Energy production is the main task of the cancer cell metabolism because the costs of duplicating are enormous. Although energy is derived in cells by dismantling the carbon-to-carbon bonds of any macronutrient, cancer nutritional needs for energetic purposes have been studied primarily as being dependent on glycolysis. Since the end of the last century, the awareness of the dependence of cancer metabolism on amino acids not only for protein synthesis but also to match energy needs has grown. The roles of specific amino acids such as glutamine, glycine and serine have been explored in different experimental conditions and reviewed. Moreover, epidemiological evidence has revealed that some amino acids used as a supplement for therapeutic reasons, particularly the branched-chain ones, may reduce the incidence of liver cancer and a specific molecular mechanism has been proposed as functional to their protective action. By contrast and puzzling clinicians, the metabolomic signature of some pathologies connected to an increased risk of cancer, such as prolonged hyperinsulinemia in insulin-resistant patients, is identified by elevated plasma levels of the same branched-chain amino acids. Most recently, certain formulations of amino acids, deeply different from the amino acid compositions normally present in foods, have shown the power to master cancer cells epigenetically, slowing growth or driving cancer cells to apoptotic death, while being both beneficial for normal cell function and the animal's health and lifespan. In this review, we will analyze and try to disentangle some of the many knots dealing with the complexities of amino acid biology and links to cancer metabolism.