When your goal is to look leaner but maintain a shredded muscle tone, dieting alone isn’t always the answer. Consuming a low-calorie diet will help you drop the weight, but it can also cause some unwanted muscle loss. This happens because of your body’s catabolic response. When you lose weight, your body has to fight harder to keep its healthy fat.
In turn, it relies on muscle as fuel for energy. When protein synthesis starts happening at the same rate of protein breakdown, your body doesn’t gain or lose any muscle. However, as soon as you step over the threshold of protein breakdown happening at a quicker rate than protein synthesis, your muscle mass will start to deteriorate.
BCAAs and L-Glutamine Prevent Muscle Loss
The thought of losing muscle during a cut is a bodybuilder's worst nightmare. It takes a lot longer to gain muscle than it does to lose it, so muscle preservation becomes the new goal during intense dieting periods. Luckily, some supplements can help counteract the few adverse effects of dieting. Both BCAAs and L-Glutamine are types of amino acids that encourage your body to maintain its muscle mass and aid in workout recovery. This is ideal for both low-calorie dieters, or for quicker muscle gains on bulking cycles.
Health Benefits of BCAAs
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acid, and it works by replicating your body’s act of protein synthesis. BCAAs contain three types of vital amino acids. They are: isoleucine, leucine, and valine. Of the three, leucine is the most well-studied amino in isolation. Both isoleucine and valine are still highly effective and are contained in most traditional BCAA supplements. However, fewer human studies exist that confirm the effectiveness of valine and isoleucine.
Because of this, leucine is viewed as the most important of the branched-chain amino acids. Keep in mind, an imbalance in blood amino acid levels can occur when leucine intake is off. This can reduce your body’s anabolic response and halt muscle development. Since there is limited reliable literature on 8:1:1 and 4:1:1 ratio BCAA supplements in human athletes, we recommend you stick with a 2:1:1 ratio BCAA for best results.
- BCAAs Enhance Protein Synthesis & Muscle Preservation
BCAAs can make your body synthesize proteins at a faster rate and hold higher capacity than you would naturally without the amino acid supplement. BCAAs also slow the rate of protein breakdown. The initial cause of muscle deterioration with dieting comes from the catabolic response, which increases the rate of protein breakdown and decreases the rate of protein synthesis. BCAAs reverse both of these processes, putting the addition of muscle mass back on the table even when paired with dieting.
- • BCAAs Boost Physical and Mental Endurance
Similar to other pre workout ingredients such as citrulline, beta alanine, or reliable choline sources like alpha GPC, BCAAs can help you work out harder and for a longer. This is because branched-chain amino acids help block tryptophan from releasing into the brain. Tryptophan modifies itself into serotonin which can cause fatigue during workouts. Because BCAAs have the ability to reduce the amounts of tryptophan entering the brain, it lessens tiredness during workouts. It’s recommended that serious trainers take BCAAs with a post-workout meal as well to refuel the muscles and speed up recovery.
- • BCAAs Boost Processing Speed & Accuracy
In addition to boosting physical endurance, BCAAs are also capable of increasing mental performance and processing accuracy. A study conducted on a group of sailors during an offshore race concluded that the BCAA group exhibited moderate fatigue reduction and reduced memory related processing errors over the placebo. Another study concluded that BCAA supplementation can also improve decision making speed and reaction time, making it ideal for athletic performance.
- BCAAs Enhance Body Composition
BCAA metabolites are a critical indicator of lean muscle mass in the young adult population. Studies have shown that those who consume supplemental BCAAs with each meal, on average, have more muscle mass and less visceral fat. As mentioned earlier, BCAAs inhibit the breakdown of muscle through enhanced protein synthesis. This is ideal for mass preservation during low calorie or low protein diets. Supplementation of BCAAs also improves both insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in healthy people.
Since BCAAs reduce muscle soreness and enhance physical and mental stamina during extended periods of intense physical activity, workouts become more productive and beneficial. Overall, surveys have shown that people with higher dietary BCAA intake have more muscle, less body fat, and a leaner body composition. Branched-chain amino acids also improve fat burning capabilities, reduce fatigue, and they enhance strength development.
Health Benefits of L-Glutamine
L-Glutamine is another type of amino acid that is proven to build up muscle mass and aid in workout recovery. This supplement is the most abundant amino acid in your blood stream and is considered essential because of its steady use. In fact, 61% of skeletal muscle is made of Glutamine, and it consists of 19% nitrogen, causing it to be the primary transporter of nitrogen to muscle cells.
- L-Glutamine Enhances Protein Synthesis & Muscle Preservation
During workouts, naturally occurring glutamine levels decrease within your body. This causes fatigue, a reduction in strength, and a loss in proactive recovery. Like BCAAs, L-Glutamine works as an anti-catabolic agent, preventing loss in muscle mass. L-Glutamine, reverses the catabolic response and enhances the rate of protein synthesis, enabling muscle growth. This amino acid also causes an increase in cell volume. L-Glutamine has an extensive list of beneficial health factors that contribute to muscle gain and restoration. This makes it an excellent option to pair with your BCAAs for both pre workout energy and post workout recovery.
- • L-Glutamine Enhances Growth Hormone Production & Overall Health
Taking the supplement also raises natural growth hormone levels. Growth hormone plays a significant role in metabolic processes and how your body uses food for energy. Higher levels have HGH can have a significant positive impact on the body. You will enjoy more restful sleep, a faster metabolism, a leaner waistline, firmer muscles, healthier hair, and skin, and you may even notice improvements in your mood and sex drive. Glutamine supplements also have the power to boost your immune system, restore intestinal health, keep you hydrated, and replenish your naturally occurring glutamine during intense workouts.
- • L-Glutamine Helps With Injury Recovery
The recovery benefits of L-Glutamine go beyond that of simple muscle restoration. The supplement has healing benefits for injured athletes and average joes as well. Glutamine is frequently given to those suffering from burn trauma and postoperative patients. Because it is such a versatile supplement for those fighting injuries or infections, glutamine is even recommended for those not looking to bodybuild, but just stay in shape. People who don’t often lift, typically suffer more muscle tears and can gain physical stability from L-Glutamine’s recovery benefits.
BCAAs and L-Glutamine: Must Have Amino Acids
BCAAs and L-Glutamine are the best amino acids you can take for maintaining muscle mass throughout a diet or for bulking in general. In summary, BCAAs work by reversing the catabolic effect of dieting (decreasing protein breakdown and increasing protein synthesis). These health benefits make muscle gain possible, even while on a low-calorie diet. L-Glutamine is also beneficial for muscle gain and recovery. Injured muscles need L-Glutamine for repair, and growing muscles demand L-Glutamine to build new fibers. It has also been proven to secrete human growth hormone, further aiding muscle growth and weight management.
With that said, BCAAs are best for those who want to become shredded or maintain muscle while cutting. L-Glutamine can serve a wider range of body types successfully. Both amino acids, however, are a must have for fitness enthusiasts.