First, what are peptides? They are defined as a compound of two or more amino acids in which a carboxyl group of one is united with an amino group of another. With the elimination of a molecule of water, a peptide bond is formed. To put it simply, they are basically just small proteins.Technically, anything with fewer than fifty amino acids is considered a peptide although this is not hard and fast rule. A dipeptide is made up of two amino acids joined by one peptide bond. Tripeptides are three amino acids bound by two peptide binds. And so forth and so on. A polypeptide is just a long, un-branched chain of amino acids joined by peptide bonds that is not complex enough to be referred to as a protein. (Proteins are made up of polypeptides.)

 

Peptides, as we mentioned are made from amino acids. So, intake and production of all the amino acids is necessary for production of all the peptides needed for the body to work efficiently. Of course, as we age and we go through different times in our lives with different diets, stress, and physical changes some essential amino acids and peptide production is down-regulated. For example, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) production is reduced naturally when we are stressed and as we age.

 

Peptides have many functions in the body, some act like neurotransmitters, others like hormones. Many control and influence how our bodies react to diet and physical exercise. There are also several amino acids that are necessary in sufficient amount to produce hormones like human growth hormone (HGH, pictured to the right).If you aren’t absorbing or making enough of those amino acids, your production of that hormone will be lowered. Those of us interested in fitness and athletic goals, of course, are interested in counteracting these down-regulations so that we can maximize our bodies ability to recover, perform, and meet athletic goals.

 

Of course, amino acid supplementation is a pretty common among fitness buffs. However, peptide supplementation is becoming more common. What’s the advantage? First, peptides are digested and used more readily by the body as they are smaller and your body doesn’t have to break down a larger protein molecule. Also, peptides are thought to be more stable in the body and therefore more beneficial than the more unstable, un-bonded amino acids.