The human body is a complex machine, and it requires numerous components in order to function optimally. As well as getting all the macro and micronutrients you need to thrive, it’s important to ensure that you’re giving your body the right range of amino acids too.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are organic compounds that the body uses to make proteins. They can be classified into three groups:
1. Essential Amino Acids
These are critical to our body’s functionality, but they aren’t produced internally. Instead, we need to consume these amino acids through the foods we eat. There are nine essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, methionine, histidine, valine, tryptophan, threonine, and phenylalanine.
2. Non-Essential Amino Acids
Although we need these types of amino acids, our bodies are capable of producing them, so they’re called ‘non-essential’ as we don’t need to consume them. They include arginine, cysteine, aspartic acid, glutamine, alanine, tyrosine, serine, glycine, glutamic acid, proline, and asparagine.
3. Conditional Amino Acids
These amino acids are only required in certain conditions, hence the name. When we’re unwell or under stress, for example, the body relies on these amino acids, but they may not be required at other times. Non-essential amino acids, such as serine and glutamine, can become conditional if the body is unable to produce them due to injury or illness. Due to this, there may be times when you need to remember their conditional nature supplements your natural reserves of non-essential amino acids.
What is Leucine?
As an essential amino acid, leucine plays a critical role in protein. It’s one of only three branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), which means it functions slightly differently from other non-BCAA amino acids. If your body doesn’t have enough leucine, it will be unable to convert the food you eat into proteins that your body can use. As a result, you’ll find it hard to gain or maintain muscle tissue.
Isoleucine is similar to leucine in structure but relies on different activation methods and has varying functions. Your body needs isoleucine to heal wounds and help remove nitrogenous waste, for example.
To get a better idea of why it’s so important to incorporate leucine and other amino acids into your diet, take a look at some of the benefits associated with leucine now:
1. Build More Muscle
Regular workouts and strength training can help you to build muscle, but you won’t see results unless your body has what it needs to complete the process of generating more muscle tissue. Leucine plays an important role in facilitating protein synthesis, which means your body relies on it in order to build bigger muscles.
By increasing your leucine intake and getting adequate amounts of this amino acid, you can kick-start muscle gains. What’s more – you’ll see results more quickly when you combine leucine supplementation with regular workouts.
2. Increase Strength
As you gain muscle, you’ll notice that your strength increases too. You might start out struggling to lift 10kg, for example, but you can enhance your strength over time and gradually lift heavier weights. When you incorporate leucine into your diet, it enables you to maximize your strength, as you’re synthesizing protein and gaining muscle more efficiently.
3. Prevent Muscle Loss
When you’ve worked so hard to achieve muscle gains, you don’t want to lose muscle tissue by letting the body break it down! Maintaining muscle mass is just as important as gaining, so don’t overlook this critical element of enhancing your fitness. By ensuring you get enough leucine in your diet, you can reduce the rate at which the body breaks down muscle. As a result, you’ll find it easier to retain the muscle you’ve gained and be able to use your muscle tissue more efficiently.
4. Enhance Immunity
Although studies are still ongoing, many people believe that leucine can enhance your body’s natural immune system. Your body relies on an mTOR signaling pathway to activate the body’s immune reaction, which is the same pathway that leucine activates. When you’re getting enough leucine, it can also ensure that your body is primed to fight unwanted germs or microorganisms. Based on this, it’s possible that leucine can help you to fight off infections and viruses more efficiently and keep you healthier.
5. Better Endurance
When you exercise for a relatively long period of time, the amount of leucine in your body is likely to drop. This indicates that the body uses up leucine quickly when performing endurance activities, such as running. It follows, therefore, that the more leucine you have in your body, the longer you can remain active. With regular supplementation, you might find that it takes far longer for you to reach a point of tiredness, fatigue, or exhaustion when you’re training or working out.
In addition to this, leucine can also help to increase recovery rates, which helps you to bounce back from a high-energy workout more quickly and could reduce the symptoms associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
What Foods Contain Leucine?
A healthy and varied diet can help you to get all the amino acids your body needs, including leucine. You’ll find that many foods, such as chicken, beef, nuts and eggs, contain leucine. Additionally, milk, seeds, tofu, beef, and tuna can be good sources of leucine and other amino acids.
However, getting enough leucine can be tricky if you rely solely on food sources of leucine. If you skip a meal or eat food that doesn’t much leucine, for example, your levels could drop and your body will struggle to retain muscle tissue, gain muscle mass or increase strength. Fortunately, there are other ways you can boost the amount of leucine in your body.
Supplementing with Leucine
If you’re looking for an easy and effective way to increase your leucine intake, supplementation is the obvious solution. However, choosing a high-quality supplement is key to getting results. With ioLeucine you can enjoy great-tasting supplements with increased results. Increased bioavailability allows your body to use leucine more effectively than other types of supplements, which means you get maximum benefit.
By choosing supplements, such as powders, capsules, and shakes, that contain IoLeucine, you can be confident that you’re consuming high-quality leucine in a form that your body can use to deliver the results you want.
Do You Need to Use Supplements?
Many people assume that it’s only bodybuilders who need to use supplements to achieve their fitness goals, but this isn’t the case. In fact, virtually everyone can benefit from using supplements to enhance their diet and nutritional intake. While you may want to consult your doctor before trying new supplements, making sure that you enjoy a well-balanced intake can transform your well-being.
Whether you’re just starting out on a fitness regime, or you’ve reached a plateau, reassessing your amino acid intake could help you to achieve your fitness goals more quickly.
In addition to this, making sure your body gets enough leucine and other amino acids can help you to feel more energized, boost your mood, and even reduce recovery time after exercise. With so many benefits associated with leucine, it’s easy to see why people are eager to optimize their intake and use this essential amino acid to enhance their health.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.