If you take a look at wellness supplement brands’ websites, you’ll spot a very distinct pattern: oiled, muscly men and women in athletic gear with stern expressions as they stare into the camera from their dream-like, dimly-lit gyms. Usually, these sites are plastered with expressions about getting ripped and burning fat, or they compare men who use their products to gorillas or rhinos. They all but promise that you too can look like Mr. Olympia.
That’s not the approach that Amino Co has taken with their products.
When you first check out Amino Co’s website, they seem to have the quiet confidence of a brand that doesn’t have to try too hard. Rather than focusing on getting jacked or taking an exclusive aesthetics approach to wellness, Amino Co seems to be happy to cite their in-depth research studies in support of the health outcomes their products create.
At first, I was a bit skeptical. In recent years, there has been a wave of products claiming to use amino acids for everything from sunless tanner to near-anabolic muscle growth. A lot of it is just marketing gimmicks for sugar-water that contains a small amount of taurine and L-lysine.
But then I took a closer look at what Amino Co claimed and decided to try them out. To give them a fair shot, I gave each of their four current product offerings a go.
I’ll first provide some context around amino acids and Amino Co, then provide an overview of the products they offer, and finally flesh out my experience taking those supplements.
Let’s dive in.
What Are Amino Acids?
The most basic definition of amino acids is that they are the building blocks of protein.
Every protein-containing food you eat contains amino acids. Your body uses these amino acids for a wide array of processes, notably:
- Breaking down food
- Repairing tissues
- Energy production
Your body needs 20 different amino acids to function properly. These amino acids are divided into two categories– essential and nonessential.
The nonessential amino acids are produced by your body naturally. Essential amino acids, however, cannot be produced on your own and have to come from a food source or dietary supplement.
High protein foods are often the best source of amino acids. Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and tofu are all great sources of various essential amino acids. Additionally, foods like quinoa, nuts, seeds, beans, and some vegetables can also be decent sources of amino acids, but these often do not have the same quantity or variety of all essential amino acids, which means it can be more challenging for vegans to get an abundance of these vital nutrients (though it’s certainly not impossible!).
Given their importance in overall health, most of us should be intentional about making sure our diets give us the amino acids we need. If we eat a well-rounded, high-protein diet, we most likely already do.
If that’s the case, would an amino acid supplement like those by the Amino Co still be necessary or even helpful?
The Amino Company’s Research is Out of This World (Literally)
Prior to selling supplements to the public, Amino Co was a research company. They partnered with institutions like NASA to conduct research into the efficacy of using amino acids to influence specific outcomes.
When working with NASA, one of the big challenges that they wanted to begin tackling was in regard to muscle deterioration. In low gravity environments, like those astronauts experience aboard the space station, muscle deterioration can become a significant problem. On Earth, we’re constantly acting against forces of air pressure and gravity, meaning that our muscles have to exert some force even when we’re resting. In space, these forces aren’t as prominent, and astronaut’s bodies adapt to operating in low-resistance environments.
To address this, Amino Co conducted several rest studies in which participants were voluntarily inactive (i.e. bedbound) for an extended period of time. Throughout the experiment, they tested various combinations and quantities of amino acids to see what would best deter muscle deterioration brought on by disuse.
Their study was quite successful and they found a blend that reduced rates of muscle deterioration significantly– today, that blend is known as Life, and is a product they sell to the public.
Even as Amino Co has made the shift to consumer-facing products, they haven’t left their roots as a research organization and they continue to rigorously test their products against specific outcomes. Better still, they document much of their research on their website in the form of case studies, patent information, and scientific study write-ups.
A Quick Note on Proprietary Blends
If you’ve read many of our reviews on supplements, you know that we are not fans of brands relying too heavily on proprietary blends. Often, a proprietary blend is used to cover up the fact that a supplement doesn’t have reasonable quantities of the nutrients and substances that you think you’re paying for. For example, low-end pre-workout supplements will often have a ton of caffeine, sugar, and flavoring on their ingredients list followed by a proprietary blend with a flashy name that contains B-vitamins, taurine, and Ashwagandha root; these proprietary blends are used to conceal dosing so that you don’t realize that what you’re paying for is just caffeinated sugar water.
Luckily, that’s not the case with Amino Co. I had the opportunity to sit down on a call with some folks from the Amino Company and got some great transparency into the proprietary blends that they use within their products. The blends they’ve created and use in their products are the same blends that they use in their research studies, such as the one they did with NASA mentioned above. For each blend they offer, there’s extensive research into why they’re using the proportions and doses they’re using, and most of that research is documented and accessible on their website to back those decisions up.
What Products Are Available?
Life– I Want to Protect My Heart and Muscle Health for Active Aging
The Life supplement is Amino Co’s flagship product. It’s designed to help protect your heart and other muscles as you age, slowing deterioration and encouraging healthy functionality. It currently comes in orange, grape, and watermelon flavors, with the watermelon flavor being all natural and containing no artificial flavors. From their clinical studies, the Life blend has been proven to:
- Be more than 3 times more powerful at stimulating muscle growth and repair than any protein source
- Help maintain healthy triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels already in the normal range
- Support healthy blood flow and help preserve heart strength and function
- Improve physical function, strength, and mobility in people with normal age-related decline.
Perform– I Want to Enhance My Strength, Focus, and Endurance for Athletic Performance
Perform is a blend designed to help you achieve peak athletic performance. It helps improve muscle performance during exercise, enhance mental clarity and concentration, reduce fatigue and dehydration, and minimize recovery times. Currently, it comes in grape, blue raspberry, and pink lemonade flavor options, with pink lemonade being all-natural and contains no artificial flavors.
The Perform blend should be familiar territory for anyone who takes nootropics or pre-workout supplements. I’ll say more about my experience using it in a moment, but in a nutshell, the effect straddles the line between nootropics and pre-workout. It does contain a decent amount of caffeine, but not enough to make you feel jittery. It also does not contain any niacin, so it never caused any flushing or the sense of crawling skin that pre-workouts can.
Heal– I Want to Recover Faster from Injuries, Surgery, or Workouts
As the name suggests, Heal is designed to help you heal faster and stronger following any sort of injury. Specifically, it helps maintain healthy inflammation levels and preserve muscle mass during periods of inactivity. It works really well as a post-workout supplement, too, encouraging muscle synthesis following a hypertrophy-based workout.
Currently, the Heal blend is available in vanilla, chocolate, grape, and sour apple flavors. The sour apple is the natural flavor option that contains no artificial flavors.
Purity– I Want to Maintain Healthy Liver Fat Levels
Purity is an essential amino acid-based formulation that has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce liver fat levels while working to maintain healthy liver enzyme levels. Prior to connecting with Amino Co and trying out their products, I didn’t realize how important liver fat levels were to your overall health. Obviously, I knew that the liver was a vital organ that fulfills important bodily functions, but I didn’t realize that fatty liver disease affects roughly 25% of the population of the United States.
While folks who are young, active, and eating a well-balanced diet may not need the Purity product on a regular basis for their liver health, it is ideal for folks who drink alcohol above a moderate level or have a diet high in processed foods. The Purity blend is currently available in peach mango, strawberry lemon, and sour apple. Sour apple is the natural flavor with no artificial flavors.
That Sounds Great but Are the Products Worth It?
I’ll split the outcomes that I noticed with each product into two categories.
In the first category is Perform and Heal. I’m grouping these two together because their purpose is inherently more readily observable. The second category– Life and Purity– are supplements I was taking for more preventative purposes, and with preventative measures, no noticeable effect is often ideal. I’ll say more on that in a moment.
Perform and Heal
I primarily used Perform as a midday pick-me-up and as a pre-workout supplement. As a midday pick-me-up, it’s fantastic. After about 2:30 PM, I prefer to drink water instead of coffee (mainly because I will have already drained my coffee pot by then), but it’s not uncommon to hit an afternoon slump where I struggle to focus and sustain my momentum at work. To counteract this, I’d drop a scoop of Perform into a bottle of water, chug it down, and then power through the last half of the workday.
As a pre-workout, Perform requires two scoops. If you’re more caffeine sensitive, one may be enough. As a big guy with a fast metabolism and a high caffeine tolerance, in order to get the zap of energy needed to get through a powerlifting or HIIT routine, one scoop didn’t quite cut it for me. One scoop, in my experience, was perfect for maintenance workouts with sustained exertion as opposed to periods of explosive exertion. For the latter, doubling up did the trick without causing the flushing and crawling skin sensations of a lot of substances that are designed to specifically be pre-workouts.
After working out, I integrated Heal into my protein and creatine shakes. While it’s difficult to isolate variables, I can say that post-workout muscle fatigue and soreness did seem to be reduced while taking Heal. For example, I’ve started integrating Clean and Jerks into my workout routine on a regular basis even though my shoulders are one of my weaker muscle groups. Compared to my recovery time from Clean and Jerks prior to taking Heal, I was in a much better position to re-engage my shoulders in other muscle group exercises within a day or two of Clean and Jerks. Typically, I’d wait at least three days before adding new strain to my shoulders, but I felt limber and inflammation-free enough to move quicker in reintroducing shoulder-engaging workouts following a shoulder strain.
Life and Purity
Life is another product I was pretty excited about trying. While I don’t currently have any form of heart disease and am young enough that I don’t have to worry about it much, I know that heart disease and high blood pressure run in my family. For me, taking Life made sense as a preventative measure since it helps protect heart and muscle health.
While taking it, I didn’t notice any explicit effects. As I mentioned, though, that’s often a good thing when taking a supplement that serves a preventative purpose. If I felt nauseous or uncomfortable after taking it, that would make it difficult to justify using it regularly as a preventative. Thankfully, I was able to drink it (usually as the beverage that accompanied my lunch) and continue going about my day without any adverse effects.
Purity is similarly a primarily preventative product for me. My diet consists primarily of vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, rice, and occasionally dairy. On top of that, I’m athletic and consistently active and only drink moderately a few times per month. These factors combined mean that I am personally at a very low risk of developing a fatty liver-related issue.
When speaking with Amino Co’s awesome product team, they clarified that people in my position likely won’t get significant benefit from the Purity product because we’re already doing a lot to prevent fatty liver buildup even if we don’t realize it. If I drank alcohol more frequently or was traveling and had to eat a less healthful diet, then it would probably be more beneficial for me. As it is, though, I was mainly happy to take it and notice that it had no adverse effects.
How do Amino Co Products Taste?
Overall, each product tasted pretty good. None of the flavors that I got were difficult to get down, which can be a problem with some supplements that have more of an acquired taste. For transparency, the flavors that I got were:
- Perform in Blue Raspberry
- Life in Grape
- Heal in Vanilla
- Purity in Peach Mango
One thing that did stand out to me with each of these products is that they are all somewhat bitter. Amino acids are, well, acids and on their own, they are exceptionally acrid and bitter. Each blend dressed them up well and made them easy to drink, but it should be noted that if you are sensitive to sour flavors, they may pose more of a challenge.
In testing out each blend, I found that the flavors could best be improved in the following ways:
- Making an amino cocktail. After drinking each flavor individually a few times, I found that mixing the grape-flavored Life with the peach and mango-flavored Purity made for a refreshing midday drink to accompany my lunch.
- Use a milk alternative instead of water. Especially with the Heal product, I noticed the biggest improvement in taste when using oat milk or almond milk as my base instead of water. Oat milk, protein powder, Heal, and creatine have become my favorite post-gym treat. The flavor is delightful, it’s filling and satisfying, and you don’t even notice the bitterness Heal usually has.
- Add a dash of stevia. When drinking the blends alone and with water, sprinkling in a little stevia can reduce the bitterness really well. It doesn’t take very much at all to cut through the bitterness and make the flavor a little brighter.
- Dilute with more water (or do a shot with less water). As with any water-soluble supplement, adjusting the amount of water you use can also be a great way to handle the flavor. More water means the flavor will be weaker, and you can sip on it all day without tasting any bitterness. If you’re like me and don’t want to stretch out the time it takes to get through flavored water, adding half the normal amount of water, shaking vigorously, and essentially taking it like a shot is also a convenient way to get it in.
What’s great about each of these methods of taking Amino Co products is that they don’t reduce the inherent benefit of each product. Some supplements (such as Athletic Greens) recommend taking their supplements on an empty stomach or spacing it out between when you take the supplement and when you have something like caffeine or dairy. Amino Co doesn’t seem to have these same guidelines, and instead suggests that whichever method works best for you is totally fine.
Are Amino Co Products Worth the Price Tag?
Overall, Amino Co products aren’t cheap. They are slightly above the median price of targeted supplements, running anywhere from $67 to $100 per container. Each container lasts around a month when taken daily, and you save more per container when you buy several at a time as opposed to purchasing them one-off.
If you have a specific need that matches any of their outcomes, they are definitely worth it. For example, I am in love with the Heal product and want to keep it in my post-workout routine as long as possible because workout recovery is something I really value. I also want to keep Life in my routine given my family history of heart disease. Perform and Purity are products I will probably keep on hand, but may not take daily since I don’t always have a daily need for them.
All of that said, in spite of the costs of individual supplements, I don’t think they’re priced unfairly or would be too expensive if you’re not taking each supplement each and every day. If it’s within your budget to do so, go for it! That’s where you’ll see the very best outcomes. If it’s not in your budget to do that, however, never fear– you can still benefit from taking one or two of the supplements on a regular basis.
Plus, you can grab a 30% discount that makes them much easier to afford and try out by using the code SELF at checkout!
I’ll keep taking these products and update this article if there are other outcomes that I notice and think would be helpful to document.
In a nutshell, though, Amino Co definitely gets a thumbs up from us and is something we would recommend checking out and trying for yourself.