It has been known for a long time, and is one of the first lessons we learn when we start training in the gym, that consuming enough protein is important for the development of lean muscle tissue, it is, after all, made of the same stuff! It does however appear that not all proteins, or to be more specific the amino acids that make up proteins, are created equal and although they as a whole play important roles in the body some are more key to maintaining an optimal muscle building environment than others.
Is Leucine the answer?
The most recent research appears to suggest that Leucine is the key amino acid that acts to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, this in combination with hormones are essential to rebuild and grow muscle tissue when stimulated by the effects training. The effect of training breaks down muscle tissue and stimulates signalling pathways that tell our muscle cells to use leucine and these hormones to grow bigger, stronger and more well adapted muscle tissue using the appropriate raw materials from other nutrients. Because of the key role leucine plays in this process research has been undertaken to unlock some of the key metabolites of leucine that are responsible for its effect and have other potential benefits too. These bi-products from leucine metabolism have shown the roles they play in leucine’s ability to increase muscle net protein balance and therefore are now being developed as supplements in their own right. These metabolites are now available in larger amounts than would be metabolised from leucine because of the roles these play in the body. The most widely available forms of these leucine metabolites are HMB, HICA and a patented new version called BetaTor which is only available in the MuscleTech Clear Muscle supplement.
HMB vs. Leucine
HMB (short for beta-Hydroxy beta-Methylbutyrate) when compared on a gram to gram basis with leucine appears to have greater effect on muscle protein breakdown, stopping catabolic processes allowing the body to recover quicker and in turn create a more anabolic muscle building environment, it does not however markedly influence muscle protein synthesis in the same way as leucine does. HMB is available commonly in calcium salt and free acid forms, it is suggested supplementation is from the free acid form (BetaTor) as this is proposed to be more bioavailable for use. Recommended dosages are between 1-3g per day, however we suggest that use of this supplement should be combined (as it commonly is in some supplements) with leucine itself for both the effects on muscle protein breakdown whilst ensuring increases in muscle protein synthesis ensuring the body is getting the best benefit in both aspects of the muscle building equation…
Net Protein Balance=Muscle Protein Synthesis-Muscle Protein Breakdown
As you can see if we increase protein synthesis and reduce muscle protein breakdown, this leads to a greater net muscle protein balance, this means more muscle and greater recovery, allowing you to get the best benefits from each session but also allowing you to train more frequently increasing the rate at which you can recover and grow! This element of recovery is important not just for those looking to build muscle, but in any sporting activity which causes muscles to have microtrauma including endurance events. The increase in recovery allows for increased training volume and therefore more rapid improvements in performance. HICA (hydroxyisocaproic or leucic acid) has a similar proposed benefit as HMB, however it is metabolised through a different metabolic pathway that may be more biologically available than HMB, however there are limited studies that have investigated its effects, particularly in athletic populations and how its effect compares to Leucine and HMB is unknown. BetaTOR is the trademarked name for free acid HMB and is available only through the MuscleTech Clear Muscle supplement at present. This form of HMB is designed to be super concentrated and therefore supplementation is easily administered in one easy (and although this shouldn’t matter, cool looking) clear pill. Studies performed on BetaTOR have shown positive effects on net muscle protein balance; however these appear to have been somewhat over stated in the products marketing, which may have caused a unwarranted dismissal of this potentially useful supplement in some corners of the supplement world. At CSN we supply Leucine in its L-leucine form in its raw form. Leucine is also an important component of many BCAA formulations, the quality of these formulas varies but we suggest looking for a Leucine content of at least 2g per serving and if possible closer to 4g (4g is the stated optimum dose for muscle protein synthesis). Supplementation with leucine or its derivatives in combination with adequate nutrition pre and post training (30-40g of whey again provides around 4g of leucine depending on quality), should ensure an appropriate dosed and timed hit of leucine to optimise muscle protein syntheses. We also supply HMB on its own or in combination with leucine and HMB in supplements such as ProSupps Leucine Matrix. We strongly recommend some form of leucine supplementation, and this particularly important around your training, both intra and post workout, when stimulation caused by weight training stimulates receptors and up regulates growth factors that make the muscle primed for growth with a little help from leucine and it’s metabolites. [Tweet ""make the muscle primed for growth with a little help from leucine and it’s metabolites""] Thanks again for reading, Peace Weights and Protein Shakes, Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc). [wpsr_socialbts]