Leucine Prevents Muscle Loss During Bed Rest

Too much bed rest will kill you! In 1947, British physician Richard Asher wrote, “Teach us to live that we may dread unnecessary time in bed. Get people up and we may save our patients from an early grave.” Bed rest studies by scientists from NASA showed that three weeks of total bed rest (not allowed to get out of bed during the experiment) caused a 25 percent decrease in aerobic capacity, a 13 percent decrease in muscle mass and a 25 to 35 percent decrease in strength and power. Everyone gets sick occasionally, so how do you maintain precious training gains when you have to stay in bed? A study led by Kirk English from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas found that supplementing the amino acid leucine with every meal (0.06 grams per kilogram of bodyweight) during 14 days of bed rest prevented some changes in muscle mass, strength, power and body fat, compared to a placebo (fake leucine). Leucine is an amino acid that acts as a chemical signal to turn on protein synthesis in the muscle cells. Leucine can prevent physical deterioration during short breaks in training or when you are confined to bed with the flu. (American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 103: 465-473, 2016)

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