Wait, you’re trying to tell me that you don’t enjoy the frothy powder mustache that you get after drinking a nice, bitter glass of free form amino acids pre- or post-workout?! I guess that comes down to personal preference, but if you are in the vast majority of supplement users that have added free form amino acid powders in to their daily supplement regimes, you have likely experienced many of the negative side effects that can occur when mixing amino acids. Here are some helpful tips to try and improve the taste and mixability of your daily amino blends!
In their study of amino acid taste receptors, Greg Nelson and associates describe how certain species (including humans) respond to the taste of each of the essential amino acids in relation to the specific biological needs of the species1. This intriguing study suggests that food selectivity in each species has developed based on these biological triggers, meaning that the good tastes that we experience when consuming certain foods may be influenced by the fact that they provide a more complete source of essential amino acids1. This is great news when it comes to complete proteins, such as whey, egg, and meat, but unfortunately it does not hold true for many of the isolated amino acids.
There are five basic tastes which we may experience when consuming certain foods: bitterness, saltiness, savory, sourness, and sweetness. Here, we will provide a breakdown of the taste sensations that can be expected from each of the essential amino acids:
- Aspartic Acid
While the majority of these amino acids will mix readily in to liquid, a select few tend to be more hydrophobic than others. This is directly related to the polar charge of the particles, as described by Salam Al Karadaghi in The 20 Amino Acids and Their Role in Protein Structures2. We have broken the same essential amino acids down in to three additional categories based on their ability to mix in water:
Hydrophilic (Mixes readily in water):
- Aspartic Acid
Uncharged (Mixes in water):
Hydrophobic (Does not mix readily in water):
Great, thanks for identifying which of these essential components in my daily nutrition are going to taste and mix terribly! How do I fix that??
Now that we have developed a basic understanding of the functionality of each of the essential amino acids, masking the taste and improving the mixability should be easy, and arriving at a solution for one will often improve the other!
Let’s presume that sweetness is not an issue, shall we? There are very few salty or sour aminos, so that leaves the biggest complaint from most users as being that their amino acids are too bitter. The best way to mask bitterness is to find complimentary tastes that can serve to enhance overall flavor and override the bitter sensation that may be caused by these ingredients. Increasing the sweetness and sourness of your amino blend will be the best way to improve the taste, using a range of ingredient options.
To increase the sourness and/or improve mixability, we recommend adding 100-200mg of one (or more) of the following ingredients to each standard serving:
- Ascorbic Acid
- Citric Acid
- Malic Acid
By modifying the acidity of your new amino acid blend using one or more of these sour ingredients, you will also see a drastic improvement in the mixability of the materials. This is caused by a change in pH levels and polarity that occurs through the introduction of the acidic ingredients. But wait, there’s more! Citric acid and malic acid each contribute to the Krebs cycle, which is essential to energy production during aerobic exercise3. Increasing the amount of citric and malic acid in your mixture may also provide increases in overall energy!*
What we are now left with is an amino acid mixture that is both bitter and sour. Still not quite as delicious as one might hope, but at least it will dissolve easily in to liquid. At this point, we can begin to add flavoring and sweetening ingredients to form your final blend!
To increase the sweetness, we recommend adding one of the following ingredients to each standard serving:
- 250mg Rebaudioside-A (Reb-A) Stevia Extract 98%
- 200mg Sucralose
- 20g Dextrose
When it comes to flavoring, you will want to be sure to use a flavor that complements the bitter and sour ingredients nicely. Needless to say, your standard chocolate and vanilla flavors will be out. We recommend finding a citrus or fruity flavor extract that will benefit from the sour jolt. Fruit punch, orange, lemon, and watermelon flavor extracts are excellent options for the best-tasting results.
You can also simplify this entire process by mixing amino acids into a citrusy fruit juice from the very start. Fresh citrus juice, such as lemonade, limeade, or orange juice, will be naturally-high in both citric acid and sugars. These are excellent alternatives for mixing amino acids, and the added sugars can provide quick energy pre- or post-workout. If you prefer to limit your carbohydrate intake, you may also consider mixing in to a low-calorie fruit juice, but be sure to review the ingredients label if you are looking to avoid artificial ingredients.
True Nutrition takes the work out of mixing amino acids with our range of pre-workout supplement products, as well!
Check out our BCAA Plus and other great options today!
It is our goal to help you meet your goals, so be sure to let us know if you have any additional questions or requests on how to mix your amino acids!
*DISCLAIMER: The above description is provided for information only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician or the appropriately licensed professional before engaging in a program of exercise or nutritional supplementation. No information in this site has been reviewed by the FDA. No product is intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease.
1. Nelson G, et al. (2002). “An amino-acid taste receptor.” Nature. 416(6877): p. 199â€“202.
2. Karadaghi S. “The 20 Amino Acids and Their Role in Protein Structures.” Retrieved 19 July, 2013 from http://proteinstructures.com/Structure/Structure/amino-acids.html.
3. Abraham G, Flechas J. (1992). “Management of fibromyalgia: Rationale for the use of magnesium and malic acid.” J of Nutr Medicine. 3: p. 49-59.