Every day, new supplements are being introduced to the market. Some promote muscle growth and repair, while others support fat loss, increase endurance, or provide energy. However, only a few products have stood the test of time.
This includes glutamine, one of the most widely used supplements in the fitness and bodybuilding world. This amino acid is a staple in any athlete’s diet. When used as part of a balanced diet, it helps build muscle, improves recovery time, and supports digestive health.
Glutamine enjoys a lot of popularity among bodybuilders, weightlifters, MMA fighters, and endurance athletes. It’s also being used by celebrities and fitness buffs looking to recover faster and build lean muscle.
Gym goers can either buy it as a supplement or use protein powders and recovery formulas containing this amino acid.
Why Is Glutamine Important?
L-glutamine is a component of the structural units of DNA and RNA. It plays a key role in protein synthesis and regulates the ammonia levels in your body. This compound comprises approximately 50 to 60 percent of the free amino acids in muscles.
It can also be found in your brain, lungs, liver, blood, and tissues.
It has taken over two decades to establish that exercise causes muscles to release large amounts of glutamine. When you work out, your glutamine stores drop by add much as 50 percent.
During intense training, surgery, and fasting, muscle glutamine levels are depleted. Thus, it’s important to make sure you get enough of it from your diet and/or supplements.
This amino acid is found in meat, milk, and nuts. However, the glutamine in these products makes up less than eight percent of food protein. Since your body uses this amino acid for fuel, this process leaves your intracellular stores depleted.
Active individuals, bodybuilders, and athletes have higher glutamine requirements and need to supplement their diet accordingly. Research shows that it can take more than 24 hours to restore muscle glutamine stores to pre-exercise levels.
Many athletes have low levels of this amino acid in the body because of overtraining and intense exercise. Increased training volume and intensity combined with low stores of the amino acid can affect your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to diseases and infections. Adequate intake is essential to a strong immune system, proper digestion, and muscle repair.
Over the past few years, researchers have become aware of weakened immune systems in bodybuilders and athletes. Studies indicate that the immune system uses large amounts of glutamine. If your diet lacks this amino acid, your risk of diseases increases. This also leads to muscle loss and decreased strength.
The Health Benefits of Glutamine
This amino acid has several major roles in the human body:
- It protects your immune system
- It contributes to protein synthesis
- It stimulates glycogen formation
- It spares myosin heavy chain proteins
- It raises growth hormone levels
- It boasts strong anti-catabolic effects
- It aids in digestion
- It enhances physical performance
- It speeds up muscle recovery
- It helps build lean muscle
In addition to its beneficial effects on muscles and immune function, glutamine is recommended to those with irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis, stomach ulcers, and diseases that cause muscle waste. It also contributes to gluconeogenesis and acid-base regulation.
This amino acid is utilized at high rates by leukocytes to stimulate new cell growth. The glutamine levels in muscles have a direct impact on the rate of protein and glycogen synthesis.
As you see, this compound affects every system in your body. By supplementing your diet with l-glutamine, you’ll have a stronger immune system and recover faster after exercise.
How Much Glutamine Do You Need?
Glutamine is essential for athletes and bodybuilders. The recommended daily intake depends on your activity level, ranging from five to 20 grams. The dosage can be increased and taken at certain times throughout the day.
Some athletes take glutamine before training, while others use it post workout and/or before bedtime.
Keep in mind that glutamine isn’t the same as glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate, gluten, glutathione, or glutamate. This naturally occurring amino is available in powder or pill form.
Cycling glutamine isn’t necessary. However, you should keep using this supplement to ensure your muscle stores are always full.