L-leucine and its benefits for muscle growth
The human body needs many different nutrients, especially when exercising. Most athletes know that they need enough protein for their health, recovery and perhaps most importantly for building muscle. However, did you know that there is another nutrient that is very important? This substance is called l-leucine, also called leucine. In this article I will explain to you what is so important about leucine and how you can best use it in your diet.
What is l-leucine?
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and essential for many body functions. In total there are 20 amino acids that are important for your body. Your body does not make 9 of these amino acids itself and you must therefore get it through food. Under the category of these 9 essential amino acids, we identify 3 essential amino acids as branched-chain amino acids. These owe their name to their molecular structure. What makes these 3 amino acids so special is that these amino acids can be used for energy directly in the muscles. Other amino acids must first pass through the liver in order to be used. Leucine is one of these 3 branched-chain amino acids. The other two branched-chain amino acids are Isoleucine and Valine.
Leucine, the most important of these three, plays an essential role in sports performance and muscle building. This is especially important for strength athletes. For example, through research we now know that extra Leucine can not only help your body to improve your performance during exercise, but also to create extra muscle.
What is l-leucine in?
Leucine is therefore an essential amino acid that our body cannot produce itself and we must therefore get it through food, but in which foods can we mainly find Leucine? As mentioned before, we now know that proteins are very important for athletes. To get this extra, a protein-rich diet is often used, together with various nutritional supplements. What is often in these high-protein diets is chicken breast. Chicken breast contains a lot of protein but also a high amount of Leucine. It contains 2.7 grams of Leucine per 100 grams of chicken breast. Another important food source, which is rich in leucine, is beef. Beef even has a content of 2.9 grams of Leucine per 100 grams. In addition, pork contains an average of 100 grams of Leucine per 2.2 grams.
Of course, there are also people who do not eat meat or fish at all. However, they can also easily find food sources that are high in leucine, without having to deviate much from their diet. Did you know that there is also a lot of Leucine in seeds? These contain 2.4 grams of Leucine per 100 grams. Tofu also contains 1.4 grams per 100 grams, so there are still plenty of options for vegetarians. For example, you can also eat nuts to get extra Leucine. These have a content of 1.5 grams per 100 grams. It is of course slightly less than with the meat, but nuts and seeds are still full of other important nutrients that your body also needs. 2 other sources of Leucine are eggs (1.1 grams per 100 grams) and milk (0.5 grams per 100 grams), but of course these add a little less than the rest.
What are the benefits of l-leucine for muscle growth?
L-Leucine is therefore one of the nine essential amino acids and it is important that athletes and active people get enough of it in a day. What are the benefits of Leucine and how does it help with muscle growth?
It prevents muscle breakdown
Did you know that you don't just have to get l-leucine when you exercise? Not everyone sports every day, of course. On the one hand, not everyone has time for this, but rest days are also extremely important. In addition, it can always happen that you are ill, have an injury or that your body has simply not yet recovered to start exercising. In such cases you should of course rest, but it would be a shame if your muscles also break down as a result. That's why Leucine comes in so handy.
When your muscle breakdown is greater than muscle build-up, you lose muscle mass. This is also known as a negative nitrogen balance and this is something you would rather avoid. Researchers AX Bigard, P Lavier, L Ullmann, H Legrand, P Douce, and CY Guezennec investigated the effect of Leucine on muscle breakdown. They looked at whether the use of a Leucine supplement would ensure that the body composition would be changed as little as possible during prolonged exercise. In this study, which was conducted on 24 skiers, half of the 24 participants received a Leucine supplement and the other a 98% carbohydrate supplement. After a number of ski exercises, it turned out that the people with the Leucine supplement had lost much less weight in muscle than the people with the carbohydrate supplement. As a result, we now know that Leucine can also prevent muscle breakdown.
It is also well known that we become inactive more quickly as we get older and that this also involves some degree of muscle breakdown. Research has been done on the effect of Leucine on muscle breakdown as you age. The researchers focused on adults between the ages of 40 and 60. The participants had a week of bed rest and had to take in 13 grams of Leucine every day. After the study, it was measured how much muscle mass they had compared to what this was before bed rest and this showed that the Leucine had ensured that less lean muscle mass was lost. In doing so, the researchers found that taking Leucine actually prevented body fat from increasing, although this normally does happen in these types of situations.
So it is important to add more Leucine to your daily diet. Also do this on the days that you don't exercise, because this way you prevent your muscle mass from breaking down. It is therefore also ideal when you cannot exercise for a longer period of time, because this way your muscle mass is preserved as much as possible.
It stimulates muscle building
All athletes know by now that proteins are extremely important for muscle building, but Leucine should not be forgotten. Leucine is another nutrient that aids in muscle building. How exactly does this work? When you ingest Leucine, it will stimulate a signaling pathway. This signaling pathway then leads to the production of new (and therefore more) muscle proteins. Muscle proteins are very important and by maintaining a positive protein balance, thanks to this increase, you can ensure that your body builds better and more muscle.
Research has been done on the effects of Leucine on muscle building and nearly 1000 participants have helped with this. The participants were analyzed, which allowed one to determine behind the effect of Leucine. This study showed that the participants who had taken Leucine supplements had gained more muscle mass, and body mass in general, afterwards than the participants who had not taken Leucine supplements.
There was also a study in which participants had to follow a 12-week training program. During this process, they were given three (3) grams of Leucine twice a day, so that the researchers could find out what this would do to muscle building. At the end of the study, it turned out that the participants had gained an average of 1,9 kilograms of muscle mass with the Leucine supplements. However, not all muscle fibers respond so well to the Leucine. The effect is strongest on the type 2 muscle fibers (also called fast-twitch). These fibers are especially important in explosive exercises and workouts, where you use a lot of power. For example, think of sprinting.
Leucine supplements can therefore help to build muscle better and faster. You can read an extensive review about the anabolic effects that Leucine has in the research article: "Leucine: a nutrient 'trigger' for muscle anabolism, but what more?".
What Are the Other Benefits of Leucine?
Leucine is therefore a very handy supplement for when you want to build more muscle mass and at the same time want to prevent muscle breakdown. However, these are not the only benefits that come with taking Leucine supplements.
Of course everyone would like to have better stamina. This prevents you from acidifying prematurely, which means that you can have a lesser training. When you do endurance training, such as running for a long time, the level of Leucine in your blood decreases. As a result, we see that our muscles need more Leucine during endurance exercises and therefore also absorb more from the blood. So if you ensure that there is more Leucine in your blood, your muscles can also continue to absorb more leucine from the blood for longer and you can keep it full for longer.
This was all tested in a study where canoeists were given Leucine supplements for 6 weeks. During these weeks, of course, they continued to do their rowing exercises. These exercises are always exhausting for their upper body. During these 6 weeks of leucine supplementation, however, the canoeists noted that the exercises felt easier during this study. Leucine has thus improved their endurance and therefore also the performance.
It improves your strength
As has just been mentioned, l-leucine improves your muscle growth and prevents muscle breakdown. In addition, Leucine will boost strength. When you have more muscle mass, you usually also have more strength, making this an additional advantage of using Leucine. It does not matter whether you exercise vigorously with weights or do another type of sport on a daily basis; Leucine can always help you improve strength.
This has all been revealed by an investigation. They had untrained men follow a training schedule for 12 weeks. Half of the men took 4 grams of Leucine every day and the other half were given a placebo. During this study, the researchers focused on the men's 5 rep max. This means that they looked at the maximum weight the men could lift in 5 repetitions. For this they looked at 8 different exercises. At the end of this study, the group taking the Leucine supplements saw a 41% improvement in their performance. In the group with the Leucine placebos this was 'only' an increase of 31%. Taking in extra Leucine, for example through supplements, can therefore also improve your sports performance.
When and how much to take leucine?
There have been many different studies on the daily use of Leucine and what it does to our bodies. Usually in these studies an amount of about 20-40 mg Leucine per kilogram of body weight has been used. This turned out to be the most efficient amount. So if you weigh, for example, 80 kilos, you will get the most benefit from your Leucine intake when you get 1.6 to 3.2 grams of it.
If you want to take more Leucine, it is important that you do this on a constant basis and somewhat spread over the day. Leucine also ensures that you suffer less from muscle breakdown on the days that you do not exercise and that is why you have to take it constantly. The studies differ about when it is best to take leucine. There is a study that showed that the time does not matter much in terms of effects. However, other studies have shown that this is best done before or after training.
Turkesterone in combination with leucine
It is important to take Leucine when you exercise, but if you really want to grow a lot of muscle mass, you can also use something else. Many athletes use Turkesterone to grow their muscles quickly. Turkesterone is a vegan plant extract of the plant 'Ajuga Turkestanica'. When you take this, it increases your protein synthesis in the muscle cells, the same as with Leucine. Turkesterone ensures rapid muscle growth in such a way that it is sometimes compared to synthetic anabolics, although the process is different. Turkesterone is completely safe and healthy to use.
Turkesterone is therefore very good for you if you want to grow your muscle mass, just like leucine. Therefore, a combination of the two is perfect for growing your muscles and improving your strength. So try Turkesterone supplements with Leucine in them. This way you get all the benefits of Turkesterone, such as rapid muscle growth, for example, in combination with the benefits of Leucine, such as preventing muscle breakdown. With these supplements you will get the most out of your workouts and you will see results quickly!
More information about Leucine? Click on the video!