Eight-Day Fast and a Single Bout of Exercise: The Effect on Serum Methylarginines and Amino Acids in Men

Nutrients. 2023 Jun 30;15(13):2981. doi: 10.3390/nu15132981.


Changes in serum concentration of methylarginines and amino acids after exercise are well documented, whereas the effects of exercise applied together with fasting are still debated and not thoroughly studied. Thus, we hypothesised that alterations in methylarginines such as ADMA, SDMA and L-NMMA might be responsible for decreased exercise performance after 8 days of fasting. Additionally, we propose that conditions in which the human body is exposed to prolonged fasting for more than a week elicit a distinctly different response to exercise than after overnight fasting. A group of 10 healthy men with previous fasting experience participated in the study. The exercise test was performed until exhaustion with a gradually increasing intensity before and after the 8-day fast. Blood samples were collected before and immediately after exercise. ADMA, SDMA, L-NMMA, dimethylamine and amino acids were analysed in serum samples by ID-LC-MS/MS. SDMA, L-NMMA and dimethylamine significantly decreased after 8 days of fasting, whereas ADMA did not change. BCAA, Phe, alanine and some other amino acids increased after fasting. Exercise-induced changes in amino acids were distinct after an 8-day fast compared to overnight fasting. A decrease in physical performance accompanied all of these alterations. In conclusion, our data indicate that neither methyl-arginine changes nor the Trp/BCAA ratio can explain exercise-induced fatigue after fasting. However, the observed decrease in hArg concentration suggests the limited synthesis of creatine, possibly contributing to reduced physical performance.

Keywords: amino acids; dimethylamine; fasting; methylarginines.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids*
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry*
  • omega-N-Methylarginine


  • Amino Acids
  • omega-N-Methylarginine
  • Arginine