Find Out the Secrets of Amino Acids!

Sports Nutrition Science: Research Data

Amino acids and amino acid mixtures—a must-have tool for athletes

Sports Nutrition Science: Research Data

Sports and Amino Acids

The Amino Acid Advantage—Rapid and Direct Absorption!

When you consume protein from foods such as meat and fish the protein is not directly absorbed in your body. First the protein must be digested and turned into amino acids. To do this the digestive enzymes in your body cleave the proteins' peptide bonds. The amino acids are then absorbed in your gut. This process generally takes three to four hours.

By contrast amino acids do not need to be further digested and your body can absorb them in about 30 minutes.

Proteins Peptides Amino Acids

Amino Acid Safety and Doping

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins. Amino acids have been used for many years in foods, seasonings and in medicine like amino acid infusions.
If you consume an excess of amino acids they simply leave your body as waste after being metabolized. This is the same as eating excess protein.
Amino acids are not on the list of prohibited substances for sports doping. They are safe for athletes to use.

Outstanding Amino Acids

BCAAs—Essential Nutrients for Sports

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) comprise the three essential amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine. BCAAs are of particular interest for sports performance.

Valine Leucine Isoleucine

Nearly 40% of the essential amino acids that make up muscle are BCAAs. BCAAs promote the making of muscle proteins and prevent the breakdown of muscle protein. They are also used by the body for energy during exercise. Through these functions BCAAs are known to help reduce muscle damage and muscle soreness. BCAAs have been extensively studied by scientists around the world. In the study by MacLean et al., five adult males (average age of 24 years) exercised continuously for 60 minutes with and without taking a supplement of BCAAs at 45 minutes and 20 minutes prior to exercise. The subjects received a BCAA supplement equivalent to 2.3 grams per 60 kilograms of body weight. The group that took BCAAs clearly displayed less breakdown of muscle protein.

In the study by Blomstrand et al., 104 male runners (average age of 39 years) with marathon times between 3:00 and 3:30 hours were divided into two groups with one group taking a total of 16 grams of BCAAs in four doses. The group that took BCAAs clearly improved their race times compared with the group not taking BCAAs. These results show that amino acids reduce central fatigue and provide a supplemental source of energy, which helped to improve running performance.

Change in Muscle Protein Breakdown during Continuous Exercise Comparing BCAA Intake and Non-Intake

Effect of Taking BCAAs on Marathon Race Times

Arginine Important for Repairing the Body

Arginine is a non-essential amino acid that greatly contributes to the secretion of growth hormone, which is essential to increasing muscle and repairing muscle damage. Arginine also promotes blood circulation by expanding the veins and reducing ammonia, which causes fatigue during exercise. Arginine is used in a wide range of products including energy drinks.

In the study by Knopf et al., a group of adult males received an injection of 30 grams each of various amino acids. After 30 minutes, the subjects were tested for the concentration of growth hormone in plasma. The results show that injecting arginine was most effective in raising the hormone concentration.

Increase in Growth Hormone in Plasma from Amino Acid Injection

Vigorous Exercise Uses Up Glutamine

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that can help reduce weakened immunity from overtraining. It also promotes the making of muscle and reduces the breakdown of muscle. Vigorous exercise tends to use up glutamine levels and supplementation is recommended. Glutamine also protects the mucous membrane in the digestive tract and is used as an ingredient in digestive medicines.

In the study by Castell et al. 151 subjects ran a marathon and a group was given glutamine for seven days. While 49% of the group not receiving glutamine did not catch a cold, more than 80% of the group that took glutamine did not catch a cold, which was a clear improvement.

Effects of Glutamine on Immunity after Running a Marathon

Alanine—A Glucogenic Amino Acid that Makes Glucose in the Body
Proline—A Glucogenic Amino Acid Found in Skin

Alanine and proline are non-essential amino acids that make up the proteins in our bodies. Alanine is a key glucogenic amino acid that makes glucose from amino acids in the blood. Alanine makes glucose at a faster rate than other amino acids. Alanine is widely used in seasonings and flavor ingredients. It is also used to replenish nutrients that are used up when consuming alcohol and is used in amino acid infusions and as a medicinal ingredient.

Proline is a glucogenic amino acid like alanine. It contributes greatly to making glucose for energy. Proline is also the main ingredient in proteins and collagen that make up skin. Proline is widely used as a cosmetics ingredient and for medical applications, and is found in medicines and health foods.

In the study by Fazlul et al., eight healthy adults were asked to exercise for three straight hours on a treadmill. The researchers took blood samples and found that concentrations of alanine and proline gradually decreased during exercise. This shows that supplementing with alanine and proline during exercise can help to maintain energy levels.

Concentration of Fatty Acids, Alanine, and Proline in Blood during Exercise


Highlighting Amino Acid Formulas

Leucine-Enriched Essential Amino Acid Formula

Research Shows that Ajinomoto Group's Proprietary Leucine-Enriched Essential Amino Acid Formula Promotes Faster Post-Exercise Recovery from Muscle Fatigue

Regular practice and training are essential to improving sports performance. However, these efforts cause muscle damage and muscle fatigue, which lowers an athlete's muscular performance.

For elite athletes daily hard practice and training cause fatigue and weariness, lowering their athletic capacity.

Ajinomoto Group developed a proprietary leucine-enriched essential amino acid formula that promotes the making of muscle proteins and helps faster recovery from muscle fatigue after exercising.

Q: Do you often struggle with fatigue after practice and training?

Leucine-Enriched Essential Amino Acid Mixture Reduces Muscle Soreness During Exercise

1.Feeding test on experimental animals: After an eccentric contraction*1 load was placed on laboratory rats the pain response load was measured to determine the pressure pain threshold.
*1 A movement that generates force by lengthening the muscle in the opposite direction from contraction. Eccentric contraction is the main cause of muscle soreness.

Measuring Pressure Pain ThresholdPressure Pain Threshold

2.Human intake test: A load was placed on 10 male university students using a dumbbell arm curl exercise to study the change in perceived fatigue and muscle soreness.

Change in Muscle Soreness

Alanine and Proline-Enriched Carbohydrate Formula

Research Shows that Ajinomoto Group's Proprietary Alanine and Proline-Enriched Carbohydrate Formula Promotes Improved Endurance during Exercise

MarathonAthletes can run out of energy and stamina in the latter half or closing stages of endurance events. The main cause is that they have reduced blood glucose levels, which affects athletic performance. Long periods of exercise require significant energy stores in the body. Glycogen is a particularly critical energy source. The importance of maintaining blood sugar levels and the need for sugar intake during exercise led Ajinomoto Group to develop a formula that could be taken during exercise, which provides sustained benefits once taken.

Ajinomoto Group developed a proprietary alanine and proline-enriched carbohydrate formula that is meant to be taken during exercise. Compared with consuming plain carbohydrates the formula better regulates blood sugar levels by reducing the initial spike in blood sugar and reducing the lowering of blood sugar levels and liver glycogen levels during exercise to enhance competitive performance.

Running Speed during Marathon

Effectively replenishes energy stores during endurance sports!

Laboratory mice were given a test substance and performed a running load to measure the blood sugar levels and liver glycogen levels.

Blood Sugar Level1. Initial spike in blood sugar level was clearly reduced!

Liver Glycogen LevelIncrease in Length of Time Able to RunIncrease in Distance Able to Run

Essential Amino Acid and Whey Protein Formula

Ajinomoto Group Develops Proprietary Essential Amino Acid-Enriched Protein Supplement that Promotes Same Muscle Growth with Just One-Fourth the Protein Content!

swimProtein supplements that are made from foods that are rich in protein, such as milk and soy, contain plentiful amounts of amino acids for your body. The consumption of these products together with training can promote efficient gains in muscle mass and they are widely used by everyone from professional to recreational athletes.

However, these protein supplements are inconvenient due to their large serving sizes and the fact that they must be mixed with water or milk to drink. Ajinomoto Group developed a proprietary amino acid-enriched formula that delivers just as much muscle gain as typical protein products but using just one-fourth the protein content. The formula is enriched with nine essential amino acids that are critical to gaining muscle mass out of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins in the body.

Essential Amino Acids—Critical to Gaining Muscle MassProprietary Essential Amino Acid-Enriched Protein Supplement with Just One-Fourth the Protein ContentReferences

Low-Volume Protein Supplement for Effective Muscle Gains
The timing for supplementation is critical for effectively gaining muscle mass.

1. Immediately after exercise: The best time for supplementation is immediately after exercise. This promotes the making of muscle proteins.

Making and Breaking down Muscle Proteins (grams per kilogram per minute)

2. Before bed: Recommended taking before bed since growth hormones that promote muscle growth are actively secreted during sleep.

Concentration of Growth Hormone in Blood (nanograms per milliliter)During sleep