When it comes to working out there is one amino acid you have to get into your body. Glutamine (L-glutamine or glutamate) is the most abundant amino acid in your skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle produces glutamine in your body, making it a non-essential amino acid. Non-essential amino acids are naturally produced by your body. Your body produces it, nothing to worry about, right? During exercise glutamine can be depleted to levels that your body is not adequately able to replenish. Inadequate production of glutamine negatively affects your digestive and immune system as well as your body’s ability to rebuild muscle tissue. The rebuilding of muscle tissue is what creates the faster metabolism we all crave. Studies have demonstrated that using a glutamine supplement can prevent cellular damage and create a positive nitrogen balance in muscle tissue helping muscle tissue to rebuild.
Glutamine is needed for your white blood cells to divide and heal your body. Without enough glutamine your body loses the ability to heal itself. Studies using glutamine supplements have demonstrated to prevent ulcers, muscle and joint pain, and some negative side effects of chemotherapy. Glutamine is now used in some hospitals intravenously to speed up recovery of patients. Your immune system gets its glutamine from your skeletal muscles, diet, or supplementation. The better you develop your muscles through exercise, the more glutamine they produce which is one of the reasons fit people get sick less often.
During intense exercise, glutamine levels get depleted in your blood stream below levels your body can naturally reproduce. For anyone exercising who challenges his/her body, a glutamine supplement will automatically enhance your body’s ability to recover and stay healthy. After intense exercise your body’s immune system is in a weakened condition making you more vulnerable to infections and disease. Glutamine supplements are recommended to take within 5 min. after completing your workout. If 5 min. is not possible for you, as soon as possible will give your muscles the best chance to become the lean, mean, fat burning machines we want them to be.
Sports and activities prone to overtraining can deplete glutamine to such low levels, severe consequences can occur. Runners, cyclists, swimmers, and bodybuilders are the most likely culprits of overtraining. Actually, just about every triathlete I know is a constant overtrainer. A triathlon is a race that combines swimming, biking, and running. Many of these athletes suffer from decreases in performance, greater risk of infection, and severe mood swings. Though glutamine supplements are not a fix all, combined with rest and a proper program, people can train hard in these sports for a lifetime. You may be thinking “I am not an athlete, so this isn’t necessary for me”. The reality is we are all athletes; everyday you train, you are creating a body more and more like the people you see competing at the highest levels. Your body needs the same fuel and ability to rebuild itself as their body does.
Glutamine has two main factors that increase athletic performance. The first is its ability to rebuild muscle tissue. This doesn’t directly make them bigger, it allows for the exercisers to recover faster resulting in a better workout next time. The more you can continue to challenge your body with exercise the better your results will be.
The second factor, is glutamine supports your body’s ability to replenish your muscles with storing carbohydrates. This directly relates to your muscles ability to increase your lean body tissue, raising your metabolism.
Glutamine is considered a safe substance. Dosages of up to 21 grams a day have been demonstrated to have no negative side effects. Overdosing glutamine will have negative effects on your amino acid levels in your body and your brain. Adequate glutamine levels also support brain function, including better alertness. Recommended dosage is 5-20 grams a day for optimal health. Staying below 20 grams a day should keep your body in a safe and effective range for glutamine. Because of its many benefits glutamine is added to many meal replacements, protein shakes, and some creatine products.