What is Leucine?
Leucine is an amino acid that belongs to the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) group, along with Valine and Isoleucine. It is regarded as the main member of this group, due to its properties to activate protein synthesis, among other features.
Leucine, also known as 2-amino-4-methylpentanoic acid, is an essential amino acid which means that the body cannot synthesize it. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain it from external sources. Leucine is mainly found in animals since they are complete proteins sources and they will provide the whole amino acids spectrum, both essential and non-essential.
Like practically the rest of amino acids, Leucine is involved in the building of new tissues, apart from several physiological processes related to different areas: healing, formation of scar tissue, tissue repair, and even energy production.
Properties and Benefits of Leucine
An essential amino acid
Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means that the body does not possess the metabolic pathways for its synthesis. Therefore, it should be consumed through dietary sources or supplements. It is the most abundant amino acid of the 3 BCAA's in the muscle tissue. In this regard, we know that the skeletal muscle is made of nearly one third of BCAA's. One of their main features is that they can be used as fuel under certain circumstances, like an intense or long-lasting physical effort. After such an activity, the levels of BCAA's decrease both in the blood plasma and muscle mass.
Building muscle mass
Creating new muscle tissue or improving its integrity are two aspects that are very relevant in certain circumstances, like a calories restriction diet to improve the body composition, or due to the passing of time (aging effect). The stimulation of protein synthesis is key in this respect. Consuming a certain amount of protein is an important and logical decision in order to increase or maintain the muscle mass. However, according to research, the most important point is to provide enoguh leucine to active the protein synthesis, along with other other amino acids.
Leucine is one of the keys to activate the physiological pathway for the formation of new proteins, called the mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) pathway. This is a molecule that works like a switch, which triggers the mechanism for the synthesis of new proteins.
When it comes to starting a hypocaloric diet to reduce the fat percentage, one of the main problems is the possibility of losing muscle mass while we are undergoing an energy deficit, which could potentially lead to loss of our valuable muscle tissue if we continue to do physical activities. The supply of leucine can drastically reduce the catabolism, which helps to preserve the muscle mass.
Sarcopenia involves losing the ability to generate new muscle structures and muscle power as we grow old. This issue can lead to a great downfall of the health and quality of life. The symptoms only get wose if we suffer an accident, like falling. For this reason, taking a dose of Leucine can improve the maintenance of muscle tissue.
Which one is the best leucine?
When it comes to purchasing a Leucine supplement, we should always take into account certain determining factors under an objective criteria:
- Origin of the raw ingredient
- Manufacturing process
- Dissolution in water or any other liquid
Our objective will be finding a source of Leucine that has not been produced with genetically modified organisms. To do this, we will just have to make sure that the technical information of the product clearly states that it is "GMO-free", which means that it does not have any genetically modified organic material. It is advisable not to consume GMO products, given the lack of studies about their impact on our health in the long term. GMO products have been produced with plants, animals or any other type of micro-organism, that have been genetically modified in a laboratory by altering and recombining their DNA, changing the genes or using transgenic technology that results in a product that would not exist in nature otherwise.
We should discard any product that does not provide this information. There are leucine supplements in the market that come from different sources, but one of the most shocking ones is hair!
In terms of the manufacturing process, it is important to emphasize that it should have been obtained through fermentation, a process that improves the preservation of the final product, apart from eliminating harmful bacteria and providing a better absorption and digestion.
Finally, one more aspect that should be kept in mind is the solubility. BCAA's or branched chain amino acids are hydrophobic, which means that they repel water. To avoid any issue when mixing leucine with a protein shake or directly with water or any other liquid, we should consider buying a type called "instant leucine ", which provides an excellent solubility.
- Highly efficient anabolic formula
- Designed for an immediate supply of amino acids for the skeletal muscle
- Improved protein synthesis
- Decrease of protein breakdown
Are Leucine Peptides the best way to take leucine?
Leucine peptides are a powerful anabolic formula made of Leucine peptides from PepForm® Peptides, which is a formula with a higher bioavailability. Thanks to this, it will provide amino acids to the muscle tissue in the fastest and most efficient way.
PepForm® Peptides is a patent from the company called Glanbia Nutritionals, which has developed a product that can improve the supply of amino acids to the muscle tissue, obtaining a product that has been designed to provide nutrients that will contribute to protein synthesis and muscle growth.
PepForm® Leucine is a more soluble form with a higher bioavailability than the rest of products that contain L-Leucine, which manages to supply a high percentage of leucine peptides from whey protein.
What is a Peptide?
Peptides are molecules formed by at least 2 amino acids. Proteins are made of peptide chains and they have to be previously digested in order to absorb them. They are broken down in the digestive system and absorbed in the intestine. By using the peptides we will “avoid“ this step, and we could say that they go straight to the intestine.
Absorption of the Leucine Peptides
Once we take them orally, they will be absorbed faster than complete proteins or other type of amino acids in their free form, which will allow us to obtain a peak of leucine in the blood plasma in a few minutes. The body has the ability to absorb the peptides faster, which will be a task performed by the intestine, and more specifically by the peptides transport system called Pep1, which is mainly found in the apical membrane of the enterocytes in the small intestine.
Benefits of the Leucine Peptides
L-leucine is one of the 3 members of the branched chain amino acids (BCAA'S), which belong to the essential amino acids group. Leucine is the one that is responsible for the activation of the mTOR pathway, a metabolic signalling process that activates the protein synthesis mechanisms.
The main reason is the speed and absorption that is achieved when compared to other formulas, which leads directly to a highly effective anabolic hormone environment.
Leucine Peptides and Endurance Activities
They can support sportspeople and athletes whose sport discipline involves resistance and a long duration. They will benefit from the ability to improve the recharge of glycogen and the absorption by the muscles, since the peptides can increase the glycogen synthesis once the effort is over. If they are taken before the workout, we will be able to save more glycogen, which will increase the endurance component, since it will enhance the use of fatty acids.
Who can benefit from Leucine Peptides?
- They are mainly advised for those with great expectations in terms of muscle growth, as long as they are following a workout and nutritional plan according to such objective. Sportspeople and athletes that perform activities with a high physical wear due to a high energy and physical demand and who need an extra supply that will help them to recover and regenerate the tissues.
- There is also another group that can benefit from a supply of leucine peptides, the elderly who also practice sport, since their ability to synthesize proteins has decreased with the passing of time, or those who suffer sarcopenia and who want to protect their muscle mass.
How can we take Leucine?
Leucine can be taken alone or combined with the other BCAA's. Regardless of your choice, it is advisable to take it:
- Before doing physical exercise if we are fasting
- With a protein after the workout, such as a protein shake
- With meals that have a low percentage of proteins
What is the recommended dose of Leucine?
The recommended dose of leucine is between 2000 and 5000mg per serving.
Where can I buy leucine?
You can find several formats, such as capsules, tablets, or powders in our leucine supplements catalog. Powder is probably the most convenient format to mix it with protein shakes and/or carbohydrates.
If we are following the previous advise, then the Leucine by HSNraw would be a great choice. This is a Leucine supplement with the following characteristics:
- GMO-free (genetically modified organisms)
- Vegetable origin
- Manufactured through a fermentation process
- Dissolves quickly and easily (instant)
- Powder format