Amino Acids and Their Metabolites for Improving Human Exercising Performance Academic Article uri icon


  • Achieving adequate nutrition for exercising humans is especially important for improving both muscle mass and metabolic health. One of the most common misunderstandings in the fitness industry is that the human body has requirements for dietary whole protein and that exercising individuals must consume only whole protein to meet their physiological needs. This view, however, is incorrect. Instead, humans at rest or during exercise have requirements for dietary amino acids (AAs), and dietary protein is a source of AAs in the body. The requirements for AAsmust be met each day to avoid a negative nitrogen balance in individuals with moderate or intense physical activity. By properly meeting increased requirements for AAs through increased intake of high-quality protein (the source of AAs) plus supplemental AAs, athletes can improve their overall athletic performance. AAs or metabolites that are of special importance for exercising individuals include arginine, branched-chain AAs, creatine, glycine, taurine, and glutamine. The AAs play vital roles as both substrates for protein synthesis and molecules for regulating blood flow and nutrient metabolism. The functional roles of AAs include themaintenance of cell and tissue integrity; stimulation of mechanistic target of rapamycin and AMP-activated protein kinase cell signaling pathways; energy sources for the small intestine, cells of the immune system, and skeletal muscle; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory reactions; production of neurotransmitters; modulation of acidbase balance in the body. All of those roles are crucial for the overall goal of improving exercise performance. Therefore, adequate intakes of proteinogenic AAs and their functional metabolites, especially those noted in this review, are essential for optimal human health (including optimum muscle mass and function)and should be a primary goal of exercising individuals.

published proceedings

  • Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

altmetric score

  • 3.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Posey, E. A., Bazer, F. W., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Posey, EA||Bazer, FW||Wu, G

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wu, G.

publication date

  • January 2021