Remember this scene in the movie Seabiscuit? Toby McQuire proudly proclaims to the sportswriters surrounding him, “Though he be but little, he is fierce.” That’s what I think of the little-known amino acid, leucine. It’s a little known amino acid with powerful abilities!
A mighty warrior in the battle of weight loss, leucine heroically fights the weight loss battle for you by faithfully regulating blood sugar, maintaining muscle and stimulating cardiovascular health. Leucine is found in good quality protein like yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, brown rice, nuts, egg whites, fish, meat and poultry.
How does leucine work? Well, God created this incredible earthly body which silently communicates functions within a network of corridors and components throughout the body. For example; the hypothalamus summons nutrients as needed, the bloodstream directs nutrient direction, the liver is the chemical manufacturing plant and kidneys escort toxins the door. My, my . . . and some people believe all this intricacy happened by chance. God knew what He was doing all the time:
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;…” (Psalm 139: 13-15)
But how does this little known amino acid assist in weight loss? A 2008 article published in the Journal of Physiology discovered that a diet containing leucine prevented muscle loss and as you most likely know, muscle burns fat. The more muscle one has, the more fat is efficiently burned in daily metabolism. Weight loss and exercise go hand in hand.
Leucine is not a complete protein however, which means it needs other amino acids (valine, isoleucine among others) to work properly. So it acts as a team player with other amino acids in this soccer game of metabolism.
Whey protein on the other hand, assists your body in making one of its most important antioxidant and immune supporter elements, glutathione. According to renown author Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center, glutathione is the most important molecule necessary to maintain proper health. It slows aging and resists illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. (No wonder the Mediterranean people look so vibrant and alive! Yogurt is a staple in their daily lives!)
Whey protein, the liquid by-product of milk contains lactose (milk sugar) water and other nutrients. It is a complete protein. Caution: whey can cause dietary discomfort if one is lactose intolerant. In fact, amino acids and hormones are nothing to experiment with because it could upset body chemistry. (I’d rather not play Russian roulette with my physiology, would you? Please don’t purchase individual supplements thinking you are getting a quick fix!)
Leucine and whey together produce higher metabolic exercise sessions. Whey is the thin, watery substance found in low-fat yogurts. Thick Greek yogurt has little whey protein(it’s strained out) and thus doesn’t produce the weight loss results many crave. Millions have jumped on this Greek yogurt fad. As for me and my house, I’d rather bring home low-fat, 1% Mountain High yogurt any day, which contain active pre and probiotic cultures with no added fillers or junk and skip the expensive Greek yogurt.
Hope this and the previous little post helped clarify one of the mysteries of why protein is essential in weight loss and vibrant health.