Glutamine : Should You Or Shouldn't You?

To some athletes, Glutamine is a necessary supplement to include in their stack. To others, it is considered an unnecessary addition. Why do people choose to take Glutamine supplements? What is Glutamine and why is it so important for muscle building? If you have ever stumbled across this supplement and wondered about its uses then this article will help answer some of your questions.

What is Glutamine?

Glutamine is a relatively common dietary amino acid and is the most abundant amino acid in the extracellular pool. Over 90% of Glutamine in the body is found in the muscles. It is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid which means that while the body is normally capable of manufacturing enough Glutamine for metabolic needs, under certain conditions it must be supplied in the diet.

As well as being a component of tissue proteins, this amino acid is also involved in a variety of metabolic functions including supporting immunity, insulin secretion, gastrointestinal function, neurological activity and of course, muscle protein synthesis.

Glutamine is involved in the osmotic regulation of cell volume and so increasing the level of glutamine can result in cell swelling. This increases cell size and potentially the rate of protein synthesis too! In a similar way to creatine supplementation, any excess glutamine which is ingested will go to waste.

Glutamine is found in many foods including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk and beans to name but a few. In supplementary form it is available in free amino acid form and glutamine peptide form.

Glutamine is associated with a number of benefits which include:

-          Enhancing muscle growth

-          Increasing muscle strength

-          Enhancing recovery

-          Boosting immunity

-          Increasing glycogen stores

-          Manipulating insulin sensitivity, helping to partition nutrients towards the muscles and liver and preventing fat storage.

-          Improving digestion (often used in hospitals for its ability to promote nutritional absorption)

-          Improving athletic performance

Who does it work best for?

Accounts of the benefits of Glutamine supplementation vary widely as previously stated. Glutamine supplementation is more suited towards bodybuilding athletes who are cutting. This is because it allows them to ingest glutamine while cutting back on calories and certain foods to lose body fat. It is also a useful supplement for those who lead a very active lifestyle and appears to be of great use to endurance runners due to its ability to help boost immunity and enhance recovery.

What is the recommended dosage?

An average individual serving of glutamine can vary between 3-10g depending on the brand and form of glutamine supplement you buy. This can be taken between 2 and 5 times each day depending on individual requirements (activity level, diet, weight). Based on clinical studies, a dosage of 10-30g per day is recommended.

When should it be taken?

Glutamine supplementation is most effective when glutamine stores are low. Glutamine levels are at their lowest following intense physical activity and this is a good time to take this supplement. However, in order to consume an effective dosage this is not the only time it should be taken. If you were aiming to consume Glutamine 4 times per day an example of an ideal plan would be:

Window 1: Immediately upon waking

Window 2: Pre-workout (if you take a pre-workout you can mix the two)

Window 3: Post-workout (either in shake or separate)

Window 4: Before bed

References:

Antonio J, Sanders M, Kalman D, Woodgate D, Street C, The Effects of High-Dose Glutamine Ingestion on Weightlifting Performance, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 16, 157-160.

Castell L, Newsholme E, The Effects of Oral Glutamine Supplementation on Athletes After Prolonged Exhaustive Exercise, Nutrition, 13, 738-42.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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