L-Leucine is an important amino acid needed for muscle-building. As on of the branch chain amino acids, leucine is essential to all bodybuilders because it is by far the most anabolic, or muscle building, according to the June 2013 "Journal of Physiology." Like the other branch chain amino acids, it is metabolized in our muscles directly rather than in the liver. Leucine is found in all sources of protein, however, taking additional leucine by itself or with the other branch chain amino acids offers further benefits to bodybuilders. This is because the leucine in whole foods can take hours to be liberated and assimilated from its original source.
Take 2.5 grams of leucine or 5 grams of total branch chain amino acids 30 minutes or less before training to encourage an anabolic stimulus. Leucine works as an anabolic trigger, and is metabolized directly in muscle tissue, according to "Natural Anabolics," by noted fitness expert Jerry Brainum.
Add 5 grams of leucine or 10 grams total branch chain amino acids to the water that you sip during your workout. Leucine can be used as an energy source for muscles, but more importantly it slows the rate of protein breakdown in skeletal muscle tissue. According to "Natural Anabolics," leucine also has been shown to decrease delayed onset muscle soreness following intense exercise.
Mix another 5 grams of leucine or 10 grams branch chain amino acids in your post-workout protein shake. A 2005 study in the "American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism," compared the effects of leucine, carbohydrates, and protein to protein/carbohydrates and carbohydrates alone. Results showed that the combination of the three caused the greatest increase in muscle protein synthesis. In simple terms, given the same workout, you would gain more muscle, faster by adding leucine.
Take 2.5 grams of leucine or 5 grams of branch chain amino acids before and/or during cardiovascular training. Cardio is an important part of bodybuilding because it helps to accelerate fat-loss for the purpose of developing muscle definition. Most trainees cannot stay lean without cardio, yet too much cardio can breakdown hard-earned muscle. Leucine helps to spare muscle tissue from being used as a source of energy by the body.
Take 5 grams of leucine or 10 grams of branch chain amino acids before bed. According to "Muscle Nerd" Jeff Anderson, this helps to boost growth hormone production and accelerate muscle recovery during sleep, when the body repairs muscle tissue damaged by intense weight-training.
Additional leucine and/or branch chain amino acids can be taken with or between meals to encourage faster recovery and increased protein synthesis, according to "Natural Anabolics". Add leucine to a low-carb diet to prevent muscle breakdown and keep energy levels high, which also prevents the "cloudy-head" effect of such diets. For this purpose 1.2 to 2.5 grams of leucine should do the trick.
Things You'll Need
BCAA powder or capsules
While there are no known side effects of taking L-leucine, you should always follow the instructions on the product label to avoid adverse reactions.
- Journal of Physiology: Effects of Leucine and its Metabolite β-Hydroxy-β-Methylbutyrate on Human Skeletal Muscle Protein Metabolism
- American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism: Combined Ingestion of Protein and Free Leucine With Carbohydrate Increases Postexercise Muscle Protein Synthesis in Vivo in Male Subjects