What Are the End Products of Aerobic Respiration?

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Aerobic respiration may sound like trying to catch your breath after a hard exercise class. But this term actually refers to an important cellular metabolic process that converts nutrients into energy. Aerobic respiration requires oxygen, among other chemicals, for completion of this 4-stage energy-producing process. Three end products are produced through aerobic respiration: carbon dioxide, water and the energy molecule called ATP.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is the first end product of aerobic respiration. It is released when nutrient molecules enter the powerhouses of cells, called mitochondria, in the second stage of aerobic respiration. The structure breaks up, and some molecules continue on the aerobic respiration path. An excess carbon atom joins 2 oxygen atoms to make carbon dioxide, considered waste and expelled through exhalation. Carbon dioxide is also released during the third stage. Six molecules of carbon dioxide are waste product in total.


Oxygen is mostly used indirectly throughout aerobic respiration. Three important steps can not occur without using oxygen as a helper. Only in the very last step of the process is oxygen directly used. The very last step joins hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Six water molecules are produced as an end product of aerobic respiration.


Aerobic respiration's goal is to create energy, and ATP has energy captured in the bonds between its individual molecules. Aerobic respiration provides ATP throughout the 4 stages. Two ATPs are made during the first stage, 2 during the third stage and 32 ATPs in the final step. Altogether, there are 36 ATP molecules throughout aerobic respiration that will be used throughout the body for energy.