Although there are twenty kinds of proteinogenic amino acids, glutamine makes up for a whopping 61% of the total amount in the skeletal body. Contrast this to a minuscule 8.4% of Branch Chain Amino Acids (leucine, valine and isoleucine), paints you a picture of how pivotal glutamine is for daily functioning.
Provided the body is given adequate nutrition, it is capable of creating glutamine, hence why it is considered a non-essential amino acid. Regardless if it is essential or not, glutamine supplementation is highly advised for athletes, particularly those who participate in vigorous exercise.
But enough of the small talk, let’s dig deeper into the perks of glutamine!
Increases Protein Synthesis
Protein synthesis is a highly essential biological process in the human body. A plus side to glutamine is that it restores protein in the skeletal muscle which subsequently induces an anabolic effect and in turn increases the rate of protein synthesis.
Strengthens the Immune System
Glutamine is the primary energy source for white blood cells, making it an essential nutrient for the efficiency of the body’s immune system. One study published on PubMed had 151 elite runners given either a drink containing glutamine or a placebo immediately after a run. Over a seven-day period, each of the runners were monitored. What the studies showed is that the group who ingested glutamine, 81 percent of them were infection free, opposed to only 49 percent of the placebo group.
Boosts the Rate of Replenishing Muscle Glycogen
Glutamine has been demonstrated to be a significant counterpart with carbohydrates to refuel muscle glycogen stores. Research has shown that glutamine contributes to converting glucose into glycogen. Therefore, accelerating the rate allowing the muscles to have the energy to cater for the muscle-building and repair process immediately post-workout. For this reason, many athletes include a source of carbohydrates coupled with glutamine after a training session to maximise protein synthesis.
Elevates Human Growth Hormone Secretion
Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone that is at the core of synthesising new muscle mass. As a result, by maximising the secretion of growth hormone you will promote an environment that encourages muscle growth.
A study manifested by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that the most responsive individuals who digested two grams of glutamine showed a significant increase of 60 – 70 percent increase in growth hormone levels. However, after 90 minutes almost all participants had their growth hormone levels reduce to almost normal.
Gives the Body Plenty of Nitrogen
Being a primary component in the production of muscles, skin and blood cells. Nitrogen is an imperative aspect of the body that is acquired from amino acids. What makes glutamine so special is the fact that it is the top provider of nitrogen; once again giving us another reason to supplement it.
When to Take Glutamine
Whether it be whey protein, dextrose or glutamine, the timing of any supplement can have a significant effect to whether or not you maximise its benefits. As a result, we must ask ourselves what are the main reasons we take glutamine?
Well, of course we want to increase growth hormone secretion and accelerate the recovery and building process of our muscles. For these purposes, it leaves us with two particular times in the day where we can efficiently supplement glutamine:
Studies have shown that by consuming 5 grams of glutamine right before bed, will increase growth hormone levels drastically in the first couple of hours you sleep.
It has been estimated that almost half of glutamine levels become depleted during a vigorous training session. And being an amino acid that can take up to 6 days to recovery, it can have quite the consequence on stamina and strength levels the following days.
To solve this problem, consume 5 grams of glutamine post-workout to ensure your body has an ample amount of this particular amino acid. In turn, you not only replenish your body of its glutamine stores but also allow the body to prioritise its time on other tasks such as building and repairing muscles instead.
Is it too much?
As you know, your body is capable of synthesising glutamine as it is a non-essential amino acid. On top of that, glutamine is also found in all animal-based foods including eggs, chicken and pork. Which may lead to some people questioning whether your body may already have a sufficient supply of glutamine making any additional supplementation becoming wasteful. This without a doubt is a plausible scenario. However, unless you are willing to take a blood test to determine you have sufficient glutamine in your blood. It is better to be safe than sorry and supplement it anyway. After all, it is one of the more affordable supplements on the market.
Avoid Taking in Excess
Studies have manifested that by digestin30g large doses of any single amino acid can result to the body reducing its absorption rate of others. For this reason, always take the recommended intake as it says on the tub to ensure that you prevent an overload of glutamine in your system.
As you can see, glutamine has many positive attributes, particularly those that circle muscle growth and repair. But when you add the fact that it is heavily depleted after every strenuous workout, provides any athlete more than enough reason to consider supplementing it.
Though it may be argued that since it is unnecessary as it can be synthesised in our body and consumed through nutrients. But if you ask me, purchasing a glutamine supplement is a small price to pay to ensure you make the most out of your workouts. Regardless of what I say, the ultimate choice to buy it or not is up to you!