The Use of Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Glutamine in Training

The Use of Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Glutamine in Training

This week, I wanted to look at the use of supplementing workouts with Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and glutamine, both being critical for the body.


BCAAs are considered the building blocks for the body, and include Valine, Isoleucine and Leucine.  In order for molecular development and growth to take place, BCAAs must be present.  They account for approximately 33% of your muscle mass and can also form antibodies.  Their biggest job is carrying nitrogen throughout the muscles in order to help the muscles with synthesizing amino acids that are needed during the anabolic action in the muscles.  Basically, simpler amino acids and BCAAs join in order to form muscle tissue in its whole form. 

When the body is under stress, particularly during weight training and other intense workouts, glycogen stores are being used up.  When this happens, the body releases BCAAs in order to stop the synthesis of protein in the muscle.  When you supplement with BCAAs, the signal that stops protein synthesis will be affected, allowing the process to move forward without stopping. 

Benefits of BCAAs:

  • Help the body produce more insulin, which allows your muscles to absorb and use the glucose in your blood. 
  • Promotes a period of anabolism longer than the catabolism period, leading to muscle growth rather than loss.
  • Help the body to release important hormones such as testosterone, GH, and IGF-1, all of which are necessary for muscle growth. 

When to supplement with BCAAs:

It is recommended to take BCAA supplements before and after a workout, starting with smaller amounts, but increasing dosage up to 4-8 grams for greater efficacy.  Taking with a recovery drink or post workout meal will help to speed up the replacement of BCAAs in muscles, speeding muscle recovery and preventing overtraining.  **For optimal results in supplement form, it is desirable to take your BCAAs separately from other amino acid groupings for the fact that they totally dominate the race for entry into the bodies systems. 


Glutamine is the single amino acid in the body that is most abundant.  It also aids in nitrogen transport as does BCAAs.  Glutamine’s structure is made up of not one, but two nitrogen chains, and contains around 19% nitrogen.

Concentrations of glutamine become and remain low after heavy training.  According to research, it can take up to a month to return depleted glutamine stores.  When there’s a deficiency in glutamine, BCAAs separate from the muscle and the molecules resulting for this action synthesize glutamine.

Once synthesized, glutamine will move protein into the muscle cells in order to aid muscle growth.  This extra production of glutamine is necessary during intense workouts and weight training.  Glutamine is also utilized by other organs besides the muscles including the stomach and intestines. 

Benefits of Glutamine:

  • Glutamine is directly connected to the synthesis of protein in your body.
  • It speeds up the healing process- both post-workout and after an injury- thanks to its ability to maintain cell hydration and volume.
  • Glutamine increases the production of growth hormones, the vital ingredient that contributes to muscle growth and strength increases.
  • It boosts your immune system.
  • Helps to repair damage to your intestines and digestive system, ensuring maximum absorption and use of important nutrients. 

When to supplement with Glutamine:

The best glutamine to supplement with is either the free form L-glutamine or the peptide bonded form that is found in meal replacements and protein supplements.  Depending on the person, the suggested dosage can be from 5-40 grams per day.  The supplement can be taken every day, and it’s best to take it on an empty stomach, to ensure maximum absorption. 

Which supplement is better?

There may not be a conclusive answer to this question, but many people give glutamine the edge.  Both can help to enhance your efforts to build size and strength, so supplementing with both may be the way to go for best results. 

Wednesday’s Workout

A) For quality load, working up across sets
Overhead squats

12 DB Renegade rows (35/20)
18 Plank rolls
24 Air squats

And Coming Thursday

A) In 20 min establish
1RM Bench press

B) 3min max distance
Plate push




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