Stimulation of muscle anabolism by resistance exercise and ingestion of leucine plus protein

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Apr;34(2):151-61. doi: 10.1139/H09-006.


Leucine is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and anabolism. However, evidence for the efficacy of additional leucine to enhance the response of muscle anabolism to resistance exercise and protein ingestion is unclear. Thus, we investigated the response of net muscle protein balance to ingestion of additional leucine with protein in association with resistance exercise. Two groups of untrained subjects performed an intense bout of leg resistance exercise following ingestion of 1 of 2 drinks: flavored water (PL); or 16.6 g of whey protein + 3.4 g of leucine (W+L). Arteriovenous amino acid balance across the leg was measured to assess the anabolic response of muscle in each group. Arterial amino acid concentrations increased in response to ingestion of W+L. Amino acid concentrations peaked between 60 and 120 min after ingestion, and then declined to baseline values. Valine concentration decreased to levels significantly lower than baseline. Net balance of leucine, threonine, and phenylalanine did not change following PL ingestion, but increased and remained elevated above baseline for 90-120 min following W+L ingestion. Leucine (138 +/- 37 and -23 +/- 23 mg), phenylalanine (58 +/- 28 and -38 +/- 14 mg), and threonine (138 +/- 37 and -23 +/- 23 mg) uptake was greater for W+L than for PL over the 5.5 h following drink ingestion. Our results indicate that the whey protein plus leucine in healthy young volunteers results in an anabolic response in muscle that is not greater than the previously reported response to whey protein alone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Amino Acids, Essential / blood
  • Amino Acids, Essential / metabolism*
  • Beverages*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leucine / administration & dosage*
  • Leucine / blood
  • Lower Extremity
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Milk Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Resistance Training*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Insulin
  • Milk Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Leucine