In the medical world glutamine is widely used to treat and support different conditions like sickle disease, short bowel syndrome and bone marrow transplants. However, as a gym-goer, you may be wondering where glutamine fits in with your dietary needs and training and whether you should take it as a dietary supplement.
Glutamine is an amino acid found naturally in our body. It is also present in many food sources, including plants as well as animals. Glutamine that is produced by our body is transported through the blood, helps in improving digestion, increases our immunity, and provides carbon and nitrogen to our cells.
So if your body already produces glutamine and you can derive it from eggs, beef, milk, corn, tofu or white rice, why should you take it as a supplement?
It is only in recent times that research has been done in the areas of catabolism (the breakdown of body tissue) and stress caused by intense workouts. Glutamine is not considered to be an ‘essential’ amino acid, as our body already produces it; but rather, it is ‘conditionally essential’.
This means that in circumstances such as extreme workouts and physical stress, you need to take it as a supplement to keep your glutamine levels up. After an intense exercise regime, your glutamine levels can drop significantly, up to as much as half, and you will require much more glutamine than your body can naturally produce. So to make up levels, if you do intense workouts, your body may begin to break down muscle (protein stores) in order to release more glutamine.
If you notice that you need a boost of energy to continue exercising, glutamine might just be the key. Research has shown that when glutamine is taken as a dietary supplement, it greatly helps to improve boost immunity and performance during workouts.
Types of Glutamine
Like other types of amino acids, glutamine comes in two different forms, known as L-glutamine and D-glutamine. Both are similar, except for changes in their molecular arrangement. L-glutamine is the important one and the one you will be taking as a supplement. L-glutamine is the one that is found in most foods and supplements. D-glutamine is less important for us.
Though the exact amounts of glutamine in food sources have not been defined, if you want to increase glutamine in your diet, apart from taking it as a supplement, a good idea would be to increase your protein intake.
What Glutamine Does For Our Muscles
As glutamine is an amino acid and responsible for building protein, this may cause confusion as to whether glutamine will actually help reduce fat and build muscle.
Well, it turns out that glutamine helps secrete the HGH (human growth hormone), which not only helps to burn fat but boosts metabolism and aids in muscle building. It also helps to speed up healing and repairing muscle tissue after strenuous exercise.
So through the process of protein synthesis, glutamine helps to build lean mass and protects the muscles from being broken down for energy, especially during cutting phases.
Glutamine also helps to cut appetite, and it’s only a matter of time once you start taking glutamine supplements that you will begin noticing becoming slimmer around your belly!
When to Take Glutamine? Maximising Benefits at the Right Time
In order to derive the most out of glutamine and to maximise performance, taking it at the correct time is of great importance. What is the best time it should be taken?
While you may consider taking glutamine all at once, it is more beneficial to take it in phases or break down the doses. Typically, we consume about three to six grams of glutamine per day from food sources. Glutamine supplements can be as low as 5 grams daily and can go as high as 45 grams, but ideally, to raise plasma glutamine levels in the body, you should take at least 10 to 30 grams daily, depending on how strenuous your exercise is.
So if you are concerned about when to take glutamine, we suggest that you avoid taking the entire amount before your workout. For the sake of simplicity, consider this example. You could take 10 grams before, 10 grams during and 10 grams after working out. You could also space it out further and take 5 grams each in the hours leading up to and after your workout. On days that you don’t exercise, it is still important to take glutamine, around 5 grams each every two or three hours, so that your glutamine levels are sustained.
Glutamine taken prior to exercise helps you to keep hydrated and helps in transporting electrolytes and BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) metabolism. Post-workout, when glutamine is consumed, it protects your muscles from being used up as fuel and aids in increasing HGH levels in your body.
Doses of up to 40 to 45 grams per day are considered to be safe, but it really does not have many side-effects on the body. However, mild side effects that some people have experienced include dizziness, stomach pain, heartburn, and an unpleasant taste.
Benefits of Taking Glutamine as a Supplement
To sum up, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of taking glutamine as a supplement:
- Glutamine reduces the chance of frequent illnesses and helps to build up your immune system
- As pointed out earlier, glutamine will help in weight loss and help build muscles
- It increases your energy levels and reduces fatigue, especially after intense workouts
- Helps to reduce muscle soreness
But keep in mind that though glutamine helps to improve immunity, lose fat and build muscle, you cannot depend on it entirely. At the same time, taking too little may not give you the results that you are hoping for. If your aim is to focus on light workouts and training, your most probably won’t need it as a dietary supplement. But if you see yourself as one of us at MAX’s Challenge, then glutamine may be perfect for you! In order to improve overall health and fitness, you need to keep in mind that different aspects of exercise and nutrition need to work in harmony to give you positive results. Contact us today if you want to be connected to one of our qualified training professionals and coaches!