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What Is Leucine Used For?

author image Nadia Haris
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.
What Is Leucine Used For?
Triathlete cycling Photo Credit: stefanschurr/iStock/Getty Images

Leucine is a natural amino acid that is found in your body. Leucine and the branched amino acids, isoleucine and valine, make up almost one-third of your muscle protein. A report published in February 2006 in "The Journal of Nutrition" notes that during exercise, leucine breaks down faster than other amino acids. It also works to stimulate the production of protein and energy molecules in your muscles. For this reason, synthetic leucine is often used as a food supplement to help athletes rebuild muscle and increase their physical endurance and strength. Consult your doctor or sports nutritionist before taking leucine.

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Recommended Amounts of Leucine

You can purchase leucine supplement powder on its own or as part of a protein powder drink. It is not yet confirmed how much leucine is needed to improve physical performance. A study article published in the June 1999 issue of the journal, "Sports Medicine" indicates that a daily leucine intake of 45 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is suggested for sedentary individuals to help optimize how quickly the body rebuilds muscles that are damaged from daily wear and tear. Those participating in intensive training may take up to 200 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to optimize the rate of whole body protein synthesis.

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