Glutamine or BCAA?
Glutamine and BCAA supplementation is a more nuanced approach to recovery. Many novice and even experienced athletes struggle to understand when and why they should be utilising these supplements. Below we will outline the importance of these compounds and some of the minor differences between them.
What is Glutamine?
There are two categories of amino acids, all of which fall into one category or another. Learning about these categories is vital. Not just for understanding the role of Glutamine, but also BCAA’s.
Your body can synthesise these amino acids from other nutrients. This means you don’t necessarily need to eat food containing this amino acid in order to have a continuous supply of it. Glutamine falls in to this category.
Your body can’t synthesise these amino acids. They must be consumed directly. BCAA’s are a prime example.
So Why Supplement With Glutamine?
It’s a reasonable question. If glutamine is non-essential, then why supplement it? The answer is that your body uses glutamine for everything. It’s incredibly easy to run low on glutamine, despite the fact you can synthesise it from other nutrients.
A whole host of bodily processes expend glutamine. From your immune system to your digestive tract. It’s even used in the repair and recovery of muscle fibres after training.
After intense periods of training, the immune system enters a weakened state. Due to the nature of glutamine as a fuel source, supplementation can help fight off this temporary period of weakness.
Amino acids are the building blocks of complex proteins. As a result specific amino’s are required for digestive health. For example, the tissue lining your intestines use L-glutamine as fuel source. Medical studies have been conducted and have concluded the importance of this compound.
The vast majority of this substance found in the human body can be found in muscle tissue. Not only does it actively work towards the recovery of muscles. It also encourages the body to burn fat/glucose for energy, preserving muscle glycogen. The act of preserving muscle glycogen means that your body is less likely to eat into muscle for energy during catabolism. Glutamine and BCAA products taken in conjunction will actively work together to boost your recovery times and enhance your performance.
So Why Supplement With BCAA’s?
BCAA’s also boast a wide range of benefits. The fact that they are tailored primarily for muscle recovery doesn’t mean they don’t have other benefits. Interestingly, the benefits of BCAA’s seem to compound heavily with those of Glutamine.
Much like glutamine, BCAA’s also help prevent the breakdown of muscle. During catabolism, BCAA’s function similar to glutamine in that they encourage your body
Similar studies have been conducted in order to verify the correlation between digestive health and BCAA consumption. Research indicates that BCAA’s are vital to maintaining the function of the ‘intestinal barrier’. This barrier is your first line of defense against toxic pathogens and antigens.
BCAA’s also increase the efficiency of your intestines. Meaning that they allow you to absorb MORE amino acids with a greater level of efficiency. They also boost your ability to absorb glucose, meaning you get more energy out of less food.
So Which Should I Pick?
In truth, the benefits of Glutamine and BCAA supplementation are roughly equal. They mostly aid and assist in the same bodily processes. This means that their benefits compliment each other greatly. In reality the best and most effective course of action would be to take both. Having 2 supplements which BOTH aid in sports recovery, immune system function and even digestive health will help you train more efficiently than ever before.