What is glutamine?
Glutamine is the most abundant aminoacid in muscle tissue. It can be produced by our body in the right amounts to guarantee the daily needs. However, due to the workout’s intensity, glutamine levels drop drastically and it is normal if that affects your performance (strong decrease of maximum strength and resistance) and that it slows down the recovery process. It will possibly take about 6 days for glutamine levels to get back to their normal state. It is then that you should consider using a glutamine supplement that helps speed up the process of muscle recovery, synthetize protein and stimulate the normal functioning of the immune system.
If you play a sport that’s physically demanding (ex: bodybuilding, triathlon, climbing, athletics, skiing, swimming, cycling, etc.) and glutamine isn’t part of your supplement plan yet, you now have 9 reasons to rethink your choices.
1. It strengthens the immune system. The symptoms of a fragile immune system (a cold, infection, a poor performance during physical activity, the increase of body fat and the loss of lean muscle mass) are all related to low levels of glutamine. This aminoacid is the main energy source for the cells responsible for the immunity. Glutamine storages burn out through exercise or viral/bacterial infections. That’s why you should take a break on your daily workouts when you are sick. You can take glutamine when you are sick, because when you take it you will be increasing the amount of T-lymphocytes in the blood – main protectors of the body – and give way to the action of neutrophils (cells from the immune system) in the destruction of bacteria.
2. It plays an important role in every biochemical process – from protein synthesis to the detox of the system; glutamine is the main fuel that ensures the good functioning of the entire immune system and the source that provides for the cells from the intestinal tract (this indicator is responsible for 40% of the consumption of glutamine storages).
3. Keeping high glutamine levels is essential to fight against muscle catabolism (loss of lean muscle mass). Inside the muscle cells, protein synthesis is proportional to the levels of glutamine. When these values decrease, the ability to recover after working out and to build muscle is lost.
4. Lack of glutamine affects your goals negatively. The more you work out, the more glutamine you will need. Studies show that healthy and physically eligible individuals with low levels of glutamine may lose lean muscle mass and increase body fat after 4 weeks of workout.
5. Glutamine transports nitrogen and ammonia from the muscle to the visceral organs.
6. Glutamine is the main precursor of glutione (the most important antioxidant in the body that protects liver cells against damage caused by the free radicals) and folic acid (this element fights anemia and cardiovascular diseases). In the liver, glutamine is used for urea and glucose synthesis.
7. Helps to improve focus, memory and humor. Glutamine is used by the brain as a precursor for neurotransmitters, agents that are responsible for the communications between cells. It is essential for those who follow a low-carb diet.
8. Prevents injuries and decreases muscular stress after the workout. During physical activity, your body goes into metabolic stress and burns out glutamine storages. During that period, your body needs more glutamine than it has, so it is extremely important to use supplements in order to constantly synthetize it.
9. Repairs gastrointestinal coating and promotes nutrient absorption. It increases the mucus that coats the intestine walls, factor that prevents bacteria from lodging in the tissue.
How to take glutamine?
Glutamine should be taken regularly throughout the day. The daily dosage can go from 500mg to 15g, divided into 3 servings per day. The amount you should take depends on your body weight and on the amount of protein you take. If you are already taking any supplement, like Whey Protein, pay attention because it might already contain glutamine in its composition.
Take glutamine in the most important moments of the day: before the physical activity, after the workout – along with simple carbs (ex: fruit and honey) to increase insulin levels and speed up glutamine input in muscle cells, in order to accelerate the recovery process – and before going to bed.
David Galanis, The Benefits of Glutamine!, 15th of September 2003, translation and adaptation of the original version
Paul Cribb, 10 Reasons Why You Need to Take Glutamine, 7th of February 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version
David Diaz Gil, El suplemento recuperador: la glutamina, 3rd of May 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version
Marqie, Top ten reasons to supplement with l-glutamine, 29th of November, translation and adaptation of the original version