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BCAAs And Glutamine. Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?

BCAAs And Glutamine. Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?

Building mass is a challenge to any athlete because this process requires much determination, patience, and strength. For building muscles, you should be focused on three pillars: training, a balanced diet, and the intake of proper supplements.

Therefore, your food and supplements play a paramount role in the building of muscle mass as when the body gets the sufficient amount of nutrients, it can increase muscle fiber size and storage capacity. Two most popular supplements for building muscle mass are BCAA and glutamine.

The article gives information about the benefits of BCAA and glutamine and the objective opinion of the best choice for muscle gain.

BCAAs: What Are They?

BCAAs are branch-chain amino acids, which refer to three amino acids, which the body can’t produce itself. They act as building blocks of muscle protein. Thus, these acids play a huge role in building muscles.


Valine is a strictly glucogenic amino acid, which means that it is metabolized through carbohydrate metabolism pathways. It regulates blood sugar, repair tissues, promotes growth and provides the body with energy. It prevents the muscle breakdown by supplying the muscles with extra glucose for energy production. Valine is found in whey protein, soy protein, cheese, milk, egg whites.

Leucine is a strictly ketogenic amino acid, which means that it is metabolized through fat metabolism pathways. It is regarded to be the most effective BCAA because it prevents muscle loss and stimulates the protein synthesis. It happens due to the fact that it is converted into glucose faster than valine and isoleucine. Besides, this amino acid increases the production of growth hormones, which is vital for building mass. Besides, it helps to burn visceral fat (the least responsive to exercise and dieting and is located in the deepest layers of the body). On top of that, leucine is important for the healing of traumatic injuries, muscle tissues, bones and the skin. Leucine is found in whey protein, eggs, chicken, soy.

Isoleucine is a ketogenic and glucogenic amino acid, which means that it will get converted either to Acetyl-CoA or Succinyl-CoA. The amino acid increases endurance, boosts energy and helps the body to recover quicker. Besides, it keeps the energy levels stable by regulating the level of blood sugar and encouraging the uptake of glucose into cells. Isoleucine is found in meat, poultry, fish, cashew nuts, cottage cheese.

Benefits Of BCAAs

These amino acids make up 33 percent of all protein your body uses to build muscles. They perform several functions and bring numerous benefits:

– BCAAs are supremely important for the muscle growth as they transport nitrogen and nutrients to the muscles, which promote the muscle growth. Besides, they help the body to release testosterone.
– BCAAs help the body to produce more insulin so that muscles absorb and use glucose.
– BCAAs increase the period of anabolism and prevent the onset of catabolic period. Dr. Layne Norton states that dieting is catabolic, which may lead to the muscle breakdown as the leaner the body gets, the faster it loses muscle mass.
– They increase the endurance level as they contribute to the enhanced muscle size and increased energy storage capacity of muscle fibers.
– BCAA stimulate protein synthesis and increase synthesis of the cellular machinery, which carries out the process of protein synthesis. Thus, these amino acids increase the rate of protein synthesis and the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis.
– BCAA stimulate fat loss. Studies show that they trigger significant losses of visceral body fat.
– BCAAs increase the metabolic recovery and they help to reverse glutamine loss, due to which the body becomes more prone to infections and strength loss. Besides, several studies prove that BCAAs delay the onset of muscle soreness and the markers of muscle damage. It also promotes a faster recovery.
– BCAAs support hormone balance, which affects the ability to respond to extreme training loads. The proper intake of BCAAs stimulates higher testosterone and lower cortisol levels after HIIT.
– BCAA enhance endurance as they are used as fuel and they are burned as energy to maintain ATP energy levels during glycogen-depleting exercises.

How To Take

The balance of the BCAAs intake depends on the body weight. Try to stick to this dosage:

Below 70 kg take 5-6 grams pre-workout per 1 hour of training.

70 kg + take 8-10 grams pre-workout per 1 hour of training.

Take BCAAs thirty minutes – one hour before the training.

Besides, it is possible to take about 3 grams BCAAs after the workout as well.

However, protein researcher, Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., of McMaster University states that if you take in enough protein, then BCCAs are a waste of money. But protein is effective only when it is liberated through digestion and absorbed into the bloodstream. The body needs several hours to digest and absorb protein, whereas BCAAs in the supplement form don’t need digestion and they are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream.

BCAAs are relatively safer to take on a continuous basis as they are metabolized by muscle tissues and not the liver. However, an excessive intake may cause a skin crawling sensation, mental disorders, disrupt liver and kidney functions.

Bottom line:

If you don’t get enough protein from your diet or want to speed up the muscle gain, it makes sense to take BCAAs.

Glutamine: What Is It?

Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid, which is synthesized by the liver, skeletal muscles, adipose tissue. Actually, over 60 percent of all muscles are made of this amino acid.
It is one of the 20 amino acids, which are used in the biosynthesis of protein. The cells use glutamine as a fuel source rather than glucose. Glutamine is effective in alleviating a decrease in muscle mass.

BCAAs And Glutamine. Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?

Benefits Of Glutamine

Glutamine is highly important for the whole body. It helps to absorb and metabolize protein and it boosts up immune functions. It brings many benefits to the muscles:

– Studies show that glutamine minimizes the breakdown of muscles as it blocks cortisol activity. Besides, it is linked to protein synthesis as it has an effect on the level of hydration. When the water content in the cells increases, an anabolic signal is sent, this signal initiates the protein synthesis reaction.
– Helps the body to lose fat without losing muscle mass.
– Glutamine ensures a positive nitrogen balance, which promotes muscle growth.
– It speeds up the healing process thanks to the ability to maintain cell hydration and volume.
– It ensures the maximum absorption of all nutrients.
– Glutamine replenishes glutamine levels during high-intensity training. As the faster the glutamine levels are replenished, the faster the body will recover. Besides, glutamine reduces the effects of over-training.
– It acts as a primary energy source for the immune system.
– Glutamine influences the immune system as after the training it is weakened and more prone to infections. Studies show that the oral intake of glutamine shows a better ratio of T-helper/T-suppressor cells and reports fewer infections.
– Glutamine increases the growth hormone level in the body. Growth hormone influences on synthesizing of new muscle mass. It’s been proved that a couple of grams of this supplement per day may increase the production of growth hormone up to 400 percent.
– Glutamine spares myosin heavy chain proteins (they determine muscles contractile properties and capabilities.
– Glutamine maintains the optimal level of glucose in the blood, thereby contributing to the accumulation of glycogen in the muscles.
– Glutamine acts as a powerful ammonia neutralizer. Ammonia is a highly toxic substance to muscle cells. Glutamine is able to remove ammonia from body tissues because it has two nitrogen atoms, while the other amino acids have only one.

How To Take

Glutamine should be taken after the workout due to its ability to help the body to release growth hormone and speed up the healing process. You should take 10 to 15 grams of L-Glutamine a day – supplementing it 2 to 3 times daily, with each serving at around 5 grams if you are an experienced athlete. If you are a beginner, start with 2 to 5 grams twice daily (in the morning and after the training).

Glutamine metabolism occurs in the intestines and kidney. Also, liver and muscles play an important role in glutamine homeostasis.

Studies have found that glutamine hasn’t adverse side effects, but it isn’t recommended to take the excessive amount of glutamine as it may lead to stomach problems.

Which One Is Better For Muscle Gain: Glutamine Or BCAAs?

Glutamine has never been proven to be an effective muscle builder in healthy individuals. It is effective in rebuilding muscles in people with physical trauma and muscular wounds. Studies, which show the efficiency of glutamine as the muscle builder, haven’t been conducted on healthy individuals.

As for BCAAs, they have a higher potential in building muscles than glutamine. Three amino acids work together to encourage the muscle growth. The research shows that these amino acids build lean muscles and reduce the level of serotonin (it increases the perception of fatigue). So, definitely, it’s better to take BCAAs if you focus on the fast muscle gain.

However, another way to go is to take them together in the form of supplements. It’s been proved that extracellular concentrations of glutamine have activated the signaling pathway mTOR (it is responsible for increasing muscle size). However, in order this reaction to appear, another condition should be met –mTOR signaling requires the presence of BCAAs.

So, BCAAs promote the muscle growth and glutamine prevents the muscle breakdown. Glutamine will fuel muscles will energy and alleviate recovery, whereas BCAAs in a combination with glutamine will help you to build muscle mass faster.

Take BCAAs thirty minutes – one hour before the workout and after the workout. They will give you energy during the workout and replenish necessary amino acids just after the workout.

As for glutamine, you may take it together with BCAAs after the workout as plasma and muscle glutamine levels are also decreased post-workout. It will help maintain cell hydration and volume, and thus, speed up recovery.


Therefore, both BCAAs and glutamine may be perfect additions to your stack. Mix them if necessary or take separately depending on your goal. If you want to improve endurance and recovery, glutamine is the best value option. However, if your target is to burn fat and gain muscles, BCAAs will be your win-win option.

But, while taking BCAA and glutamine, remember two things: empirical results of studies are relevant not for all people and supplements should only help you to achieve your goal. It means that unless you keep to a balanced diet and train properly, supplements won’t be able to help you.

Author Bio:
Helen Rogers is an editor of She helps people get stronger. She shares running and sports questions, beauty tips. All her stories are result-oriented and make her readers become healthy, wealthy and wise.

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