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Wellness Center San Antonio
Medical Spa San Antonio

4499 Medical Drive #225, San Antonio, Texas 78229  210.616.0836





"Leucine won't you do your muscle's will?"

apologies to Little Richard, Lucille, 1957


We are now offering a post workout shake which is composed of the following:


Calories 137

Carbohydrate 2gm

Fat 1gm

Protein 30gm

Of this protein 11gm are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

and of the BCAA there is 6gm of Leucine.

Plus Glutamine 4gm 


You have heard the spiel now here it is in writing…


All the big boys at the gym know that their muscles are more sensitive to uptake glucose and protein in the first two hours after a workout.  They consume a large protein and carbohydrate shake sometimes 500-700calories early after a workout for two reasons. First, they want to take advantage of this “window of opportunity” to nourish their muscles and Second, they need to begin their nutritional recovery right away because they are going to be in the gym the next day and the last thing they want is to come into the gym for their next workout and not be nutritionally ready for it.


I have not felt that our clients needed to do this for several reasons.  First we give our clients at least 2 days to recover between workouts and Second, some of the available post workout drinks carry too many calories and we are asking our clients to cut back on calories to assist with fat loss. About the most I have ever suggested to our clients is that they eat half a Zone Bar before and the other half after the workout.


I have changed my mind about this because I am not happy at the amount of muscle some of our older clients have been able to add during the first 4 months of the program.  When I talk about adding muscle, it is not the 10-20lbs of bulking up that the big boys want to achieve.  To do that they will consume 4000-5000calories or more a day.  We are asking our clients usually to cut back on calories and when you cut back it is much harder to put on any muscle.  I am talking about adding 2-4lbs of muscle in 4 months and at the same time lose about 12-16lbs of fat. 


I think there are two at least reasons that we have not seen these 2-4lbs of muscle consistently in our clients.  First, I am not convinced that they are eating enough protein to support the growth of new muscle.  A 16oz Steak has about 130gm of protein. Theoretically to support a new lb of muscle one must consume over a period of time a similar amount of protein over and above the normal daily protein requirements to support the synthesis of new muscle protein and the supporting structures (blood vessels, connective tissue) to get 1lb of new muscle.  When we calculate the Zone/Paleo Prescription, we calculate what we think is the minimal daily requirement (.85gm x Lean Mass in lbs by DXA) to maintain muscle mass at a high intensity training level.  We then add 10-15gm extra to this to come up with a desired daily protein intake.  For women this is about 120gm and men 150-175gm per day.  This extra protein should be enough over a period of time to support the desired muscle growth. The Second reason is that research is now showing that as we age we don’t respond as well to the protein we eat in our meals.  When we eat a meal with protein (made up of amino acids), the amino acids peak in the blood stream and this is a signal for the muscle to begin synthesizing more muscle protein.  When the amino acids come down to baseline levels in the blood, there is breakdown of muscle protein, then we eat again and muscle protein synthesis begins. At the end of the day our muscle is the same and we are in what is call Nitrogen Balance.  What we are trying to achieve however at the end of the day is a slight net Positive Nitrogen Balance with a little more muscle protein synthesis than breakdown.


 Protein is made up of 20 Amino Acids.  9 of these are considered Essential Amino Acids.  We need to eat these in our diets and our body can make the other 11 out of these 9 Essential Amino Acids.  Three of the Essential Amino Acids are called Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).  The are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.  These 3 BCAA are special in that they bypass the liver after being absorbed and pretty much go straight to the blood stream and to our muscles.  About 20% of our muscle protein is made up of these 3 BCAA and they can also be oxidized for energy.  The BCAA and in particular Leucine also act as signaling molecules for the initiation of protein synthesis in the muscles.


As we age, our muscles lose their sensitivity to the signal sent by Leucine and the process of protein synthesis is not as efficient.  This sensitivity can be restored in older individuals by taking in extra Leucine after exercise and it appears to be beneficial in younger individuals also.


Theoretically if the shake described above is taken twice a week, in 1 month an extra 240gm of protein should be available for muscle protein synthesis assuming normal daily requirements are being met. This should be sufficient for the synthesis of 1lb of muscle over this period of time.


On another note, I am also convinced that low testosterone levels in aging men needs to be addressed and this will assist with promoting an anabolic state.


Selected References with links to abstracts or full articles



Bloomstrand E et al Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise.    J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.


Rennie MJ  Branched-chain amino acids as fuels and anabolic signals in human muscle.
J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):264S-8S. Review


Koopman R et al Co-ingestion of protein and leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates to the same extent in young and elderly lean men.
Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, September 1, 2006; 84(3): 623 - 632.


Norton LE, Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise.  J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):533S-537S.


Layman DK Role of leucine in protein metabolism during exercise and recovery.
Can J Appl Physiol. 2002 Dec;27(6):646-63. Review.


Yoshiharu Set al  Nutraceutical Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acids on Skeletal Muscle

J. Nutr. 136:529S-532S, February 2006


Coburn JW et al Effects of leucine and whey protein supplementation during eight weeks of unilateral resistance training.
J Strength Cond Res. 2006 May;20(2):284-91.


Drummond MJ Nutritional and contractile regulation of human skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mTORC1 signaling  J Appl Physiol 106: 1374-1384, 2009.


Marzani B Antioxidant Supplementation Restores Defective Leucine Stimulation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle from Old Rats  J. Nutr. 138:2205-2211, November 2008


Dryer HC Leucine-enriched essential amino acid and carbohydrate ingestion following resistance exercise enhances mTOR signaling and protein synthesis in human muscle Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 294: E392-E400, 2008


Fujita S Essential amino acid and carbohydrate ingestion before resistance exercise does not enhance postexercise muscle protein synthesis  J Appl Physiol 106: 1730-1739, 2009

Manders RJ Co-ingestion of a protein hydrolysate with or without additional leucine effectively reduces postprandial blood glucose excursions in Type 2 diabetic men. J Nutr. 2006 May;136(5):1294-9

Layman DK Potential Importance of Leucine in Treatment of Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome J. Nutr. 136:319S-323S, January 2006

 Bross R Anabolic Interventions for Aging-Associated Sarcopenia  The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 84, No. 10 3420-3430


Evans WJ Protein Nutrition, Exercise and Aging Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 90006, 601S-609S (2004)

Paddon-Jones D
Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 87, No. 5, 1562S-1566S, May 2008


Toth MJ Age-related differences in skeletal muscle protein synthesis: relation to markers of immune activation Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 288: E883-E891, 2005


Doherty, T Invited Review: Aging and sarcopenia J Appl Physiol 95: 1717-1727, 2003


Maggio M  Correlation between Testosterone and the Inflammatory Marker Soluble Interleukin-6 Receptor in Older Men The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 91, No. 1 345-347 2006



M. J. Rennie
A role for leucine in rejuvenating the anabolic effects of food in old rats
J. Physiol., December 1, 2005; 569(2): 357 - 357.
[Full Text] [PDF]


P. J. Garlick
The Role of Leucine in the Regulation of Protein Metabolism
J. Nutr., June 1, 2005; 135(6): 1553S - 1556S.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


S. Fujita and E. Volpi
Amino Acids and Muscle Loss with Aging
J. Nutr., January 1, 2006; 136(1): 277S - 280S.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


C. S. Katsanos, H. Kobayashi, M. Sheffield-Moore, A. Aarsland, and R. R. Wolfe
A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, August 1, 2006; 291(2): E381 - E387.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


I. Rieu, M. Balage, C. Sornet, C. Giraudet, E. Pujos, J. Grizard, L. Mosoni, and D. Dardevet
Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia
J. Physiol., August 15, 2006; 575(1): 305 - 315.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


R. Koopman, L. Verdijk, R. J. Manders, A. P Gijsen, M. Gorselink, E. Pijpers, A. J. Wagenmakers, and L. J. van Loon
Co-ingestion of protein and leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates to the same extent in young and elderly lean men.
Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, September 1, 2006; 84(3): 623 - 632.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


Y. Zhang, K. Guo, R. E. LeBlanc, D. Loh, G. J. Schwartz, and Y.-H. Yu
Increasing Dietary Leucine Intake Reduces Diet-Induced Obesity and Improves Glucose and Cholesterol Metabolism in Mice via Multimechanisms
Diabetes, June 1, 2007; 56(6): 1647 - 1654.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


T. C. Vary and C. J. Lynch
Nutrient Signaling Components Controlling Protein Synthesis in Striated Muscle
J. Nutr., August 1, 2007; 137(8): 1835 - 1843.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


A H Manninen
Hyperinsulinaemia, hyperaminoacidaemia and post-exercise muscle anabolism: the search for the optimal recovery drink
Br. J. Sports Med., November 1, 2006; 40(11): 900 - 905.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]


L. Cynober and R. A. Harris
Symposium on Branched-Chain Amino Acids: Conference Summary
J. Nutr., January 1, 2006; 136(1): 333S - 336S.
[Full Text] [PDF]







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