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L-Valine: A Guide on What to Know

We see a lot of articles about amino acids where it comes to workout supplements. People make all kinds of claims about the benefits of one amino acid over another. L-valine is one of these amino acids that seem to come up in the talk about exercise supplements. 

L-valine is an amino acid. It is one of the branch chain amino acids (BCAA) that we hear about all the time. It is safe to say that the talk around the gym may not be the best source of scientific information on something like L-valine. 

L-valine, as with any important nutrient, is not simply a boost we get from a bottle in the form of a supplement. L-valine is a fundamental component of the entire set of amino acids that make life possible. You must understand the science behind L-valine and other exercise supplements to get the most out of them. 

I think most of us understand something like L-valine is important for muscle development, but so is almost every other amino acid and protein. What do we know about L-valine and its importance to training and muscle development?

What exactly is L-valine? How does it function in the body? What is L-valine used for? And How can we benefit from L-valine? These are the important questions that need answers. This guide will give you all the information you need to understand the importance of L-valine in your workout program. 

What is L-Valine?

L-valine is one of the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through dietary sources. L-valine is also what is called a branch chain amino acid (BCAA). It works along with two additional BCAAs known as Leucine and Isoleucine.

L-valine and the other BCAAs are crucial for muscle protein synthesis and muscle tissue repair. For these reasons, L-valine has become an important supplement for people who are engaged in certain types of high-intensity training. 

The metabolism that goes on specifically in muscles requires the presence of L-valine. Some athletes focus on the other BCAAs for their workout supplements, but many people have come to see L-valine is of particular importance. 

L-valine helps build muscle by bringing more glucose to the muscles as they are stressed and worked. On its own, valine does not build muscle. But taken with leucine and isoleucine, it helps facilitate greater muscle development. Valine also assists with brain function, and it can help you sleep. A bonus for the insomniacs.

What is L-Valine used for?

As a BCAA, L-valine is taken as a supplement for building muscle. But in the course of muscle protein synthesis and the metabolism of muscle function, L-valine provides several important benefits. 

Increased muscle protein synthesis

On its own, L-valine does not provide much benefit for building muscle. But taken with the other BCAAs, isoleucine, and leucine, it significantly increases the capacity of your muscles to repair the damage. This means that the other BCAAs may work well for building muscles, but the addition of L-valine boosts your ability to do the work necessary to build muscle.

Faster workout recovery

L-valine can reduce the soreness that follows a workout. It also aids muscle recovery. It is common to feel sore after a workout. This is the “pain” that comes with the gain, as they say. It is also common to feel a burn immediately. These pains and soreness can last up to three days. Some of this pain and soreness is due to physical damage to muscle tissue. 

L-valine has been shown to reduce the severity of this pain and soreness and reduce the length of time that it persists. L-valine is instrumental in repairing muscle tissue. It also reduces the production of an enzyme called creatine kinase which is a chief indicator of damaged muscle. L-valine leads to faster recovery and more efficient recovery, and this gets you back to working out faster and with greater ease. 

Increased endurance 

One of the most common issues when building a workout is reaching a plateau at which you don’t seem to be able to get beyond. This point where you seem to have hit a maximum. This is partially due to a shortage of L-valine. L-valine stores in the muscle and blood keep you going while working out. When you reach a point at which you have depleted your stores of L-valine, this signals the muscles and bloodstream to release both tryptophan and serotonin—two chemicals that tell the muscles to rest and relax. Both of these chemicals induce sleep. By taking L-valine before your workout, you give your muscles an extra jolt of the very chemical you need to increase your workout rather than reach a plateau. The extra L-valine increases endurance and reduces fatigue.

Research has shown that taking L-valine even without adding the other BCAAs has shown that it is effective in maintaining glycogen and blood glucose levels.

Muscle maintenance 

The entire process of building muscle consists of deliberately breaking muscle down and re-building toward increased muscle mass. One of the most important things to guard against is reaching a point where muscle breakdown exceeds muscle synthesis. You can help maintain this balance and tip things toward building muscle with increased levels of L-valine. Since L-valine is one of the crucial BCAAs for maintaining muscle repair, it ultimately ensures that your workout cycle comes to a net gain rather than loss. 

Fights liver and gallbladder disease 

L-valine is best known for its benefits as a workout supplement. But L-valine is also important for our overall health. One way that L-valine is beneficial beyond muscle growth is preventing and fighting liver and gallbladder disease. Conditions that compromise the liver and gallbladder make it difficult or impossible for your body to cleanse the system of toxins. These conditions will cause brain damage in the long run. The presence of sufficient quantities of  L-valine boost liver and gallbladder function. Some research suggests that L-valine could also guard against liver cancer. 

Supplementation with branched-chain amino acids that specifically contain L-valine have been used for the following with some success as well:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Athletic performance and mental decline during exercise at extreme temperature
  • Athletic performance and post-exercise infection at extreme temperature
  • Tardive dyskinesia

L-Valine function in your body

L-valine prevents the breakdown of muscle by providing an abundant supply of extra glucose for energy production. L-valine also works along a specific biosynthetic pathway that prevents the production of tryptophan, a chemical that makes you tired and sleepy. In this way, L-valine functions to naturally sustain energy levels. 

L-valine is not processed by the liver and converted into a usable form. As such, L-valine is immediately accessible to muscle tissues. 

L-valine is important to the smooth nervous system and for cognitive functioning. L-valine is also crucial for the proper functioning of the immune system. As an essential amino acid, one of the branch chain amino acids, it is necessary to provide your body with a  steady supply of L-valine either through dietary sources or with a supplement. 

Sources of L-Valine

Since L-valine is such an important amino acid for life it is found in a variety of natural dietary sources. Some of the best sources of L-valine include: 

  • Lean beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Pork
  • Tuna
  • Tofu
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Navy beans
  • Podded peas
  • Squash and pumpkin seeds
  • Oatmeal

L-valine supplements are commonly taken by weightlifters and performance athletes as part of their workout routines. People that are looking to increase their valine intake through supplements have a few options. One option is to take the L-valine by itself. You can also take BCAA supplements that provide a balance of the amino acids L-leucine, L- isoleucine, and L-valine. Both whey protein and egg protein supplements also contain BCAAs.

There are some great L-valine supplements for those who require an extra jolt of L-valine. People engaged in intense athletic training can benefit from taking an L-valine supplement. 

L-Valine side effects

L-valine is a natural substance that is necessary for our health. As such, it generally does not have any side effects. However, taking large quantities of L-valine can cause fatigue, nausea, and a lack of muscle coordination. 

Extremely high doses of L-valine can be dangerous. Excessive levels of L-valine can cause your body to produce excess ammonia which is toxic. Extremely high levels of L-valine can cause your skin to tingle and can lead to hallucinations. 

People with the following conditions should avoid supplementation with L-valine and other BCAAs:

It’s also advised that people with kidney or liver disease should not consume high amounts of amino acids without first consulting their doctors. Children should not supplement with BCAAs unless advised by their doctors. If you have an upcoming surgery, stop supplementing with L-valine at least two weeks prior.

L-Valine dosage

Most people consume adequate amounts of this essential amino acid (about 25–65 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight) through their diets. Someone likely to be deficient in valine would be deficient in protein in general.

Athletes taking part in intense training activities have been known to supplement with a daily intake of L-leucine, L-valine, and L-isoleucine to avoid muscle loss and increase muscle gain.

L-valine can be taken alone, but it’s recommended to take it along with the other BCAAs, leucine, and isoleucine. A common recommendation is to look for products that have a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine: isoleucine: valine.

L-Valine FAQs

What is L-valine? 

L-valine is one of the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through dietary sources. L-valine is also what is called a branch chain amino acid (BCAA). It works along with two additional BCAAs known as Leucine and Isoleucine.

What is L-valine used for? 

As a BCAA, L-valine is taken as a supplement for building muscle. It is a crucial amino acid for repairing damaged muscle and reducing muscle fatigue. 

What are the benefits of L-valine? 

L-valine can help build muscle, reduce post-workout soreness and pain, increase endurance, and help fight liver and gallbladder disease. 

Can I get L-valine in my diet?

L-valine is in plenty of food sources including red meat, chicken, beans, and dairy products. 

Is an L-valine supplement necessary?

For people engaged in high-intensity workouts and athletic training, L-valine supplements can help maintain and build muscles and help them push beyond plateaus toward greater muscle gain. 

Are there any side effects of L-valine? 

L-valine is a natural substance that is necessary for our health. As such, it generally does not have any side effects. However, taking large quantities of L-valine can cause fatigue, nausea, and a lack of muscle coordination. 

Conclusion

There is a lot of buzz around branch chain amino acids. People who are committed to building muscle and athletes engaged in intense training tend to rely on BCAA supplements to get the results they need. But often amid the buzz, we miss the science behind these individual amino acids. L-valine is one of the essential amino acids for muscle growth and maintenance. 

While L-valine does not specifically cause muscle growth, it is necessary for the overall process of muscle growth. L-valine repairs damaged muscle. It allows you to keep pushing through past your ordinary point of endurance. 

By paying closer attention to the science of something like L-valine, we get a better sense of how to use L-valine to our benefit. Since levels of L-valine can determine how quickly we become worn down by a workout, we can learn to modulate L-valine toward longer more effective workouts. 

What is more, L-valine is a necessary nutrient for overall health. By getting enough L-valine either from dietary sources or through a supplement, we ensure good health and the ability to get and stay fit. 

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