BCAA is one of the most popular preparations among athletes. Under the enigmatic abbreviation are three exogenous amino acids that are necessary to obtain the desired effects. One of them is leucine. In the following text I will try to better approximate the benefits of its use.
What is leucine?
Leucine is an organic chemical compound and one of the most important essential amino acids. The main place of its occurrence are albumin and elements that make blood plasma. This substance is obtained in a synthetic way or by hydrolysis of proteins. Very often you can meet her short name – HICA. Her isoleucine is a widely known isomer. Both these substances together with valine form a well-known supplement for athletes known as BCAA.
When looking for leucine in natural products, pay attention primarily to meat, dairy products, eggs, fish and some plant foods.
Leucine – action and properties
Leucine is one of the most important amino acids for the system of exercising people. What is it that speaks for? Above all, its anti-catabolic character. It is worth mentioning that apart from belonging to exogenous amino acids, leucine is included in the group of ketogenic compounds. One of its derivatives is ketoleucine, which is formed as a result of numerous metabolic reactions of the body. The effect of its action is to limit to the reduction of cortisol, which is classified as stress hormones.
Cortisol is responsible for a number of adverse changes in our body. Starting from the breakdown of proteins and the increase in glucose synthesis, by salt retention and the increase in potassium excretion, and up to the increase in the production of gastric juice or the release of calcium from the skeleton. As you can see, leucine is a kind of guardian of our anabolism.
It is also worth mentioning another very important aspect related to leucine. It is one of the basic compounds responsible for building muscle mass. It affects the mTOR kinase (which you can read about in the leucine article), which leads to increased muscle protein synthesis and the pace of this process. What’s more, it also affects the process of synthesis of growth hormone.
When reviewing the literature, you can often find information on the use of leucine to reduce body fat. There are several reasons for its use. First, it protects against the already mentioned cortisol and its adverse effects on our body. Secondly, it stimulates the production of glycogen, which is responsible for maintaining the proper level of sugar in the blood. The third argument is to increase the body’s insulin sensitivity and normalize the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Supplementation with leucine should be about 1500 mg per day. This portion should be divided into three lesions of 500 mg each. Other sources report that a single dose of leucine should amount to 5 to 10 g per day. The preparation is recommended to be taken in the post-workout period, as well as immediately after waking up.
Leucine is considered one of the most versatile preparations in sports supplementation. It can be used regardless of the type of physical activity and level of advancement. There are many studies that prove its effectiveness in preventing protein breakdown, loss of fat tissue or inhibition of glucose destruction. If you are not convinced about its pro-health properties, it is worth spending some time searching for information in the scientific literature.
Deficiency and excess
Leucine deficiency is usually an unusual situation. The reason for the low level of this amino acid may be a very poor diet, which contains only a few foods. Nevertheless, the symptoms of this state of affairs are
– muscle weakness,
– headaches and dizziness,
– lowered mood,
– increased sensitivity to pain.
The issue of excessive supply of leucine is very similar. While this situation is very rare, it usually has a place for too young and impatient sport enthusiasts. One of the symptoms is the disruption of the body’s nitrogen balance, which can lead to liver dysfunction. Another characteristic effect of leucine overdose is the so-called pellagra. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, blood-red edema, vomiting and excessive fatigue or insomnia.