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What is leucine?
Leucine is an amino acid from the group of the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), along with Valine and Isoleucine. It is considers as the main member of this group, due to its properties for the activation of protein synthesis, among other features.
Leucine, also known as 2-amino-4-methylpentanoic acid, is an essential amino acid, ie one that our bodies cannot synthesise. It is therefore necessary to turn to external sources for its provision. Leucine is mainly found in animal protein products, given that they are sources of complete proteins and will provide the entire spectrum of amino acids, both essential and non-essential.
Like practically all other amino acids, Leucine is involved in the construction processes of new tissues, in addition to numerous physiological processes, related to different fields: healing, formation of scar tissue, tissue repair and even energy production.
An essential amino acid
Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means that the body does not have the metabolic pathways for its synthesis and should therefore be consumed through dietary sources or supplements. It is the most abundant of the 3 BCAAs in muscle tissue. In this regard, we know that skeletal muscle is composed of nearly one-third BCAAs. One of their main features is that they act as fuel under certain circumstances, such as a severe or long-lasting physical effort. After such activity, a decrease in the levels of BCAAs in both blood plasma and muscle mass will be brought about.
Building muscle mass
Creating new muscle tissue or improving its integrity are two aspects that are very relevant in certain circumstances, such as under a calorie restriction process to improve body composition, or because of the passage of time (effect of ageing). The stimulation of protein synthesis is key in this respect. Ingesting a certain amount of protein in order to increase or maintain muscle mass is an important and logical action, however, according to research the most important point is to provide a sufficient amount of leucine as a protein synthesis activator, in the presence of other amino acids.
Leucine is one of the keys to activating the physiological pathway for the construction of new proteins, called mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin). This is a molecule that acts as a "switch" or activator, which produces a framework for the synthesis of new proteins.
When starting a hypocalorific diet to reduce the fat percentage, one of the main headaches is the possibility of losing muscle mass while we are in an energy deficit, which can potentially lead to losing part of our valuable muscle tissue as we continue doing physical activities. The addition of Leucine can drastically reduce this muscle catabolism, which shows its ability in the preservation of muscle mass.
Sarcopenia is the loss of the ability to generate new muscle structures and muscle power, as age advances. This fact can lead to a great decline in health and quality of life for individuals experiencing it. The symptoms are further aggravated in the event of an accident, such as a fall. For this reason, providing a quantity of Leucine may improve the response as regards the maintenance of muscle tissue.
Which is the best leucine?
When purchasing a Leucine supplement, we should look at certain objective factors that are considered particularly essential.
- The origin of the raw ingredients
- Manufacturing process
- Soluble in water or any other liquid
We should find a source of Leucine which has not been manufactured using genetically modified organisms. To do that, we must be certain that the technical data for the product clearly states "non-GMO", which is to say free of genetically modified organic material. It is preferable not to consume GMO products, given the lack of studies on the long term impact for our health. GMO products have been manufactured using as raw materials, plants, animals or any other type of micro-organism, that were genetically modified in a laboratory by altering and recombining the DNA, modifying genes or by using transgenic technology with a resulting product which would not otherwise exist in nature.
We should discard any product that does not specify this data. There is leucine supplementation available on the market that comes from different sources, one of the most shocking being from hair!
In terms of the manufacturing process, it is important to emphasise that it should have been produced through fermentation, a process that improves the conservation of the final product, as well as eliminating harmful bacteria and promoting better assimilation and digestion.
Finally, one more aspect to keep in mind is the solubility of leucine. BCAAs or branched chain amino acids are hydrophobic, which is to say they reject water. To avoid difficulty in the process of mixing leucine with a protein shake or directly in water or any other liquid, we should opt for a type called "instant leucine ", which guarantees excellent solubility.
How to take leucine?
Leucine can be taken in an isolated manner or combined with the other BCAAs. With both options, we recommend taking it:
- When fasting, prior to engaging in physical activity
- With a source of protein after physical exercise, such as a protein shake
- With meals that have a low proportion of proteins
What is the recommended dosage of leucine?
The recommended dosage of leucine is between 2000 and 5000 mg per serving.
Where can I buy leucine?
In our range of leucine supplements you can find various formats, such as capsules, tablets or powders. This last option is the more convenient for mixing with protein shakes and/or carbohydrates.
If we are following the above recommendations then Leucine from HSN Raw Series would be a great choice. This is a Leucine supplement with the following characteristics:
- GMO-free (genetically modified organisms)
- Plant origin
- Manufactured through a fermentation process
- Dissolves quickly and easily (instant)
- In powder form