The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of free leucine supplementation on changes in skeletal muscle mass and strength during a resistance training (RT) program in previously untrained, young subjects. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 20 healthy young (22 ± 2 years) participants were assigned to two groups: a placebo-supplement group (PLA, N = 10) or a leucine-supplement group (LEU, N = 10). Both groups underwent an 8-week hypertrophic RT program (2 days/week), consuming an equivalent amount of leucine (3.0 g/day in a single post-training dose) or placebo (cornstarch). Quadriceps muscle strength, cross-sectional area (CSA) of the vastus lateralis (VL), and rectus femoris (RF), as well as the habitual dietary intake were assessed before and after the 8-week intervention period. There was a similar improvement in muscle strength (Leg press, LEU: +33% vs. PLA: +37%; P > 0.05, and knee extension, LEU: +31% vs. PLA: 34%; P > 0.05) and CSA (VL, LEU: 8.9% vs. PLA: 9.6%; P > 0.05, and RF, LEU: +21.6% vs. PLA: + 16.4%; P > 0.05) in the both groups from pre- to post-training. In addition, there was no significant (P > 0.05) difference in daily dietary intake between the LEU and PLA groups before and after the intervention period. Free leucine supplementation (3.0 g/day post-training) does not increase muscle strength or CSA during RT in healthy young subjects consuming adequate dietary protein intake.
Keywords: Cross-sectional area; Ergogenic; Hypertrophy; Nutritional supplementation; Skeletal muscle.