BCAAs vs. Glutamine
It comes with no surprise that high intensity exercise and weight lifting can take a toll on the body. High intensity exercise and resistance training contribute largely to muscle protein breakdown. Ingesting amino acids has proven to inhibit this breakdown of muscle protein and stimulate protein build up. Therefore, athletes may benefit from increasing the amount of amino acids consumed in their diet. This is where the billion dollar supplement industry comes into play. Two of the biggies on the market right now are BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and Glutamine. Which one is likely to deliver the best results?
BCAA and Glutamine: A Closer Look
BCAA: (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
• Essential amino acids including luecine, isoluecine, and valine.
• Make up 1/3 of muscle
• Used as fuel during exercise sparing use of other amino acids
• Reduces muscle protein breakdown
• Aids in protein synthesis, repairing and building muscle
• Increases the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis
• May enhance sport performance
• May facilitate weight loss.
• Non essential amino acid, as it is synthesized in body (Though may be “conditionally essential in times of trauma, high stress, or intense physical activity).
• Helps to maintain cell volume in the muscle through an interaction with sodium.
• Prevents loss of muscle mass
• Aids in protein synthesis
• Increases immune response such as reducing incidence of infections especially after periods of high stress such as running a marathon.
• Prevents catabolic conditions resulting from illness, injury, or situations of high stress.
• Supports gastrointestinal functioning protecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
BCAA and Glutamine
BCAA and glutamine are both amino acids used to increase strength and body mass. In reading several opinions on the two products among body builders, I gathered that most are in favor of BCAA’s above glutamine, if one had to pick and choose between supplements, for conserving muscle mass. BCAAs are especially beneficial with bodybuilders trying to lean down. With body fat at extremely low levels, it is not uncommon for muscle to be broken down for energy. BCAAs are thought to work in the athlete’s favor by slowing the rate in which protein is broken down. However, each is important in its own right and has a critical role in maintaining muscle mass as well as aiding other functions of the body.
Also important to note is that, in supplement form, both appear to be safe for long-term use. Nevertheless, as with any supplement, some individuals will respond positively to the intake, and others will see no benefit, largely due to the influence that nutritional factors and productive time in the gym play on the outcome.
BCAAs Guide. Retrieved on March 31, 2012 from http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bcaa.html
Norton, Layne. (March 1, 2012) BCAAs: The Many Benefits of Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplements. Retrieved on March 31, 2012 from http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bcaas-the-many-benefits-of-amino-acids.html
Pearson, David R., PhD, CSCS; McGovern, Bryan MS, CSCS. (August 1999). The ABC’s of Glutamine, BCAAs and HMB. Strength and Conditioning Journal, Vol. 21, Issue 4, pg. 65. Retrieved on March 31, 2012 from http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Citation/1999/08000/The_ABCs_of_Glutamine,_BCAAs,_and_HMB.16.aspx