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Leucine: Health Benefits, Food Sources And Dosage Of This Essential Amino Acid

Leucine is known to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance in bodybuilders and athletes alike. It is found naturally in many food sources and is also most commonly taken in supplement form [1] .

What Is Leucine?

Leucine is an essential amino acid that is important in muscle synthesis. It contains an alpha-amino group, a side chain isobutyl group, and an alpha-carboxylic acid group which make it a branched-chain amino acid.

During exercise, these amino acids are broken down in the muscles, which increases energy and muscle synthesis. Leucine has numerous health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Leucine

1. Controls blood sugar

Leucine can help maintain blood sugar or lower hyperglycemia. According to a study published in the journal Metabolism, leucine, when taken along with glucose, helped trigger insulin secretion and decrease blood sugar levels [2] .

2. Helps in fat loss

If you want to shed some extra body fat, leucine is what you need. A 2015 study showed that leucine decreases the accumulation of fat during ageing and prevents the risk of obesity [3] .

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3. Builds muscles

Leucine is one of the popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes because it helps in building muscles. Incorporate a lot of foods rich in leucine into your diet to promote the growth of muscles.

4. Prevents muscle loss and promotes muscle recovery

Leucine slows down the deterioration of muscles to decrease the effects of ageing. A study showed that this amino acid improved muscle synthesis in older adults when the recommended amount of protein per meal is consumed [4] .

5. Improves physical performance

According to a study, the intake of leucine supplementation for six weeks improved both endurance and upper body strength in competitive canoeists [5] . It also increases lean tissue mass and functional performance in older adults [6] .

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Foods Rich In Leucine

Food sources (100 g) Amount of leucine (mg)
Eggs 1086
Elk meat 1935
Oats 960
Tuna fish 1896
Spirulina 509
Chicken 1605
Lentils 654
Grass-fed beef 1119
Turkey breast 1704
Sesame seeds 1358
Cottage cheese 1037
Peanuts 1672

Dosage Of Leucine

Leucine is both used in capsule and powder form and the dose should be between 2,000 to 5,000 mg per day. It should be taken along with low-protein meals for maximum benefits.

Disclaimer: Please consult an expert before consumption

Precautions To Take While Having Leucine

The intake of leucine supplement can elevate the risk of chronic fatigue and impaired coordination. It may also interfere with the production of niacin from L-tryptophan. According to a research study, leucine can also reduce the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and anxiety [7] .

Studies suggest that to minimize the risk of leucine side effects, the intake of leucine should be limited to less than 500 mg/kg of body weight [8] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Mero, A. (1999). Leucine supplementation and intensive training.Sports Medicine,27(6), 347-358.
  2. [2] Kalogeropoulou, D., LaFave, L., Schweim, K., Gannon, M. C., & Nuttall, F. Q. (2008). Leucine, when ingested with glucose, synergistically stimulates insulin secretion and lowers blood glucose.Metabolism-Clinical and Experimental,57(12), 1747-1752.
  3. [3] Pedroso, J. A., Zampieri, T. T., & Donato, J., Jr (2015). Reviewing the Effects of L-Leucine Supplementation in the Regulation of Food Intake, Energy Balance, and Glucose Homeostasis.Nutrients,7(5), 3914–3937.
  4. [4] Casperson, S. L., Sheffield-Moore, M., Hewlings, S. J., & Paddon-Jones, D. (2012). Leucine supplementation chronically improves muscle protein synthesis in older adults consuming the RDA for protein.Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland),31(4), 512–519.
  5. [5] Crowe, M. J., Weatherson, J. N., & Bowden, B. F. (2006). Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance.European journal of applied physiology,97(6), 664-672.
  6. [6] Ispoglou, T., White, H., Preston, T., McElhone, S., McKenna, J., & Hind, K. (2016). Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial of L-Leucine-enriched amino-acid mixtures on body composition and physical performance in men and women aged 65-75 years.European journal of clinical nutrition,70(2), 182–188.
  7. [7] Fernstrom, J. D. (2005). Branched-chain amino acids and brain function.The Journal of nutrition,135(6), 1539S-1546S.
  8. [8] Rasmussen, B., Gilbert, E., Turki, A., Madden, K., & Elango, R. (2016). Determination of the safety of leucine supplementation in healthy elderly men.Amino acids,48(7), 1707-1716.
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