Glutamine provides amazing benefits for performance and wellness. Find out why people use this supplement and how it could benefit you.
Key Takeaways at a Glance
- Your body loses glutamine during exercise
- Supplementing with glutamine builds muscle and speeds recovery after intense training
- Many athletes use glutamine to boost endurance during training
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is an amino acid that makes its home in your muscles and other organs. It's very important for protein synthesis and muscle building. Your skeletal muscles are made up of 61% glutamine. Glutamine is 19% nitrogen, and it's responsible for fueling your muscles with this essential element.
Bodybuilding training lowers glutamine and nitrogen levels. This impairs your stamina, muscle strength, and your ability to recover from a workout. For a healthy recovery, you want to replenish your nitrogen levels faster than you deplete them. Otherwise, your body will use nitrogen from your vital organs and damage them. If your vital organs don't have enough glutamine and nitrogen, they will get them from your muscles and cause damage to them.
Supplementing with glutamine improves protein metabolism and prevents the breakdown of muscles.
Non-muscle organs that need glutamine include the intestines, liver, and kidneys. Your immune system requires it as well, specifically the white blood cells.
Glutamine can be found in most protein-rich foods.
Prevents Breakdown of Muscles
Using glutamine before an intense training can prevent muscle breakdown during training.
Improves Athletic Performance & Speeds Up Muscle Recovery
Subjects in an American College of Sports Medicine study did exhausting physical workout training before taking glutamine or a placebo for six days. This was followed by a repeat of the same training, and their power levels were measured before and after the session.
The glutamine group enjoyed greater endurance in the second session compared to the first, and there was no reduction of power. The placebo group did not improve in the second session, and their power was lower after the six days.
They concluded that the glutamine group's muscles recovered at a faster rate than those of the placebo group. This means they can resume training earlier. It also means glutamine can be helpful for energy production.
Protein synthesis is the process of turning amino acids like glutamine into protein. It's important for rebuilding muscles after you tear them apart during training. Supplementing with glutamine increases protein synthesis and builds muscle.
Glutamine improves muscle hydration, which also speeds post-workout recovery.
Louisana State University researchers found that two grams of glutamine increases bicarbonate levels within 90 minutes. This may increase your tolerance to lactic acid produced by weight training and other forms of intense exercise. Therefore, glutamine can boost your endurance during workouts.
May Boost Your Immune System After Workouts
Exercise lowers glutamine, which is required by your immune system. This makes athletes and bodybuilders more vulnerable to illness and infection after workouts.
A 1996 study of long distance runners, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, showed that glutamine supplementation lowers infection risk after exercise. The 'percentage of athletes reporting no infections was considerably higher' in the group that used glutamine after an intense running session during the seven days following it.
This does not mean that glutamine is an immune system enhancer in all circumstances.
Reduces Body Fat
Glutamine can reduce the storage of fat and help regulate weight. The use of glutamine supplements with a high fat diet actually led to a decrease of body fat in mice, according to a 1996 Duke University Medical Center study.
Glutamine also converts to glucose in the kidneys without altering glucagon or insulin. This leads to an increase of energy without an increase in fat storage caused by insulin.
May Reverse Aging
A 1995 Louisana University School of Medicine study revealed that a small oral dose of glutamine can raise human growth hormone (HGH) levels. HGH is known for reversing the aging process. Studies also show that exercise and endurance training raise HGH. That is, unless you overtrain and approach a catabolic state. This could lower HGH and increase the stress hormone and muscle destroyer, cortisol. Glutamine, and adequate rests between workouts, may help prevent this.
Speeds Recovery from Some Forms of Surgery
Glutamine may help with the recovery of muscles after certain types of surgery.
Reduces Severity of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Glutamine is often used for the treatment of this condition, possibly because it acts as a precursor for the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA and contributes to a healthy balance between the two. It may help patients by improving gut health as well.
Relieves Digestive Disorders
Glutamine is sometimes used to treat specific digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, diarrhea, and Crohn's disease.
Lowers Alcohol Cravings During Withdrawal
Glutamine supplements lower cravings for both sugar and alcohol. In a 1957 study, subjects with alcoholism took one gram of L-glutamine, with meals, in divided doses, or a placebo. The glutamine supplementation lowered cravings and anxiety associated with alcohol withdrawal in humans. The study was published in the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. The amino acid also proved successful with drunken rats in another study.
Improves the Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Common chemo side effects include neuropathy (nerve pain), diarrhea, joint pains, and swelling in the mouth. Glutamine is sometimes used to treat these conditions.
If you're an athlete who does regular intense training, then you want to take up to 10 grams of glutamine. You can split this up into two daily doses. The best times to take it are right before or right after workouts.
If you're not a power athlete, the lower end is as little as two grams twice per day.
For long term use of glutamine, make sure to get plenty of B vitamins, including B6 and B12. B12' plays a role in controlling glutamine build up. The ability to absorb B12 through' the gut decreases with age, so many people need to take sublingual doses (dissolved under the tongue).
Side Effects & Interactions
Glutamine supplements are generally considered safe. WebMD notes that glutamine is 'possibly safe for most adults' in oral doses of up to 40 grams per day. Children under 18 should not take more than 0.7 grams daily per kilogram of body weight. This is just to be on the safe side.
Liver disease: Glutamine can possibly make some liver conditions, such as cirrhosis, worse.
Pregnancy: Little is known whether glutamine supplements negatively affect pregnant women, so stay on the safe side if you're pregnant.
Manic disorders: These could worsen with glutamine supplements.
Epilepsy: Epileptics should be cautious about using glutamine.
Avoid: Lactulose, chemo drugs, anticonvulsants, or any seizure medication.
Natural Sources of Glutamine
You can find glutamine in most protein-rich foods.
Here's a short list of good glutamine sources:
- Red cabbage
- Wild fish
Our Answer for Glutamine Supplementation
Enzo Nutrition's BCAA Hydrate is a workout formula that combines key amino acids and coconut water to enhance your endurance, hydration, and recovery. A one scoop serving contains three grams of glutamine.
- 6g BCAA 2:1:1 with an emphasis on Leucine - stimulates protein synthesis & prevents muscle breakdown
- 1.6g Beta Alanine - aids lean mass gain & increases physical performance
- 1.5g Taurine ' improves blood flow, hydrates muscle cells, & increases exercise capacity
- 500mg Coconut Water increases potassium & electolyte levels
Directions: Mix one scoop in 12-16 ounces of water and consume on training days, or throughout the day on non-training days.
With all the benefits of glutamine, no wonder we put it in our BCAA Hydrate. It gives you what you need, pre/intra/post workout, to enhance hydration, endurance, and recovery.
You can get it straight from Enzo Nutrition at the BCAA Hydrate Page.