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The New Year is approaching and like most every other year, the most common resolutions will be those associated with something related to your body or exercise: lose weight, stop eating junk food, start exercising, etc.  For those wanting to pack on some muscle, lose fat and improve body composition, a few things are paramount for success to occur.  First, be positive and be consistent.  Life throws curve-balls at us all the time and it's perfectly normal if you miss a workout or blow a meal.  The biggest thing here is to not let one missed workout turn into two, then three, then four.  Another key factor is to be realistic.  Weight loss and changes to your body take time.  A consistent and committed effort to a regular exercise program must be happening.

The power of exercise on the human body is a great thing and when applied in the right amounts over time, positive changes are very likely to occur.  You can also believe in the power of combining a consistent exercise program with a good diet that provides high amounts of key nutrients.  One nutrient worth discussing is leucine.  Briefly, leucine is one of the twenty amino acids our body needs to build proteins [1].  However, only the essential amino acids are needed to stimulate muscle growth [2, 3] and getting them in optimal doses and at the right time are two critical factors for this physiological activity.  Because the essential amino acids are exclusively used to build muscle, it's extremely important that you know what food sources provide appropriate amounts of the essential amino acids.

The body can't produce essential amino acids so they must be consumed as part of a person's diet.  A number of approaches can be taken by people to get the necessary and hopefully optimal amounts of protein and amino acid levels in their diet.  In the simplest of senses, all sources of protein that come from an animal are complete protein sources.  So things like beef, poultry, milk, eggs, etc. all come from animals and are known to be complete protein sources.  Complete protein sources are best because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids.  When it comes to supplementation, the most reasonable approach is one that combines good high quality food choices as the mainstay of your meals each day, with added supplementation as needed. Indeed, during the times in which quick delivery of key nutrients is needed, supplementation becomes critically important.  A number of high quality protein sources are available and recently, ProSource released Nytro Whey Ultra Elite.  The NytroWhey brand has been a juggernaut of a product line for years and for great reason.  It contains a high quality source of whey protein, contains low amounts of sugar and fat and comes in a variety of great-tasting flavors.  What makes NytroWhey Ultra Elite, "Elite"???  The answer here lies in the inclusion of a proprietary extraction method for leucine itself which results in a more bioavailable dose of leucine.  While a number of high quality protein products are out there, the inclusion of the leucine extract is one certain reason to choose Nytro Whey Ultra Elite over others.

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Why is leucine so important?  Researchers have found that its sole inclusion triggers the building of muscle proteins [4].  How much is needed?  Well research studies have repeatedly shown that 6 to 12 grams of essential amino acids are what is needed to maximize muscle protein synthesis [5-7]; roughly the same amount provided in one 25 gram scoop of NytroWhey Ultra Elite.  Need further proof that this amount is enough?  Research has found that muscle protein synthesis significantly increases to greater amounts when 5, 10 and 20 grams of protein are ingested, but no further increase occurs when a 40 gram dose is ingested [8].  Take home messages from these studies reveal it is likely more effective for a person to avoid ingesting single doses of protein much greater than 20 grams.

Interestingly, research has begun to illustrate the fact that leucine by itself can act as a powerful trigger to turn on the building of muscle proteins.  In addition to building more muscle, leucine is also implicated in helping to maintain more favorable levels of glucose and insulin, two key factors which bring your muscles in and out of an anabolic and catabolic state.  In operating truly like a light switch, a dose of 2 to 3 grams of leucine appears necessary to turn on these processes and once they are turned on they're on.  In other words, a minimum 2 gram threshold for leucine appears to exists.  If smaller doses (i.e. 1 gram) are given, the processes aren't turned on and similarly if five grams are given the processes are turned on but to the same extent as when 2 to 3 grams were given.  In other words, "some leucine is better than none" and "more is better" need not apply as a dosage of 2 to 3 grams appears to be the necessary amount to trigger or "turn on" protein translation [4, 9, 10].

The nutrition side of changing your body is critically important.  Building muscles requires a sound exercise program, consistent effort and a seemingly constant supply of the essential amino acids.  Several different approaches can be taken to deliver these key nutrients.  Certainly, planning your meals to provide a 6-to-12 gram dose of the essential amino acids every 2 to 3 hours is possible, but it takes a lot of work.  Adding a high quality whey protein supplement like NytroWhey Ultra Elite helps fills these important gaps and does an excellent job of conveniently providing not only optimal levels of essential amino acids, but also optimal levels of leucine.  As to how you go about it, your muscles don't care, but only giving them optimal leucine after two or three meals a day will not cut it.  If you want to pave the way to pack on some muscle and improve your body composition, adding a high quality whey protein supplement like NytroWhey Ultra Elite may be the difference between turning on the lights for muscle growth throughout the day or just when you find time to grab a meal.  You know what to do.

1.    Antonio, J., et al., eds. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. 2008, Humana Press: New York, NY.
2.    Tipton, K.D., et al., Nonessential amino acids are not necessary to stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in healthy volunteers. J Nutr Biochem, 1999. 10(2): p. 89-95.
3.    Volpi, E., et al., Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in healthy elderly adults. Am J Clin Nutr, 2003. 78(2): p. 250-8.
4.    Suryawan, A., et al., Leucine acts as a nutrient signal to stimulate protein synthesis in neonatal pigs. J Anim Sci, 2010.
5.    Borsheim, E., et al., Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2002. 283(4): p. E648-57.
6.    Tipton, K.D. and A.A. Ferrando, Improving muscle mass: response of muscle metabolism to exercise, nutrition and anabolic agents. Essays Biochem, 2008. 44: p. 85-98.
7.    Tipton, K.D., et al., Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2001. 281(2): p. E197-206.
8.    Moore, D.R., et al., Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(1): p. 161-8.
9.    Norton, L.E., et al., The leucine content of a complete meal directs peak activation but not duration of skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling in rats. J Nutr, 2009. 139(6): p. 1103-9.
10.    Norton, L.E. and D.K. Layman, Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr, 2006. 136(2): p. 533S-537S.