Many of our Healthy Weight and Sports Nutrition products are Powered by Leucine®. But what is leucine, and what makes it so special? Let’s talk about this essential amino acid and how it could help you achieve your healthy weight goals.
What Exactly Is Leucine?
Leucine is one of three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) along with isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs are unique for their ability to go through the gut and liver, following protein digestion and absorption, and pass directly into circulation, primarily being delivered to muscles. Leucine can’t be produced in the body and can only be taken in through diet. Outside of supplementation, leucine can be found in foods that are high in protein, like fish, chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, and soybeans.
What Makes Leucine Special?
Your muscles are in a continuous state of breakdown and repair called “protein turnover.” Out of the three BCAAs, leucine plays a unique role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis, a process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage and prevent protein breakdown. Muscle repair is necessary for physical activity, because exercise causes muscle protein breakdown. And muscle protein stimulus and breakdown determine whether or not muscle is built or lost, which makes leucine an important BCAA for maintaining lean body mass, or the mass of the body minus fat.
How Does Leucine Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight?
When it comes to achieving a healthier weight, it’s important for your diet and exercise to work together. Your body needs nutrients from food in order to function, and exercise helps your body to use energy stored in fat. Your body also needs a healthy metabolism in order to properly use energy from food and stored fat. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s recommended that you try to lose body fat but maintain lean body mass, since lean body mass helps you maintain your metabolic rate.
This is where leucine comes in. When you exercise or reduce calorie intake, leucine helps repair and rebuild your muscles to counteract loss of lean body mass. This means leucine helps you maintain lean body mass, especially if you’re on a calorie-restricted diet to lose weight. When you lose weight that is mainly fat and you’re able to maintain lean body mass, you can maintain a higher level of metabolism and burn more calories.
It’s All About Balance
Studies have shown that adequate protein enhanced with added leucine used as a meal replacement to reduce calorie intake can be effective in promoting weight loss from fat while preserving muscle mass. This is why products like Life Shake™, Shaklee 180® Meal-in-a-Bar, and Performance® Advanced Physique® 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein* contain leucine to help preserve and build lean muscle. But leucine isn’t the only player in the game; it needs to work in conjunction with exercise and adequate dietary protein to help you achieve a healthier weight. So, make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle, and keep working toward your healthy weight goal!