Protein and amino acid metabolism during and after exercise and the effects of nutrition

Annu Rev Nutr. 2000;20:457-83. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.20.1.457.


Sustained dynamic exercise stimulates amino acid oxidation, chiefly of the branched-chain amino acids, and ammonia production in proportion to exercise intensity; if the exercise is intense enough, there is a net loss of muscle protein (as a result of decreased protein synthesis, increased breakdown, or both); some of the amino acids are oxidized as fuel, whereas the rest provide substrates for gluconeogenesis and possibly for acid-based regulation. Protein balance is restored after exercise, but no hypertrophy occurs with habitual dynamic exercise. Resistance exercise causes little change in amino acid oxidation but probably depresses protein synthesis and elevates breakdown acutely. After exercise, protein synthesis rebounds for </=48 h, but breakdown remains elevated, and net positive balance is achieved only if amino acid availability is increased. There is no evidence that habitual exercise increases protein requirements; indeed protein metabolism may become more efficient as a result of training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / biosynthesis
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Muscle Proteins