The necessity of protein intake in our diet is well-established. Protein gets metabolised into amino acids, each of which performs a significant role in keeping us healthy. In this article, we will focus on one such amino acid - Leucine.
Leucine is one of the essential amino acids which cannot be synthesised by the body, therefore, should be consumed externally either through diet or supplement. This branched-chain amino acid is fondly called as an anabolic amino acid because it is primarily utilised in our body to synthesise new muscles and repair muscles.
Some of the foods which contain leucine in abundance are eggs, fish, chicken, meat, whey protein, beans, pumpkin seeds, soybean, milk and milk products.
Let’s discuss some of its health benefits.
1. Promotes muscle recovery - Some studies have shown that leucine is utilised by our body for protein synthesis. When consumed post or during an intense exercise session, leucine minimises muscle damage, provides relief from fatigue and soreness. It speeds up the rate of muscle recovery, supports muscle growth and strength.
2. Promotes liver health - Some studies have shown that leucine is good for liver health. It improves liver functioning, prevents symptoms of liver cirrhosis and encephalopathy from getting worse.
3. Boost exercise performance - Due to the potential benefits of leucine in boosting exercise performance, leucine supplements are popular among fitness enthusiasts and athletes. Researches have shown that it reduces muscle soreness, boosts muscle mass among strength athletes with stamina among endurance athletes. Intense exercise results in depletion of BCAA levels in the body, therefore, it is essential to restock the depleted store to enhance athletic performance.
4. Support weight loss - A study published under the American Diabetic Association found that dietary intake of leucine is associated with weight loss as well. It was observed that leucine tends to reduce insulin resistance, improve hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia. A leucine-rich diet stimulates the growth of lean mass, burns fat and prevents food cravings.
5. Acts as an energy source - Carbohydrates and fats are the primary source of energy in our body, but during vigorous workouts, leucine acts as an energy source. When the glycogen store gets depleted, branched-chain amino acids like leucine serve as a fuel for muscles.
To sum up, leucine is an essential amino acid which is versatile in nature and has many health benefits. It assists in muscle repair, growth and liver health. Leucine plays a critical role in burning fat and builds fat-free mass. As per nutrition authorities, there is no specific RDA of leucine, but a sedentary person needs at least 1 gram of protein per kg body weight per day.