Muscle & Strength recently reviewed the supplement habits of natural male bodybuilders and found whey protein and creatine to be the most popular. No shock there. Nearly every hardcore lifter on the planet uses these two supplement staples. But here’s where it gets interesting.
Next in popularity were nitric oxide, a multivitamin, fish oil, BCAAs, and…glutamine. Yes, glutamine. In fact, glutamine was actually the third most popular supplement choice of competitive natural bodybuilders, right behind whey protein and creatine.
Conversely, if you explore a muscle building forum, glutamine is still often seen as a mystery. Few lifters know what glutamine is, what glutamine does, and how, when and why it should be taken. Let’s take a deeper look at this silent supplement staple, and answer some of your glutamine questions.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the body. Glutamine (or L-Glutamine) makes up over 60 percent of the skeletal muscle tissue. It is a fuel used by the digestive tract and immune system. 19 percent of a Glutamine molecule is made up of nitrogen, making it the primary conductor of nitrogen to the muscles. It is especially found in high concentrations in the brain, muscles, gut lining, lungs, heart, kidney, and liver where it has multiple and critical functions.
How is Glutamine Used by the Body?
Glutamine is essential for numerous bodily functions. These include:
- Primary source of energy for the immune system.
- It is converted to glutamic acid in the brain and promotes the synthesis of GABA, an important brain neurotransmitter. Many believe that L-Glutamine enhances mental function.
- Maintains the structural integrity of the intestinal lining.
- Plays a major role in synthesizing muscle protein and cell-volumizing.
- Assists with blood sugar control.
Glutamine and Muscle Building
Glutamine plays a vital role in protein metabolism, cell volumizing, increased production and secretion of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and anti-catabolism i.e. the impairment and breakdown of muscle tissue, especially in bodybuilders.
Although, there has been no conclusive research into the effects of supplementation on adults in weight training, a recent study showed that a dramatic 400 percent increase in HGH levels could occur by the consumption of just 2 grams of glutamine.
Other consistent research findings show that after an intense workout lactic acid build up has occurred in the muscles, but at the same time glutamine levels are reduced by as much as 50%. Studies have also shown that glutamine supplementation effectively reduces muscle tissue breakdown and improves protein metabolism.
Furthermore, combination products that include glutamine and BCAAs, such as Scivation Xtend and LG Sciences BC + EAA have become extremely popular in bodybuilding communities because of their ability to reduce muscle soreness, and impact on recovery.
How Much Glutamine?
It is very common for a bodybuilder or athlete to supplement with 10 to 20 grams of glutamine per day. It is recommend that you take 5 grams per dose, at the following times:
- Before Bed – Take 5 grams of glutamine right before you turn in for the night. A hefty amount of research indicates that glutamine supplementation right before bed leads to improved growth hormone levels while sleeping.
- First Thing in the Morning – Take 5 grams of glutamine immediately after waking. Your body is in a fasting state and can benefit from glutamine supplementation.
- Post-Workout – Take 5 grams of glutamine 30 to 60 minutes after your workout. Post-workout glutamine will help you to recover after an intense training session.
Forms of Glutamine
Glutamine is current available as a powder, capsule and a “chewie”. You will also find glutamine contained in many other popular post-workout supplements.
Glutamine Supplementation – Additional Benefits
Glutamine is the primary fuel of the immune system and a secondary fuel of the digestion system. So possible additional benefits of glutamine supplements may include the following:
- Stronger immune system less prone to disease and infection.
- Reverse some of the intestinal damage caused by anti-inflammatories.
- Glutamine is a mood elevator.
- Possible positive effects on neurodegenerative diseases.
- Help with long and short term memory.