Leucine is most widely known as a supplement to aid muscle growth. However, the role in Leucine in fat burning is often overlooked. Whilst most people wanting to lose weight tend to focus mainly on their calorie intake, especially in terms of how much fat they eat on a daily basis, more research is confirming the belief that the amount of protein (and leucine) in your diet can be a crucial factor behind weight loss success.
Leucine is an amino acid that cannot be manufactured in the body. Leucine must be obtained through foods. Leucine is considered an essential branched chained amino acid (BCAA). This means it plays significant roles in the maintenance and repair of muscles and in preventing the breakdown of muscle protein during exercise. Leucine can help the body to utilise its protein intake better which in turn assists with weight loss and fat burning.
There are far too many fad diets out there that skimp on real nutrition, and worse, sell pre-packaged foods that are called ‘low fat’ when they also include GMOs, MSG, and a host of artificial colors and flavors. Aside, from simply detoxing your body so that you can lose weight safely, research shows that eating more protein, and leucine in particular, can boost your metabolic rate 3 times more than eating a diet high in fat and simple carbs.
How does Leucine help with weight loss?
Studies have found that following a diet high in protein (especially Leucine) and low in carbohydrates, is an effective and safe way to lose weight. Leucine is an essential amino acid that cannot be made by the human body. Leucine must therefore be consumed through food such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, nuts, or supplements. One of the primary functions of Leucine is to help preserve lean tissue. This is vital to successful weight loss. Leucine works directly to prevent muscle loss during weight loss. When following a high protein diet high in Leucine, therefore, the majority of weight you lose is fat, not muscle. This contrasts greatly with high carbohydrate diets where much more of the weight loss is muscle.
This works, in part, because protein takes longer to digest, and can significantly curb hunger cravings. Protein can also help to balance blood glucose and lipid levels, too. Even better, you don’t need to consume protein that is from animals; even vegetarians can boost their protein intake to find good results. (You just need to know some good vegetarian protein sources.)
What is a fairly new discovery in the ‘eat more protein’ camp is that a specific amino acid does a lot of the fat burning for you. This amino acid is called leucine. It helps to prevent the loss of muscle when you are losing fat, as well as helps to retain muscle that is normally lost due to aging. You may know that muscle burns more than fat, so it is very important to retain muscle when you are trying to slim down.
In one peer-reviewed study, participants lost twice as much weight when taking a leucine supplement as those who were given a placebo. Yet another study published in PLOS found a significant effect on adipose tissue (fat cells) when the amino acid leucine was given to mice.
One of the simplest and most effective tricks to losing weight may be to increase your protein intake, but to make sure you are eating enough leucine. The amino acid leucine can be found in the following vegan foods (Foods quantities are per portion):
Soybean kernels (250ml): 149% RDA, 3.4g
Soybeans (250ml): 107% RDA, 2.5g
Lupins (250ml): 90% RDA, 2.1g
Canned navy beans (250ml): 77% RDA, 1.8g
Raw yellow beans (100g): 76% RDA, 1.8g
Adzuki beans (250ml): 67% RDA, 1.5g
White beans (250ml): 64% RDA, 1.5g
Yellow beans (250ml): 60% RDA, 1.4g
Lentils (250ml): 59% RDA, 1.4g
Kidney beans (250ml): 59% RDA, 1.4g
Falafel (140g): 57% RDA, 1.3g
Black beans (250ml): 56% RDA, 1.3g
Pink beans (250ml): 55% RDA, 1.3g
Split peas (250ml): 54% RDA, 1.2g
Mungo beans (250ml): 52% RDA, 1.2g
Canned kidney beans (250ml): 49% RDA, 1.1g
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) (250ml): 48% RDA, 1.1g
Canned beans (250ml): 47% RDA, 1.1g
French beans (250ml): 46% RDA, 1.1g
Pinto beans (250ml): 43% RDA, 0.98g
Spaghetti (215g): 41% RDA, 0.95g
Red gram pigeon peas (250ml): 37% RDA, 0.86g
Whole-wheat macaroni (215g): 34% RDA, 0.78g
Whole-wheat spaghetti (215g): 34% RDA, 0.78g
Peanuts (50g): 33% RDA, 0.77g
Green soybeans (85g): 33% RDA, 0.75g
Spirulina (15g): 32% RDA, 0.74g
Pumpkin seed kernels (30g): 32% RDA, 0.73g
Grains, sorghum (45g): 29% RDA, 0.67g
Pasta (215g): 28% RDA, 0.64g
Grains, millet, cooked (140g): 27% RDA, 0.62g
Oriental mix snacks (50g): 27% RDA, 0.62g
Stir-fried sprouted soybeans (65g): 27% RDA, 0.61g
Oats (45g): 25% RDA, 0.58g
Snacks, popcorn, cakes (50g): 23% RDA, 0.53g
Tofu (salted and fermented) (85g): 23% RDA, 0.53g
Grains, corn, yellow, field, dry (45g): 23% RDA, 0.52g
Sunflower seed kernels (30g): 22% RDA, 0.5g
Pistachio nuts(30g): 21% RDA, 0.48g
Dried dulse (15g): 20% RDA, 0.47g
Roasted almond (30g): 20% RDA, 0.46g
Blanched almond (30g): 20% RDA, 0.46g
Lima beans (85g): 20% RDA, 0.45g
Grains, cornmeal (yellow), whole-grain (45g): 19% RDA, 0.45g
Dried almond (30g): 19% RDA, 0.45g
Rye (45g): 19% RDA, 0.44g
Snacks, corn cakes (50g): 18% RDA, 0.42g
Canned lima beans (125ml): 18% RDA, 0.42g
Sprouted lentils (65g): 18% RDA, 0.41g
Sesame seeds (30g): 18% RDA, 0.41g
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