Are you looking for a perfect nutritional balance in your daily routine and finding it hard to choose among glutamine vs BCAA? Well, if yes, then you have come to the right place. Both BCAA and glutamine amino acids are the most commonly consumed and highly recommended supplements for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to boost performance, reduce muscle damage, and enhance muscular strength. So, out of 20 different amino acids, what exactly makes these amino acids special, and in what amount your body requires these nutrients? The answers to these questions are surely not commonly known. Nonetheless, here you will find the answer to all these questions and more.
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Basic Facts Glutamine vs BCAA
Before diving into the significance of glutamine and BCAA on our physical and mental health, first, take a look at the basic facts about these nutrients. This will help you understand how these nutrients can prepare your body for tough physical activity.
Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occurring amino acid in the human body. Our body makes glutamine from glutamic acid using vitamin B3 and B6.
Though the human body can produce its own glutamine, it is considered conditionally essential amino acid. Meaning that if our body’s glutamine requirement is more than its production than we must take it through diet or supplements.
Glutamine exists in two structural forms or molecular arrangements which is a common trait in amino acids. These two forms are L-glutamine and D-glutamine.
L-glutamine is commonly present in food and commercially available supplements. Some manufacturers only write L-glutamine while others glutamine.
In stressed conditions including trauma, illness or muscular dystrophy, your body starts breaking its protein storage to comprehend the body’s needs. This decreases the glutamine level in your body by 50%.
Glutamine is the basic structural unit of nucleic acid, DNA and RNA, so this shortage drastically affects the production of new cells. That’s why it is important to take exogenous glutamine through food or supplements in your diet.
BCAA or Branched-chain amino acids are a group of three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. There are a total of nine essential amino acids that our body cannot produce naturally, and must be taken through food and supplements.
These three amino acids are grouped together because of their unique structure, as only these three have a branched-chain.
The most prominent food sources of BCAAs are milk and meat. Other than that, BCAA supplements can also fulfill our body’s requirements.
BCAA accounts for about 35% of total essential amino acids. About 14-18% of amino acids found in our muscles comprised of BCAAs.
Among these three, leucine is most important to make muscle protein, as this is the only amino acid that stimulates the process of protein synthesis. Both workout and muscle protein synthesis are correlated, meaning that enhanced workout will signal leucine to trigger increased protein synthesis.
BCAAs are considered an essential source of energy production during a workout. Because unlike other amino acids that break down in the liver, BCAAs break in the muscles.
BCAA is a group of three essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Glutamine is conditionally essential amino acids as our body produces this amino acid in an adequate amount. Both of these nutrients are crucially important to maintain our physical wellbeing including immune health, protein synthesis, and muscular strength. And are great for people who workout.
What is Glutamine Best for?
Regular exercise has several perks and benefits, but it is also necessary to prepare your body for what comes next. And this is when you need to know about the most important health benefits of glutamine.
Important for Intestinal Health
In the human body, the immune system is correlated with intestinal function as intestines are home to trillions of highly beneficial bacteria, mark as the entrance of various components through diet and also pathogens.
And glutamine is important for both immune cells and intestinal cells.
Glutamine helps in the growth and maintenance of intestinal cells. Moreover, it restricts the movement of toxins and harmful bacteria from the intestine to other parts of the body. Thus protecting your immune health by maintaining the overall intestinal health.
Beneficial for Immune System
Glutamine is critically significant for our immune system most importantly in wound healing. During wound healing, glutamine act as the primary source for the division of epithelial cells and immune cells.
In case of an injury, burn or surgery, the glutamine level in the blood can rapidly decrease.
Moreover, BCAA supplements can also prevent immunosuppression. Immunosuppression means increased illness after intense sessions of workout and is common among athletes or people who have recently started intense exercises.
Increase Glucose Uptake
Your body requires both, glucose and glutamine, in abundant quantity for efficient cell growth. Naturally, our body has both in adequate amount.
However, if you are taking heavy medications, doing unusually exhausting exercise, or skipping meals then your body’s glucose or blood sugar level will decrease. Glutamine can help take up glucose levels through different changes at the molecular level.
Enhance Hydration during Mild Muscle Dehydration
The key to a healthy, and efficiently functioning mind and body is having a perfectly balanced diet along with regular exercise. It is obvious that during strenuous exercise, your body experiences dehydration.
However, Glutamine will help your body to maintain optimal hydration state in such conditions. A study conducted by the College of New Jersey, Department of Health and Exercise Science has shown that during dehydration, glutamine increase fluid circulation.
Glutamine is scientifically proved to increase the water absorption in humans as it reduces the secretion of salts/ electrolytes from the body.
Glutamine positively affects your overall immune system. Moreover, it acts as energy fuel during intense workout sessions and also improves water balance in your body during dehydration.
What is BCAA Best for?
In addition to glutamine, BCAAs is an exceptionally important group of amino acids for the efficient functioning of your body during and after exercise. Here are some of the most important reasons to take BCAA supplements to get your body ready for the workout.
Reduce Muscle Fatigue and Enhance Endurance
BCAA supplements are effective in reducing physical/ muscular fatigue and enhance endurance for exercise. During excessive physical activity, our muscles utilize BCAA causing its decrease in the blood. Depression of BCAA in the blood causes an increase of tryptophan in your brain.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which after entering the brain covert into a neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for muscle fatigue.
Intake of BCAA supplements can restrict the entrance of tryptophan in the brain, thus diminishing the fatigue and increasing your muscle endurance.
Improve Muscle Growth
The building of muscles requires a higher rate of protein production than protein breakdown. The trio of essential amino acids making BCAA fuel the protein-making pathway that triggers the muscle-building process. Leucine is the major amino acid that can enhance protein synthesis.
Decrease Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness is common among people who have just started doing exercise. Scientifically, it is called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness that occurs after 12-24 hours of physical activity and may last for more than 72 hours.
BCAA supplements can reduce the severity and duration of this muscle soreness. Studies have shown that BCAA decreases the levels of lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase, enzymes indicating muscle damage. Thus enhancing endurance for exercise.
The presence of BCAA in your bloodstream boosts your muscular endurance, and reduce muscular and mental fatigue and prepare your body for the workout. It not only strengthens your muscles but increases your muscle volume as well.
Taking BCAA and Glutamine Together or Separate?
BCAA and glutamine can be taken separately or together. Both supplements give your health a tremendous boost, are significant for maintaining physical and mental health and are immensely important to keep your body fit.
BCAA and glutamine help in muscle growth and muscle repair, thus they are nutritionally very important.
The amount of supplements required varies from person to person, and there is no specific dosage that is suitable for everyone.
However, research recommends 0.03 to 0.05g of BCAA per kg of body weight in an hour. And if you are taking BCAA during or after the workout then the required amount increase to 2 to 4g per hour.
This dosage also varies among men and women. As women can take 3-5g and men can take 15-20g BCAA in a day.
Now coming to glutamine, typically a body requires 5 to 30g of it in a day. Normally, 500mg of glutamine per kg of body weight proved positively effective for the human body. And in the case of exercise, a dosage of 80mg per kg of body weight found effective.
And in case of any injury, burn, or illness; dosage and duration of glutamine will vary.
The same quantities of both supplements will work perfectly when taken together. It is highly recommended to take both BCAA and glutamine supplements after consulting your doctor.
BCAA and glutamine supplements can be consumed together and separately. And you can make the dosage combination of both supplements as per your requirements. The normal dosage of BCAA for women is 3-5g per day, and 15-20g for men. Whereas, the clinically recommended dosage of glutamine is between 5 to 30g per day.
When to take BCAA vs Glutamine?
This is one of the frequently asked questions when to take glutamine and BCAA supplements.
Well, there is a debate over whether the best time to take BCAA is before the workout or after. Some studies suggest that to get maximum benefits of BCAA it is better to take it several hours after the workout.
However, post-workout BCAA dosage depends on the timing of your last meal and supplements taken prior to exercise. If you have consumed supplements one or two hours before exercise, then post-workout BCAA dosage is not much important.
On the other hand, some studies suggest that taking BCAA supplements or powder before workout proved to be comparatively more beneficial than post-workout. It is observed that taking BCAA pre-workout noticeably reduces DOMS, improve performance, decreases the risk of muscle damage, and also increases muscle protein synthesis.
Japanese scientists studied comparison of taking BCAA prior to and after the workout and concluded that taking BCAA supplements before the workout is more advantageous than taking it after the workout.
If you are taking BCAA before exercise then, keep the dosage between 6-8g. This will prepare your muscles for coming physical activity, and post-workout BCAA will protect your muscles from damage.
There is no scientific evidence available on the positive effects of taking BCAA during the exercise.
Considering the scientific evidence, there is a lack of concrete argument on the most beneficial time to take BCAA. Surely, BCAA offers numerous benefits to your body and it is quite possible that the timing of taking the supplements does not make any difference.
Talking about glutamine, it is generally taken three times a day in the morning, after the workout and before sleeping at night. Take 5g of glutamine every time or as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. It is recommended to take on an empty stomach.
Taking glutamine post-workout is very beneficial as it will help your body recover the amount burned during exercise. Depending upon your gut health, and intensity of the workout, you can take 2-6g of glutamine no later than 20 minutes post-workout.
But timing is crucially important when taking both BCAA and glutamine supplements together. People who workout must know that your body endures maximum physical stress during exercise, so taking care of your body before and during that time is very important.
So, make a good combination of both BCAA and glutamine supplements for pre-workout and intra-workout. Keeping the recommended dosage of both supplements in mind, a good combination could be 5g glutamine vs 3g BCAA. However, you can change it as per your routine.
BCAA and glutamine are essentially required for fitness enthusiasts. Scientists have argued over the benefits of taking BCAA both before and after the workout, but the information is limited to specify the best timing. Maybe, there is no need to time BCAA supplements for the best results. Glutamine is most effective when taken after a workout. When taking both supplements together, take them during or before exercise.
Table Summary Glutamine vs BCAA
Here’s a table summarizing the key differences between Glutamine and BCAAs:
|Attribute||Glutamine||BCAAs (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine)|
|Type||Conditionally Essential Amino Acid||Essential Amino Acids|
|Abundance||Most abundant amino acid in the body||Make up 35% of total essential amino acids|
|Role in the body||Immune function, gastrointestinal health, glucose uptake, hydration||Muscle growth, reduced fatigue, improved endurance, decreased muscle soreness|
|Forms||L-glutamine, D-glutamine||Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine|
|Food Sources||Dairy, eggs, beef, tofu, beans, corn||Dairy, meat, eggs, soy, beans, nuts|
|Supplementation||Can be beneficial during stress, illness, or muscle wasting||Can be beneficial for athletes, workout enthusiasts, or those with low dietary intake|
|Effects on Exercise||Maintains hydration, supports recovery||Increases endurance, muscle growth, and reduces muscle soreness|
|Body Demand||May require supplementation during stress or illness||Must be obtained from diet or supplements|
|Synergy||Can be taken together with BCAAs for optimal results||Can be taken together with glutamine for optimal results|
This table provides a quick overview of the main differences between glutamine and BCAAs, highlighting their unique roles, sources, and effects on exercise.
Though required in minute amounts, both glutamine and BCAA are exceptionally significant for the maintenance of our physical health. Daily intake of these nutrients is particularly essential for people who are habitual of daily exercise. Two of the most important qualities of these amino acids are repair and building of muscles; both of which are the main attributes of a good daily nutritional combo. Apart from muscular strength, boost in performance and increased muscle volume; both glutamine and BCAA positively affect your internal system.