L-Leucine as it is sometimes called is one of 3 essential amino acids. Leucine is so essential for the body that it is referred to as a ‘limiting nutrient’. The body absolutely requires Leucine in order to make use of all of the other amino acids. Without adequate amounts of Leucine all other sources of protein can be deemed useless. In short, without Leucine the body doesn’t function properly and will not make use of protein.Leucine activates an anabolic pathway called the mTOR pathway which stimulates muscle protein synthesis. By increasing Leucine consumption the mTOR pathway is signaled and protein synthesis is increased. No single ingredient has the pure, unadulterated anabolic power that Leucine does.
Leucine is found in the highest amounts in egg whites, dairy products, beef, pork, chicken,fish, legumes, edamame (soy beans) and nuts. To understand how L-Leucine can help you in either your workout or diet it’s important to understand what exactly it is and how it affects your body.
First, L-Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means that the body doesn’t produce it naturally. So for the body to get this key amino acid in the system it has to get them from foods. Those foods typically include protein rich animal foods like beef, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs. So, if you're on a no protein diet, or a strict vegan, chances are you won't get many of these amino acids coursing through your blood stream. Unless you're eating massive amounts of soy and nuts. Even if you’re not on such a strict diet, I’ll bet your body could stand to have a nice infusion of the aminos into it. The only way to do that is to either take a
supplement or start eating a ton of meat. Leucine works with the amino acids isoleucine and valine to repair muscles, regulate blood sugar, and provide the body with energy. It also increases production of growth hormones, and helps burn visceral fat, which is located in the deepest layers of the body and the least responsive to dieting and exercise. Because it is so easily converted to glucose, leucine helps to regulate blood sugar; a deficiency of leucine produces symptoms similar to those of hypoglycemia, which may include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, confusion, and irritability. Increased glucose supplies prevent the body’s cannibalization of muscle for energy during intense workouts, so it is no surprise that this amino acid supplement is popular among body builders and other athletes. Leucine also promotes the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue after traumatic injury, and is often recommended for those recovering from surgery.
Leucine acts in a unique way. It can help burn fat without burning muscle. That's a bit of a head scratcher because aminos are responsible for getting nutrients to the individual cells to burn, but usually aren't discretionary about what nutrients it takes to the "furnace". Leucine actually spares the muscle proteins, leaving them to help build and increase muscle gain and mass. That’s a nice thought for those gym rats or dieters who workout regularly and are trying to build muscle while at the same time looking to keep the fat off the body.
One study published in the Journal of Nutrition. A 10-week study was performed involving two groups of women. One group followed a high protein diet which included a high dosage of L-Leucine, versus a low protein, high carb diet. The results were defining. Each of the women consumed about 1,700 calories per day. By the end of the 10 weeks they found that both groups of women lost an average of 16 pounds. However, those that stayed on the protein rich diet (consuming a plentiful amount of L-Leucine) lost more body fat and retained more lean muscle mass then those in the high-carb group. This supports the claims that Leucine will aid in weight loss while not burning muscle mass.
Researchers from Joslin Diabetes Center conducted a test on mice, wherein, the creatures were put on a high-fat diet and were given twice the usual intake of leucine, an amino acid found in protein The results showed reductions in their pre-diabetic conditions and lower blood sugars, with less fat in the livers. Ronald Kahn, Head of the Joslin Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said "We found that adding just this one amino acid to the diet changed the metabolism in a lot of different pathways. It had effects that improved insulin sensitivity, improved their ability to metabolize sugar and fats and their overall metabolism improved".
Another animal study, this one appearing in the May 2009 issue of "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise," evaluated the effect of L-leucine along with exercise on weight loss in rats who previously ate a high-fat diet for 15 weeks. Researchers divided these rats into two exercise groups, with one group receiving leucine supplementation. Exercise combined with leucine had stronger effects on weight loss than exercise alone.
Research published in the June 2007 issue of "Diabetes" investigated the effects on cholesterol levels in mice supplemented with leucine in drinking water. Leucine had no noteworthy metabolic effects on rats eating regular chow. It did produce significant effects on the group eating a high-fat diet compared with other mice eating the same diet without leucine supplementation. Consuming leucine resulted in up to a 32% decrease in weight gain and a 25% decrease in body fat in these mice, along with improving insulin sensitivity and preventing high blood sugar. The mice receiving leucine also experienced decreased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol, of 53 percent and decreased total cholesterol levels of 27%.
Leucine can promote weight loss by helping to increase the metabolic rate during exercise. I wouldn't let a day go by without my Leucine supplement. As always shop wisely for your supplements look for Pharmaceutical Grade, Organic products, when possible. Leucine is frequently sourced from China but is typically not very good quality. According to muscleandstrength.com, most Leucine, frequently of Chinese origin, comes to you from a source of HUMAN HAIR (typically from barber shop floor waste), DUCK feathers, or both! German Pharmaceutical Grade is usually best. If increased stamina, muscle building, or weight loss are your concerns, maybe you shouldn't skip your Leucine either. Good Luck...
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