Is glutamine good for bodybuilding and what exactly is it?
Glutamine is one of the most common amino acids found in the human body.
It has been the object of study in many medical trials, which aimed to determine its role in a variety of physiological processes.
This amino acid plays key roles in the immune system processes, muscle recovery and overall wellbeing.
Overall, glutamine is an amino acid which our bodies need in substantial amounts.
It is a regulator of blood sugar levels, but also helps with gut health, sports performance and brain function.
Glutamine can be found in many animal food sources, but also plant sources of food.
What is glutamine?
Now, for the most part, glutamine is a non-essential acid, meaning that the body can produce it on its own.
It is synthesized in different organs of the body, such as the liver and the musculature.
Glutamine is the most common amino acid in the blood plasma and it makes up around 30% of it.
This amino acid contains 20% hydrogen in its structure, making it the main hydrogen transmitter for muscle cells.
Is glutamine good for bodybuilding?
If you’ve read some of our previous articles, you’d know that intense training sessions lead to metabolic stress.
Metabolic stress is essentially the accumulation of byproducts, caused by the breakdown of energy substrates in the muscles- ATP, CP & Glycogen.
These byproducts cause the well-known fatigue, which we eventually reach at one point or another during a workout.
Glutamine is one of the substances that buffers the negative impact of the accumulation of those metabolites.
Furthermore, this amino acid may also help with stress management, whether it is from external or internal (emotional) factors.
Now, modern-day lifestyle imposes us to a frequent state of stress.
When we’re under stress, the cortisol levels in the blood go up.
If we sustain those levels of stress & cortisol, we’re pretty much on the highway to health issues.
That is simply because the stress response of the body kicks it into the so-called “Fight or flight” mechanism, which totally shuts down growth, recovery and immune functions.
For bodybuilders and active trainees, this may mean loss of muscle mass or suboptimal recovery after a workout.
If, however, we time and dose our glutamine supplementation correctly, we might counter that stress response (Cortisol production).
Throw some exercise and good nutrition into the mix and your stress management will be on a whole new level.
Now, of course – Glutamine alone won’t solve your stress issues.
Another important aspect of stress management is emotional control.
What this means is that you just have to observe your emotional reaction to stress factors and willingly take control over that.
People tend to obey certain behavioral patterns, which at one point become automatic.
However, if we manage to observe and acknowledge those, we can easily apply conscious control over them.
This in turn will help us manage stress better.
So, you see, glutamine can affect stress-hormones on a chemical level, but when you combine that with mental control over your own emotions and actions, it’s a different ball game.
How does glutamine work?
As we already said, glutamine can be conditionally essential, as the body’s demand of it increases in certain conditions.
Here are the main work pathways of glutamine:
- It is a hydrogen transmitter between cells
- Glutamine regulates metabolism
- It helps the synthesis of glycogen
- Helps with the production of other amino acids, such as citrulline
Glutamine dosage per day
As we mentioned, glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, however, it is occasionally essential.
For example, for active trainees, who have the goal of improving performance, glutamine can be taken in a daily dose of 15-20 grams.
That daily dose is split into a couple of parts:
- 5 grams before & after workout (10 grams total)
- 5 grams before sleep
Glutamine can also be used on other occasions, such as diarrhea.
If that’s the case, we can take 0.3 grams of glutamine per kilogram of bodyweight, as a daily intake.
This will massively help, as glutamine is one of the main substances used for gut repair & health of the intestines.
Glutamine before or after workout
As you may or may not know, intense training lowers the levels of glutamine.
It is also likely that if you have poor nutrition, those levels may remain chronically low, given that your workouts are really intense.
This is exactly why you can use our recommendations above and supplement with at least 10 grams of glutamine daily – 5 grams before & after workout.
In doing so, you will massively optimize post-workout recovery of the musculature and its energetic reserves.
Is glutamine worth it?
Many people ask “Is glutamine good for bodybuilding and is it even worth purchasing?”
Well, some studies have shown that intense workouts lead to a 50% decrease in glutamine levels.
That is to say that if you have to choose between taking it before or after a workout, you should probably go for the post-workout option.
This is exactly the time when glutamine is most viable and supports the recovery.
Besides helping with glycogen synthesis, it also supports the muscle protein synthesis and the secretion of anabolic (constructive) hormones.
Top 7 benefits of glutamine
- Improves gut health, as it is one of the main substances used by the body to repair the intestines
- Glutamine improves mental properties, such as memory, focus and cognition
- This supplement can help with stomach issues management
- Glutamine improves muscle growth and reduces catabolic (destructive) processes
- This amino acid boosts metabolism
- Perfect supplement for detoxication
- Regulates blood sugar levels, making it a good supplement for people with blood sugar issues
Specifically in the brain, glutamine is one of the sources used for the production of glutamate.
Furthermore, glutamine is also contained in glutathione, which is one of the strongest antioxidants found in the human body.
Side effects of glutamine
If taken within the recommended amounts, glutamine has no side effects.
Of course however, if you systematically abuse it, you might experience certain side effects, such as stomach discomfort.
The upper limit of daily glutamine intake is about 0.7 grams per kilogram of body weight.
So, is glutamine good for bodybuilding and overall health?
Food sources of glutamine
We can find glutamine in high protein foods, such as meat, fish, dairy and plant products like lentils, beans and other legumes.
As a matter of fact, veal meat is one of the more abundant sources of glutamine, as glutamine makes up 5% of its content.
Organ meats like livers are also a good source of this amino acid, but we can also find it in milk, eggs and white rice.
What supplements contain glutamine?
Though we can find glutamine in an isolated supplement version, it is also a part of many other supplements.
Those are amino acid complexes and protein supplements.
Some of the most famous BCAA complexes also contain extra glutamine to complete the amino acid profile.
Most of those supplements are meant for oral use and are offered in the form of powders, pills or liquids..
What can we combine glutamine with?
As far as we’re concerned, there are no scientific studies that recommends the combination of glutamine with other supplements.
However, practice shows that when the goal is optimizing sports performance, we can add glutamine to other supplements like creatine, protein and BCAAs.
If you’re having digestive issues, glutamine can be a powerful ally, in combination with probiotics and fibers.
Last but not least, for the goal of optimizing muscle gains, glutamine can be combined with herbal testosterone boosters.
So, is glutamine good for bodybuilding?
Well, just like any other supplement, glutamine isn’t the magical solution to your issues.
Yes, it can be useful but it cannot compensate for the lack of proper nutrition in any way.
When taken within the recommended amounts of (~0.7 g/kg body weight), glutamine is safe and reaches the peak of its benefits.
Specifically for bodybuilding glutamine will help your endocrine system, muscle protein synthesis & post-workout recovery.
This makes glutamine the perfect post-workout supplement
Last but not least, we’ll say this again – Before you rush into purchasing glutamine, protein powders or creatine, make sure you have your nutrition in check first.
Supplements are meant to just amplify the effects of your nutrition, not replace it!