Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Even though I’ve been weightlifting in some form since my elbows were bigger than my biceps, it was quite a while before I started tinkering with Branched-Chain Amino Acid (or BCAA) supplements. I had used various forms of protein powder in post-workout shakes and had even made my own blends by adding L‑glutamine (for muscle recovery and immune support), coconut sugar (to replenish my glycogen stores), and Frankincense Vitality™ essential oil (to support cellular health). Eventually, I bought a generic BCAA supplement and added it to the mix. But it wasn’t until I tried AminoWise from Young Living that I started using the supplement during my workout and understanding why it is so important.
The AminoWise formula has three workout-supporting objectives, which make it much more than just a typical BCAA supplement. First, the BCAAs themselves support muscle building and repair with a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. In addition, a blend of regular amino acids (L-citrulline, L-glutamine, B-alanine, L-arginine, and L-taurine) is included for muscle preservation, growth, and performance. Second, with Zinc, Vitamin E, polyphenols, and antioxidants (from wolfberries, lime fruit, and lemon and lime essential oils), AminoWise supports the body’s recovery from intense exercise. Third, a blend of essential minerals (sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium) helps replace the minerals lost through our sweat, keeping us balanced and fully charged throughout our workout.
The combination of minerals and antioxidants also reduces the production of lactic acid, which is what makes our muscles feel fatigued after being active.
You know that feeling when you’re thirsty and no matter how much water you drink, you still feel thirsty and like your body is missing something? It's usually because you're deficient in minerals or electrolytes in general. I find I don’t get that feeling anymore. The hydrating minerals in AminoWise keep my body in balance. In fact, once I started using AminoWise during my workouts, I haven’t attempted a workout without it. I just add one scoop into a full-size shaker cup, fill the rest about ¾ full with water, and shake. I don’t need a shaker ball, since the powder is very fine and dissolves easily. And that’s it. This is my “water” during my workout and I just sip it as needed to stay hydrated. It really gives me a noticeable feeling that I’m staying “charged” through the whole workout, which is indispensable if you want to maximize your efforts.
Maybe the best part about AminoWise is what its list of ingredients does not contain. If you’ve ever browsed workout supplements on store shelves looking for a clean product, then you know how much toxic stew is out there. Below is a popular BCAA supplement I snapped a photo of when I was in the sporting goods store. Let’s take a look at the label:
For starters, the “Gummy Worm” flavor advertised on the front is ample foreshadowing that there are artificial ingredients to come. Nevertheless, let’s skip down to the “Other Ingredients” section and have a more detailed look:
Artificial Flavors are to be avoided as, well, we have no evolutionary business ingesting man-made chemicals, and many, of course, have been linked to health issues.
Natural Flavors sound good, but this ingredient is notoriously vague and is often used as a cover for harmful ingredients like MSG in processed foods. Then again, sometimes it just refers to a legitimate natural flavor. Since the word “natural” is essentially unregulated, we often don’t really know what this ingredient is. As a personal rule of thumb, I allow this ingredient if the rest of the ingredients are clean and the maker of the product is known for being conscious of healthy ingredients, otherwise, I avoid it.
Sucralose is the artificial sweetener, Splenda. Artificial sweeteners are commonly linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. While studies on artificial sweeteners often show mixed results, there is enough evidence to suggest we're much better off avoiding them entirely. Studies of their negative impacts on our gut biomes may be the missing link to why past studies have been so inconsistent, since our individual gut bacteria differs based on many factors.
FD&C Yellow #5 is an artificial color. Artificial colors are used to make foods appear more colorful and vibrant, which is usually to mask the fact that the food is processed and low in nutrients. Furthermore, Yellow #5 in particular has been linked to hyperactivity in children and damage to DNA in white blood cells, which could increase one’s risk of cancer.
FD&C Blue #1 is another artificial color, linked to similar problems as Yellow #5, as well as intolerance and side effects when ingested by those intolerant to it.
P65 Cancer Warning – California has unique labeling laws that require a warning to be printed on products containing ingredients known by the state to cause cancer or reproductive harm. This warning, especially on a product you ingest, is likely a good reason to avoid it all together.
Trademarked Ingredients – This product contains four ingredients that are trademarked. Since natural ingredients cannot be trademarked or patented, these ingredient must either be artificial or be produced/tested using patented methods. This doesn’t necessarily mean the ingredients should be avoided, but it does mean you need to look into each ingredient and determine what exactly is patented and where the ingredient comes from; this information is not always readily available.
In contrast, the ingredients in AminoWise are shown below.
Only one ingredient causes some hesitation and that is Natural Flavors, due to its ambiguity, as discussed above. Since Young Living stakes its reputation on healthy, natural ingredients, since the rest of the ingredients are of high quality, and since Young Living does not use any known toxic ingredient in any of its products, this ingredient is very likely to be what it says, a natural flavor. Even so, I contacted product support at Young Living, just to confirm. They said the natural flavors are a natural lemon flavor, a natural bitter-blocking ingredient, and a natural sweetness enhancer. If you've ever tasted the extreme bitterness of raw BCAAs, then you understand exactly why these ingredients were selected.
If you've used AminoWise, send me an email and let me know what you think about it! If it's okay with you, I may choose to share your story here on Rewire.