The key difference between BCAA and glutamine depends on the requirement of the particular amino acids. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are essential amino acids while glutamine is a non-essential amino acid which can be produced in the body.
Amino acids are structural monomers of proteins. There are 20 different amino acids in total. Amino acids have two major categories as essential and non-essential based on the requirement of the amino acid. Our body cannot produce essential amino acids. Hence, we need to take them from our diet. On the other hand, our body can produce non-essential amino acids. Due to the prominent role amino acids play in developing muscle mass, we often take essential amino as supplements. BCAA is an essential amino acid, while glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. The main focus of this article is on discussing the difference between BCAA and glutamine.
What is BCAA?
BCAA refers to branched-chain amino acids. The three main branched chain amino acids are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. BCAAs are essential amino acids; therefore, they should be acquired from the diet. In this regard, the main food sources of BCAAs are meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils and milk. The daily dosage recommendation of BCAAs varies according to gender. Thus, women require a daily dosage of a minimum of 9 g whereas men require a daily dosage of a minimum of 12 g.
BCAA in the human body is responsible for nearly 35 – 40% of the total essential amino acid pool. Due to its branched structures, BCAAs form the large proteins in the body. Therefore, they directly participate in building muscle mass in humans. Leucine is one of the BCAAs involved mainly in muscle mass building.
In addition to the strong role they play in muscle building, there are other functions of BCAAs, which make them a popular supplementation among the public. These benefits include reduction of fatigue during heavy exercises, reduction of muscle soreness and regulation of blood sugar levels allowing more sugars to be available for muscle mass development, etc.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. Our body synthesizes glutamine via the action of glutamine synthase during amino acid metabolism. A typical balanced healthy diet would contain 3 – 6 grams of glutamine. Even though glutamine is a dietary non-essential, during deficiency conditions and immune imbalances, glutamine acts as a dietary essential. The sources rich in glutamine are eggs, beef, skim milk and tofu.
The main function of glutamine relies on the development of the immune system. Glutamine helps in the formation of the immune system, especially in the intestines, by acting as an energy source. Further, glutamine may also aid in building the muscle mass, but it is not as effective as BCAA. However, glutamine is important during the post-exercising phase, as it reduces muscle soreness and fatigue. In comparison to BCAA, glutamine is not a preferred choice of supplementation among the public.
What are the Similarities Between BCAA and Glutamine?
- BCAA and glutamine belong to the class of amino acid monomers that participate in forming complex proteins.
- Both have a carboxylic group and an amino group attached to the central carbon (chiral carbon atom).
- Also, both take part in reducing the fatigue and muscle soreness following exercises.
What is the Difference Between BCAA and Glutamine?
There is a constant debate on the use of BCAA and glutamine as supplementation. However, BCAA has won against glutamine due to the important role it plays in muscle mass building. In contrast, glutamine contributes less to the muscle mass. So, this is a notable difference between BCAA and glutamine. Furthermore, BCAA consists of a group of essential amino acids. In contrast, glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that can be synthesized in the body. Therefore, this is the key difference between BCAA and glutamine.
The below infographic represents more facts regarding the difference between BCAA and glutamine.
Summary – BCAA vs Glutamine
BCAA or branched chain amino acids are essential amino acids that include leucine, isoleucine and valine while glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. So, this is the key difference between BCAA and glutamine. Both amino acids help in reducing fatigue and muscle soreness following exercises. However, the contribution towards muscle mass building is more from BCAA comparatively to glutamine. Therefore, BCAA is the popular choice of supplementation among the public. Thus, this is a summary of the difference between BCAA and glutamine.
1. Rigby, Brian. “BCAAs vs. Glutamine: Which Is Better for Muscle Gain?” Gnarly Nutrition, Available here.
2. “Glutamine: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects.” Healthline, Healthline Media, Available here.