AminoVITAL BCAA Energy Gel
MMA/Muay Thai Energy Gel Supplement
A source of both BCAAs & carbs, Ajinomoto’s aminoVITAL™ supplement fuels your Muay Thai or MMA exercise, increasing athletic endurance, reducing recovery time, and helping prevent muscle breakdown & damage.
Nutrition Facts: AminoVITAL BCAA Energy Gel
Serving Size: 100g
Servings per container: 1
Amount Per Serving
Saturated Fat 0g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Total Sugars 12g
*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a food contributes to a daily diet, based on FDA recommendations. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Protein RDA is based on an 80kg athlete consuming 1.6g of protein per kg of body mass.
AminoVITAL BCAA Energy Gel
Japanese company Ajinomoto produces an interesting energy gel called aminoVITAL™, which their packaging boasts is the No.1 Brand in Japan.
What makes the energy gel novel is that a single 100g pouch delivers 3000mg of amino acids, predominantly Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which the human body cannot produce.
Here we investigate what all this means and how it can help our Muay Thai or MMA training activities or fights.
What is Ajinomoto?
Nowadays, Ajinomoto is a humungous Japanese firm involved in a wide range of food industry products.
The formation of Ajinomoto is fascinating; Way back at the turn of the 20th century, a Professor at Tokyo University dedicated his research to uncovering the reason for the famous ‘Umami’ taste, (umami being extremely important in Japanese cuisine). He found that the umami flavor was especially concentrated in Kombu seaweed, which ultimately led to him isolating the source of the umami flavor as coming from glutamate – a type of amino acid. These findings spawned the idea for the Ajinomoto Company, established as AJI-NO-MOTO® in 1909.
Fast-forward more than 100 years and Ajinomoto is still leading the way with amino acid-based supplements and energy gels to improve exercise performance.
For people practicing martial arts in South-East Asia, Ajinomoto’s first overseas production facility outside of Japan was set up in Thailand way back in 1960.
Today Ajinomoto produces a massive range of products, many of which any disciplined MMA or Muay Thai fighter may choose to avoid or consuming sparingly; Seasoning products, instant ramen noodles, processed foods, beverages, animal feed products etc. (At least we hope you’re not experimenting with animal feed).
But their aminoVITAL BCAA enriched energy gel is worth considering for MMA or Muay Thai performance improvement.
What are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)?
A total of 9 amino acids are needed by our body to function properly.
Three of those are referred to as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). Namely, those are:
(The branched part of the name simply means that the main ‘spine’ or ‘trunk’ of the molecule has one or more ‘branches’).
As part of a regular healthy diet, our body usually sources BCAAs from meats, dairy products, and legumes.
Why are BCAAs important for our body?
The importance of these three Branched Chain Amino Acids has been extensively researched.
It turns out that BCAAs make up about 40% of the muscle tissues in our body. Clearly Branched Chain Amino Acids are an important building block for muscle formation and repair.
But BCAAs are much more important than aiding muscle formation alone.
In wider medical applications BCAAs have been used across a variety of functions:
- BCAA supplements have been used to treat liver diseases (hepatic encephalopathy). For some individuals suffering from this condition, supplementation of BCAAs has been shown to improve brain function.
- BCAAs have even been used to reverse comas.
- Branched Chain Amino Acids have been used to reduce muscle wasting (sarcopenia) for aging individuals. On that note, the onset of sarcopenia begins as early as 30 years old, with muscle loss proceeding at 3-5% per decade.
- Antipsychotic drugs can cause a movement disorder. BCAAs can be used to ease this problem.
And when it comes to high-intensity exercise, BCAA supplements have been used to achieve some impressive performance-enhancing effects. Time to get a bit technical:
- BCAAs perform an insulin like effect on glucose to fuel exercise. In layman’s terms supplementing BCAAs is shown to cause a drop in blood glucose levels. This means dependency on the liver to produce glycogen is reduced, so essentially, consuming more BCAAs drives an alternate mechanism to get energy.
- Under normal circumstances, glucose metabolism results in an increase in lactic acid concentration. As every MMA or Muay Thai athlete knows, high lactic acid levels are undesirable. Feel the burn! Elevated lactic acid levels reduce the pH of our internal equilibrium which in turn can slow down or even stop glucose metabolism. Definitely not what you want halfway through a MMA or Muay Thai fight. Remarkably, BCAA supplements have been shown to reduce lactic acid build-up, allowing glucose metabolism to continue for longer.
- BCAAs can also reduce the sense of fatigue. In simple terms, a few compounds in your blood compete to bind with albumen. One of these is fatty acids and the other is our trouble maker, called tryptophan. You don’t want lots of free tryptophan in your bloodstream. Its better if free tryptophan binds to albumen. Increased heart rate and circulation during exercise mean more free tryptophan enters your brain which results in elevated serotonin levels which in turn gives you an increased sense of fatigue. BCAA supplements help because they reduce free fatty acids in your body. Therefore less free fatty acids are available, leaving more albumen available to bind to free tryptophan, rendering the tryptophan harmless with the end result of a reduced sense of fatigue. Bingo!
How do BCAA supplements improve exercises such as Muay Thai or MMA
To perform exercise our body requires fuel. Initially, our body breaks down sugars to produce glycogen which is the energy source used to power our muscles.
As sugar levels become depleted, our crafty body starts to look elsewhere for energy sources. In extended high-intensity activities (such as a demanding MMA or Muay Thai fight), our body can break down muscle proteins in order to use Branched Chain Amino Acids as a source of energy.
After spending endless hours in the gym conditioning and strengthening our muscles, clearly, we’d prefer to avoid breaking down muscle proteins to provide energy if possible.
It follows that by taking a BCAA supplement we can reduce the potential for our body to start breaking down our muscle fibers and causing muscle damage.
What performance-enhancing effects do BCAA supplements give for MMA or Muay Thai
- Ok, so we already discussed that BCAAs can give a reduced sense of fatigue
- BCAA supplements can increase endurance, by glucose interaction to fuel your exercise
- Consuming BCAAs reduces muscle damage and promotes muscle formation
- Plus BCAAs assist in faster recovery from high-intensity sessions
AminoVITAL Energy Gel for MMA/Muay Thai
AminoVITAL energy gel comes in a handy 100g pouch. The gel contains 3000mg of amino acids, the majority of which are BCAAs.
Specifically, Ajonomoto says that a 100mg pouch of aminoVITAL contains:
- L-Leucine 680 mg.
- L-Valine 490 mg.
- L-Isoleucine 480 mg.
The energy gel also gives 110 calories, 24 grams of which come in the form of carbohydrates.
So not only is aminoVITAL providing BCAAs to fuel your MMA/Muay Thai workout and reduce the potential of muscle damage. AminoVITAL is also a source of carbohydrates, acting as an energy supplement for your martial arts training or fight.
Athletes experiences using BCAA supplements
This is subjective and down to the individual. But collating athletes’ personal experiences of how they found using BCAA supplements can give some idea of what to expect. Athletes have reported:
- Less soreness after high-intensity workouts
- Faster recovery
- Increased endurance
- Improved cardio capacity and strength
- Improved tolerance to high ambient temperatures. (Could be a game-changer in the hot and humid Muay Thai / MMA sweat-box gyms of South-East Asia).
- Greater concentration, motor function, and accuracy
Potential issues with BCAA Supplements and cautionary notes
Similar to overdosing on say whey proteins, consuming increased amounts of Branched Chain Amino Acids can lead to a host of digestion-related issues such as stomach pains, nausea, bloating, sickness and diarrhea.
For some individuals, BCAA supplementation causes fatigue and/or a loss of coordination (in direct contradiction to the benefits experienced above).
Plus there are some groups who should completely avoid BCAA supplements including those with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) aka Lou Gehrigs Disease, branched-chain ketoaciduria, alcoholism, and diabetes.
As always, start slow and don’t exceed recommended serving suggestions/dosage. If you experience any adverse side effects after taking aminoVITAL (or any other BCAA energy gel) stop taking it immediately.
And if in any doubt, consult a doctor or dietician.
How and when to use aminoVITAL energy gel for Muay Thai or MMA
AminoVITAL’s packaging instructs us to keep the energy gel in a cool place and consume it immediately after opening.
(AminoVITAL’s packaging also informs us that it is ‘Not a Low Calories Food’, which may or may not be a good thing depending on the phase of your Muay Thai / MMA training block).
Their 100g sealed foil pouch is small and easy to store and carry.
Ajinomoto suggests that the best time to consume aminoVITAL energy gel supplement is either before or during exercise.
How does aminoVITAL energy gel taste?
I’ve tried using many energy gels for performance-enhancing gains and they usually taste quite sweet, often using a chocolate, berry, or coffee flavor to mask whatever active ingredients are inside.
AminoVITAL tastes completely different. I wouldn’t describe it as unpleasant, but the design of the flavor profile certainly hasn’t gone down the route of using anything sweet to mask the ingredients.
The flavor is quite unusual and almost hard to describe.
Perhaps a little sour, almost mildly bitter. Maybe a citrus tone mixed in. It could be that Ajinomoto is staying true to the umami taste which led to the founding of the company more than 100 years ago. Whatever it is, aminoVITAL is not awful tasting but certainly unique.
The consistency of the gel is light and easy to consume. Similar to the jelly your mom probably made at home when you were a kid. (It’s not a thick syrup-like paste such as the GU energy gel offerings).
Pros and Cons of AminoVITAL
- Good source of energy
- Can increase high-intensity exercise endurance
- Reduces the likelihood of muscle tissue breakdown and damage
- Small convenient pouch, easy to store and transport
- Can increase focus and concentration
- BCAAs give an interesting alternative to conventional protein supplements
- Interesting flavor profile
- Should be avoided for individuals who have a host of existing medical conditions
- Can give adverse side effects for some people
- Again, interesting taste (which could be a good or bad thing depending on your personal preferences)
Verdict: AminoVITAL BCAA Energy Gel for MMA & Muay Thai
We believe AminoVITAL BCAA Energy Gel to be a useful performance supplement for Muay Thai and MMA athletes.
Taking supplements that have been enriched with Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) can give performance-enhancing benefits of increased endurance, less muscle damage, and increased concentration. The convenience of the serving pouch and affordability mean we’d recommend giving aminoVITAL a try. And as an added bonus, you get to taste something quite unique.
Like all sports supplements be sensible and don’t go crazy when you do start introducing aminoVITAL into your diet. Cease taking it if you experience any adverse side effects, and avoid it completely if you have existing health issues which may make the supplement unsuitable.
Overall, we like aminoVITAL energy gel and will continue to use it during our MMA training and competitions.