Turn Back the Clock with Leucine

growingold3 Turn Back the Clock with Leucine

Leucine is an essential amino acid.

It’s designation as essential means that is it an amino acid that cannot be made by humans and so is essential to the human diet.

But according to a growing body of scientific research, leucine may be essential to preventing age related muscle loss.

Age Related Muscle Loss

Muscle in adults is constantly being built and broken down.

When we are young, our bodies keep these two processes in balance. But as we age, the balance starts to shift towards the breakdown side of the equation.

This process is similar to the situation that many women face with osteoporosis.

However, numerous studies are showing that the addition of the amino acid leucine to the diet of aging individuals can reverse this condition.

The Science

According to the research:

  • Leucine stimulates new muscle growth
  • Leucine is the major amino acid responsible for the muscle producing capability of food
  • Adding leucine to a meal increases muscle growth by 50 to 70 percent
  • Leucine works best when taken with a mixed carb / protein meal. This is due to:
  • The insulin surge that comes from the carbohydrates in the meal, and…
  • The other essential amino acids are present.
  • Leucine does not work as well with carb-only or protein-only meals
  • The change in leucine levels in the blood seems to be more important than the overall amount. Therefore, it is better to take a small serving of leucine with a meal (level of leucine increases), wait a few hours (let the leucine levels drop), and then take another serving with some food (levels increase again).
  • Leucine supplementation has also shown to be effective as a supplement for athletes interested in adding functional muscle mass.

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Conclusion

I am usually very hesitant to recommend any form of supplements. In most cases, I feel that our nutritional needs can be met with whole foods.

However, in this case, the upside of leucine supplementation is very strong and, to this point, there doesn’t seem to be any downside.

I will be “guinea-pigging” this supplement on myself and a few of my clients. I will report back with the results.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

Thanks in Advance.

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Related Posts

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1. Norton LE and Layman DK. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr. 2006; 136(2):533S-537S.

2. Stipanuk, Martha H. Leucine and protein synthesis: mTOR and beyond. Nutrition Reviews. 2007;Mar;Vol. 65, No. 3:122-9.

3. Paddon-Jones D, et al. Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Mar;286(3):E321-8.

4. Tipton, KD, et al. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol. 1999 Apr;276(4 Pt 1):E628-34.

5. Rasmussen BB, Phillips SM. Contractile and nutritional regulation of human muscle growth. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003 Jul;31(3):127-31.

6. Rieu, Isabelle. Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia. J. Physiol. 2006;575;305-15.

7. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. “Feeling Old? Supplement Diet With Leucine Prevents Muscle Loss Linked To Aging.” ScienceDaily 4 December 2005. 3 October 2008

8. University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. “Eating Proper Foods At Right Time After Exercise Can Speed Recovery.” ScienceDaily 13 July 1999. 3 October 2008

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

14 Comments

  1. imaginanter

    January 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    “There are no down sides”? Really? How well has this been researched- there are down sides to everything, (even too much fresh fruit and vegetables: vitamin A overdose which is fat soluble so collects in body fat leading to some cancers such as lung cancer over time is an example of that one.)

    I’d be interested in hearing about the long term side effects of this and especially on areas such as the brain, on mood and on longevity as well as the cardiovascular system before I’d consider it. Good luck experimenting on yourself though!

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  4. Jarret

    August 16, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Doug, how did the experiment with leucine work for you. What did you personally notice / experience?

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  6. Steve Max

    March 26, 2009 at 3:32 am

    I read the study and from what i can see it doesnt back up the statement.

  7. DR

    March 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Steve,

    Check out figure 2 on page 5 of this study

  8. Steve Max

    March 17, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Adding leucine to a meal increases muscle growth by 50 to 70 percent?
    Can you point to a reference for this statement?

  9. charliedw

    October 10, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Good. I think we may have a quirky sense of humour in common.

  10. DR

    October 8, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Charlie,

    Nice comment…you made my morning with that one

  11. charliedw

    October 8, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I might need to try that one myself.
    As my brother says, he doesn’t do weight training because he wants a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he goes training because he wants a body like Claudia Schiffer’s :)

  12. nodiets

    October 3, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Look forward to see the results of this, especially with Biotest releasing Leucine as a supplement. I have tried BCAA’s before; after this article I may start taking a scoop with meals….

  13. DR

    October 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    All the BCAAs are vital (perhaps even..essential) for muscle growth, but according to the research Leucine seems to be the real stud.

    Watch the flood of new products

    Take a look at the ScienceDaily references. They explain the science in more detail

    Have a good weekend RamboDoc

  14. rambodoc

    October 3, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    What about Isoleucine? I thought this is the main one in muscle building!?

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