Leucine: the most underrated muscle-building supplement on the planet
When it comes to building muscle, your initial thoughts may sway towards a standard whey protein shake
After all, whey is a proven and effective supplement for building and repairing muscle tissue. However, the amino acid leucine is arguably the most anabolic supplement of all. It's certainly one of the most underrated.
Want to learn more about leucine? We put some questions over to Nick Mitchell, Founder and CEO of Ultimate Performance.
What is leucine?
"Leucine is the key branched chain amino acid (BCAA) responsible for stimulation of muscle growth.
"Leucine, along with a few other essential amino acids, cannot be produced endogenously by the body, meaning we must obtain them from food sources, such as meat, eggs and dairy, or plant sources of protein such as pea protein."
What makes it special?
"It has long been believed that BCAAs are beneficial during exercise.
"However, the latest studies now show it is leucine alone that has very specific effects on muscle during and after a workout.
"In fact, the other two BCAAs (isoleucine and valine) only 'get in the way' by competing with leucine for absorption."
What role does leucine play in muscle growth?
"The science now shows that leucine alone is the single essential BCAA the body needs for switching on muscle protein synthesis.
"Leucine helps muscle growth in two ways. Firstly, by actively switching on anabolic (muscle growth) processes in the muscle cells via a system called mTOR, and secondly by encouraging maximum hydration of the muscle cells. This also stimulates anabolism in the muscle."
Can it also help with other fitness goals?
"Leucine is ideal if you do any form of resistance training because it activates anabolic, muscle-building processes in your body. Muscle growth has obvious benefits for maintaining or increasing your metabolic rate.
"However, it doesn't just optimise muscle gain, it has benefits for maintaining muscle for endurance athletes too."
How does leucine help weight loss?
"It can improve your appetite control, which has an obvious positive impact on fat loss and body recomposition.
"Leucine combined with glutamine also helps to counteract the negative effects of stress on muscle, something that is the silent killer of muscle growth in a lot of people."
Leucine won't do the hard work for you, however. A consistent strength training programme is essential for building muscle and strength.
You can create your own training plan by using our template.
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