Quick Glutamine Summary Points
- Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle
- Glutamine is best known for its role in immune health
- Intense weight training and aerobic exercise significantly depletes body glutamine levels
- Daily oral doses of 20g and upwards is not uncommon among athletes
- Glutamine is popularly used as an anti-catabolic to prevent muscle breakdown, however, it also has anabolic properties
- Glutamine supplementation is helpful during times of illness or during heavy training periods
What is Glutamine?
The popular amino acid L-Glutamine is found in protein powders, beans, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, and of course, L-Glutamine supplements. Glutamine is one of the twenty non-essential amino acids. ‘Non-essential’ means the body can produce this substance itself. Sixty percent of our glutamine is found in our skeletal muscle, with the rest being in the lung, liver, brain and stomach tissue.
Glutamine For Bodybuilders
Glutamine is used in the gut and immune system to maintain optimal performance. 60% of free-form amino acids floating in skeletal muscles is L-Glutamine. After an intense training session, glutamine levels in the body are almost halved. L-Glutamine plays a very important role in protein metabolism, thus is an important nutrient for bodybuilders. Glutamine can help reduce the amount of muscle deterioration that occurs as other tissues that need glutamine will not rob the glutamine stored in the muscle cells. In summary, glutamine promotes nutrient assimilation, regulates protein synthesis, stimulates growth-hormone production and enhances the immune system. As bodybuilders use a lot of their glutamine when training, the immune system relies heavily on this amino acid. Glutamine supplementation keeps muscles building, not being robbed of glutamine for use elsewhere such as nitrogen transport or maintaining the immune system.
Glutamine supplements are usually in powder form as it makes it much easier to dose depending on your requirements, but it also makes for faster absorption. There are glutamine pills available, but for the amount of extra glutamine that some bodybuilders and trainers take, they would need a lot of pills. Glutamine powders are generally tasteless and as such are great to mix into other supplements such as protein powders and pre-, intra- and post-workout supplements to avoid having to drink too many shakes throughout the day.
Glutamine Effects, Dose & Side Effects
One recommendation is to take 5g before and another 5g after training. Refer to the manufacturers labels to see how much to take. The ingestion of large amounts may result in an upset stomach. Diabetics and cancer patients should use caution when supplementing with glutamine because they metabolise glutamine abnormally. As with all supplements, consult the advice of your doctor if you have any pre-disposed conditions.
Glutamine Depletion in Bodybuilders
Glutamine can be depleted by stress and can be activated by even the common cold, with the level of glutamine depletion increasing with the severity of the illness. Patients undergoing surgery, burn victims, as well as HIV and cancer patients will all have severely depleted levels of glutamine. As a bodybuilder, the stress you put on your body through training will also deplete your levels.
Glutamine Deficiency Symptoms
The harder you train, the greater the increase in lactic acid and ammonium levels, which can affect muscle function. This will cause catabolic hormones to be released. Even after training, the muscles continue to release glutamine causing a severe depletion. Inadequate intake will result in your body being in a catabolic state with muscle loss, depletion, cell dehydration and muscle atrophy occurring. Glutamine is critical for bodybuilding because it moves the nitrogen around in the body to where it is needed.
Glutamine Dose For Bodybuilders
Your daily diet probably provides around 3 to 7 grams of glutamine from animal and plant proteins. 2-3 g ingested post-workout builds protein, repairs and builds muscle and can induce levels of growth hormone found in the body. One recommendation is to take 5g before and another 5g after training. Refer to the manufacturers labels to see how much to take. The ingestion of large amounts may result in an upset stomach, however it has been shown that up to 40g of glutamine a day is safe.
Glutamine aids in diseases that effect the lining of the intestines. In addition, it can reverse some of the intestinal damage caused by anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen. Glutamine can protect the brain from ammonia toxicity. As it provides energy to the brain, it’s a mood elevator, improves mental performance and helps your long and short term memory. Glutamine would be considered to be an essential supplement. For the bodybuilder, it promotes nutrient assimilation, regulates protein synthesis, stimulates growth-hormone production and enhances the immune system. These are all crucial to the bodybuilder and should be considered by all that engage in regular training.