Perhaps you already know that amino acids – the smallest building blocks of proteins – have many basic functions in our organism. Among other things, the protein building blocks are the building materials for all body tissues. In addition, however, some of these building blocks are indispensable for special metabolic functions, which are also related to the production of energy for the human organism.
Get to know the ketogenic aminos in this article. If you now think about the currently often recommended Keto diet, you are already on the right track. Here we show you the connections of this form of nutrition with different metabolic functions as well as some special protein components.
Ketogenic amino acids and their functions
Aminos are classified into different categories based on different characteristics. There are some building blocks that our body produces itself and others that we supply with our diet. Still others have peculiarities in the way they are transformed into body tissue and energy. The following is a short overview of the different representatives among the protein building blocks:
Amino acids are
- essential if we are to take them in with food.
- non-essential if we can make them ourselves.
- semi-essential, if they are ingested with the diet in certain phases of life or are formed in others by our bodies.
- proteinogenic, when they are converted into proteins in certain biochemical processes.
- glucogen when they are processed in a metabolic pathway in which sugars play a key role in energy production.
- ketogenic, if they follow a certain metabolic pathway which is not based on the use of sugar for energy production.
All building blocks are not equal
From the categorization outlined above, you can easily see that the smallest building blocks are very different from each other. It is not easy to say that one amino acid is more important for our body than the other. They all have important functions in the organism.
Even if we have to supply the essential building blocks with our food, the other non-essential ones are just as important for smooth processes in the body. There are also non-detachable interrelationships between the individual building blocks and with other nutrient groups.
Different metabolic pathways
Metabolizations take place constantly in the human body. Food is broken down, waste materials are prepared for transportation and substances are converted into other substances. The formation of energy is of particular importance in this context. Energy is provided at the cellular level by the so-called mitochondria in complex biochemical processes.
The liver also has a very important function in metabolism and energy production – especially in the production of glucose. Different parts of the body require different amounts of energy.
At the same time, our brain, in particular, is constantly hungry for energy. Primarily it needs sugar. If this is present, then it is the fuel for the brain. Only if there is a deficiency can the brain be forced to obtain its energy from another source and make do with less sugar. It is not easy to get the brain used to it.
From the brain’s perspective, this change in metabolism characterizes an emergency, a period of hunger.
Perhaps you know that sugar is one of the source materials for physical energy.
In this context, almost everyone often experiences mild hypoglycaemia, in which the brain and the body literally cry out for a supply of it. This is an unpleasant feeling of weakness, it can even become a life-threatening situation for some people like diabetics. That is why a metabolic change is not an easy thing to do, even from our inner perception. Here we create a hunger crisis for the body and especially the brain.
When we talk about sugar here, we do not (only) mean household sugar in the form of glucose. Our brain and various other areas need glucose and require a regular and sufficient supply.
But sugar is also a generic term for carbohydrates. These complex multiple sugars are processed by the body in the carbohydrate metabolism and broken down into simpler sugar forms. Obviously we cannot do without these substances.
On the other hand, you may have heard and read just recently that various types of sugar and carbohydrates in excess can be harmful to your figure as well as your health. How does it all go together? How can you ensure the energy supply of the body with the diet even without many complex carbohydrates and extra sugar?
In fact, our body can learn to produce more energy from fats. Here we approach the principles of the keto diet, in which certain amino acids can also play a role. This form of diet is accompanied by a consciously altered metabolic situation.
Macronutrients and their role in energy supply
Our food consists of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These macronutrients have different meanings and functions in the organism. Sugar is mainly used to produce energy in the cells. It is particularly easy to obtain energy from carbohydrates.
This takes place, among other things, in the so-called glycolysis. In the process, the aforementioned breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simpler forms of sugar takes place in the body’s cells. However, there are also other metabolic pathways in which energy is produced from other substances. In the following, let’s take a closer look at various possibilities for energy production in body cells.
Glycolysis – focused on sugar
In glycolysis, the cells produce glucose from carbohydrates. This is the most important and initially only fuel for the brain. As described, the brain is very demanding in its need for glucose. An undersupply quickly has a very negative effect on us. At least we feel that way.
Energy from fats?
Our body can produce energy from fats instead of carbohydrates. The name for this metabolism is ketosis. This forces the liver to provide energy from fats instead of sugar. For this purpose, it forms so-called ketone bodies from certain fatty acids. Here, too, we encounter the function of ketogenic substances.
How are these related to the protein building blocks that are referred to as ketogenic?
Ketone bodies – what is this all about?
Keto or ketone bodies are three very specific chemical compounds. They are formed by the body in a special metabolic state. When hungry and with low or no carbohydrate supply, these compounds are used to produce energy in the cells and the liver.
The brain and other areas of the body that depend on energy production from sugars learn to use these keto bodies as a source of energy. After some time, the brain can get by with 40 grams instead of 120 grams of glucose for its energy supply. You can take advantage of this effect in a very specific form of low carb nutrition. Ketosis is deliberately induced by a ketogenic diet.
The slightly different metabolic situation and protein
Proteins can contribute to the formation of both glucose and ketone bodies. They therefore also play a role in energy generation.
Here it depends on the type of the respective module.
These amino acids are ketogenic:
These building blocks belong to both the group of ketogenic and glucogenic building blocks:
These specific amino acids directly form ketone bodies which have a share in the ketogenic metabolic state described above. Furthermore, the ketone bodies formed by the ketogenic protein building blocks can be converted into other ketone bodies or fatty acids.
This is made possible by the so-called citrate cycle, among other things. This brings together the breakdown products from the various metabolic processes from fats, carbohydrates and proteins for further processing.
Important for you: Ketogenic amino acids can support a ketogenic diet. All of the above-mentioned representatives, with the exception of tyrosine, are essential building blocks and must, therefore, be taken in with food.
Proteins and their building blocks in nutrition in general
The need for protein varies from person to person. Among other things, the main factors are
- state of health
- and bodyweight.
There is often a controversial discussion about whether our typical western eating habits are not more likely to oversupply us with protein. However, especially vegans and partly also vegetarians are not always sufficiently provided with all, above all essential components.
Animal foods often form the human amino acid pattern with all essential representatives, while plant foods do not always contain all the building blocks in an ideally usable ratio to each other. Here, intelligent combinations of foods must be created in order to create an ideal supply situation with protein.
After all, we do not always succeed in our everyday life in putting together our diet according to the fact that we are optimally supplied with all the amino acids.
Perhaps you are also one of those people who would like to lose weight but have so far been unable to achieve success with your efforts and possible forms of dieting. Sometimes you have even had the experience that the pointer on the scale climbed higher and higher through the so-called yo-yo-effect after dieting.
What do proteins have to do with it? Especially with a reduction diet, you should never neglect a sufficient supply of protein. If a reduced food intake leads to bottlenecks in the protein supply, your organism uses the body’s own protein in the muscles.
Muscles, however, are the areas in the organism through which you burn energy. If you lose muscle mass, you will burn less energy and consume fewer calories, especially at rest. This is the basis for the yo-yo effect. Your calorie requirement is below the previous level after a reduction diet. You will continue to gain weight if you take in more calories after completing a dietary program.
Using proteins to influence body weight and figure?
In view of the yo-yo-effect described above, protein and amino acids always play a key role in your dietary efforts. Therefore, you should pay attention to a good supply of high-quality proteins. Food supplements, for example with the essential building blocks, can also be helpful here.
If you additionally supply yourself with essential protein building blocks during diets, you will simultaneously take in sufficient ketogenic building blocks. Especially if you want to achieve your weight reduction through ketosis, these support your efforts in an ideal way. Each amino acid from this group, in turn, forms keto bodies, which can support the alternative form of energy production away from carbohydrates.
According to the current state of nutritional science discussion, fewer carbohydrates mean weight loss for many people. An end to scientific research is not yet in sight here, and many hypotheses have not yet been sufficiently substantiated.
Even if you do not follow a strict low carb program, the increased production of keto bodies via one or the other ketogenic amino acid can fire up your entire metabolism.
A sufficient protein supply can be very beneficial
Protein is an indispensable part of your diet as a building material of body tissue and motor of many metabolic processes. However, it is precisely ketogenic amino acids that are metabolically active. You should not do without this possibility to influence your metabolism.
With the essential amino acids, you take up these effective supporters of your good figure at the same time. In a ketogenic-oriented diet based on low carb, the importance of these protein building blocks is even greater because they can further promote the crucial metabolic situation by forming ketone bodies. That is why we at amino4u have chosen to combine all eight essential amino acids.
Keto is currently a trend. However, even if you are not following the latest trends, you are consciously taking advantage of certain processes in your body for the benefit of your health with these specific amino acids and good overall protein intake.