength and cardio)? What about after a one hour batting session? Thanks!

    1. Hey Darcie, I'd suggest 10 tablets of NatureAminos, 30 minutes before any training or workout, in conjunction with the daily requirement of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. And an additional 10 tablets of NatureAminos to be taken 30 minutes before the next meal (lunch or dinner). Hope that helps.

  36. Joe Maguire says:

    I’m taking muscle tech nitro tech which has 6.9 grams of bcaa I drink this first thing in the morning about hr and 30 before my work out I take a l carnitine pill plus 2 arginine pills 45 min to workout I then eat 30 min after that I go to gym have a cellucore Bcaa drink which has 10g. Then post workout another protein drink? Am I consuming enough aminos

    1. I would NOT take BCAA's AT ALL. I only recommend using about 10g of the aminos in article above. That's all you need. Period.

  37. G says:

    Hi Ben

    What is the difference between MAP and much much cheaper EAAs such as:


    MAP would run into hundreds of dollars a month if used as suggested.

    1. The ratios in MAP are far more effective than the ratios in other compounds. This works well too: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos

  38. Eli says:

    Hello Ben have a question for you so you say you should take 10 grams a day or 20 grams A Day. that is 10 pills or 20 pills is that every day or only when you’re working out or exercising because a bottle at 20 to 30 grams a day won’t last very long at all. How Many bottles does one need to purchase to last a month

  39. Nicole says:

    So for bodybuidling, muscle gain, I would take 10g before lifting then, could I still do my whey protein shake post workout? Is that “too much Aminos?” Thanks!

    1. That might be a little excessive…I'd do one or the other unless you're trying to build a lot of muscle…(which is sounds like you are)…

  40. Michael says:

    Hi Ben, great article!

    Can you tell me how, if at all, taking 5-10 g of Nature Aminos will affect my intermittent fasting? Will they invoke an insulin reaction and throw me out of my fast?

    1. Zero insulin release and PERFECT for fasting.

  41. Andy says:


    Very informative indeed. I have a couple of questions for you.

    1. I’m currently on my second cycle of two SARMS (as discussed in detail in your previous articles), and although the muscle and endurance gains have been significant (very happy) – I’m looking to further aid recovery as I am frequently sore following intense workouts. Would the addition of these aminos provide this support, or is there any conflict that you are aware of?

    2. Does the requirement for this type of supplementation increase with age?


    1. The aminos would be a incredibly helpful addition for what you're looking for, yes. Be sure to use the essential amino acids, not branched-chain amino acids. And yes, predigested protein needs do indeed increase with age: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos/

      1. Andy says:

        Thanks Ben.

        I now have the EAAs and am looking at dosing. I know the website details this but I wanted to ask:

        I am currently training very hard (CrossFit Open), frequently sore/stiff and working through a few small injuries/niggles too.

        That said – I feel that, at this time, the max dosing of 30 tablets per day would help.

        I’m thinking 5 in the morning, 10 pre-workout, 10 post-workout, and 5 before bed.

        What do you think?

        Would I still need to keep the two hour window between those either side of the workout?

        Also, and at present, I take a scoop of protein in my morning oats and one in an evening/post-workout shake. I also have 2-4 eggs each day and meat with at least one meal.

        Is this now excessive – or in-line with my activity and requirements?Would you drop any?

        1. Yes, you could do that or just do 10per day and then do 4-6 NatureFlex morning and 4-6 NatureFlex evening: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/kion-flex – for more, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

          1. Andy says:

            Thanks Ben. I will just do that when things settle down a touch.

            If taking 10 per day – is it best all pre-workout?


  42. Andrew says:

    A bit confused so I will call bullshit. You are trying to sell a product rather than provide valid information. How do I know? Your little chart shows the product you recommend has a utilization of 99% and BCAA’s have a utilization of around 1%. The first three ingredients of this product are Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine aka BCAA’s. Ah the magical properties of bullshit now allow you to absorb BCAA’s almost 100% more efficiently, awesome!

    1. Andrew, the answer to this is that the 8 essential amino acids are needed in order to build body protein. Yes, BCAAs comprise 3 of the 8 essential amino acids, and they each have their individual purposes, but the other 5 need to be present as well to build a complete protein.

  43. Matt Solomon says:

    Hey Ben,

    Incredible article! You’re crushing it all around, man!

    I just purchased your product and I’m ready to use it today.

    2 things:

    1) I’m a little scared to be honest, I’m worried about what happens if I stop taking these aminios in the long run and if my body will not able to function as well without them one day. I’m 28 and I want to add muscle but I don’t want to sacrifice my long term health, especially with a product that promises so much. Any thoughts on the long term?

    2) I’m still not 100% sure on what I can take with this and when I can eat before and after. My plan is to take 5gs a half hour before a workout – so should I not be eating food for the 2 hours leading up to that? Can I eat after my workout (last around an hour or an hour and a half)? I read that other fats and proteins can mess with it, I’d like to be more clear on eating before and after my workouts now that I’ll be using these EAAs before my workout.

    Thanks for everything, I’m really look forward to your answers and I appreciate you, your knowledge, and all that you do!

    1. These are Definitely not a product that you would experience a drop in your own amino acid storage from taking. And you can definitely do some before your workout and some after your workout as you have proposed. I personally take 10 to 20 g per day!

  44. Chris Albert says:

    Now in endurance running like ultra marathon are 10g of BCAA aquateic enough to run say 31 miles? Or is more needed to support the constant tearing and breaking down of muscle tissues and fibers? Also which do you prefer as far as taking these the capsules or chews?

    1. For that distance, I'd use this approach: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/12/how-to-g… – that is slow digest carbs + EAA's + MCT powder + ketones + electrolytes.

  45. Jared Krieg says:

    Hey ben,

    Does the natureamino product keep your blood sugar and insulin low. I’m looking for maximum fat burn. Thanks

    1. Yep. Unlike protein powder, it is perfect for that. I would check out the FAQ section under 'Additional Information' here: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos/

  46. Mike says:

    Hi, Ben

    I’ve been researching multiple EAA products and am finding most to not have included arganine and histidine. Neither MAP nor NatureAminos has them in it. Why is that? Are they just more readily available in diet?

  47. Stacy Pemberton says:

    Greetings Ben,

    Am about to purchase a second bottle of amino, thanks for your podcast and all that you do……..

    Felt great last weekend running first trail 50 miler after a month on the aminos.

    Quick question, is it a common side effect to get mild acne with aminos? My googling does not offer much except may be due to excess oil from the BCAA’s? I am experiencing it on my face and scalp however not my back like may of the bodybuilder sites that claim this happens.

    Should I lower the dose?



  48. Ben Whittemore says:

    Can BCAA’s and whey protein be mixed for recovery drink? I see the two may compete, yet I’m not sure when listening to Aubrey Marcus’s onnit podcast featuring Ben green field and Aubrey said his recovery drink was a mix of goat whey, colostrum, creating, BCAA and coconut!? I’ve been doing this. Am I not doing the proper thing by mixing the two!!?

    1. The BCAA's are thrown because they add extra leucine, isoleucine and valine so yes, but you get the 80/20 from the whey.

  49. nitin says:

    i go to gym

    30-40 minutes cardio (10 min cycling, 15-20 walking & running, 10-12 min cross trainer)

    Than will go for strength training for 1 hour approx.

    Is it safe for me to consume essential amino acid before and while doing cardio and consuming whet protein after strength training.

    Kindly suggest.

    1. nitin says:

      sorry i meant whey protein.

    2. Yep, totally safe, at about 10g before the strength training (or before the cardio)…

  50. dear Ben

    my lovely wife is 54 years old,she hase diabet type 2 for 20 yeards ago,and also she hase triglycrid and cholestrol, for 6 monthes ago she don a disc surgery in her back , from this time ishe hasea big problem in her back and suffuring alwyas from back pain.my question is could she take amino acides supplements , for help her .

    please advice me .

    with best regards


    1. dear Ben
      my lovely wife is 54 years old,she hase diabet type 2 for 20 yeards ago,and also she hase triglycrid and cholestrol, for 6 monthes ago she don a disc surgery in her back , from this time ishe hasea big problem in her back and suffuring alwyas from back pain.my question is could she take amino acides supplements , for help her .
      please advice me .

      with best regards

      1. Firstly, I am not a doctor and nothing I say should be taken as medical advice. I suggest you check out this: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/04/best-way… as that will be more useful for you than giving her amino acids.

        Also check out the core foundation program because that also helps tremendously with back pain: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/08/how-to-d…

  51. jamil shammat says:

    dear Ben

    my lovely wife is 54 years old,she hase diabet type 2 for 20 yeards ago,and also she hase triglycrid and cholestrol, for 6 monthes ago she don a disc surgery in her back , from this time ishe hasea big problem in her back and suffuring alwyas from back pain.my question is could she take amino acides supplements , for help her .

    please advice me .

    with best regards


  52. Kalpana Singh says:

    Can I take lysine, L-methionine, Taurine and the antioxidants, together during the same time or Should I take them one after another?

    1. Yes, you can take all at same time, such as a few hours before or after a hard workout.

  53. Rachel says:

    I’ve heard that amino acids are great to enhance your workout from a couple of friends as well, so I’ll have to give it a try. I’m glad you broke them down so extensively; I like to know what I’m putting in my body so this definitely helped. Thanks for sharing the info!

  54. Geoff says:

    I’m trying to put on weight and muscle, how do you recommend I take the EAAs?

    1. Easy. 10-20g / day, pre or post workout or if budget permits, BOTH.

  55. Michelle says:

    Hi Ben/ Dr. Minkoff,

    I found this podcast as I was searching for ways to improve my body composition. I am a 51yo woman, I’ve been active my whole life, and I’ve always had a very muscular physique. The last two years, I have dealt with Stage 3 Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal dysfunction, I have very low cortisol, very low DHEA, and my sex hormones are all out of whack as a result. My body composition has changed, I have a lot more body fat (especially on my thighs), and it’s totally discouraging. I also have some gut dysfunction (SIBO) that has caused additional stress in my body because I am not digesting what I eat very well.

    My question is: I have purchased your EAA’s……IF I am going to see some improvement, approximately when should I begin noticing improvement? I am completing Christa Orechio’s “Gut Thrive in 5” program to heal my gut, as well as taking supplementation for my HPA Axis dysfunction. I eat clean, gluten and dairy free, although not necessarily low carb as I think being on the low carb band wagon and IFing for three years helped push me into the state I’m in currently.

    I appreciate your feedback, I love your podcast, and I hope to meet you at the AHS in Boulder this coming August!


    1. Michelle says:

      Also, should I be taking the EAA’s every day, as opposed to just what I workout, to help me with my body composition?



      1. Here a response from Dr Minkoff: It is hard to say when results will be seen. In many cases it is within the first few weeks or better. The body will prioritize what it uses its proteins for, as it deems to be the most important. On another note, it is very important to take at least one serving (8-10) per day, without other proteins or fats. And in your case, with your issues, possibly even take two servings per day.

  56. Blair Pringle says:

    Hi Ben, can i take my 5g of Creatine with EAA’s in the morning or should i take them separately?

    1. Yes, you can take those at same time!

  57. Tom says:

    Thanks Ben. You mentioned you use these when you don’t have access to high-quality protein. From reading this it seems EAAs are generally better than standard protein sources like powders, shakes, whole foods. So when is it appropriate to use EAAs vs other protein sources? My first take from this was ‘all the time’, but I assume that’s the wrong takeaway here :)

    1. Anytime you want to be as anabolic as possible.

  58. Jennifer says:

    Trying to get the right combo of EAA’s/glutamine/zinc/magnesium while training for Ironman Louisville…wanted to know your thoughts on going the NatureAminos vice the Exos powder? A combination of the two? Thank you much!

    1. Jennifer says:

      also should note I am trying to lean out a bit and also drop another 10-12 lbs to be at optimal race weight.

    2. The main difference between these two is that one is a tablet and one is a powder. So it just depends on the delivery mechanism that you prefer. I use both.

  59. Tim says:

    So if you’re trying to build muscle, would you take 5 or 10 pre weight lifting workouts? And would you take it at all on off days?

    1. If it were me I'd take 10, and if budget permits, to really build muscle up to 10 3x/day on off days. You can build muscle FAST on a protocol like that.

  60. Matt says:

    Hey Ben, I have recently noticed that I have puffy cheeks. Mainly in the morning, but other times too. I started taking Exos Aminos after workouts a couple months earlier and was wondering if the AA’s were increasing my cortisol levels. High cortisol can cause puffy cheeks. Just a little background: I am a young competitive triathlete and train quite a bit. Thanks!

    1. Nope, if anything they would take you out of a catabolic state and decrease cortisol levels…

      1. Matt says:

        Thanks for the quick responds Ben! Any other thoughts on the puffy cheeks? Would low testosterone have an affect?

        1. No, but HIGH cortisol can cause that due to mineral ratio issues…

          1. Matt says:

            Which minerals? My diet is >95% whole food plant-based. I take a B12 vitamin, the Thorne Multivitamin, and BioCreatine.

          2. I like the Black Water stuff and also the trace liquid minerals. The Aztec Salt is nice too.

          3. Matt says:

            Thanks again!

  61. Jess says:

    Often Amino Acids (mainly Lucine) come from animals. Yours is vegan?

    1. Yes, these are all vegan-sourced. No animals, duck feathers, human hair, etc…

  62. NicoleSugi says:

    Hi Ben!
    After the last few weeks of Amino and Ketones, and your other chats/articles/podcasts/etc, I'm going to have to start calling the purchasing of items: "The Ben Effect", instead of the "The Dr Oz Effect" or "The Oprah Effect"! I have a question about timing all the goodies!

    I purchased powered Amino's, KetoCaNa, and Brain Octane (and a Ketonix)! Whew! Oh, and Ashwaganda! Ha, and Oil of Oregano (there are a lot of sick peeps around right now!)!!! :)

    I workout in the morning and previously would sip some coffee prior to my workout and do it fasted, and drink the rest after my workout. However, now I'm going to hold off on the coffee until post-workout because it says to drink the Amino's 30 min prior to workout (away from fat/protein), which negates drinking coffee with Brain Octane prior to the workout. And then there are the Ketone's (KetoCaNa) that are also supposed to be taken 15 min prior to workout.
    *Can the KetoCaNa and the Amino's be taken together? And also throughout and a bit post-workout, because that is a LOT of liquid for me to to drink prior to a workout (side-aches terrible)!?
    *Best tip on when to take these on non-workout days? Does it really matter?
    *Also, when would I take the Ashwaganda (KSM 66) capsules for greatest benefit?!

    Thanks again Ben for everything you do! You're a wealth of amazing information and listening to your podcasts are a great way to make long holiday drives go by a lot quicker and more pleasurable!

    Happy holidays! Cheers! Nicole

    1. NicoleSugi says:

      Hey Ben – I did some online research about the above questions, but I still haven’t found anything in reference to when to take the Ketone powder and Amino powder, if you are taking both? Any thoughts?

      And question prompted by “Matt’s” question below about cortisol levels – I have fairly low cortisol levels, will taking amino’s help or hinder this? I have felt great taking them but was curious after listening to a few more of your podcasts and reading this question! :)

      Thanks again! Cheers!

      1. You can take both simultaneously. Period. Up to 10g aminos. I have done this myself and it doesn't disrupt ketosis. See my response to Matt re: cortisol! That explains it. At this point, to really dig into details, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

        1. NicoleSugi says:

          THANKS Ben! I appreciate your feedback! You’re awesome!!! :)

    2. A) YES, you can take ketones and aminos simultaneously. If you read both my recent articles on ketosis and aminos you will see that they have differing mechanisms of action. On non workout days, SPACE them evenly throughout the day, but actual timing of these do not matter on a non exercise day. Although theoretically you should use these at a time when you need the most cognitive benefit. For KSM66, use at your most stressful time of day.

  63. Andy says:

    2 quick questions. I am an ultramarathon runner. During races I would like to use these but I dont want to take 10 pills an hour. Would you recommend the powder in this case? If so can you put an hours worth of aminos in 1 water bottle? 2nd question has to do with calories. Generally I try to consume 200-275 calories per hour. Do I back off those calories if I am taking aminos for energy? Since they are 0 calories how do I measure how much to back off for each gram of EAAs? Thanks for your time!

    1. You can use the powder, or you can literally in a blender blend the NatureAminos tablets along with whatever else you're brewing up for your workout nutrition. I get into this here, in the section on EXOS Glycofuse here; https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/12/how-t…. In that case, you'd do Amino capsules instead of amino powder and blend it all together. But more than one way to skin that cat! Either way, you do NOT back off on calories. The amino acids are thrown in on top of any other calories you're taking in, and 200-275/hr is good for ultramarathon.

  64. V says:

    Hi Ben, I am fairly new to your articles and podcast and getting really interested in optimal nutrition. I have an 8 year old daughter who is a great swimmer, and has 2 hour workouts minimum 4 times a week. Practice typically ends at 8 or 8:30pm. Would you recommend nature aminos for kids too? If yes, what amount is safe or recommended for them after workouts? Thank you! V-

  65. Chad Johnson says:

    Hi Ben. About a year and a half ago I discovered that my kidney function was at 53% after getting blood work done. I have no fam history of kidney issues, no high blood pressure, or diabetes. After discovering this I freaked out I cleaned up my diet by juicing and reducing protein intake. I am 41, 5′ 4″, 145 pounds. I got my kidney function back up to 67%, but haven’t been able to increase it past that point. It seems the docs I talk to feed me generic info like don’t eat beef, keep protein intake low, blah, blah, blah, and don’t know much about nutrition (which is crazy to me.) My question is will EAA’s be hard on my kidneys compared to regular protein sources? If I take them do I need to reduce my meat, eggs, etc., to not increase my creatinine levels? And do u think I have a shot at repairing the kidneys with EAA use? Thanks for all that you do, love your podcast and blog posts.

    1. Two things here: A) protein may not be as much of an issue on the kidneys as we've been led to believe: http://robbwolf.com/2011/06/16/clearing-up-kidney… (read part 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) B) amino acids, due to the LEAST nitrogenous waste would be the easiest protein sources on your kidneys, period. I' m not a doctor so please don't misconstrue as medical advice!

  66. Chris Burton says:

    Hey Ben,
    Interesting article. I am a 53 year old guy who has let myself get a bit out of shape. Even though I have put on a “few” extra pounds, my blood sugar levels & cholesterol levels are all very good. As a matter of fact, even though I’ve let myself go a bit, I am a pretty lucky guy as I have no health issues. So before my sluggish lifestyle catches up with me, I’d like to get back on the healthy path. My goal is to get back in shape. I’m sure the few extra pounds will take care of themselves.
    I realize you are not a medical doctor, but are there any issues I should be aware of with the use of EAA’s? Also, would you recommend any additional supplements?

    Thanks again!


    1. I'd recommend both the supplementation and exercise program I present in my Look Good Naked/Longevity plan…and zero issues to be aware of with use of these EAA's: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/ben-recommends/books/ben-greenfields-look-good-naked-longevity-plan/

    2. Response from Dr Minkoff: Dear Chris,

      Sounds like you’re relatively healthy. EAA’s should work great for you. For general maintenance I’d recommend a minimum of 5 tablets, twice daily. To improve health start with 5 tablets, 3 times a day. First thing in the morning, afternoon, and about 30-60 mins before bed, but at least 1-2 hours after dinner. After a week switch to 10 tablets, twice daily. Be sure to take your EAA’s at least 30 mins. before (or 1-2 hours after) eating other fats or proteins. You can take with a little bit of healthy carbs if you prefer.

      Eat a paleo or Bulletproof type diet, make sure you’re taking a high-quality multivitamin like BodyHealth Complete and getting an effective amount of Omega 3’s and 6’s, not to be overdone – Ben, feel free to weigh in here, as I seem to remember a recent article or podcast you’ve done on this subject.

      Make sure you’re getting good exercise, lots of sunshine, staying hydrated, and play at least a little every day!

  67. Jeff Thibault says:

    Ben, I’m 5’10” and currently weigh in at ~177lbs. My scale gives me a BF reading of ~16% (some ab + other muscle definition; I carry a lot of my bf in my thighs). About 15 months ago, I was 163lbs with BF readings of ~11% (significant ab + other muscle definition). My current goal is 150lbs at 8% bf, which I’m either going to maintain for life, or, once I get there, try to add 10lbs of muscle. So, my current goal is fat loss + muscle growth (or at least muscle retention). I understand that my scale’s BF% readings are not accurate-accurate, but I’ve no reason to think they’re not directionally-accurate.

    For some additional background, I spent most of my life pre-30 (I’m 31 now) obese. In 2013/2014, I committed, finally, to eating for my health, and went from 210lbs down to the aforementioned 163lbs. I owe a lot of that to you, as well as to Abel James and Jonathan Bailor.

    I spent college between 185lbs and 220lbs, and ballooned after college up to 260lbs. I dropped back to 220lbs before going to law school, and spent law school between 185lbs and 220lbs.

    My current eating regimen is as follows:

    Low carbohydrate intake, i.e., outside of leafy and cruciferous vegetables (plus whatever category of vegetables peppers and onions fall into) all of my carbohydrates come from dark chocolate and fruit (blueberries and strawberries), and typically at night and/or after workouts. I’m not sure exactly how many total carbs or net carbs I generally consume. I’d guess between 50 and 100 grams per day.

    High fat intake (rather follows from low carb, of course), mostly animal fat, including eggs (two a day) and cheese (life isn’t worth living without cheese, but I limit to a serving or two a day), plus some nuts (typically raw and/or sprouted), avocado, and, soon, some C8 oil. I’ve been cooking my omelettes with pastured lard (fatworks is an awesome company) for a whiel now, but may make the change back to coconut oil.

    I aim for organic and grass fed/pastured/free range, when I can, and try to stick to lean protein (chicken) when I can’t.

    I “cheat” once a week with Indian delivery (saag and chicken tikka masala), which I’m sure is chock-full of vegetable oils/other stuff I shouldn’t put in my body. I sometimes eat rice with this meal, but typically not.

    I also drink a lot of coffee (20 – 30ozs a day), but my resting heart rate is in the 60s and my bp is ~110 over ~70, so I’m not worried about my caffeine intake.

    My protein goal per day is about 100 grams. Calorie-wise, I think I’m in the 1500-2000 per day range.

    I tend to eat a high fat/low sugar smoothie for breakfast made from frozen greens, 100% cacao powder, a grass fed whey protein source, “supergreens”, chia seeds, and some frozen strawberries (a serving, ~50cals worth). I throw in a bunch cinnamon and some organic vanilla extract, as well as some Aztek sea salt. In the past I’ve used matcha in this as well, but that stuff is expensive.

    Lunch is from a place in NYC called Roast Kitchen. It’s basically a cooked salad (greens, brocolli, cauliflower, brusell sprouts, red peppers) with chicken breast and a probably not very healthy (despite supposedly being fat, dairy, gluten, and sugar-free) red curry sauce, which the “salad” is cooked in. I suspect that the sauce is none of those things, because it tastes good. There’s a “cleaner” lunch spot I sometimes eat at, mostly out of fear (perhaps irrational) that the red curry sauce at Roast is pretty unhealthy.

    Dinner is a home cooked omelette, typically with some grass fed cheese, some sort of “high quality” sausage (I need to work on improving this aspect of my diet, i’m thinking about ways to make a grass-fed ground beef “sausage”) and a bunch of sauteed greens. After dinner is dark chocolate and berries.

    I don’t snack during the day. Snacking is bullshit.

    I find that with this way of eating, I have even energy levels throughout the day, and I do very well on 6 to 7 hours of sleep.

    As soon as my ketonix arrives this week, I’m going to modify my diet for ketosis, which may involve reducing my protein/fruit intake, of course. I’m fairly sure I was in Ketosis for much of my “trip” from 210lbs down to 163lbs.

    My current exercise regimen is as follows:

    HIIT two-three times per week – typically 20 second sprints with 40 second “rests” on the elliptical. I’ll do about ten of these reps. Over time I plan to increase the number of reps and the length + intensity of the sprints.

    Weight training three-four times per week. I stick largely to compound movements, pullups, bench press, shoulder press, row, squat, deadlift, and lunge, – all with dumb bells. Sometimes I’ll do a circuit, with minimal rest between exercises, and in the 3-8 rep range and the 3-5 set range. Other times I’ll do an eccentric lifting session, with Jonathan Bailor’s routine: one arm/leg at a time on the nautilus machines, one 60 second “set” of 6, 10-second “lifts” per exercise, per arm/leg. I like the eccentric routine, and I credit it for my ability to do pullups now. I try to finish my lifting sessions in 40-50 minutes.

    Recently I’ve picked up a personal trainer at an UFC gym. So I do an hour with him a week. This usually consists of some conditioning and agility/foot work, as well as some sparring. It’s not a “hard” workout; my goal is mostly learning how to box/fight, so it’s a lot of instruction.

    Finally, I do 20ish minutes of moderate steady state cardio three to five times per week. I do this after my HIIT sessions and always in the mornings, and always fasted. I know you in past recommended this sort of activity for increased fat loss.

    I have a standing desk at work. Back in the 163lb days, I primarily stood at work, but made sure to move around a lot. I’m working on getting back to that.

    I rest on Sundays.

    As far as workout timing is concerned, I hate lifting in the mornings, but it’s the only consistent time I can lift. I’m an attorney at a large litigation firm, so I don’t work regular hours. I’m going to make an effort in January to get out of the office at a reasonable time and do my lifting in the evenings, but after blowing a couple of sessions, I’ll likely end up lifting in the mornings again.

    Daily supplements are: spirulina, probiotics, a multivitamin (a good one, but not the EXOS/Thorne one, which I don’t think I need given that I’m not what I would call a “hard charging” athlete), fish oil, NAC, creatine, and Ashwaghanda. I have some dessicated liver and colostrum that I take semi-randomly, Phenocane as well.

    Finally, to the real “point” of this post and why it’s here: I have a bottle of MAP. When and how much should I take? My current thinking is 5g in mornings before a weight training session (when I work out in the mornings). Should I also take 5g after lifting? Should I take 5g before and/or after my HIIT sessions? Remember that I have my smoothie after lifting and that MAP is relatively expensive. When MAP runs out, I’ll start buying your product, since they’re identical, and priced very similarly.

    Thanks for reading, Ben!

    1. Wow. Big question. In short (pardon my brevity), based on what you've told me here, I'd recommend 10 tablets prior to OR after your lifting and HIIT. That's it. 10 is better then 5 in my opinion, but you don't need to take before AND after. Obviously a lot more we can cover re: your training/nutrition details provided, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

  68. Paul says:

    Have you seen any increase in energy taking these post work out?

    My weekly workouts end around 10pm. Im looking for something very low calorie to take that late at night but do not want a boost of energy before bed. I do realise that some of these EAA’s can help with sleep. Just want to make sure all my ducks are in a row before i take the leap and im up late like a tweeker trying to mow the lawn in the rain at 4am.


    1. Bryan Hardy says:

      Nope, not like a stimulant would like caffeine, I think you’re good to go.

  69. Ted says:

    Thanks Ben, this is awesome information! What is your opinion of Growth Factor 9 as a source of EAA?

    PS ‘Pneumonic’ is actually spelled mnemonic :)

    1. Thanks for the spelling fix! In meantime, Growth Factor 9 is L-Lysine HCl, L-Arginine HCl, Oxo-Proline, N-Acetyl L-Cysteine, L-Glutamine, Schizonepeta (aerial parts) powder. Aminos has MORE amino acids in it, and I'm not too familiar with this Schizonepeta stuff but have seen zero research on it.

  70. Rob_Mtb says:

    Hi Ben,

    Awesome article. Aside from your own brand of EAA's what other brands do you recommend? Would support you if I didn't live two continents away, (shipping, import duties etc). Looking for something local. Also there seems to be a lot of hype out there suggesting BCAA's can lead to hair loss. Do you have any input this is regard?

    Thanks for the amazing info.


    1. JeffT1314 says:

      Rob, can you get "Master Amino Acid Pattern" (MAP) where you're at? In the U.S, Amazon sells it for a fairly comparable price as Ben's product (currently $33 for 120g of MAP, whereas as Ben's product is $39 for 150g), and the products are identical. Ben used to recommend and take MAP before he started selling his own. I'll be switching to Ben's product when my bottle of MAP runs out – to support him.

    2. oneofthepossums says:

      Mm yes. For a $40 sup it's costing over $20 US to post to Australia- a little prohibitive.

      1. You may want to try powdered aminos to see if you can get a better deal: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/aminos

    3. I am not familiar with the BCAA/hair loss link. Can you clarify or send me a research article you've seen on this? In the meantime, another good brand of aminos is the EXOS aminos.. <a href="http:// .https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/aminos” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://.https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/aminos” target=”_blank”>.https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/aminos – it is powder form, but shipping may be less, check them out!

      1. Dude says:

        This article is so garbage! Amino acids turning into fat and sugar under normal physiological conditions? That is the most idiotic thing I’ve heard as it relates to nutrition. Glucogenic amino acids only turn into glucose during abnormal physiologic conditions such as ketosis. The body has to go through gluconeogenesis in order to do this. Gluconeogenesis is not something that occurs when a diet is rich in carbohydrates, therefore, amino acids do not convert to glucose in this instance. Secondly, free-form amino acids only yield minuscule amounts of calories, nowhere near enough to gain fat. Furthermore, the composition of an amino acid allows for fat catabolism due to the fact that amino acids slow gastric emptying, have a high thermic affect and are not stored, but excreted in feces/urine. It takes more energy for the body to break down amino acids than to store them as fat. I could go on and on about amino acids but I’d be writing all day. The point is that your article is flawed and misleading. There are many university studies proving that amino acids are not stored as fat. I cannot believe you fixed your fingers to even write that! All of the proof and studies showing that excess fat and carbs lead to weight gain, and you’re pointing the finger at protein? My God!

        1. Foxytop says:

          Dude, could you please point to some studies that support this. Ben has done a pretty good job of trying to link in supporting info but all I have from you is a long list of things that are supposedly wrong.

          Also Ben, I was curious if taking EAAs is significantly noticable for during workout energy and post workout recovery. Are there any studies that try to quantify the gain in fitness/recovery after taking EAAs?

        2. Here’s a response from Dr Minkoff, who helped develop the NatureAminos blend:

          There are two pathways that digested proteins go down.

          The anabolic pathway assembles amino acids into body proteins. The second pathway causes the amino acids to be deaminated (nitrogen loped off) and what is left is a carbon hydrogen oxygen chain that is either burned or stored at glycogen or fat.

          The switch that determines which pathway the aminos go down is determined by the ratio of the eight essential amino acids. Perfect amino has the exact ratio so that when taken on an empty stomach, 99% are shunted down the anabolic pathway and become body proteins.

          The caloric calculation of 4 calories per gram of protein only applies to the the catabolic pathway. So depending on how much protein is eaten, the calorie load could be significant.

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