The Importance of Essential Amino Acids

Being a vegan athlete is serious business. We train hard and we eat right, because our bodies deserve only the best from us. In order to give our bodies the best though, we have to know what we need and how to get it.


One of the most outrageous myths about veganism is that the diet doesn’t provide enough protein. When this was debunked here, it was hypothesized that, while vegans can get enough protein, we have to eat certain foods together - such as beans and rice - in order to get all the right types of protein. In other words, a complete amino acid profile.


John McDougall in Circulation, showed that this myth of having to eat specific food combinations is simply not true. It is not necessary to eat certain foods together in order to get all of the essential amino acids in a vegan diet. There are other ways of making sure you get them all in order to stay healthy, and it’s not hard at all.


To test this theory, scientists put together studies to  find out whether vegans were getting the necessary amounts of amino acids needed. As published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they actually found that vegans weren’t only getting enough protein, we’re exceeding the recommended proportions! This clearly shows that vegans do just fine in getting the necessary amino acids. They did not, however, take into account that vegan athletes likely need more than the daily recommended amounts - just like all athletes. But more on this later.


So what are amino acids, anyway?


According to the clinical nutritionist J A Scmidt, amino acids are the very thing that makes up proteins as we know them. There are 20 different amino acids in total,  9 of which are considered essential - these are the ones that we need to pay attention to because our bodies need more of the essential amino acids. 


So amino acids make up protein, so what? There’s no question that amino acids play vital roles in keeping us healthy. But what exactly do they do that makes them so important - especially to the vegan athlete?


Supports Immune Function


One benefit of a healthy variety of amino acids, according to the article, “Amino Acids and Immune Function” from the British Journal of Nutrition, is that they come in handy when it comes to fighting against illnesses. The research shows that those who have amino acid deficiencies can actually be spending more time fighting off health issues. So it’s important to get that daily dose.


This is especially true for vegan athletes because you’re constantly burning calories. You have to make sure you’re replenishing so you don’t get behind in your amino acid levels.


Another article, “Amino Acids and Gut Function” from the Amino Acids journal, suggests that the specific amino acids responsible for helping fight sickness include arginine, glycine, lysine, threonine, glutamine, and glutamate. So if you’re not sure which specific amino acids you should be looking for, check for these on the label of protein supplements. Remember, that glutamine and glutamate show up as glutamic acid in many places. Vegun Nutrition makes getting these key amino acids easy with our wide variety of proteins including VEGANMASS™ & VPLANT™ ! They contain all of these, making it a great everyday protein recovery drink. In addition, our vegan essential amino acid product VAMINO™ contains all nine essential amino acids!

 As a vegan athlete, you’re probably in the gym a lot. It can be a crowded place - and everyone is using the same machines, bars, and showers. Help your immune system fight off all those germs with a good portion of amino acids every day. Plus, that’s less time spent away from the gym recovering from things like the cold and flu.


Supports Muscle Building


Probably the most important piece of information to a vegan athlete is that amino acids help in building muscles after a workout. This was greatly supported by the experiments done and written in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. Surprisingly, the results showed that it didn’t take a huge portion of essential amino acids in order to see physical improvements. In fact, muscle growth was 3 ½ times greater for those who took a 6-gram dose of essential amino acids after a workout than those who didn’t. That’s a huge difference between the groups!


The key to it all? The essential amino acids were taken along with 35 grams of carbohydrates.


When used together, the combination of essential amino acids with carbs provides the best results possible, helping you get stronger and build in ways you never imagined.


But don’t think that a small dose of essential amino acids is the cut-off point. Some nutrients can hit a level where you won’t benefit from having more of it once you hit a certain amount. For amino acids though, studies have shown that higher dosages also leads to more impressive results.


Being a vegan athlete, you want the post workout protein supplement that’s going to give you the most benefits as possible. Post workout drinks are important for recovery and building, but you need to make sure that you use the best one. You need a drink that has it all - plenty of protein, all 9 essential amino acids, and the right carbs to work together for the ultimate recovery and muscle growth.


Luckily, Vegun Nutrition has you covered. Our specially formulated Premium Plant-Based Mass Gainer VEGANMASS™ contains the perfect amount of all 9 essential amino acids. It also has the right blend of natural pea protein isolate, sacha inchi protein, quinoa protein and low-glycemic carbs to work together and give you the results you’ve been waiting for.


Give your body a break after each workout and reward yourself with a drink that will do you some good. Get all the protein, amino acids, and carbs that a vegan athlete needs for a full recovery so you can push even harder the next time you hit the gym.


Order your Vegun Nutrition supplements today and start building the body you deserve!


Read our Top 5 Tips to building muscle on a Vegan Diet here!




Abdulla, M, et al. “Nutrient Intake and Health Status of Vegans. Chemical Analyses of Diets Using the Duplicate Portion Sampling Technique.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 34, no. 11, Jan. 1981, pp. 2464–2477., doi:10.1093/ajcn/34.11.2464.

Børsheim, Elisabet, et al. “Essential Amino Acids and Muscle Protein Recovery from Resistance Exercise.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 283, no. 4, Jan. 2002, doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00466.2001.

Li, Peng, et al. “Amino Acids and Immune Function.” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 98, no. 2, 2007, pp. 237–252., doi:10.1017/s000711450769936x.

Mcdougall, John. “Plant Foods Have a Complete Amino Acid Composition.” Circulation, vol. 105, no. 25, 2002, doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000018905.97677.1f. 

Schmidt, J A, et al. “Plasma Concentrations and Intakes of Amino Acids in Male Meat-Eaters, Fish-Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans: a Cross-Sectional Analysis in the EPIC-Oxford Cohort.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 70, no. 3, 2015, pp. 306–312., doi:10.1038/ejcn.2015.144.

Wang, W. W., et al. “Amino Acids and Gut Function.” Amino Acids, vol. 37, no. 1, Jan. 2008, pp.105–110., doi:10.1007/s00726-008-0152-4.