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Glutamine vs BCAA: Which is Better For Muscle Gain?

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 4, 2023
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I often get asked which supplement is more important for building muscle and faster recovery times -- glutamine or BCAA?

The truth is they are similar in some ways, but they have vastly different types of benefits.

Let’s take a look at how each supplement can help you.

The Difference Between BCAA vs Glutamine


Glutamine is one amino acid. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) contain three amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Glutamine supplements are a building block of protein. It is only a conditionally essential amino acid as your body may have trouble producing it.

BCAAs, on the other hand, are also a building block of protein, and it contains three essential amino acids.

​BCAA benefits your body more because your body needs those nutrients.

BCAA Benefits

scoop with brown powder

BCAAs are commonly found in workout supplements because they have great benefits for the muscles.

BCAAs and pre-workout supplements are often stacked together for overall improvement in physical performance.

Leucine is the most important of the three because it’s believed to help with muscle-building the most.

Isoleucine and valine focus more on producing energy and regulating blood sugar levels.

Many studies say BCAA can boost energy levels, prevent onset muscle soreness, and increase your exercise performance [1]
Here are some of the other benefits:

  • Reduce fatigue
  • Increase muscle weight
  • Prevent weight gain
  • Help with fat loss
  • Prevent muscle wasting
  • Improving liver function

The recommended dosage is at least 9 grams of BCAA for women per day and 12 grams for men.

(BCAAs) are of interest to those who want to build muscle because of their role in protein synthesis and turnover, and energy regulation. BCAAs also play a role in glucose metabolism and immune and brain function.

- Kyle Byron, Nutritionist

Glutamine Benefits

white powder

Glutamine levels may decrease if you get injured, burned, or have surgery [2].

If that’s the case, then you may want to consider taking glutamine supplementation to improve immunity and preserve protein stores in the body.

It may support your immune system more than BCAAs. It is a fuel source for cells and can impact the health of gut function.

An additional benefit is that it can increase the human growth hormone (HGH). Glutamine can boost your HGH levels, which could boost your metabolism [3].

If you are looking to boost your HGH levels, check out the best human growth hormone supplements.

Glutamine may prevent fatigue and muscle pain or soreness. It seems to avoid muscle damage, but there isn’t enough research currently for it to be conclusive.

Sadly, there’s not much evidence to suggest it helps with the growth of muscle tissue or as a reliable energy source.

Is BCAA Better Than Glutamine?

man holding scoop

BCAA is not necessarily better than glutamine. It all depends on what you are looking to gain.

However, BCAA is a better option for mass building.

I often hear that glutamine does the same thing, but I couldn’t find a lot of research to back up that claim. It is excellent for recovery and can prevent fatigue from settling in.

It can also reduce soreness post-workout. It may not help with mass building, but it does stop your body from losing muscles.

If you’re looking to lose weight, then you may want to choose BCAAs. It contains leucine, which can help you have a leaner body composition. Glutamine doesn’t have any known weight loss gains.

Watch the video to know more about the two.



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​What Are The Benefits of Taking Both Supplements?

The benefits of taking BCAAs and glutamine are complementary. The best BCAA supplements can help you with building muscle mass while glutamine works to prevent you from feeling tired or sore. It can also potentially reduce recovery time.

I would suggest looking into taking both supplements to get the most benefits out of your workout.

Does Glutamine or BCAAs Build Muscle?

BCAAs have more benefits for building muscle. Even though both are amino acids that can help make protein, BCAAs have more studies that show it can support muscle growth.

Glutamine doesn’t support mass growth, but it can help with decrease soreness and increase recovery times.

Do I Really Need To Take Glutamine?

You don’t really need to take glutamine in most situations. It is a conditionally essential amino acid, which means there are only a few occasions that require supplements. Some cases include serious injuries or post-surgery.

Your body can produce the amino acid naturally, and most people have a diet that already includes it. It is in animal proteins like beef or chicken.

What Are The Negative Effects of Glutamine?

The negative effects of glutamine are minimal, if any occur.

Since your body creates the amino acid, and it’s most likely in your diet, then it’s hard to experience adverse side effects.

There hasn’t been any research on the long-term effects of glutamine supplements, so that’s a factor to consider.

What Are The Negative Effects of BCAAs?

The negative effects of a BCAA supplement are minimal. Since they only contain essential amino acids, BCAAs benefit pretty much everyone.

There are some research that suggest that you can take up between 15-35mg per day without experiencing adverse effects [4].

​Final Thoughts

I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. I think both supplements are complementary and can work together to boost your overall gym performance.

It’s easy to get enough BCAAs by taking a protein shake. A protein shake is a great way to get enough nutrients to support your muscles. If you’re into high-intensity training, a BCAA and whey protein combo might be a good choice for optimum muscle gains.

Here is our recommended protein powders for men and women:

Glutamine is most likely already in your diet, but if you need more, then supplementation is always a choice.

Both amino acids have impactful benefits with little side effects. You should consult with a doctor about what you specifically need.


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