Although glutamine is a frequent supplement found in protein shakes and the gym bags of many bodybuilders, it is also a non-essential amino acid that many people neglect in their drive to grow muscle. Bodybuilders have started to understand the touted advantages of glutamine, such as preventing muscle catabolism, or the breakdown of muscle, promoting muscle anabolism, or the growth of muscle, boosting the immune system, and improving glycogen storage.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is classified as a nonessential amino acid, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It is created in the human body when the amino acid glutamate (or glutamic acid breaks down and binds with nitrogen-containing ammonia molecules. It can be readily synthesized by carious tissues, such as skeletal muscles, adipose tissue, and the liver. In fact, it’s one of the most abundant amino acids found in the body.
Glutamine is responsible for protein synthesis. This means, it is a building block that your body uses to make the protein it needs. While your body does produce glutamine, after rigorous exercise, your body may require excess glutamine, which can only be found in food or supplements.
What Does Glutamine Do?
Like other alpha-amino acids, glutamine plays a role in controlling the production and breakdown of proteins. But it goes far deeper than that. The metabolism of BCAAs, preservation of the gut barrier, regular immunological function, glucose synthesis, water transport, neurotransmission, and other processes are all profoundly impacted by glutamine.
The need for glutamine in the blood matrix (plasma) increases significantly during exercise and other times of metabolic stress, such as a pre-contest diet, severe injury, illness, etc. The need for glutamine rises when an immunological response is produced, for example, because some immune system cells, such as the lymphocytes and macrophages, rely on glutamine as their primary fuel source in your bloodstream, lymphocytes and macrophages are the main enemies of germs and viruses.
The enterocytes of the small intestine are the greatest consumers of glutamine as it moves through the body, accounting for around 40–50% of glutamine consumption. Additionally, nucleotide synthesis depends on glutamine. Thus, for cells that divide quickly, including enterocytes and immune cells, a sufficient glutamine supply is crucial. Therefore, during periods of extreme metabolic stress when the amount of free glutamine is rapidly depleted, the synthesis of glutamine could not be enough to meet the physiological demand. Therefore, supplementing with glutamine to support virus/bacteria fighting cells may be advantageous for persons who frequently become sick or expose themselves to infectious places.
A stable nitrogen balance and the prevention of muscle protein loss may both be supported by glutamine intake. Since cortisol stimulates the synthesis of glutamine, it is believed that a lowered testosterone to cortisol ratio is directly to blame for reductions in muscle mass. The synthesis of glutamine mRNA may be suppressed, preventing the loss of intracellular nitrogen through glutamine, by maintaining intracellular glutamine concentrations inside the skeletal muscles.
Muscle loss, low energy, and an increased susceptibility to infections could be indications of glutamine deficiency if all of these competing uses start to outpace your body's ability to produce it.
Therefore, supplementing with glutamine to help when glutamine stores are depleted may be advantageous for bodybuilders who often subject themselves to demanding exercises. Additionally, by raising plasma glutamine levels, other tissues, and cells [such as the small intestine and immune cells] have less need for free glutamine, which results in a decrease in the glutamine released from muscle tissues.
How Does Glutamine Affect Performance? (Research Findings)
Glutamine is known for accelerating muscle repair following prolonged periods of vigorous exercise like marathon running. Your cells are kept hydrated and denser by the supplement, which draws water and salt inside of them. Since glutamine is a component of proteins, it is particularly helpful for promoting muscle growth, however there are few studies confirming that it will directly result in increased muscle mass.
Glutamine has numerous benefits for bodybuilding because it is closely related to protein synthesis. This means that having more glutamine on hand will prevent your body from using your muscle as fuel. This is a typical outcome after challenging workouts and training. Following a strenuous exercise session, glutamine helps hasten the recovery process.
Despite that only a few studies confirm it directly results in increased muscle mass, in one study collegiate track and field athletes who combined a loading and maintenance dose of creatine with four grams of glutamine per day for eight weeks exhibited larger improvements in lean body mass than those who used creatine alone. Although this may seem important, it is difficult to make any inferences from just eight weeks at such a modest dosage. It's impossible to say if larger doses or longer research would have produced noticeable differences.
Additionally, a strenuous workout can make your muscles sore and restrict your range of motion. Taking glutamine for muscle soreness will help you avoid this problem and recover more quickly. It's also known that glutamine increases your body's ability to produce growth hormones. Glutamate will ultimately assist muscle growth throughout this process.
According to one study, when paired with a glucose and electrolyte beverage, supplementary glutamine improved exercise performance and improved fluid and electrolyte uptake in athletes who were mildly dehydrated. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that supplementation increases growth hormone levels in response to cycling to fatigue.
Supports The Development Of Muscles And The Expansion Of Muscle Cells
You could increase muscle mass and exercise performance by using glutamine supplements. Additionally, the supplement hydrates your body's cells, which are essential for healing and expansion.
Replenishes Depleted Glutamine Levels
L-glutamine levels will drop when one is under stress, unwell, or injured, and to make up for this, your body will search your muscles for the amino acid to fill the void. Your immune system may be weakened if your body's level of amino acids is low. For ailments or traumas such bone marrow transplants, burns, radiation, sickle cell anemia, and chemotherapy, glutamine supplements are advised.
Boosts The Immune System
The immune system depends on glutamine to function. Your white blood cells, other immune cells, and intestinal cells all use it as a significant energy source. Your body cells require an adequate supply of proteins for optimal and effective operation. Glutamine contains enough proteins to support the amino acids your body produces. Your health will improve, your recuperation time will go faster, and infections will be less likely if you use glutamine for muscle growth.
Promotes Intestinal Health
This supplement's immune-supporting qualities also enable it to enhance gut health. The immune system is largely composed of your intestines. The majority of gut cells have immunological properties. Due to glutamine's role as an energy source for intestinal cells, leaky gut issues are avoided.
It maintains a barrier between the interior of your gut and other bodily parts. The barrier keeps dangerous bacteria out of your intestines so they can't spread to other bodily organs.
Are There Any Cons Or Side Effects?
Unless your doctor advises you differently, you can feel confident taking l-glutamine. Numerous studies have demonstrated the safety of consuming glutamine in doses ranging from five to 45 grams. Humans have been proven to tolerate doses between 20 and 30 grams with no adverse effects.
What Are The Differences Between Different Types Of Glutamine?
Technically, there are two forms of glutamine, i.e., D-glutamine and L-glutamine. In fact, all amino acids, except glycine, have an L and D form. Unsurprisingly, L-glutamine is more abundant, and the cells and body use it more commonly. When someone says “glutamine,” more often than not, they’re referring to L-glutamine. So L-glutamine is the more important form, and is found in food like beef, fish, chicken, dairy products, cabbage, spinach, carrots , wheat, kale, beets, beans, and more. Conveniently, you can also find glutamine supplements, usually a powder.
Your capacity to reach your overall health and fitness goals is significantly impacted by the role glutamine plays in a wide range of physiological processes. You can be let down if you rely only on glutamine or if you don't use enough of it.
To get the most out of glutamine's impact on your body, think critically. If you're not working out really hard, your body likely has everything you need. But if you constantly abuse your body, taking care of it properly could help you continue to perform at a high level.