If you’re like a lot of supplement users you first heard about glutamine more than a decade ago. Touted as everything from a performance-enhancing, muscle-growing superstar to a growth hormone precursor and beyond! It’s likely you used it for a while, then let it fall to the back of the supplement cabinet where you soon forgot about it.
If you are guilty of letting this unsung hero disappear from your nutrition toolbox, it may be time to bring it back! No, we’re not going to tell you that growth hormone levels will soar, or that your strength will double. We want to bring you the truth in what Glutamine can do.
To bring you up to speed, glutamine is a nonessential amino acid, meaning it can be manufactured from other sources in the body and does not have to be ingested to be present. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and is stored primarily in your skeletal muscles. Its main purpose is to help remove excess amounts of toxic ammonia. It also serves several critical functions in your body, providing necessary support for your immune system, digestive system, and nervous system. Glutamine also helps regulate cellular growth and function.
Now that we’ve saved you a wiki search let’s dive into glutamine’s ability to support your digestion and how that helps you become a better athlete. After all, that is why you’re still reading!
Adequate levels of glutamine aid in digestion by protecting the lining of the stomach and intestines. This lining called the mucosa acts as a lubricant and buffer allowing food to smoothly pass along the digestive tract. In the intestinal tract, this mucosa also regulates the absorption of key nutrients. Adequate levels of glutamine can spell better digestion. There is a direct correlation between the gut and intestinal health and your immune system. Keeping this system running smoothly and efficiently is a key factor in your wellness and recovery from workouts.
Under stressful conditions such as illness, injury or fatigue, glutamine levels drop leaving our gut health and with it our immune levels compromised. When glutamine levels drop along with it does your ability to remove ammonia and other waste products produced by the metabolism of proteins in your muscle tissue.
Glutamine’s effects on your immune health is two-fold.
Knowing that glutamine levels are lowered by stress we can assume intense workouts can take there toll on glutamine production and its function. Supplementing with glutamine becomes an important tool to prevent the stressors of training from taking an added toll on the body. Not only will this aid in the digestion of your post workout proteins and carbohydrates, it will also help keep your immune system healthy after intense training. While on non-training days glutamine levels are most likely sufficient, you may want to keep it at the front of your supplement cabinet for those days you are feeling under the weather.
As a side note for those who are dieting or just plain love sweets and don’t want to look like a food tester for Nabisco… Glutamine can also be used to satisfy sugar cravings. While most of this evidence is anecdotal, it’s believed that glutamine’s ability to be rapidly absorbed as glycogen and taken up in the brain stifles carb cravings.
On workout days add 10-15 grams of Glutamine to your post workout shake.
If feeling ill or dieting also take 5-10 grams on non-workout days along mixed with BCAA’s 2-3 times a day between meals.