Last time you went to a supplement store, you were bewildered by seeing so many variants of supplements to choose from. Protein powders to mass gainers and fat burners to amino acids, you name it. With so many offerings, it certainly gets difficult to make the right choice. Well, previously when I was here, I helped you choose the right protein powder between whey and casein. Today, in this article, I will guide you through basic principles about amino acid supplements so that you can decide on your own that whether it’s glutamine or BCAA that you are going for. Let’s see who comes out to be victorious in this clash of amino acid supplements – Glutamine vs BCAA.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid produced by the body itself. Infact, it makes up 60% of human skeletal muscle, making it the most abundant amino acid found in human body. It is found in high concentrations in poultry products like lean meats and eggs and dairy-based protein powders like whey and casein protein.
Glutamine has been investigated for variety of benefits, some of which are mentioned below –
- Prompt recovery post-exercise
- Increases endurance performance
- Alleviates human growth hormone (HGH) levels
- Enhances immunity.
What is BCAA?
Briefly, Branched Chain Amino Acids consists of three essential amino acids namely – Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine, that body cannot produce on its own. These three amino acids make up to almost 1/3 of total muscle protein in the body. Some of the major benefits of taking BCAAs supplement are outlined below –
- Prevention of muscle catabolism
- Easy absorption to optimize muscular function
- Boosts muscle protein synthesis
- Promotes anabolic process post-exercise
- Aids weight loss.
Difference between BCAA and Glutamine
To tell the truth, most of the studies for determining the efficacy of glutamine as muscle builder have been conducted on subjects suffering from some sort of physical trauma or diseases like AIDS which cause muscle wasting. Glutamine supplements have scarcely proven beneficial for muscle growth in healthy individuals. Although several studies have backed glutamine for its ability to increase performance and improve body composition, more research needs to be done in this field.
So, as long as you are getting enough glutamine from your diet, you don’t need to consume it as a supplement. However, if your diet lacks poultry and dairy products, then you may want to switch over to glutamine supplements to fulfill what’s missing.
On the contrary, BCAAs have shown enormous capability as a muscle growth promoter. Of all the three branched chained amino acids, leucine is of grave importance to the body. It has shown to increase protein synthesis post-exercise in this study. Besides, other bcaas – Isoleucine and Valine, have proven beneficial for enhancing performance and aiding quick recovery after long workouts respectively.
Glutamine and BCAA together
As a matter of fact, most meat eaters can fulfill their glutamine intake through their diet itself. As I mentioned previously, poultry products like meats and eggs are well off with glutamine. On the other hand, vegetarians and vegans may find it difficult to suffice their glutamine stores with food alone. In such case, supplementing with pure glutamine may be the only way out.
Similarly, you are likely to get most of your BCAAs from the food itself. Chicken, fish and, eggs are excellent BCAAs sources for non-vegetarians while lentils, beans, nuts and soy protein are good alternatives for vegans. However, your need for glutamine and bcaa may drastically increase under physical stress and injury. This increase in requirement may not then be fulfilled by your diet alone. Besides, as studies have proved, glutamine and bcaa have positive implications on physique goals as well.
Keep things simple. Take glutamine with bcaa supplement as first thing in the morning and immediately after your training session. Taking glutamine and bcaa together will make sure your body is under a continuous supply of amino acids so as to prevent muscle breakdown and aid quick recovery.