In the lives of bodybuilders and professional athletes, they are in need of better sources of vitamins, mineral, and nutrients. And, most importantly, energy. For them, basic food and exercise are not enough. They need something better, something more effective, something more useful like leucine.
What is Leucine?
Leucine, known to have the chemical formula C6H13NO2, is one of the nine essential amino acids that is important for humans. However, this amino acid is not naturally produced by the human body, it is instead provided by the food we eat.
This amino acid is favored by a lot of bodybuilders and professional athletes, thanks to its powerful combination of being able to improve the muscle mass of the body and at the same time provide more energy for superior athletic performance. Moreover, it can also aid in the prevention of deterioration in the case of older people, plus it also has qualities that can regulate the person’s blood sugar.
The amino acid is characterized to have a branched appearance. It contains the combination of one alpha-amino group, one alpha-carboxylic acid group, and one side chain that is made of an isobutyl group; the position of the different groups forming a chain that shows off a branch formation. The process of breaking down the amino acids is through the muscles, the liver does not take part in breaking the leucine down. After getting broken down, they are immediately distributed to the muscles themselves to provide a better production of energy and to aid in the composition of the body muscles while the person exercises.
Leucine in Comparison to Other Amino Acids
When compared to other branched-chain acids, leucine is a lot more preferred by many. The ability of the amino acid to get easily broken down and absorbed makes it a lot more useful and convenient, unlike the others. Also, the characteristic of the said amino acid of being broken down immediately into the molecule called acetyl-CoA makes it an effective ketogenic amino acid.
Amino acids like leucine, and others that are branched-chain amino acids, are only provided by food. This means it is necessary to eat specific kinds of food in order to get the desired amount of the amino acid in our bodies.
Fortunately for us, we do not need to take in dietary supplements in order to get our daily doses of leucine. We may not be aware of it, but most of the food that we eat already contains a few or even sufficient amounts of this amino acid.
Foods Rich in Leucine
There are many sources in which we can get desirable amounts of the amino leucine, some of them are:
The most leucine-rich cheese is the Parmesan cheese, but there are also others which contain certain amounts of the amino acid such as Gruyère cheese, Romano cheese, Swiss cheese, Fontina cheese, and Tilsit cheese among others.
The best way to get leucine from soybeans is from cooking it through roasting. There also other ways it can be cooked but they provide lesser amounts of the amino acid.
Grilled beef sirloin
The sirloin part of the beef is commonly used for making steaks. It is rich is many essential nutrients plus it also contains a decent amount of the essential amino acid leucine.
Cooked chicken breast
The chicken breast is the part of the chicken that is also used for certain diet meals. Parts of turkey can also be used instead if one wants to get the protein-rich amino acid leucine, but be mindful that the best bet among edible fowls for having the greatest amount of the amino acid is the chicken breast.
Cooked pork sirloin
Like the beef, it is preferable to get the sirloin part of the pork. It contains most nutrients plus it is rich with essential amino acids.
What Does Leucine do for our Bodies?
Somehow, the amino acid leucine is best known for its purpose in providing the body with improved muscle growth and strength, but the benefits of this amazing amino acid do not just end there.
It is a great source for muscle buildup.
For most bodybuilders and professional athletes, leucine is very famous in the form of body supplements. They are taken regularly by them to boost their muscle synthesis, plus being able to take them as supplements makes them handier and easy to carry.
Though many have claimed how effective the supplements are, there are still a few studies that say otherwise. One of them has concluded that the amino acid does not take effect on its own, the researches instead suggested that the supplements should be taken along with other amino acids. They said that it is necessary to add protein-rich food in the diet in order for the leucine supplements to take effect.
It has the ability to prevent muscle deterioration in people of older age.
One of the most possible cases of muscle deterioration that an older person can experience is called sarcopenia. This condition is described to cause a degenerative loss in a person’s muscle mass. Fortunately, the consumption of leucine capsules is said to be effective against possible muscle deterioration.
A study was conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine of the University of Texas Medical Branch wherein adults were given the same protein that can be found in leucine. The result was an improvement of the muscle synthesis, therefore preventing the possible cases of sarcopenia.
Athletic performance can be improved.
Since they are used by professional athletes, the amino acid has been touted to be effective in improving a person’s athletic performance. Even new athletes trust leucine supplements in terms of their need for a performance boost.
It can promote the loss of fat.
It is true that the process of gaining leaner muscles often also comes with another benefit of losing undesirable fats in the body. The same goes for leucine. By the time the muscle are being built, there are amounts of fat that are burnt at the same time. A lot of studies have already proven this to be effective.
It may help in regulating blood sugar levels.
A few studies have provided results of the possibility that leucine may help regulate blood sugar levels. According to one specific study, when they gave the study participants leucine together with glucose, it resulted to lower blood sugar levels.