Optimal Amino Acid Intakes for Weight Loss, Satiety and Health

Amino acids are the smaller ‘building blocks of life’ that make up the macronutrient protein.

We know from protein leverage and our satiety analysis that we continue eating until we satisfy our body’s demands for protein.  So, getting enough protein without excess energy is the most critical factor for feel fulling with fewer calories. 

Unfortunately, little is known about how much of each amino acid we require; most of the research looks at protein (i.e., the sum of all the amino acids) as a whole. 

To bring some more clarity, in this article, we’ll look at:

Ensuring you achieve a balanced amino acid profile with enough of each can be particularly important if you consume a lot of incomplete (plant-based) protein sources. 

Will Amino Acids Help Me Lose Weight?

TLDR: Yes! 

Getting more amino acids in your diet increases satiety, making you feel full while eating fewer calories to lose weight.

The satiety response curve below was created using 125,761 days of food diaries from 45,519 Nutrient Optimiser users.  Overall, Optimisers consuming a higher protein % ate a lot less. 

Conversely, those who ate less protein were more likely to eat more calories.  Someone consuming less protein would be more likely to overeat energy and gain weight.

People getting more than 50% of their energy from protein—as opposed to fat and non-fibre carbs—tend to consume about half as many calories.  

What Is the Average Protein %?

As shown in the chart below from the USDA Economic Research Service, the average protein % of the US population is about 12% and has declined since the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1977.   These guidelines recommended people steer clear of animal proteins out of fear of saturated fat and cholesterol.

While Professors Raubenheimer and Simpson explain in their work on protein leverage that the overall decline in protein % doesn’t sound like much, it is enough to justify the rise in calorie intake and obesity.  Although protein leverage is conceptually simple, it’s not easy to apply—especially in our modern food environment.  

We tend to gravitate towards as much protein as our bodies require.  If we live in an environment where only low-protein % foods are readily available, we have to eat more calories to get the same amount of protein and nutrients our bodies require to function.

Typical Protein Intake

The following chart shows the distribution of protein % across our Optimisers. 

  • The average protein intake of our Optimisers, who prioritise nutrient density, is 31% of total calories.  
  • To the right of the chart, we see it’s hard to consume more than 70% of our calories from protein. 
  • Conversely, we see to the left of the chart that few people manage to consume less than 10% protein.  

Do You Need MORE Protein?

To increase satiety, you probably needn’t worry about eating more protein.  Instead, you likely need to focus on prioritising protein while dialling back your energy from fat and non-fibre carbohydrates. 

While this will only moderately increase the absolute amount of protein (in grams) you consume, your overall energy intake from fat and carbs will decrease, and your percentage of total calories from protein will increase.

What Are the Different Amino Acids?

Your body requires twenty amino acids to grow, repair, and perform many other functions. 

Surplus amino acids can also provide energy; amino acids are converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis.  .  However, this is an energy-intensive process, and your body prefers to use fat and carbs for fuel. 

Amino acids are classified as:

  • Essential amino acids: amino acids your body cannot make and must get from food.  They include:
    • histidine,
    • isoleucine,
    • leucine,
    • lysine,
    • methionine,
    • phenylalanine,
    • threonine,
    • tryptophan, and
    • valine.
  • Conditionally-essential amino acids: amino acids your body can make, except in times of stress or illness.  These include:
    • arginine,
    • cysteine,
    • glutamine,
    • tyrosine,
    • glycine,
    • ornithine,
    • proline, and
    • serine.
  • Non-essential: the amino acids your boy can synthesise from essential amino acids.
    • alanine,
    • arginine,
    • asparagine,
    • aspartic acid,
    • cysteine,
    • glutamic acid,
    • glutamine,
    • glycine,
    • proline,
    • serine, and
    • tyrosine.

A ‘complete protein’ source contains the nine essential amino acids in adequate, balanced quantities.  Animal proteins are complete amino acid sources and have a high protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score.

Plant-based protein sources are considered incomplete and limiting because they tend to contain an incomplete amino acid profile.  Hence, you must ensure you are consuming adequate complementary protein sources to get enough of all nine essential amino acids.

Which Amino Acids Are Best for Weight Loss?

While we hear a lot about the pros and cons of varying vitamins and minerals, the amino acids that cumulatively makeup protein don’t get much attention. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much reliable information on food’s non-essential amino acid contents, meaning our data is limited on those.  So, we’ll focus on the regularly-tracked amino acids using our Optimiser data analysis. 

To illustrate, the following chart shows the average satiety response to each amino acid. 

  • To the right, we can see that we tend to consume the most lysine (per gram), followed by valine, isoleucine, and threonine. 
  • Towards the left, we can see we need less cysteine and tryptophan.

To find out which amino acids you require more of and the foods and meals that contain them, you can take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge

Because every amino acid has its unique function(s), we require minimum absolute intakes to ensure our bodies have the raw ingredients they need to do their job.  

As you will see in the images in the following section showing the structure of each amino acid, they all contain nitrogen.  Nitrogen is what distinguishes amino acids from carbs or lipids and is what makes protein unique.  While carbohydrates and fats are carbon-carbon bonds with hydrogen and oxygen, protein provides us with the nitrogen we require.   

Estimating the daily requirement for amino acids has been challenging, and the targets have undergone considerable revision over the past two decades.  The table below shows the minimum intakes of each amino acid established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US (in mg/kg/day). 

Amino AcidWHOUSA
Histidine1014
Isoleucine2019
Leucine3942
Lysine3038
Methionine
+  Cysteine
10.4 + 4.1
(14.5 total)
19 total
Phenylalanine
+ Tyrosine
25 (total)33 total
Threonine1520
Tryptophan45
Valine2624

It’s important to note that these recommended daily intakes of amino acids are the minimum amounts we need to prevent deficiency diseases.    

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably more interested in the optimal intakes for satiety, weight loss, or optimised health…  Right? 

In the following sections, we’ll analyse the data from our Optimisers to help you understand the ideal intake that aligns with your goals.

What is the Optimal Intake of Each Amino Acid?

Our satiety analysis of 125,761 days of food diaries from 45,519 Nutrient Optimiser users enabled us to determine our Optimal Nutrient Intakes (ONI). 

The ONIs are calculated based on:

  • The 85th percentile intake of our Optimisers, and
  • The point at which more of that nutrient doesn’t provide additional satiety benefit. 

Given most people aren’t supplementing amino acids, the ONI for amino acids is simply the 85th percentile intake of our thirty-five thousand Optimisers.  Hence, the ONIs for the amino acids are merely the intakes that only 15% of people can exceed from whole foods. 

The table below shows the ONIs for each amino acid and the average Optimiser intake (in grams per 2000 calories). 

Amino AcidAverageONI
leucine9.215.2
lysine9.015.2
valine6.09.8
isoleucine5.48.8
threonine4.98.1
phenylalanine4.97.9
tyrosine4.06.6
histidine3.35.4
methionine2.94.8
cysteine1.52.4
tryptophan1.42.2

On average, the ONIs are about four times the minimum intake the World Health Organisation recommends when established targets are available. 

At the end of this article, we’ll show you how you can implement these targets in practice.  But first, let’s better understand each amino acid, what it does, why it’s essential, and the foods that contain it. 

While you’ll notice some common trends, each amino acid is unique. 

Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that’s a precursor of tyrosine.  Tyrosine is helpful for energy production, thyroid function, and appetite control.

Phenylalanine also helps with dopamine production.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that improves your satisfaction with the foods you eat and the rest of your life and enhances learning and memory.  

Low dopamine is associated with neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.  In addition, low phenylalanine can manifest as depression, fatigue, and mental diseases.  

A condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU) results if the body is deficient in the enzyme that converts phenylalanine to tyrosine.  In this case, phenylalanine can build up to toxic levels and contribute to cognitive dysfunction, brain damage, and even death.

Satiety Response to Phenylalanine

Optimisers who consume more phenylalanine per calorie consume 51% fewer calories than those who consume the least. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Phenylalanine

The average phenylalanine intake for Optimisers is 4.9 grams/2000 calories. 

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an Optimal Nutrient Intake stretch target of 7.9 grams/2000 calories for phenylalanine. 

Popular foods that contain more phenylalanine per calorie include:

  • egg white,
  • watercress,
  • nori,
  • tuna,
  • cod,
  • shrimp,
  • liver,
  • sirloin steak,
  • mackerel,
  • ground pork,
  • chicken breast, and
  • salmon.

Valine

Valine is required for emotional regulation, immune function, and muscle regeneration, coordination, and growth.  In addition, it is needed by the body to synthesise proteins. 

If you’re low in valine, you may experience poor muscle tone, vomiting, lethargy, excessive dehydration, and seizures.

Satiety Response to Valine

Optimisers who consume more valine per calorie consume 53% fewer calories than those who consume the least. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Valine

The average valine intake of our Optimisers is 6.0 grams/2000 calories. 

Based on our satiety analysis, we’ve set an ONI target of 9.8 grams/2000 calories, which is 4.3 times the DRI for valine.  

Popular foods that contain more valine per calorie include:

  • nori,
  • egg white,
  • watercress,
  • cod,
  • tuna,
  • mackerel,
  • sirloin steak,
  • salmon,
  • liver,
  • shrimp,
  • chicken breast,
  • ground pork, and
  • liver.

Tyrosine

In someone healthy, tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that we can make from phenylalanine.  However, tyrosine becomes conditionally essential if someone has a condition like phenylketonuria (PKU).  That is, we have to consume it directly from our diet.  

Because tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine, it boosts cognition and working memory under stress, improves exercise tolerance in heat and serves as a precursor to thyroid hormones.

Low tyrosine is associated with low blood pressure, decreased body temperature, restless leg syndrome, stress, exhaustion, poor memory, reduced thyroid function, and apathy.

Satiety Response to Tyrosine

Optimisers who consume more tyrosine per calorie consume 52% fewer calories than those who consume the least.   

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Tyrosine

Our Optimisers’ average tyrosine intake is 4.0 grams/2000 calories.  Because it is an inessential amino acid, there technically is no RDA.

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set the ONI for tyrosine at 6.6 grams/2000 calories.  

  • egg white,
  • nori,
  • salmon,
  • cod,
  • tuna,
  • ground pork,
  • shrimp,
  • sirloin steak,
  • mackerel,
  • chicken breast,
  • liver, and
  • watercress.

Histidine

Your body uses histidine to regulate the utilisation of minerals like iron, copper, molybdenum, zinc, and manganese.  

Low histidine is associated with allergies, poor hearing, heavy metal toxicity, schizophrenia, hypertension, Parkinson’s Disease, poor memory, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid issues.

Excess histidine relative to other amino acids converts readily to the dreaded neurotransmitter histamine.  While too little can come from the downsides mentioned above, too much can exacerbate symptoms.  Thus, consuming amino acids from fresh, complete protein sources where amino acid profiles are balanced is best.

Satiety Response to Histidine

Optimisers consuming more histidine per calorie consume half as much energy as those who consume the least. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Histidine

The average histidine intake of our Optimisers is 3.3 grams/2000 calories. 

Based on our analysis, we have set our Optimal Nutrient Intake for histidine at 5.4 grams/2000 calories. 

Some popular foods that contain more histidine per calorie include:

  • sirloin steak,
  • ground pork,
  • cod,
  • tuna,
  • beef broth,
  • nori,
  • egg white,
  • roast beef,
  • chicken breast,
  • mackerel, and
  • pork.

Methionine

Methionine is a sulphurous amino acid used to produce other sulphur-containing compounds within the body.  Sulphur is an essential element required for detoxification, synthesising hair, skin, and nails, protecting your body from oxidative stress, and building and fixing DNA.

Methionine is a vital driver of methylation because of its methyl group.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to find in plant-based foods, meaning it is a nutrient to pay attention to if you follow a strictly plant-based vegan diet.

A deficiency in methionine can lead to impaired detoxification, depression, fatigue, anxiety, disorders related to faulty methylation, connective tissue dysfunction, and nails and hair that break.

Methionine is a limiting amino acid in beans and vegetables, meaning it contains sparse amounts of it.  Because the essential amino acids work synergistically, you cannot fully utilise the others.  Hence, you’ll need to ensure you’re getting plenty of methionine from other sources if your diet relies heavily on beans. 

Satiety Response to Methionine 

Optimisers who consume more methionine per calorie consume 50% fewer calories than those who consume the least methionine. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Methionine

The average methionine intake of our Optimisers is 3.3 grams/2000 calories. 

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set the ONI for methionine at 5.4 grams/2000 calories, which is 3.9 times the DRI for methionine. 

Popular foods that contain more methionine per calorie include:

  • egg white,
  • cod,
  • tuna,
  • shrimp,
  • mackerel,
  • salmon,
  • sirloin steak,
  • chicken,
  • nori,
  • ground pork, and
  • scallops.

Threonine

We require threonine for healthy-functioning cardiovascular, hepatic (liver), nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune systems.  It also plays a role in forming tooth enamel, collagen, and elastin, and it serves as a precursor to glycine.

A lack of threonine is associated with confusion, digestive issues, agitation, fatty liver disease, and depression. 

Satiety Response to Threonine 

Optimisers who consume more threonine per calorie tend to consume 51% fewer calories. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Threonine

The average threonine intake of our Optimisers is 4.0 grams/2000 calories.

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI target of 7.9 grams/2000 calories, which is five times the DRI of 1.6 grams per day. 

Foods providing more threonine per calorie include:

  • nori,
  • watercress,
  • tuna,
  • cod,
  • sirloin steak,
  • egg white,
  • mackerel,
  • salmon,
  • shrimp,
  • chicken breast,
  • ground pork,
  • roast beef, and
  • liver.

Cysteine

Cysteine is a sulphurous amino acid required for synthesising insulin, skin, hair, biotin, glutathione, taurine, and sulphate.  It has antioxidant properties and is critical for detoxifying chemicals and mediating insulin resistance.

Although it is considered inessential, a lack of cysteine is associated with poor immune function, aging, cancer, a decreased ability to metabolise drugs and toxic chemicals, and poor wound healing. 

Satiety Response to Cysteine

Optimisers consuming more cysteine per calorie tend to eat 47% fewer calories. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Cysteine

The average cysteine intake of our Optimisers is 1.5 grams/2000 calories.

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI stretch target of 2.4 grams/2000 calories for cysteine, which is 2.7 times the DRI of 0.9 grams per day for men. 

Foods that contain more cysteine per calorie include:

  • egg white,
  • liver,
  • cod,
  • shrimp,
  • ground pork,
  • whole egg,
  • salmon,
  • caviar,
  • asparagus,
  • duck eggs,
  • liver,
  • roast beef,
  • pork ribs, and
  • oysters.

Tryptophan

In the absence of dietary niacin (vitamin B3), the body can make it from tryptophan.  It is also a precursor to the sleep-promoting neurotransmitter melatonin and the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.  Because of its role as a neurotransmitter precursor, tryptophan also suppresses sweet cravings and appetite.

A tryptophan deficiency is associated with anaemia, anxiety, depression, decreased serotonin, fatty liver disease, insomnia, poor concentration, disordered eating habits, and suicidal thoughts. 

Tryptophan is a limiting amino acid in corn, so you’ll need to ensure you’re getting tryptophan from other sources if you consume a substantial amount of calories from corn. 

Satiety Response to Tryptophan

Optimisers who consume more tryptophan per calorie consume 45% fewer calories. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Tryptophan

The average tryptophan intake of our Optimisers is 1.4 grams/2000 calories. 

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI stretch target for tryptophan of 2.2 grams/2000 calories. 

Foods that contain more tryptophan per calorie include:

  • beef broth,
  • watercress,
  • tuna,
  • cod,
  • egg white,
  • ground pork,
  • shrimp,
  • sirloin steak,
  • salmon,
  • mackerel,
  • chicken,
  • liver,
  • mozzarella, and
  • spinach.

Isoleucine

Isoleucine helps heal muscle tissue, support energy production, regulate the immune system, and assist the body in recovering from strenuous physical activity.  

Isoleucine is also an essential cofactor for protein and fatty acid metabolism, haemoglobin synthesis, glucose transport, and mediating a healthy stress response.

A deficiency in isoleucine can result in muscle wasting, muscle tremors, and low energy levels.

Satiety response to Isoleucine

Optimisers who consume more isoleucine per calorie tend to consume 45% fewer calories. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Isoleucine

The average isoleucine intake of our Optimisers is 5.4 grams/2000 calories. 

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI stretch target of 8.8 grams/2000 calories for isoleucine. 

Foods that contain more isoleucine per calorie include:

  • egg white,
  • cod,
  • tuna,
  • nori,
  • chicken breast,
  • sirloin steak,
  • shrimp,
  • mackerel,
  • watercress,
  • salmon,
  • ground pork,
  • chard,
  • liver,
  • beef broth,
  • filet mignon, and
  • roast beef.

Leucine

We require leucine for cell signalling, muscle protein synthesis, stimulating the release of anabolic hormones that regulate blood sugar, promoting growth and recovery of muscle and bone tissues, and growth hormone production.  Therefore, leucine is critical if you are growing or injured; this is why it’s so popular in branch chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements used by bodybuilders.

Falling short of your leucine intake for prolonged periods can result in decreased appetite, trouble feeding, lethargy, stunted growth, weight loss, skin rashes, hair loss, and unexplained skin peeling (desquamation).

Satiety Response to Leucine

Optimisers who consume more leucine per calorie consume 45% fewer calories than those who consume the least. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Leucine

The average leucine intake of our Optimiser is 9.2 grams/2000 calories.  Interestingly, leucine is the amino acid we tend to consume the most significant amounts of. 

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI for leucine at 15.2 grams/2000 calories.

Foods that contain more leucine per calorie include:

  • egg white,
  • nori,
  • tuna,
  • cod,
  • sirloin steak,
  • shrimp,
  • mackerel,
  • watercress,
  • liver,
  • salmon,
  • ground pork,
  • chicken breast,
  • roast beef,
  • filet mignon,
  • beef broth, and
  • alfalfa.

Lysine

Lysine is a necessary building block for every protein in your body.  

We require lysine for muscle growth, calcium absorption, and synthesising carnitine.  Carnitine is an important compound that helps transport fats into the mitochondria for energy production.

Lysine deficiency can manifest as anaemia, fatigue, poor concentration, loss of bone mass, tiredness, and infertility. 

Lysine is considered to be a limiting amino acid in grains, corn, nuts, and seeds, which are incomplete proteins.  This means if you don’t get enough lysine from other foods in your diet, you won’t be able to utilise the protein you’re eating fully. 

Satiety Response to Lysine

Optimisers who consume more lysine per calorie tend to consume 45% fewer calories. 

Optimal Nutrient Intake for Lysine

Coming in second for the amino acid we consume the most of in terms of absolute quantities, the average lysine intake of our Optimisers is 9.0 grams/2000 calories.

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI for lysine of 15.2 grams/2000 calories. 

Some foods that contain more lysine per calorie include:

  • cod,
  • tuna,
  • sirloin steak,
  • shrimp,
  • mackerel,
  • salmon,
  • egg white,
  • chicken breast,
  • ground pork,
  • roast beef, and
  • filet mignon.

Glycine

While we don’t have intake data on glycine from our Optimisers, it is worth mentioning this conditionally essential amino acid, or an amino acid your body cannot make enough of sometimes.  While we supposedly can synthesise enough glycine from other amino acids, this amino acid is vital for synthesising connective tissue and the master-antioxidant glutathione. 

Additionally, balancing your glycine and methionine intakes is critical; consuming adequate glycine ensures that one can steer clear of some of the adverse effects that accompany too much methionine.  

Glycine has many other benefits, including sounder sleep, improved liver function, and improved skin.  It also has a sweet taste that some people use as a zero-carb sugar replacement in their drinks or smoothies.

Inadequate glycine levels or insufficient intake of its precursor threonine can contribute to low energy levels, slowed wound healing, impaired detoxification, premature ageing, and connective tissue dysfunction.

Foods that contain more glycine per calorie include:

  • shrimp
  • cod,
  • watercress,
  • ground pork,
  • beef liver,
  • salmon,
  • egg white,
  • chicken liver,
  • lamb liver,
  • roast beef,
  • pork ribs,
  • chives, and
  • oyster.

Which Aminos Have the Most Significant Impact on Satiety? 

To understand which amino acids have the most statistically significant impacts on satiety, we ran the Optimiser intake data through a multivariate analysis. 

Based on this dataset, cysteine, methionine, and phenylalanine appear statistically significant.  The results are detailed in the table below.   Moving from low to high intakes of all these amino acids aligns with a 27% reduction in calories. 

Amino AcidP-value15th85thCalories%
cysteine1.1E-560.62.4-198-13%
methionine4.9E-051.14.8-92-6%
phenylalanine0.0082.27.9-80-5%
tyrosine0.1031.76.5-43-3%
total-27%

Which Amino Acids Help with Weight Loss?

While the individual amino acid response is interesting, it’s difficult to determine the ‘best amino acids for weight loss’.   While some differences exist, all amino acids align with a lower calorie intake.  Hence, it’s best to start by ensuring you have enough protein instead of focusing on individual amino acids. 

The table below shows how moving from low to high protein intake aligns with a 25% reduction in calories when considered alongside all the other nutrients.   However, we see a ‘nutrient leverage effect’ from other critical nutrients like cholesterol, sodium, folate, potassium, calcium, and fibre that can improve satiety

nutrient P-value15th85thcalories%
protein %1.4818E-25419%44%-390-25.0%
cholesterol1.70602E-382291091-124-7.9%
sodium1.00873E-2614045015-101-6.4%
folate1.59019E-19162993-93-6.0%
fibre (g/2000 cal)2.20695E-181043-92-5.9%
potassium1.34862E-1018066051-77-4.9%
calcium1.69546E-134421883-76-4.8%
total-952-61%

Will Protein Powders Help You Eat Less? 

Protein powders can help increase your protein intake and your amino acid intake.  For example, whey protein is highly bioavailable and will digest quickly to build and repair your muscles after a workout.  Although not as bioavailable as whey, soy-based protein powders are still a good source of protein for people who don’t consume animal products. 

But while powders are great for supporting muscle recovery after a workout, they are processed and effectively pre-digested.  Additionally, protein powders do not tend to come packaged with high amounts of vitamins, minerals, or essential fatty acids.   Hence, they won’t provide the same satiety and long-term fullness as whole food protein sources.

Protein powders, bars, and shakes are often flavoured, coloured, and sweetened, which drives us to buy and consume more oif them.  So, it’s better to save your money on powders and supplements and invest it in nutritious foods to create meals you’ll love if your goal is weight loss. 

Should I Take Amino Acids If Trying to Lose Weight?

Amino acids and weight loss go hand-in-hand.  However, we believe it is more beneficial to get your amino acids from nutrient-dense whole foods instead of supplementing them, similar to how we explained with protein powders. 

When amino acids are isolated, they do not come packaged with the satiating vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that usually accompany whole foods.  Hence, amino acid supplements for weight loss are not as ideal.

Amino acids work synergistically and sometimes antagonistically with one another.  Hence, supplementing with individual amino acids (i.e., methionine) can lead to an imbalance with others. 

If you want to feel fuller on fewer calories and lose weight, try consuming amino acids from whole foods to ensure you get the package deal!

How to Implement the Optimal Nutrient Intakes for Amino Acids

Rather than jumping straight to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes, we’ve found it’s better to progressively level up your nutrient targets in Cronometer

To help you do this, we’ve included the table below to show different levels of ONI targets.  The’ game’ aims to hit these protein targets while staying under your current energy budget. 

Amino AcidLevel 1 (1000 cal)Level 2 (1500 cal)Level 3 (2000 cal)
leucine (g)7.611.415.2
lysine (g)7.611.415.2
valine (g)4.97.49.8
isoleucine (g)4.46.68.8
threonine (g)4.06.18.1
phenylalanine (g)4.06.07.9
tyrosine (g)3.35.06.6
histidine (g)2.74.05.4
methionine (g)2.43.64.8
cysteine (g)1.21.82.4
tryptophan (g)1.11.62.2
  • Once you’re able to high the ‘beginner’ default targets set in Cronometer, you can level up to Level 1 (half-strength).  These are ideal for people consuming less than 2000 calories. 
  • Once you can hit the level 2 targets for all amino acids, you can level up to the Level 2 targets. 
  • Finally, you can progress to level 3 if you hit all the level 2 targets.  However, you’ll unlikely reach these targets unless you consume significantly more than 2000 calories per day, which can be challenging if you prioritise protein. 

How Do I Update My Amino Acid Targets in Cronometer?

To change your micronutrient targets in the web version of Cronometer, go to:

‘Settings’ -> ‘Account Profile’ and ‘Targets’.

Next, scroll down to the bottom to ‘Nutrient Targets.’  You can then click on each nutrient and enter the target from your chosen level. 

Finally, select ‘Custom Target’ for each nutrient you enter manually.  The screenshots below show what this would look like for the Level 3 ONI targets.

You can also change your nutrient targets by clicking on each corresponding green and yellow bar on the Cronometer display screen (shown below).  For more details on this process, check out The Nutrient Bucket-Filling Game

If you want some extra help dialling in your protein with less energy from fat and carbohydrates, you might enjoy our Macros Masterclass

But if you’re more interested in levelling up your micronutrient game, you can join our Micros Masterclass

What Should I Eat? 

To learn more about the foods you can eat to get more nutrients without excess energy, including all of the amino acids, check out:

You can also access our full suite of nutrient-dense food lists tailored to various goals here

Satiety Series

4 thoughts on “Optimal Amino Acid Intakes for Weight Loss, Satiety and Health”

  1. This is a very helpful post.

    I am curious about something. I buy eggs from pastured chickens, hoping for good K2 from the yolks.

    In all your lists above of preferred sources of these amino acids, egg whites are listed. Whole eggs are only included (below egg whites) for cysteine.
    Is that because it is on a per-calorie basis, and egg whites have fewer calories than yolks? Or should I add a carton of egg whites to my shopping list along with eggs?

    Thanks.

    • egg yolks will provide choline and K2. but they also come with a fair bit of fat for energy. if you’re trying to lose body fat then you can add one whole egg to the egg whites to get the choline and K2 with less energy from fat so you can use the fat on your body.

  2. This is really good info. It dovetails well with the research work on protein. Peter Attia’s interview of Don Layman (podcast #224) highlights similar points about leucine, lysine and methionine. The data presented above greatly adds to the research of amino acids because it is a large dataset. Obviously there are many assumptions in your breakdown of amino acids in the reported food consumptions, but given that the largest source of protein is likely from meat, then the relatively large variations in plant sourced amino acids is not a significant concern.

    • Thanks Perry! The Layman/Attia podcast was awesome! I learned a lot. It confirmed all my biases and aligns with my analysis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqmG2y4IeY8

      Nutrition has many moving parts, but protein/amino acids are the most important foundation. I like that this analysis just shows you need protein, a higher protein % is better and if you want to dive into it, you can target optimal amino acid targets. People work out pretty quickly that this is more challenging on a plant-based diet.

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