For many people, the thought of using a protein supplement is one associated with athletes and bodybuilders, but the amino acids in protein offer a wide variety of benefits that anyone can take advantage of. Although there are many kinds of protein out there, any complete protein will contain nine particular amino acids – the essential amino acids – that our bodies need to function properly. Each of these compounds has one or more critical roles to fill, but one of the most important amino acids in protein is leucine. Today, leucine is found in many health and fitness supplements, but before you start using products made with leucine, you’d probably like to know: What are the benefits of taking leucine? To find out, keep reading as the amino acid supplement experts at aminoVITAL® provide some answers.
How Taking Leucine Can Benefit Athletes
It may have a number of useful applications for people of every kind, but there’s no denying that leucine’s benefits are primarily sought after by athletes at every level. Anyone looking to get stronger, faster, or leaner has something to gain by taking leucine; we’ll look at some of these benefits below:
Of all leucine’s powers, the ability to stimulate muscle growth is perhaps the most potent; fitness supplements made with amino acids tend to feature a greater proportion of leucine for that very reason. When consumed, leucine activates a signaling pathway – called the mammalian target of rapamycin, or “mTOR” – in your muscles and fat, which regulates the production of new tissue, including muscles.
In other words, by taking leucine, you signal to your body that it’s time to kick its muscle-production processes into high gear. In addition, leucine itself is one of the resources your body needs to make those new muscle tissues, making this amino acid both the trigger and the fuel for powerful muscle growth.
Most gym-goers know that working out damages the muscles, and that it’s the process of repairing that damage that causes muscles to grow. While it’s true that damage to the muscles triggers an increase in muscle growth, this damage can also limit gains by reducing muscle mass even as it promotes growth; it may also prevent you from working out as effectively the next time you head to the gym, which can further hinder your fitness efforts.
However, taking leucine – along with the other branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), known as isoleucine and valine – can protect your muscle tissue from excessive damage when you exercise. Not only can this benefit make your workouts more productive, but it can also spare you some post-workout soreness and help you regain your strength more quickly.
When you work out, your body can quickly burn through its energy reserves, leaving it with little choice but to break down muscle proteins for fuel. However, each of the BCAAs can serve as a source of energy when necessary, both through the process of oxidation and by helping with the production of glucose in the body. Leucine is particularly useful for this goal because it’s oxidized at a higher rate1 than isoleucine or valine – another reason to use an amino acid supplement with leucine before or during your next workout.
How Taking Leucine Can Help Seniors
As we get older, our bodies tend to lose muscle mass at an increasing rate. By age 70, you could lose more than 1% of your total muscle mass each year, or up to 15% over the course of a decade. This phenomenon, which is known as sarcopenia, can cause seniors to lose strength in their arms and legs, leading to a loss of mobility and independence – not to mention an increased risk of falls and fractures.
Adding leucine to your diet may help stop or even reverse the condition, however, especially when combined with resistance training. A study2 conducted in 2019 found that taking leucine “significantly improves” sarcopenia in older adults by promoting a notable increase in lean muscle mass, making leucine a promising treatment for the ailment; that said, you should always consult with your doctor before using a supplement to address a medical issue.
Taking Leucine to Benefit Body Composition
The final benefit of leucine we’ll cover here is one that many people seek. Using a BCAA mix that’s high in leucine has been shown to help both lean muscle growth and fat reduction, leading to favorable changes to a person’s overall body composition. One leucine-focused study3 conducted with mice found that increases in the amounts of leucine in the subjects’ diets “substantially decrease diet-induced obesity,” according to the researchers.
Another study4 conducted with adult women found that taking leucine and the other two BCAAs “attenuated waist-to-hip ratio,” as the authors put it. Put more simply, the women in the study didn’t see significant changes in their overall weight, but they did see a change in their body proportions, indicating that fatty tissue was replaced with lean muscle over time.
Try a BCAA Supplement with Leucine for Greater Gains, Bigger Muscles, and a Leaner Frame
A quick search online will show that there are countless numbers of fitness supplements out there, but few have the kind of scientific backing that leucine enjoys. Adding a supplement that’s high in leucine to your routine can go a long way toward making your health and fitness goals more attainable, provided it’s combined with regular exercise. Try one of the pre-, mid-, or post-workout amino acid supplements from aminoVITAL® today and see the difference for yourself; visit us online or call (888) 264-6673 to learn more.