"Leucine won't you do your
apologies to Little
We are now offering a post
workout shake which is composed of the following:
Of this protein 12.5gm are
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
and of the BCAA there is 6.2gm of Leucine.
Plus Creatine 1.66gm
Plus Glutamine 1.66gm
You have heard the spiel
now here it is in writing…
All the big boys at the
gym know that their muscles are more sensitive to uptake
glucose and protein in the first two hours after a workout.
They consume a large protein and carbohydrate shake
sometimes 500-700calories early after a workout for two
reasons. First, they want to take advantage of this “window
of opportunity” to nourish their muscles and Second, they
need to begin their nutritional recovery right away because
they are going to be in the gym the next day and the last
thing they want is to come into the gym for their next
workout and not be nutritionally ready for it.
I have not felt that our
clients needed to do this for several reasons. First we
give our clients at least 2 days to recover between workouts
and Second, some of the available post workout drinks carry
too many calories and we are asking our clients to cut back
on calories to assist with fat loss. About the most I have
ever suggested to our clients is that they eat half a Zone
Bar before and the other half after the workout.
I have changed my mind
about this because I am not happy at the amount of muscle
some of our older clients have been able to add during the
first 4 months of the program. When I talk about adding
muscle, it is not the 10-20lbs of bulking up that the big
boys want to achieve. To do that they will consume
4000-5000calories or more a day. We are asking our clients
usually to cut back on calories and when you cut back it is
much harder to put on any muscle. I am talking about adding
2-4lbs of muscle in 4 months and at the same time lose about
12-16lbs of fat.
I think there are two at
least reasons that we have not seen these 2-4lbs of muscle
consistently in our clients. First, I am not convinced
that they are eating enough protein to support the growth of
new muscle. A 16oz Steak has about 130gm of
protein. Theoretically to support a new lb of muscle one
must consume over a period of time a similar amount of protein over
and above the normal daily protein requirements to support
the synthesis of new muscle protein and the supporting
structures (blood vessels, connective tissue) to get 1lb of
new muscle. When we calculate the Zone Prescription, we
calculate what we think is the minimal daily requirement
(.85gm x Lean Mass in lbs by DXA) to maintain muscle mass at
a high intensity training level. We then add 10-15gm extra to
this to come up with a desired daily protein intake. For
women this is about 100gm and men 120-140gm per day. This
extra protein should be enough over a period of time to
support the desired muscle growth. The Second reason is that
research is now showing that as we age we don’t respond as
well to the protein we eat in our meals. When we eat a meal
with protein (made up of amino acids), the amino acids peak
in the blood stream and this is a signal for the muscle to
begin synthesizing more muscle protein. When the amino
acids come down to baseline levels in the blood, there is
breakdown of muscle protein, then we eat again and muscle
protein synthesis begins. At the end of the day our muscle
is the same and we are in what is call Nitrogen Balance.
What we are trying to achieve however at the end of the day
is a slight net Positive Nitrogen Balance with a little more muscle
protein synthesis than breakdown.
Protein is made up of 20
Amino Acids. 9 of these are considered Essential Amino
Acids. We need to eat these in our diets and our body can
make the other 11 out of these 9 Essential Amino Acids.
Three of the Essential Amino Acids are called Branched
Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). The are Leucine, Isoleucine and
Valine. These 3 BCAA are special in that they bypass the
liver after being absorbed and pretty much go straight to
the blood stream and to our muscles. About 20% of our muscle
protein is made up of these 3 BCAA and they can also be
oxidized for energy. The BCAA and in particular Leucine
also act as signaling molecules for the initiation of
protein synthesis in the muscles.
As we age, our muscles
lose their sensitivity to the signal sent by Leucine and the
process of protein synthesis is not as efficient. This
sensitivity can be restored in older individuals by taking
in extra Leucine after exercise and it appears to be
beneficial in younger individuals also.
Theoretically if the shake
is taken twice a week, in 1 month an extra 185gm of protein
should be available for muscle protein synthesis assuming
normal daily requirements are being met. This should be
sufficient for the synthesis of 1lb of muscle over this
period of time.
On another note, I am also convinced that
low testosterone levels in aging men needs to be addressed
and this will assist with promoting an anabolic state.
Selected References with links to abstracts
or full articles.
Branched-chain amino acids
activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical
2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.
Branched-chain amino acids as fuels and
anabolic signals in human muscle.
Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):264S-8S. Review
Koopman R et
Co-ingestion of protein and leucine stimulates
muscle protein synthesis rates to the same extent in young
and elderly lean men.
Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, September 1, 2006; 84(3): 623 -
translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal
muscle after exercise.
Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):533S-537S.
Role of leucine in protein metabolism during
exercise and recovery.
Can J Appl Physiol. 2002 Dec;27(6):646-63. Review.
Yoshiharu Set al
Nutraceutical Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acids on
J. Nutr. 136:529S-532S, February 2006
Coburn JW et
Effects of leucine and whey protein supplementation during
eight weeks of unilateral resistance training.
J Strength Cond Res. 2006 May;20(2):284-91.
Nutritional and contractile regulation of human skeletal
muscle protein synthesis and mTORC1 signaling
J Appl Physiol 106: 1374-1384,
Antioxidant Supplementation Restores
Defective Leucine Stimulation of Protein Synthesis in
Skeletal Muscle from Old Rats
J. Nutr. 138:2205-2211,
Leucine-enriched essential amino acid and
carbohydrate ingestion following resistance exercise
enhances mTOR signaling and protein synthesis in human
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 294: E392-E400, 2008
Essential amino acid and carbohydrate
ingestion before resistance exercise does not enhance
postexercise muscle protein synthesis
J Appl Physiol 106: 1730-1739,
A role for leucine in rejuvenating the
anabolic effects of food in old rats
J. Physiol., December 1, 2005; 569(2): 357 - 357.
The Role of Leucine in the Regulation of
J. Nutr., June 1, 2005; 135(6): 1553S - 1556S.
Fujita and E. Volpi
Amino Acids and Muscle Loss with Aging
J. Nutr., January 1, 2006; 136(1): 277S - 280S.
Katsanos, H. Kobayashi, M. Sheffield-Moore, A.
Aarsland, and R. R. Wolfe
A high proportion of leucine is required for
optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein
synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, August 1, 2006;
291(2): E381 - E387.
Rieu, M. Balage, C. Sornet, C. Giraudet, E. Pujos,
J. Grizard, L. Mosoni, and D. Dardevet
Leucine supplementation improves muscle
protein synthesis in elderly men independently of
J. Physiol., August 15, 2006; 575(1): 305 - 315.
Koopman, L. Verdijk, R. J. Manders, A. P Gijsen, M.
Gorselink, E. Pijpers, A. J. Wagenmakers, and L. J.
Co-ingestion of protein and leucine
stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates to the
same extent in young and elderly lean men.
Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, September 1, 2006; 84(3):
623 - 632.
Zhang, K. Guo, R. E. LeBlanc, D. Loh, G. J.
Schwartz, and Y.-H. Yu
Increasing Dietary Leucine Intake Reduces
Diet-Induced Obesity and Improves Glucose and
Cholesterol Metabolism in Mice via Multimechanisms
Diabetes, June 1, 2007; 56(6): 1647 - 1654.
Vary and C. J. Lynch
Nutrient Signaling Components Controlling
Protein Synthesis in Striated Muscle
J. Nutr., August 1, 2007; 137(8): 1835 - 1843.
Hyperinsulinaemia, hyperaminoacidaemia and
post-exercise muscle anabolism: the search for the
optimal recovery drink
Br. J. Sports Med., November 1, 2006; 40(11): 900 -
Cynober and R. A. Harris
Symposium on Branched-Chain Amino Acids:
J. Nutr., January 1, 2006; 136(1): 333S - 336S.
Co-ingestion of a protein hydrolysate with or without
additional leucine effectively reduces postprandial blood
glucose excursions in Type 2 diabetic men.
Potential Importance of
Leucine in Treatment of Obesity and the
Metabolic Syndrome J. Nutr.
136:319S-323S, January 2006
Anabolic Interventions for Aging-Associated
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 84, No.
Protein Nutrition, Exercise and Aging
the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 90006,
Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging
Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 87, No. 5, 1562S-1566S,
Age-related differences in skeletal muscle
protein synthesis: relation to markers of immune activation
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab
288: E883-E891, 2005
Invited Review: Aging and sarcopenia
J Appl Physiol 95: 1717-1727,
Correlation between Testosterone and the Inflammatory Marker
Soluble Interleukin-6 Receptor in Older Men
The Journal of
Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 91, No. 1 345-347
See also at Bodybuilding.com
Review of BCAA by Derek Charlebois
See also Articles of the Month