Leucine is an amino acid that can not be produced by the body. Therefore Leucine must be obtained through our diet or from supplements. Leucine is termed as an essential branched chain amino acid (BCAA). Leucine plays a vital role in the maintenance and repair of muscles and in preventing the breakdown of muscle protein during exercise. Leucine is unique in its ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and has a greater impact on protein synthesis than any other amino acid.
What are the benefits of Leucine?
Leucine has many benefits within the body especially for individuals who train regularly. Leucine increases the energy level of the body during training and also stores glycogen in the muscle tissues which provides the source of power needed to move the muscles. Leucine helps to maintain muscle mass, has weight loss benefits and can also reduce levels of cholesterol in the body.
Can I get Leucine in food?
Leucine can not be made by the body so must be obtained through food or supplements. The following foods are all good sources of Leucine. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese; meat, fish and eggs; soy products and nuts are all thought to be good dietary sources of Leucine. As you can see, Leucine is attainable in the diet but in relatively small amounts. Additional Leucine supplementation is therefore necessary. Supplementing with Leucine, especially alongside a protein and carbohydrate source, may greatly increase muscle protein synthesis.
Leucine deficiency is rare as most people with a healthy diet will consume reasonable amounts. Leucine deficiency can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness and cramps and muscle weakness.
How much Leucine should I take ?
There is no set amount of Leucine that should be taken. However studies have shown that taking around 2.5 grams of Leucine after meals is enough to support protein synthesis. The best time to take Leucine is thought to be after meals and also one serving around 30 minutes before training and one serving straight after training. You may also consider one serving of Leucine before bed to increase muscle recovery while you sleep. So in conclusion and putting it in simple terms, if you want to increase your muscle mass or maintain muscle mass whilst dieting then Leucine could hold the key.