Leucine and Weight Loss

Here at Healthy Habits we like to stress the importance of a diet low in carbohydrates for weight loss.  Often we see clients who need to significantly reduce starchy carbohydrates, especially the processed white stuff, and increase good quality protein in their diet.

There is much research to support a diet higher in protein for weight-loss.  Once of the reasons is the amino acid leucine.  Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid and one of the eight essential.  Being an essential amino acid means that the body can’t make it, it must be consumed in the diet.

Food sources of leucine are meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and dairy. 

Leucine works with two other branched-chain amino acids (isoleucine and valine) to repair muscles, regulate blood sugar and provide the body with energy.  It also increases the production of growth hormones and helps the body burn fat.

Several studies have shown that when comparing calorie reduced diets, the diets that included the most leucine were the ones most successful at losing body fat while preserving muscle.  This is important because the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism.  You want your weight loss to be fat, NOT muscle.

Make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet by including meat, poultry, fish or legumes at every meal (lunch and dinner).  Breakfast should include dairy, eggs or nuts.  And when hungry in between meals grab a yogurt or a small handful of nuts.