Glutamine vs BCAA: Which One to Choose?
Whether you're an athlete or someone who exercises regularly, you've probably heard about glutamine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)- two of the most popular ergogenic supplements on the market today, and many people use them to achieve their fitness goals.
Ergogenic supplements help you get the most from your workouts. They can improve your performance by increasing energy levels during exercise, speeding up muscle recovery time after a workout, and sharpening your focus.
When choosing between glutamine supplements or BCAAs, consider their potential impact on performance and how they may enhance each other's effects.
Your choice should depend on your sport, the type of workout, and the fitness goals you set out to achieve.
Glutamine can relieve muscle soreness and accelerate recovery time after high-intensity exercise. It boosts immunity and promotes health and well-being; BCAAs provide your muscles with amino acids that build lean mass, boost energy levels, and reduce soreness.
Understanding these supplements is crucial to getting the most out of your workouts. We must first learn about their role to gain maximum benefits.
Branched-chain Amino Acids - Everything You Should Know
Branched-chain Amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids— they cannot be created by the body and must be obtained through diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which builds and repairs muscle tissue and are essential for maintaining muscle mass, especially when you’re working out. They improve performance, reduce fatigue during exercise, increase muscle protein synthesis, and decrease muscle breakdown. BCAAs comprise approximately 35% of muscle tissue and help in protein metabolism.
The defining characteristic of branched-chain amino acids is that they are the only ones oxidised in skeletal muscle tissue, while other essential amino acids are catabolised in the liver.
Research shows taking branched-chain amino acid supplements is beneficial because BCAAs are available in their purest form (not bound to other proteins, like they would be when consumed with food), allowing them to be metabolised by muscles more quickly.
The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which have several benefits:
Leucine is vital for building muscle because it helps synthesise muscle tissue- muscle growth can be accelerated if the body has enough leucine.
It helps stabilise glucose levels in the bloodstream, helping you maintain energy levels as you work out—it's a great way to keep your energy up and last longer during that intense cardio session.
Finally, leucine boosts our ability to heal muscles, reducing soreness and allowing us to recover faster from exercise and get back into our routine as soon as possible.
Isoleucine increases muscle mass by promoting myogenesis (muscle growth) and intramuscular fat deposition. We must obtain isoleucine from outside sources because our bodies cannot produce it. Protein supplements can also provide this essential amino acid.
Our body uses isoleucine to boost immunity. It regulates protein intake and fat metabolism, helping glucose enter the cells. Isoleucine is metabolised through fats and carbohydrates, whereas leucine only metabolises through fats.
Valine is one of the three essential amino acids that promote muscle growth. But it does not build muscle—only in synergy with leucine and isoleucine. It helps keep your muscles coordinated so that they can move properly.
A study has shown valine helps maintain liver glycogen and blood glucose levels, reducing fatigue during athletic activities. Valine, a glycogenic amino acid, keeps you mentally alert. It regulates mood and helps people sleep better at night.
Glutamine and its Health Benefits
Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in high concentrations in the muscles. It's also present in the brain, immune system, and gastrointestinal tract.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the plasma and a primary nitrogen carrier, maintaining healthy levels of nitrogen, which helps produce energy, synthesises protein, and plays a role in cellular homeostasis. Glutamine is involved in many biochemical processes that occur within your body, including muscle growth and repair. It helps synthesise protein, building new muscle tissue and helping in muscle recovery from exercise-induced damage to existing muscle fibres.
It's used as an energy source by cells throughout the body, including immune cells that fight infection.
Glutamine controls glucose levels. Studies have shown that glutamine can help improve athletic performance by increasing muscle mass and strength and reducing fatigue during exercise sessions.
A study on oral L-glutamine effect on athletes who took glutamine supplements before training sessions found they experienced less muscle soreness and better muscle recovery after working out than those who didn't take them before training sessions.
Studies have also shown taking glutamine supplements can help reduce symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia.
Health Benefits of BCAAs
Branched-chain amino acids help promote muscle growth and reduce muscle breakdown by providing the body with a readily-available supply of essential amino acids for immediate use during protein synthesis, making them popular among bodybuilders, powerlifters, and fitness enthusiasts.
But BCAAs aren't just for the gym—they can benefit everyone. Here are a few of the health benefits of BCAAs:
Build Muscle, Prevent its Breakdown
BCAAs help in muscle growth and prevent muscle breakdown. They benefit those who want to build and maintain muscle mass or lose fat by gaining muscle and losing fat. BCAAs protect against muscle loss by providing the primary substrate for stimulating muscle protein synthesis and preserving glycogen stores.
They help reduce muscle soreness. BCAAs lower blood levels of creatinine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, reducing the signals that trigger muscle soreness and helping you in faster muscle recovery from workouts.
Increase Energy Levels
BCAAs can help you feel more alert and focused throughout the day by reducing fatigue and boosting mental clarity.
Help Lose Weight
BCAAs help you lose weight by boosting metabolism and preventing overeating by reducing cravings for high-calorie foods like sweets and refined carbohydrates.
Improve Cognitive Health
BCAAs boost brain function by increasing serotonin production in the brain, which improves mood, focus, concentration, patience, and motivation levels and reduces stress levels, anxiety attacks, and depression caused by chronic stress.
Differences Between BCAAs and Glutamine
BCAAs and Glutamine help reduce muscle breakdown, improve recovery from exercise-induced fatigue, and decrease post-exercise inflammation in muscles, But their benefits differ based on specific workout needs.
BCAAs differ from glutamine in their molecular structure. BCAA has aliphatic side chains with a central carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms; Glutamine does not. Instead, it has an amide group that binds to a different set of amino acids than BCAA.
Essential and Conditionally Essential
Branched-chain amino acids are essential, meaning the body cannot make them and must obtain them through diet. In contrast, the body can make glutamine when it has enough nitrogen and other nutrients. However, under certain conditions like exercise or stress, its ability to produce glutamine may not be sufficient, making it conditionally essential.
When muscles are stressed—by exercise or otherwise—the body uses glutamine stores. Glutamine preserves muscle by preventing it from entering the state where it begins tearing itself down.
By consuming a glutamine supplement, you can increase the time your muscles remain in an anabolic state — meaning they build muscle rather than break it down. Glutamine also helps release the growth hormone, which sustains this beneficial anabolic state. It is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system and gut health. Glutamine sustains workouts- which build muscle mass- and helps white blood cells produce cytokines (small proteins released by the body's immune system). With more cytokines at its disposal, your body is better prepared to fend off pathogens and other invaders.
Instead of prolonging the anabolic phase of building muscle, BCAAs supply a steady flow of basic building blocks for muscle protein synthesis. They can help improve body composition and increase strength and energy levels.
A study found people who ingested a drink with 5.6 g of BCAAs after working out experienced 22% greater muscle protein synthesis than those who did not take the supplement. BCAAs' ability to help athletes achieve a lean, muscular physique has led many fitness enthusiasts to take them as supplements.
Best Time to Take BCAAs
BCAAs are the building blocks of protein and muscle, so you'd want to get the most out of them. But when should you take them?
Take BCAAs at any time of day— it’s all about what works best for your schedule and body. Taking them during or after a workout helps your muscles recover more quickly and easily because it helps stop muscle breakdown. If you don't eat enough protein or take enough BCAAs, your body will start breaking down lean muscle tissue for energy instead of using fat for energy like it should be doing.
Best Time to Take Glutamine
Glutamine is a popular supplement among athletes. It's beneficial for those who engage in resistance training, as it helps the body build muscle.
The best time to take glutamine is any time you need it. It's an amino acid that your body uses to make protein.
However, consuming glutamine with a post-workout meal is helpful when you are experiencing symptoms of muscle breakdown—such as soreness or weakness—and glutamine becomes the primary fuel for depleted muscles. You can also take it when you feel like your immune system needs a boost or when you feel stressed or tired.
Best Dosage For BCAAs
The best dosage for BCAAs is about 5 g per day. However, depending on your goals and personal preferences, you should increase or decrease this amount.
Athletes looking to build muscle mass can take up to 10-15 g of BCAAs in divided doses per day to build more muscle mass and preserve the existing muscle mass.
If you're trying to burn fat, stick with a lower dosage of BCAAs—around 3-5 grams per day.
Best Dosage For Glutamine
The recommended dosage for glutamine depends on how much you weigh, what exercises you do, and how often you train in a week.
The best dosage for glutamine for athletes is 10 g a day.
The recommended dosage for those who want to increase their muscle mass is 10 to 30 g daily before and after workouts. This will help to give you more energy during a workout and prevent muscle breakdown when you're finished. Glutamine is multi-purpose and is used by everyone, from bodybuilders to people healing from surgery or an injury.
The Best Amino Acid Supplements
We've all been there: you're on the treadmill, working through a tough workout, and your muscles suddenly give out. You're exhausted- not because of the workout but because your body requires more branched-chain amino acids!
You'll be amazed at how much more you can get done when a BCAA supplement fuels you.
Steadfast Nutrition’s Active BCAA formula ensures your body has sufficient supply of essential amino acids. The 2:1:1 ratio offers optimal amounts of L-Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine—the three most essential BCAAs for muscle growth and repair. This revolutionary formula also contains the muscle-maintaining amino acid L-Arginine, fatigue reducer, and lactic acid buffer L-Glutamine, and the low Glycemic Index fruit-based carbohydrate fructose— making this product an ideal choice for anyone looking to take their workout routine to a new level.
Active BCAA is 100% vegetarian and available in watermelon flavour, with no added sugar or preservatives. A15 g sachet contains:
(1) BCAAs: 5000 mg
(L-Leucine: 2500 mg, L-Isoleucine: 1250 mg and L-Valine: 1250 mg)
(2) L-Glutamine: 1000 mg
(3) L-Arginine: 500 mg
Take Active BCAA any time during the day, preferably during your workout as an intra-workout supplement. Mix one sachet (15 g) in 300 ml water or juice. Adults can take one serving daily.
Each sachet of Power Glutamine contains 5 grams of pure L-Glutamine, vital to tissue repair and muscle growth, improved gut health, and immune function. Glutamine supports weight management, athletic performance, and brain function.
Because Power Glutamine's L-glutamine is in its free form, our bodies can better assimilate it into cells—making it one of the best glutamine supplements currently available. L-Glutamine helps transport and absorb nutrients, assists in the formation of antibodies that fight bacterial infections, and can boost mood and decrease anxiety.
There are many different ways to benefit from glutamine. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and improves muscle recovery. Glutamine benefits strength athletes because it helps build muscles, lowers soreness, and relieves pain in recovering muscles.
Glutamine reduces muscle damage and speeds up recovery. Athletes should consider adding it as part of their post-workout regimen; sedentary people also stand to benefit from this supplement's wide range of benefits.
Power Glutamine is 100% pure and guaranteed to be of the highest quality. It can be taken at any time but works best when you take it before bed, between meals, or before a workout.
To dissolve the glutamine powder, mix one sachet (5 g) of Power Glutamine with 250-300 ml water or juice and consume twice a day.
Glutamine and BCAAs are essential amino acids that help you maintain muscle mass and keep your energy up.
Glutamine can help minimise muscle soreness, expedite muscle recovery, sustaining high-intensity workouts. BCAAs feed your muscles with basic building blocks for protein synthesis—helping them grow.
To increase the amount of muscle mass in your body, improve energy levels, and optimise recovery time, we recommend a combination of both—especially if you're trying to build strength and endurance.
It's important to have a healthy balance between BCAAs and glutamine. Hence, Steadfast Nutrition's Active BCAA —it contains both BCAAs and glutamine.