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Glutamine Reviewed – What Makes this Amino Acid so Special?

I bet you’re common to the name Glutamineand probably you’ve seen in it supplement stores and on the internet, but what do you really know about glutamine and its benefits? I’ve seen lots of people taking glutamine in the gym after working out and a lot of them just do it because they got told that glutamine is a great supplement.  Maybe you’re one of them or you’ve never used glutamine supplements, however I dedicated this post to this special amino acid so you’ll know everything you should know. I won’t go deep into metabolic processes and stuff like that since I want deliver easy to understand information and tips.

What is Glutamine?

Glutamine is one of the non-essential amino acid which means your body can produce it by itself from the protein you get through foods. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle tissue, when your body splits up protein while digesting amino acids are developed and released to the blood stream. Well, if glutamine is “just” a non-essential amino acid why should a person supplement it? What makes it so popular among bodybuilders and other athletes?

Benefits of Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the body with amounts 3 – 4 times as high as other amino acids. Glutamine makes up 61% of the free intracellular amino pool and is also most abundant in muscle tissue. Though this seems like you pretty much have to supplement glutamine it’s also found in foods like meat, fish, chicken, protein powder and more. The highest amount in natural foods is found in dairy products like (cottage) cheese. Therefore the average inactive person doesn’t need glutamine supplementation, provided that they eat a healthy diet.

On the other side, athletes and other kinds of persons who put their body under stress e.g. intense weight training will benefit from increased glutamine levels.

Glutamine is necessary for proper performance in the small intestine but it’s also found in muscle tissue, skin and other organs. Injuries to the skin, muscles or internal distress results in stress within the body and thus, higher amounts of glutamine are appropriate. Consider the fact that resistance training results in micro tears inside your muscles and after working out glutamine levels are decreased. It supports recovery after intense workouts, stimulates glycogen synthesis in the liver, increases protein synthesis while it decreases protein degradation in skeletal muscle and has anti-catabolic effects (glutamine promotes a positive nitrogen balance) which makes glutamine a useful supplement , especially in calorie restricted diets. In addition, it also suppresses cravings and appetite when dieting in a caloric deficit.

Other benefits of glutamine include health benefits such as better resistance to illness and proper functioning of the immune system (some cells use glutamine as fuel).

Research also has shown that small amounts (2g glutamine ingested orally) of glutamine taken orally lead to elevates growth hormone levels significantly and therefore supplementation before sleeping makes sense since our body releases growth hormone while sleeping anyway.

How Much and When Do You Need Glutamine?

A common dose of glutamine is about 10 – 15 g (2 – 3 teaspoons) a day but there are lots of athletes who take about 15 – 20g a day. It’s fine to take such amounts but it’s also important when to take it. You should take it when your body needs it the most to maximize absorption and minimize wasting. Therefore the most appropriate times are in the morning and after working out. Supplementing one hour prior to working out or going to bed also makes sense. I recommend doses of 5g each except after working out where 10g are a proper dosage. On non-workout days less glutamine is needed.

You can mix it with anything like water, juice or your protein shake. I wouldn’t recommend mixing with water because it just doesn’t taste well. I know it’s not about the taste but if you can make it more tasteful why shouldn’t you?  Though, make sure to consume mixed glutamine immediately because it’s relatively unstable in fluids.

Glutamine is often mixed into other supplements as an ingredient but mostly in useless little amounts so that the label looks better than it is.

Overtraining and Glutamine

Personally I think overtraining is a highly exaggerated topic in today’s world of bodybuilding and most persons probably just think they’re over trained while in reality they’re just too lazy to bust their ass in the gym. Nevertheless overtraining might occur if your recovery can’t deal with lots of training and inadequate recovery. In this case glutamine is a fantastic way to speed up recovery processes combined with a healthy diet high in protein and enough rest.

Side Effects of Glutamine

There are no side effects using glutamine supplements although large doses might lead to intestinal troubles. I’ve never experienced such problems with amounts of 5 – 10g at once.

Personal Experience with Glutamine Supplementation

I’ve been using glutamine for the last 2 years on a regular basis i.e. mostly everyday in amounts of 15 – 30g and I can definitely approve that my immune system has been improved even more as I already had a pretty good resistance to illness. I also noticed less appetite and cravings when supplementing glutamine in calorie restricted diets in doses of about 20 – 30g a day. Furthermore I’ve the feeling that I sleep better when using glutamine before going to bed.

It also takes time to build up the immune boosting effects etc. so don’t expect to notice changes within a few days. Glutamine works very subtle and maybe you won’t even recognize it but you’ll benefit from the effects in any case.

I can’t say if glutamine helped me build more muscle mass or lose more fat because I always watched my diet and trained hard. Nevertheless I love glutamine because of its many benefits. I use Dymatize Micronized Glutamine but that’s just a personal preference.

Where to Buy Glutamine

You can get glutamine anywhere online and offline in stores but I highly recommend bodybuilding.com because they are very professional and quick while their products are reasonable priced. Even amazon.com offers glutamine as well as other bodybuilding supplements and we all know about Amazon’s high quality service and fast deliveries.

Sources:

http://www.ajcn.org/content/61/5/1058.abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2205730

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834123

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9916176

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834123

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21413923

 

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