BCAA and glutamine are important amino acids that make most of the muscle proteins. Your body can make glutamine on its own but you depend on the external food sources to have BCAAs.

These amino acids are involved in different processes mainly related to body muscles. They can help you increase muscle mass, prevent muscle breakdown and reduce muscle fatigue. You can get them either through natural food sources or BCAA glutamine supplements that are an effective alternative to natural foods.

Below are the most popular research-based health benefits of BCAA & Glutamine Supplement.

What is a BCAA & Glutamine Supplement?

A BCAA & Glutamine supplement has important amino acids in it. These amino acids include BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) which include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and glutamine. Each of these amino acids plays crucial roles in the body but their main role is in the production of protein and body muscles.

BCAAs are the essential amino acids. It means your body cannot make them and you have to get them through external sources such as nuts, seeds, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fish. You can also take a BCAA supplement to boost their levels and have optimal health.

In contrast to BCAAs, glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. It means your body makes it and you do not depend on external food sources to have it. However, you can take glutamine-rich foods like lentils, chickens, beans, fish, and dairy or glutamine supplements to increase the concentration of this amino acid in your body.

Together, these amino acids strengthen muscles and help with muscle recovery. That is why their use is more common among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. If you, too, are interested in improving your muscle strength and healing process then a BCAA supplement may help you achieve that goal. The BCAA supplement comes in different forms. It can be the BCAA tablet, BCAA powder, or BCAA capsule. You can choose the form that you find more feasible.  

Scientifically proven health benefits of BCAA glutamine

BCAA powder and glutamine have been separately studied many times. When they are combined to form BCAA glutamine supplement they may produce the same effects as they do individually. Below are the science-based health benefits of BCAA glutamine.

Improves muscle growth

The most popular use of BCAA supplement is for muscle growth and improved muscle performance. Leucine amino acid present in the BCAA powder has the ability to activate a certain pathway that speeds up the muscle protein synthesis. The more muscle protein is made the more muscle growth will happen.

In one study, some participants drank 5.6 grams of BCAA powder mixed in a liquid before a resistance workout. After the workout session, when their muscle protein level was measured it was 22% times more than the participants who consumed a placebo. [1] As amino acids are the building blocks of proteins so taking more amino acids along with BCAAs can increase muscle gain more. Since glutamine is also an important amino acid that builds proteins, therefore, taking it along with BCAA powder may help you with muscle growth more times.

The BCAA supplement is popularly used among bodybuilders so they can increase their muscle growth speedily and have a well-built body in less time. You can also have BCAA glutamine in moderation to increase muscle growth.

Decreases exercise-induced fatigue

Muscle fatigue is common among bodybuilders. They experience it at some point. How quickly your muscles become painful and fatigued depends on several factors including your diet, duration of exercise, the form of exercise, duration of exercise, and environmental conditions.

When you put extra pressure on your muscles through exercise your levels of BCAAs start declining in the bloodstream. As a result, the level of an essential amino acid called tryptophan starts increasing in the brain. Your brain converts this amino acid into a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is known for making muscles tender and sore during an exercise session. [2, 3]

So, if you already have more BCAAs in your bloodstream before exercise, its level will not drop too much to increase the production of serotonin. Thus, taking BCAA powder or BCAA supplement may help with reducing muscle soreness and increasing your exercise performance.

In a few studies, researchers gave BCAA to participants before they started treadmill exercises. After exercise, it was found out that these participants felt more active and focused. [4] It is thought to be because of the ability of the BCAA supplement to decrease muscle fatigue that is related to exercise.    

Reduces muscle tenderness and pain

Many people feel muscle soreness within 24 hours of exercise. You will feel more soreness if you are a beginner. And you may keep feeling it for up to the next 72 hours. This form of muscle soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness. People do not feel it while exercising. Its pain starts after 12 to 24 hours. [5]

Scientists have not discovered what exactly makes muscles sore after performing an exercise. But it is believed that this pain and tenderness is chiefly due to tears in the muscle fibres after exercise. [6] Studies show that taking a BCAA supplement or BCAA glutamine can speed up the muscle recovery process and reduce muscle damage. Both things can decrease the overall length of delayed onset muscle soreness.

Many studies indicate that increasing the intake of BCAA before exercise decreases the breakdown of muscle protein. It has also been found that BCAA reduces the levels of creatine kinase (CK) in the bloodstream. [7] CK is an enzyme that is released more when there is muscle damage. So, if a blood test shows a low amount of CK then it means that muscle damage was less.

In another study, researchers gave a BCAA supplement to one group of participants while they gave a placebo to the other group before exercise. At the end of the exercise, they concluded that participants who consumed BCAA supplement had less muscle fatigue compared to the other group. [8]

These pieces of evidence indicate the positive effects of BCAA glutamine on muscle fatigue. Increasing levels of BCAA can help you fight off muscle soreness well, speed up the recovery, and improve overall exercise performance.

May improve liver disease

Cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease in which the structure and function of the liver become abnormal. It leads to more disease if its symptoms are not controlled. Several studies prove that taking the BCAA supplement can help people reduce the effects of cirrhosis and live an improved life.

50% of cirrhosis patients develop hepatic encephalopathy at some point in their lives. It is a brain condition in which the brain loses its ability to function due to the accumulation of toxins in the blood. [9] Some medications are used for their treatment but studies show that the BCAA powder or BCAA supplement also helps control the disease. One review article, which describes the results of around 16 studies shows that around 1,000 participants who took BCAA supplement noticed a great improvement in their symptoms. [10]

Liver cirrhosis can also lead to liver cancer. Many studies show that taking a BCAA supplement can help reduce liver cancer symptoms. These supplements can also be effective for people who have not developed liver cancer yet, as it has the potential to prevent it. [11]

People suffering from liver disease can ask their doctor about BCAA glutamine supplement and start taking them after getting the doctor’s approval.

Prevents the decrease in the muscle mass

Your muscle mass can decrease due to the breakdown of muscle mass. Breakdown of muscle mass is a natural process that happens constantly. But muscle rebuild is also a constant process. Both of these processes occur together and there should be a balance between them so that muscles can be healthy. Under some circumstances, this balance gets disturbed and muscle protein breakdown becomes more than muscle protein rebuild. This condition is called muscle wasting and it leads to a decrease in muscle mass.

BCAA makes 35% of the total essential amino acids that are present in the muscle proteins. That is why it is crucial to replace the breaking amino acids with the new amino acids to avoid any sort of muscle breakage or decline in muscle mass. Muscle wasting occurs in elderly people more speedily. Several studies show that people who consumed the BCAA supplement were able to prevent muscle mass loss because they replaced the lost BCAA with BCAA from supplements. [12]

You can prevent muscle breakdown by taking BCAA glutamine supplements. These supplements will give you major amino acids that are required for preventing muscle breakdown or wasting.  

The recommended dose of BCAA glutamine supplement

Taking a particular dose of BCAA glutamine supplement depends on your needs and requirements. According to the World Health Organization, adults should take 15 mg of BCAA per pound of average body weight. But some pieces of research show that the dose of BCAA can be as high as 65 mg per pound depending on your health condition. [13]

Glutamine is produced by the body but there is no harm in getting it from external sources as well. Like BCAA, the amount of glutamine can also vary depending on your health condition. If you are deficient in it you would definitely need more of it. Doses of glutamine vary in different studies. Its range in studies starts at 5 grams and reaches 45 grams. [14]

The exact dose of BCAA glutamine supplements has not been provided by the researchers. Therefore, you should follow the instructions of manufacturers carefully.

Are there any side effects and risks of BCAA glutamine?

BCAA glutamine supplements are generally considered safe for healthy people. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Taking a higher dose than recommended can lead to some side effects.

People suffering from the following medical conditions should avoid having this supplement.

Cancer

Some studies show that rapidly growing cells can use BCAA as a source of energy. Therefore, if the concentration of BCAA is higher in your blood due to the intake of its supplements, your cancer or tumour may expand even more.

Diabetes

Studies indicate that high levels of BCAA can act as type 2 diabetes markers. The exact cause of BCAA on diabetes has not been found. But it should still be avoided by diabetic patients to prevent bad things from happening.

Heart diseases

Research proves that if you have higher levels of BCAA you may also have more markers of heart diseases. Therefore, prevent its intake if you are suffering from heart disease.

Conclusion

BCAA glutamine supplements contain essential and non-essential amino acids. They are the building blocks of protein and perform different functions mainly related to muscles. BCAA glutamine supplements are known for their ability to reduce muscle fatigue, increase muscle growth, and prevent muscle wasting. Take these supplements to improve your athletic performance and have well-built muscles. Get your doctor’s suggestion before choosing any BCAA supplement.

References

  1. Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans - PubMed (nih.gov)
  2. Central fatigue: the serotonin hypothesis and beyond - PubMed (nih.gov)
  3. Oral branched-chain amino acid supplements that reduce brain serotonin during exercise in rats also lower brain catecholamines - PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. The effect of branched chain amino acids on psychomotor performance during treadmill exercise of changing intensity simulating a soccer game - PubMed (nih.gov)
  5. Cochrane review: Whole-body cryotherapy (extreme cold air exposure) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise in adults - PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. Mechanisms of exercise-induced delayed onset muscular soreness: a brief review - PubMed (nih.gov)
  7. Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise - PubMed (nih.gov)
  8. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness - PubMed (nih.gov)
  9. Prognostic significance of hepatic encephalopathy in patients with cirrhosis - PubMed (nih.gov)
  10. Branched-chain amino acids for people with hepatic encephalopathy - PubMed (nih.gov)
  11. Overweight and obesity increase the risk for liver cancer in patients with liver cirrhosis and long-term oral supplementation with branched-chain amino acid granules inhibits liver carcinogenesis in heavier patients with liver cirrhosis - PubMed (nih.gov)
  12. Effect of infused branched-chain amino acids on muscle and whole-body amino acid metabolism in man - PubMed (nih.gov)
  13. The total branched-chain amino acid requirement in young healthy adult men determined by indicator amino acid oxidation by use of L-[1-13C]phenylalanine - PubMed (nih.gov)
  14. Effect of glutamine supplementation combined with resistance training in young adults - PubMed (nih.gov)