What You Should Know About Glutamine
While traditionally it's the major muscle building or fat loss supplements that get all the attention—such as creatine, protein powder, nitric oxide, caffeine, and fat burning stacks—glutamine is also a supplement that can offer you many advantages that you may want to consider.
Here are some of the things you should know about glutamine.
What Is Glutamine?
Most people think of glutamine as the bodybuilding supplement, but glutamine really is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body. It isn't classified directly as an essential amino acid because the body can manufacture it up to some degree from other amino acids in the body.
The glutamine that you currently have in your system is primarily stored in your muscles, with the remainder being found in the lungs, which is the site where glutamine is manufactured in the body. Potentially the most important use for glutamine in your body is with the immune system as it serves to prevent illness, speed recovery, and enhance the way the body feels and functions.
In addition to this, glutamine also plays a role in DNA synthesis and as an alternative source of fuel for the brain. Finally, glutamine helps to prevent the catabolic reactions that occur in the body when cortisol is present, which is a benefit that is especially interesting to those who are involved with building muscle tissue.
What Glutamine Should Be Used For
Because of all the different functions of glutamine in the human body, it can be used for a wide variety of purposes by both normal individuals as well as those who are under the care of a medical professional.
One instance where glutamine is administered quite heavily is when a wound is present, as it tends to speed up the healing process. Burn victims are often given very large doses of glutamine for this purpose.
Glutamine is also useful for helping to prevent or treat inflammatory bowel disease. This is due to the fact that it helps to protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract where problems often take place. Only individuals who have consulted with a medical professional should be using glutamine for this purpose however, so that is one important thing to note.
What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
In medicine, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The major types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Although very different diseases, both may present with any of the following symptoms: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, hematochezia (bright red blood in stools), weight loss and various associated complaints or diseases like arthritis, pyoderma gangrenosum, and primary sclerosing cholangitis. Diagnosis is generally by colonoscopy with biopsy of pathological lesions.
Many people would be surprised to know that some studies performed on animals also demonstrate that glutamine can work as an appetite suppressant in those who are obese, so this could potentially make it a very beneficial supplement for those who are on a fat loss diet.
Individuals who are suffering from cancer typically show very low levels of glutamine in their system, which makes it a good option for adding to their treatment program. It's especially used when the cancer patient is undergoing chemotherapy since it will help protect the lining of the small and large intestines, which are at a high risk during this process.
Finally, and the primary reason you are most likely interested in glutamine supplementation is its' role in athletic performance. When you train very hard for days in a row your muscles glutamine stores will begin to become depleted. This is going to reduce the recovery rate you see from workout to workout.
Additionally, since you want your body to be in as much of an anabolic process as possible and glutamine helps prevent the negative effects of cortisol in the body (which tend to break muscle tissue down), this alone makes it very useful for athletes or those involved heavily with their workout programs.
In one study from the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal researchers tested the impact of glutamine and carbohydrate supplementation on endurance training and found that when the endurance exercise was performed past the one hour mark, supplementing with both the carbohydrate and glutamine mixture demonstrated a reduced blood ammonia level in the athletes, helping to ward of fatigue as they continued with their workout.
So, regardless of whether you're a strength athlete or someone training for a long-distance endurance event, glutamine supplementation could prove to be very useful for you.
Food Sources Of Glutamine
Most people will be taking in glutamine from their daily diet—how much though is the question. The best sources of glutamine in the human diet include beef, pork, chicken, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, raw spinach, parsley, and cabbage. Strict vegetarians are going to be at a higher risk of deficiency so it will be especially important for them to consider taking it in supplemental form as well.
Even those who are eating a mixed diet may not be able to get in enough to meet their needs if they are exercising intensely, especially if they are on a reduced calorie, fat loss diet, so again adding a supplement is a wise move.
How To Supplement With Glutamine
When it comes to choosing your glutamine supplement, you have a variety of options. For easy ingestion, it comes in capsule, powder, and liquid form, so whatever your preference is you can easily find a supplement to match.
You'll have to watch too because many protein powders will also have glutamine added in, so you may be able to combine these supplements if you choose wisely. Many times it won't be as much glutamine as what you'd get in a concentrated glutamine supplement, so assess your needs to determine which is the best option for you.
How much glutamine you take each day will depend on your diet and purpose (exercise intensity, health status, additional lifestyle stress, etc), but a good recommendation is to start with a five gram serving two to three times a day and see how you feel.
Ideally you would take one serving immediately after your workout as this is when your body is in its most damaged state and then also right before bed since that's the time when the healing and repair process really takes place.
So, next time you're putting together your supplement order, keep glutamine in mind. It's a relatively cost-effective supplement but could make noticeable results to your progress. Considering it can take months of hard work to build the muscle you have, you really do want to be doing everything you can to prevent losing that muscle mass.
- Alves, RC. Et al. (2007) Glutamine and carbohydrate supplements reduce ammonemia increase during endurance field exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Dec;32(6):1186-90.