Purpose: To investigate the effects of daily oral L-leucine ingestion on strength, bone mineral-free lean tissue mass (LTM) and fat mass (FM) of free living humans during a 12-wk resistance-training program.
Methods: Twenty-six initially untrained men (n = 13 per group) ingested either 4 g/d of L-leucine (leucine group: age 28.5 ± 8.2 y, body mass index 24.9 ± 4.2 kg/m2) or a corresponding amount of lactose (placebo group: age 28.2 ± 7.3 y, body mass index 24.9 ± 4.2 kg/m2). All participants trained under supervision twice per week following a prescribed resistance training program using eight standard exercise machines. Testing took place at baseline and at the end of the supplementation period. Strength on each exercise was assessed by five repetition maximum (5-RM), and body composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).
Results: The leucine group demonstrated significantly higher gains in total 5-RM strength (sum of 5-RM in eight exercises) and 5-RM strength in five out of the eight exercises (P < .05). The percentage total 5-RM strength gains were 40.8% (± 7.8) and 31.0% (± 4.6) for the leucine and placebo groups respectively. Significant differences did not exist between groups in either total percentage LTM gains or total percentage FM losses (LTM: 2.9% ± 2.5 vs 2.0% ± 2.1, FM: 1.6% ± 15.6 vs 1.1% ± 7.6).
Conclusion: These results suggest that 4 g/d of L-leucine supplementation may be used as a nutritional supplement to enhance strength performance during a 12-week resistance training program of initially untrained male participants.