Often described as the mother of all amino acids, glutamine is technically classified as a non-essential amino acid, yet it is quite possibly the most important for bodybuilders. Non-essential in amino terms refers to the fact that the body produces it, as opposed to essential Amino Acids which we must include in our daily diets. However, in the case of athletes and bodybuilders, glutamine is commonly required as a supplement. As an anti-catabolic amino, glutamine assists in preventing the breakdown of muscles. In fact, it is so effective that hospitals frequently administer glutamine as medication to cancer, AIDS and burns patients in order to reduce muscle wasting1. Basically, the body burns up its store of glutamine when it is under stress. Physical exercise puts immense stress on the body, which is why it is one of the most popular supplements available to bodybuilders. The body produces its fair share of glutamine and it is also present naturally in Protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, beef, eggs, beans, parsley and spinach. As athletes and bodybuilders burn through more glutamine than the average person, these natural sources are often just not enough. Although it is the most abundant non-essential amino acid, the majority of the body’s glutamine is stored in the skeletal muscles so up to 50 per cent can be lost after a workout2.
Glutamine supplements are available in the form of powder, capsules or tablets and stack well with creatine supplements (including creatine monohydrate) as well as other types of post workout supplements. Recommended dosage is about 5g to 30g per day (first time users are best starting off on a low dosage), although studies have revealed that dosages of up to 0.65g/kg of bodyweight are not harmful. As the muscles are at their weakest after exercise, it’s best to take glutamine as soon as possible post-workout. Other positive side effects of glutamine include mood elevation, increased physical and mental Energy levels, potentially increasing the body’s immunity and glycogen synthesis.3
Glutamine Supplements are commonly presented & sold as Complementary Medicines or Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. L-Glutamine is not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.1. Griffiths RD. ‘The evidence for glutamine use in the critically-ill.’ Proc Nutr Soc. 2001 Aug;60(3):403-10.