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An Amino Acid for Weight Loss?

What if we told you there was a way to increase fat burning, decrease inflammatory biomarkers and oxidative stress, and improve insulin sensitivity without diet or exercise. You would probably think we were lying to you.


But new research is suggesting a special combination of supplements can do just that. This supplement combo includes vitamin B6, NAD+, and a handy little amino acid called leucine.

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What is leucine?


Leucine is one of the 9 amino acids that are deemed essential. Further, leucine is one of three branch-chain amino acids (BCAA), meaning it is vital for building and repairing muscles. Still, leucine stands out from the rest, some researchers say leucine is the most important amino acid of all.


Leucine performs multiple functions throughout the entire body. Some of the purposes of leucine include:

  • Builds muscles According to the National Institute of Health, leucine supplements increase muscle mass when combined with strength training. Leucine is so adept at building muscles that bodybuilders often take a leucine supplement when training for competitions.

  • Promotes human growth hormone production → Several studies have suggested that leucine increases human growth hormone (HGH) production. While research on HGH is limited and controversial, most studies suggest that HGH can decrease body fat and increase muscle mass.

  • Improves muscle recovery → One study demonstrated that cyclists who took leucine after a strenuous workout reported enhanced speed the next day and less overall fatigue. Several other studies have found that leucine supplementation can promote overall muscle recovery following a workout.

  • Regulate blood sugar → According to a 2008 study, when leucine is ingested with glucose, blood glucose response was reduced and extra insulin production was stimulated. This is because leucine plays a key role in the regulation of blood glucose due to its effects on pancreatic β cells, muscle, liver, and body fat.

  • Prevents muscle loss → Leucine has been found to improve muscular strength in adults. Research has demonstrated that supplementing leucine may be an effective way to offset anabolic resistance, which often leads to a decline in skeletal muscle mass.

  • Aids in weight control → In animal studies, supplementing leucine increases leptin sensitivity, the hormone that regulates appetite.

While leucine serves many important functions within the human body, this blog will primarily focus on the role of leucine in weight loss.


Leucine for weight loss?


A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that when combined with vitamin B6 and NAD+, leucine can promote fat loss without dieting. The researchers conducted two 24-week placebo-controlled randomized trials.

  • In the first trial, all participants were not restricting their eating. One group was taking the leucine and B6 supplements while the second group was not.

  • In the second trial, all participants were placed on a 500 kcal/day deficit diet. One group was taking the leucine and B6 supplements while the second group was not.

Both groups taking the leucine and B6 supplements saw greater body fat loss than their respective placebo groups. The waist circumference of the participants taking the supplements had also decreased more than those not taking the supplements. Most importantly, after 4 weeks, the groups taking leucine and B6 saw a threefold greater loss of waist circumference that was sustained at the 24-week endpoint. This study demonstrates strong evidence of the weight loss potential of B6 and Leucine.


Leucine and B6 cause this weight loss effect through the activation of key catabolic pathways and the Sirt1 and AMPK pathways. The interaction between Sirt1 and AMPK results in a receptor that regulates energy metabolism and responds to catabolic stress. This receptor suppresses lipid synthesis and storage. When the activity of this receptor is decreased or dysregulated, it can lead to mitochondrial loss or dysfunction. As we know, mitochondrial damage plays a pivotal role in the development of metabolic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.


How to get your daily dose of leucine?


Because our body cannot naturally create leucine, we must either take leucine supplementation or get it from our diet. Foods that contain leucine include:

  • Almonds

  • Chickpeas

  • Lentils

  • Eggs

  • Beef

  • Chicken

  • Salmon

  • Soybeans

While leucine is relatively easy to get from your diet, it can be difficult for your body to absorb it properly. Thus, to achieve the weight loss effects of leucine described above, supplementation is necessary.


However, as a reminder, you should only ever purchase supplements that have been prescribed to you by a reputable medical health professional. Unfortunately, supplements sold online or in drug stores are often filled with additives, adulterants, and even heavy metals. This is largely because the FDA does not hold dietary supplements to the same standards as pharmaceuticals.


At the Johnson Center, we only prescribe Medical-grade supplements that are held to much stricter standards than over-the-counter (OTC) supplements. Dr. Johnson never prescribes supplements without first thoroughly exploring your nutrient levels and potential factors behind them. Nutrient levels will be determined through adequate blood and potentially urine testing. Potential factors affecting your nutrient levels could be anything from lifestyle habits to your unique genome. There are many genes that determine how well you absorb nutrients and how well you use nutrients once in your body. Before prescribing anything, Dr. Johnson will get to the bottom of it all.


For more information about leucine or exploring weight loss with the Johnson Center, click here to contact us or call 276-235-3205 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute discovery call.

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!

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