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Glutamine vs BCAA – What’s the Difference?

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Written by Tyler Sellers
Last Updated on

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.

What Is 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.

What Are The Benefits of BCAA?

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.

scoop with brown powder

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

What Are The Benefits of Glutamine?

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].

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?

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. 

man holding scoop

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.


FAQ banner

What Are The Benefits of Taking Both Supplements?

Does Glutamine or BCAAs Build Muscle?

Do I Really Need To Take Glutamine?

What Are The Negative Effects of Glutamine?

What Are The Negative Effects of BCAAs?

​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.

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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About the author

Tyler Sellers

Over the course of 20 years in sports and physical exercise, Tyler came to understand his body, mentality, and drive. He utilizes scientific methods such as progressive overload and macro calculations, as well as mental techniques like flow state and mind muscle connection to power through his workouts. He now share his teachings as senior coach at Total Shape. Read more about him here​.