Though pretty much every kind of sport features some competitive angle, running is somewhat unique in that the competition is often between an athlete and their past self, with many runners recording their time over a certain distance, then trying to beat it later on. Whether you’re one of those runners who seeks to improve their personal best or one who looks to beat others during a marathon or some other race, you’ve probably wondered if there’s anything you can use to give yourself more of an edge; one option that’s gained widespread popularity among athletes of every stripe is leucine, a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that has shown a remarkable ability to boost the beneficial effects of exercise. Still, can leucine help improve your running performance? To find out, keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL® – makers of BCAA supplements for runners – dive into this topic.
What Is Leucine and What Does It Do?
If you’ve read any wellness blogs or visiting any fitness websites recently, you may have come across a term used by everyone from runners to bodybuilders: BCAAs. This term, which is an acronym for “branched-chain amino acids,” refers to an advanced type of fitness supplement made with the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. While these compounds are most often found together – and offer their greatest benefits as a unit – the one that has received the most attention, by far, is leucine; in fact, most BCAA supplements have twice the amount of leucine compared to the other two amino acids.
As it turns out, there are plenty of reasons why leucine is arguably the most important amino acid for athletes, chief among them the fact that leucine is the amino acid that powers a process called muscle protein synthesis, or MPS. During MPS, the body creates new muscle tissue, making it integral to the post-workout recovery process, among other things. Below, we’ll look at how the benefits of leucine can help improve your running performance, both as you run and in the long term.
How Leucine Improves Running Performance
Like any form of intense exercise, running takes its toll on the body, not only in terms of energy expenditure but also physical damage. When you go for a long run, you impose certain stressors on your muscles, especially those in your legs, the result of which is damage to the tissue brought on by two sources: the wear and tear of constant use and the chemical breakdown of muscle cells for fuel – a process called catabolism. All of this is perfectly normal, but your body will nonetheless require the resources to repair the damage and reinforce your muscles, which is where leucine comes in.
Once you’re done your run, your body uses leucine1 to stimulate the process of muscle protein synthesis; this is how it creates the new muscle cells that will replace those lost or damaged on your run. Not only does this help you heal more effectively – getting you ready for your next run in the process – but it can also increase the rate at which your body builds up muscle mass, which will improve your strength in the long term. In addition, this amino acid offers a hidden benefit provided by its metabolites (the substances created when the body processes leucine). One of these, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), has been shown2 to help shield muscle tissue from degradation during exercise, which is an especially helpful advantage when running for long periods of time.
However, it should be noted that, while there is little doubt that leucine alone can help improve your running performance to some degree, it’s also been well-established that this amino acid works best when taken along with its fellow BCAAs – isoleucine and valine – in products like aminoVITAL®’s Rapid Recovery mid-workout mix. For instance, one study has shown that a BCAA supplement made up of mostly leucine can cause the “significant and preferential” loss of body fat when exercise, a finding backed up in other research3 as well.
How Much Leucine to Take to Improve Your Running Performance
If you eat a balanced diet that includes various sources of protein, you already get some amount of leucine each day. However, those who exercise frequently tend to need more leucine than what their diet alone provides, which is where BCAA supplements come in. By adding a moderate dose of leucine-rich BCAAs to your routine before, during, or after a run – something in the neighborhood of 4 to 8 grams should do – you can reap the benefits of these amino acids. And for those worried about taking too much leucine, don’t worry; research has shown that the upper limit for leucine is quite high – over 30 grams per day4 – so as long as you’re not downing BCAA formulas eight or nine times a day, you should be fine. Simply enjoy a pre- or post-workout BCAA supplement with your run, and see for yourself what a difference it can make.
Try a Lean, Fast-Acting BCAA Supplement with Leucine to Boost Your Running Performance Today
Although it’s a great way to stay healthy, running can also exact a heavy price on your muscles, especially if you run pretty much every day. To improve muscle health, quicken your recovery, and boost your gains after each run, try a leucine-rich amino acid supplement from aminoVITAL®. Our products are very lean – our Action mid-workout mix has only 15 calories and no sugar – so they won’t slow you down; quite the opposite, in fact. Learn more about how aminoVITAL® BCAA supplements can help your running performance by visiting us online or calling (888) 264-6673 today.