Glutamine and BCAAs are both supplements containing the building blocks of protein – amino acids.
Glutamine can help heavy lifters increase muscle protein synthesis, boost the immune system and aid post workout recovery.
BCAAs are a great choice when you want fuel for during a workout to help you build muscle size and strength.
Anyone who is serious about working out knows that in order to build serious muscle, you need to get the right amount of protein in your diet.
And those who are in the know about protein make the most of it by going straight to the building blocks that create it – amino acids.
But of course, nothing is straightforward.
With a number of amino acid supplements available, including glutamine and BCAAs, it’s hard to know which one is right for you.
But don’t worry, I am going to let you in on all you need to know about amino acid supplements and share the pros and cons when it comes to glutamine vs BCAAs.
What are Amino Acids and Why Should You Care?
Protein is possibly the most important nutrient required by our bodies, supported by the fact that it’s found in each and every cell we have.
Protein synthesis is needed for everything from growing your hair and nails to building strong muscles.
Protein is made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. These link together in chains to form various proteins. Different combinations of amino acids create different proteins which have specific functions within the body.
There are 20 amino acids in the human body, nine of which are classed as “essential”. Essential in this case means that your body is unable to produce them on its own.
You need to get amino acids either from the food you eat or, of course, from supplementation.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is the most common amino acid found within your muscles. In fact, over 60% of your muscles is made from this conditionally essential amino acid.
By “conditionally essential” we mean that it can be produced by the body, but only in small amounts. Therefore, if you do anything to deplete your glutamine stores – such as weight training – it is essential to replace them.
L-glutamine’s main roles include muscle recovery, immune functions and gastrointestinal health.
Glutamine is particularly useful for bodybuilders as it plays a key role in protein synthesis and has an anti-catabolic effect. It also encourages the production of human growth hormone.
When you’re a workout warrior who hits the gym seriously hard, your glutamine levels become depleted. This means your strength, stamina and immune system all take a hit. You’re left unable to perform to your full ability and susceptible to illness and injury.
For this reason, replacing that glutamine is essential not only to increase levels within the body, but simply to maintain adequate stores.
What Are BCAAs?
When we talk about BCAAs or branched chain amino acids, we are referring to three specific essential amino acids called l-leucine, l-isoleucine and l-valine.
These are the three amino acids which play a key role in promoting protein synthesis within muscles, supplying muscle energy and preserving lean mass.
All three of these amino acids can be found in any BCAA supplement.
The biggest advantage when it comes to using BCAAs is that they can help you to lose fat while preventing your body from breaking down muscle.
This is one way for anyone on a calorie restricted diet to lower body fat percentage and retain lean muscle mass.
Research has shown that using branched-chain amino acids has a number of workout benefits, including building lean muscle, promoting post workout recovery and giving your muscles the fuel they need to go harder for longer. It does this by reducing the levels of serotonin you naturally produce.
When to Choose Glutamine
Glutamine is best utilized as a pre workout supplement. Therefore it should be included before any workout routine where the ultimate goal is to add size and strength.
Plus, if you’re not looking to do pre, during and post supplements and simply want one that suits both your goals and budget, glutamine is one of the cheapest supplements on the market. This means you can reap the benefits without breaking the bank.
Overall, anyone looking for a quality, good value supplement for bodybuilding should choose glutamine when considering which products to add to their stack.
- Convenient capsule form
- 1000 mg of glutamine per capsule
- 120 capsules per container
- 2 month supply
- Excellent price
- Trusted brand
- Made in the USA
- May cause breakouts for acne sufferers
When to Choose BCAAs
BCAAs are often advertised for use before, during and after a workout therefore, they can potentially suit any gym goer, regardless of your preferred time to drink down a shake. This makes BCAAs a great option if you only want to use one supplement rather than a stack.
Despite their muscle boosting magic at any point of a training session, most gym ninjas find that BCAAs work best as a muscle fuel boost mid way through a gym session. BCAAs are a great addition to your existing pre and post workout stack if you want to get the most out of your workouts to achieve the best possible results.
Lastly, BCAAs are for the most part reasonably priced, therefore, they are likely to suit those working with a tight budget.
The BCCA Pros
- 2:1:1 ratio of amino acids
- Clean powder
- No additives or fillers
- Lab tested to guarantee purity
- Lots of size options available for convenience
The BCCA Cons
- Some dislike the taste
- Some find it hard to mix
When asking whether glutamine or BCAAs are better to build muscle, the honest answer is that they are both combinations of amino acids necessary to promote muscle synthesis. As glutamine is a pre workout and BCAAs are good for mid way through a session, they both make excellent additions to your stack.
However, if you’re only looking for one supplement, glutamine is the best value option. On the other hand, for those on a very low calorie diet and looking to lose weight without breaking down muscle, BCAAs are the best choice.