Glutamine is a very underrated conditionally essential amino acid, but it has an impressive host of benefits, especially in our field, that I will highlight in this article. Why I Love Glutamine
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the blood, and our cells can actually produce it.
The highest concentrations are found in muscles (up to 60% of total glutamine in the body) and in the liver, brain, lungs, and gut.
Given certain conditions, like injuries, long-term stress, starvation, and sepsis, the body needs more glutamine which is taken mainly from the skeletal muscle in order to supply the specific demands of the body under those conditions.
In cases of catabolic stress, the levels of intracellular glutamine can drop up to 50%.
Here are some of the most interesting benefits of using glutamine.
Research has shown that when muscles are glycogen depleted after training, 8 grams of glutamine can replenish the same amount of muscle glycogen as 60 grams of carbohydrates (glucose polymer) WITHOUT raising insulin.
A quick and effective way to increase muscle mass is to use large doses of glutamine for one week. A male should take 80 grams and a female 50 grams of glutamine per day in divided doses. 5 of them are upon wakening on an empty stomach, before training, during training, after training, and before going to sleep. The other times are up to the person, making sure that they complete the aforementioned doses.
Improves Sports Performance
During training season, athletes that had the highest levels of glutamine were also the athletes that showed the highest improvements in performance. This correlation was stronger than the one found between hormones and performance improvements.
Glutamine has also been studied in endurance sports and it has been shown to improve performance and decrease muscle damage.
Could Increase Strength
Glutamine might prevent the loss of a specific protein called myosin heavy chain, which is an important protein that determines the contractile properties of skeletal muscle.
Prevents Muscle Damage
One study showed that 6 grams of glutamine per day for 20 days, significantly decreased markers of muscle damage aspartate transaminase, creatine kinase, and myoglobin, compared to a placebo, on basketball players.
Research has shown that when taken during a competitive season, 6 grams of glutamine per day inhibits the increase in cortisol levels when compared to a placebo.
Helps to Prevent Overtraining
When glutamine is measured in athletes, those who are overtrained show decreased glutamine concentration in the body.
Prevents Muscle Loss
Intravenous glutamine is commonly used after traumatic surgical interventions because it decreases the loss of free amino acids from skeletal muscle, and prevents the loss of nitrogen, making it essential to offset the muscle wasting consequences after traumatic conditions like surgery.
Improves the Immune System
60%-80% of the immune system is in the gut. Glutamine nourishes and is used preferentially by cells of the immune system located in the gastrointestinal tract including fibroblasts, lymphocytes, and macrophages. Glutamine is the first amino acid that drops when a person is fighting an infection.
Improves Gut Health
The gastrointestinal tract is the heaviest user of glutamine in the body, as enterocytes in the intestinal epithelium use glutamine as their principal metabolic fuel. Glutamine decreases villous atrophy, increases jejunal weight, and decreases intestinal permeability.
Glutamine is a substrate and also regulates gluconeogenesis. Research has found that infusing glutamine creates the conversion of glutamine to glucose WITHOUT any changes in insulin or glucagon.
Can Elevate Growth Hormone
One study showed that only 2 gm of glutamine can elevate circulating levels of growth hormone.
Other Conditions that Can Benefit from Glutamine Use:
- Wound Healing
My recommendation for glutamine supplementation is to take daily 6 – 10 grams upon wakening on an empty stomach, and another dose of 6 – 10 grams after training. 6 grams for females and 10 grams for males.
Of course, this dose should be increased when the conditions or needs mentioned above are present.
Note: if your insulin sensitivity and body fat percentage don’t allow you to use carbohydrates post-workout, you can use 2-4 times the amount of glutamine mentioned above.
Not all Glutamine is Created Equally
During all these years, I have found glutamine products that simply don’t work and/or that the taste is simply intolerable, and that’s why I strongly recommend you to use these brands, as they are providing you with the highest quality in the market, making sure that you get the real benefits from the use of glutamine
Start using glutamine and enjoy all the benefits mentioned in this article
Coach Carlos Castro