Foods High in Leucine

by Barbara Diggs


Leucine is one of nine essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is a unit of protein that cannot be manufactured by the body, but which must be obtained through dietary sources. As a branched-side chain amino acid, leucine is responsible for protecting muscles, healing bones, skin and the cells and tissues of muscles. Leucine also plays a key role in the synthesis of growth hormones and lowering elevated blood sugar. Supplement News reports that the average adult should consume 16 mg of leucine per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis.


Soybeans are among the most widely available and nutritionally beneficial legumes on earth. Not only are soybeans rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K, they have one of the highest amounts of leucine of any natural food source. Dietary Fiber Foods reports that 100 g of raw mature soybeans provide 2.97 g of leucine. Soybeans are available in many forms including dried, canned or fresh. Fresh soybeans are known as edamame and usually can be found in Asian supermarkets.


Eggs are an excellent dietary source of leucine: one whole fresh egg contains about 1.09 g. According to a 2004 study led by Dr. Donald Layman and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the leucine in eggs provide a metabolic advantage when trying to lose weight, as leucine appears to help burn fat. However, eating eggs alone will not help you to lose weight. D. Layman notes that eating high-quality proteins as well as limiting carbohydrates is important as well. If you are concerned about cholesterol content in eggs but still want the leucine, eat egg whites. Dietary Fiber Foods notes that the white of one egg contains 1.02 g of leucine.


Raw peanuts provide a rich source of leucine, weighing in at 1.67 g of the amino acid per 100 g. Although peanuts and peanut butter have a reputation for being unhealthy due to its high fat content, a CNN report notes that both peanuts and peanut butter are actually very good for you, as they lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Just a tablespoon or two should suffice to get the health benefits that you need.

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