Loving the BITE: Amino Acid Run-Down


Tucked away in my pantry, I have a bucket of powders, pills, and secret ingredients. It’s funny, as a self-proclaimed whole-food yogurt-making-hippie, I feel the need to sort of hide it in the back.  But, it’s very important to me, helps me feel recovered, strong, and balanced throughout the duration of season, and I wouldn’t be the same athlete without it.

My secret? I supplement some specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that I believe I would otherwise be deficient in, all because I am an athlete.  Here’s where other hippies and I often part philosophies, when it comes to endurance training and workouts, you are putting your body at some risk of damage or illness, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, and slow recovery if you don’t pay attention to these things. You are likely putting your body through the wringer! While exercise is definitely healthy and beneficial, there’s no doubt in my mind that endurance training can easily  and often cross the line to doing some harm. I OFTEN hear from athletes who simply didn’t want to supplement with these sorts of powders, never thought about deficiencies in their bodies due to training, or didn’t know how, and they come to me often on the brink of exhaustion. Or, with diminishing performances. Or, with an inability to recover from training effectively.

So, today, I’m going to give you the names, doses, and brands of 3 types of amino acids I buy and supplement through the on-season. While there are lots you could choose, these are the one I recommend and have seen really good results with in my clients.

Recipe of the Week: Amino Acids for the On-Season


  • l-glutamine
  • BCAAs
  • beta-alanine


  • l-glutamine: Use in training nutrition, and if needed for digestive issues, daily nutrition, as described below.
  • BCAAs: Use in training nutrition as described below.
  • beta-alanine: Use in training nutrition as described below. 


First, to keep this post from going way-too-long, I’m going to give you summaries on the benefits of each, and links to the posts I’ve written previously (which contain more detail). Each of the amino acids (or class of amino acids) replenish amino acids in the muscles, and then additionally offer benefits to different parts of the body.  Here’s my on-season trio:NOW-BA-154x300


l-glutamine is an amino acid used by the gut cells and skeletal muscles cells. While sedentary people likely receive adequate l-glutamine through regular protein foods and the constant breakdown/repair of muscles, athletes often become deficient due to their high skeletal muscle demands.

Oftentimes, I’ve found that athletes also have stomach and digestions using (both when eating training nutrition and daily nutrition), and both have been remedied with supplementation of l-glutamine. In addition, it can significantly reduce soreness and improve recovery.

To use:

  • Add 5 grams (from a supplemental powder) to your recovery meal or snack after any training 90+ minutes. Or, after any short-duration high intensity training.
  • Before and During rides: If riding 3+ hours, add 5 grams l-glutamine in pre-training fuel, and add 2-3 gm l-glutamine per hour to your sports drink.
  • Daily Nutrition: If you suffer from digestion issues, IBS, leaky-gut syndrome or multiple food allergies, supplement with 3-5 grams l-glutamine daily (in addition to training amounts).

Watch my video, get a great recovery recipe and more information here.


The 3 amino acids known as the Branch Chain Amino Acids are leucine, valine, and isoleucine. These special amino acids are used heavily by the skeletal muscles, andcan also cross the blood brain barrier and affect mental function (in training nutrition, it’s mostly stimulants like caffeine, and glucose, or lack thereof, that affects our brains).  One issue that many long-distance athletes face is mental fagitue, or hitting a wall. Adequate hourly carbohydrate intake AND supplemental BCAAs can improve this. Additionally, the BCAAs will work to spare muscle breakdown and improve recovery.

  • Recovery: Add 5 grams (from a supplemental powder) to your recovery meal or snack after any training 3+ minutes. Or, after any short-duration high intensity training in which you feel “spent.”
  • Before and During rides: If riding 3+ hours, add 5 grams l-glutamine in pre-training fuel, and add 2-3 gm l-glutamine per hour to your sports drink.


Beta-Alanine is newer to me, both in personal use and recommendations than l-glutamine and BCAAs (which I’ve used for years personally and with clients).  It’s also a bit different than the other 2 I’ve mentioned here, in that it’s benefits aren’t only in recovery and muscle sparing, but actually in on-the-bike performance and specifically with anaerobic efforts.  In fact, when athletes supplement beta-alanine, multiple studies have demonstrated thatintramuscular levels of carnosine increase by approximately 45-60%. Carnosine contributes to the buffering of hydrogen ions, thus slowing this pH drop. It is very effective at buffering the hydrogen ions responsible for producing the ill effects of lactic acid. To learn more about how supplement beta-alanine can provide venefits for you this season, click here.

To use:

  • Take 2-3 grams beta-alanine 2 times per day for 4 weeks (4-6 gm total per day).
  • Then, reduce your dose to just 2-3 grams once per day for up to 8 weeks. The affects will continue 1-2 months after supplementing is discontinued.  Click link above for more dosage recommendations.

For all these amino acids, I use and recommend the NOW Food brand. I like the powders rather than capsules, because they are versatile and you can add the amounts you need to different drinks and at different times. Furthermore, each one contains no other ingredients, so you won’t get any “junk” additives or chemicals. And, since you’re only using 1/2-1 tsp at a time, they last a LONG time.

For example, I use/recommend these:

NOW Foods L-Glutamine Pure Powder, 1-Pound
NOW Foods Branch Chain Amino Powder, 12 Ounces
NOW Foods Beta Alanine Powder 500G

Or, if you’re looking for an easy-to-drink sports drink that contains l-glutamine and BCAAs, try CarboRocket333 – it’s my choice because it’s got ’em! To check it out, click here.

While you may feel like a mad-scientist with all these powders, measuring spoons, and instructions, it’s really quite simple to add these nutrients that are often deficient in the athlete’s body (we use them up in training and are generally unable to replenish them in the amounts needed). I’ve found that they provide great benefit to me in my own training and adventures, and to those of my clients. One of the most common pieces of feedback I get from clients is, I can’t believe how well I’m recovering and how fast I’m ready to ride again! Ready?!?

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.

If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!

Enjoy Your Ride
Pin It

Comments are closed.


    March 2024
    M T W T F S S


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

Nutrition Tips