Leucine for retention of lean mass on a hypocaloric diet

J Med Food. 2008 Dec;11(4):606-9. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0058.


As obesity rates continue to climb, there is a pressing need for novel weight loss techniques. However, the energy-restricted diets recommended for weight loss typically result in significant amounts of lean tissue loss, in addition to the desired body fat loss. Leucine, a supported anticatabolic agent, has shown promise in research at many levels. First, leucine is known to stimulate the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway, which initiates translation and protein synthesis in muscle cells. Furthermore, leucine may help to regulate blood glucose levels by promoting gluconeogenesis. Finally, several recent studies provide evidence that leucine aids in the retention of lean mass in a hypocaloric state. The aim of this paper is to review relevant leucine research in the three areas described and assess its potential as supplement for obese individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Anabolic Agents / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Leucine / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Loss / physiology


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Leucine