Why People Are Putting Liquid Aminos in Everything

Why People Are Adding Liquid Aminos to Everything

Photo: Pond5

If you’ve been to a health food store lately, you may have noticed a product called liquid aminos gracing the shelves. Jim White, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says that liquid aminos are sold in pour or spray bottles and contains naturally-occurring essential and non-essential amino acids. For those keeping track at home, that means 0.5 grams of protein per teaspoon. Touted as a healthier alternative to tamari and soy sauce, liquid amino acids are gluten-free and are not fermented — but you’ll still get that great flavor.

Sounds fancy, but what’s the point? Here’s why amino acids are so important, and when you might consider adding liquid aminos to your food.

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How to Use Liquid Aminos

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that your body puts together to create muscle. They’re also important for healthy functioning of all the cells and organs in your body. You can only get essential amino acids through the foods you eat. Meat, dairy products and legumes are major food sources of essential amino acids. But supplements — either in a capsule, powder or liquid form — are other options for going above and beyond your daily requirement, says White.

Some people swear by amino acid supplements to prevent fatigue and improve concentration, but there’s no hard scientific evidence to fully support these claims, says White. One study found that women who took supplements of L-Ornithine, a nonprotein amino acid, reported feeling less fatigued. But L-Ornithine is not one of the amino acids contained in the most popular brand of liquid amino acids.

According to White, the biggest fans of amino acid supplementation seem to be athletes. But people looking to improve exercise performance and reduce protein and muscle breakdown during an intense workout have been known to also take amino acid supplementation. Some athletes report having increased energy levels and decreased fatigue after taking a dose of liquid amino acids before or post-exercise. And while more research is needed, some suggests that amino acid supplements may help elite competitors train more efficiently. Liquid aminos may also help prevent muscle cramps in athletes and help them recover quicker after a tough workout.

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Should You Try It?

While amino acid supplements may be most popular with athletes looking to boost their performance, they may have some merit for everyday use, too, says White. People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may be deficient in certain essential amino acids, since meat and dairy are some of the major sources.

“If you need to be on a gluten-free diet, or you’re a vegan or a vegetarian and need more protein in your diet to meet protein requirements, [for example],” he says.

On the other hand, people on a low-sodium diet due to high blood pressure, kidney disease or another health issue should use liquid amino acids sparingly. Instead, they should depend on lean proteins, says White. In spite of not containing added salt, liquid amino acids contain about 320 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon; that’s 23 more than a teaspoon of soy sauce.

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So adding some liquid amino acids to your next stir-fry is probably unnecessary, unless you’re deprived of protein from a restrictive diet or you’re a serious bodybuilder. But if you think you could benefit a little from it, be sure to use the liquid in moderation, says White. It’s also wise to have a chat with your doctor to see if he or she thinks it’s necessary for you to increase your amino acid intake. You’ll also want to ensure it doesn’t interact with any medications or other supplements you’re taking.

“As with protein in general, you do not want to intake more grams per day than you need, as it can overwork your kidneys or cause weight gain by increased calories,” says White. “The safest way to increase muscle mass is a high-protein natural diet with weight training and exercise.”

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