What is L-Glutamine?
Glutamine is naturally produced in the human body and is present in the blood and skeletal muscles.
One of 20 amino acids encoded in the human DNA code, glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body.
When the body is critically injured or subjected to prolonged stress, the body may not be able to produce glutamine as fast as it consumes it.
L-Glutamine for Weight Loss
The more lean muscle you have, the more fat you will burn.
This is one reason bodybuilders can eat huge meals and still have almost no body fat.
To build muscles, your body needs protein and amino acids.
These can come from food – if you eat right – but most of us don’t. This is why even bodybuilders supplement with protein and amino acids
While we sleep, the body needs protein to help repair itself, and it gets that protein by breaking down muscles in a process known as catabolism.
What some professional bodybuilders will do to prevent this is get up, sometimes more than once, during the night to drink a protein shake.
Your body can use this added protein instead of taking it from your muscles, so you wake up with more muscle, more energy and feeling better.
We know that waking up multiple times in the middle of the night isn’t an attractive option for most of us.
This is where L-Glutamine powder and foods come in to play.
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Muscles release large amounts of glutamine during and after strenuous exercise.
As a result, your body may experience a temporary deficiency of Glutamine.
L-Glutamine supplements are available to protect the body against such a deficiency and come in powder and pill form.
These supplements and can be used to support the body’s levels of Glutamine and can prevent any deficiencies associated with heavy stress or intense periods of exercise.
Doctors have observed that, after an intense workout, l-glutamine levels are reduced by as much as 50%.
The body relies on l-Glutamine as a cellular fuel, and studies have determined that supplementation can minimize the breakdown of muscle tissue (catabolism) and improve protein metabolism.
The molecular structure of glutamine is unique because it has two nitrogen side chains which make it the primary carrier of nitrogen to muscle tissues.
Like other proteinogenic amino acids, it plays a role in converting food to available proteins for cell reproduction and regeneration. Glutamine also is responsible for maintaining the kidney’s acid-base balance because it produces ammonium and transports ammonia in the bloodstream.
It is a secondary source of cellular energy. The primary source of cellular energy is glucose.
About 90% of glutamine production takes place in the body’s muscle mass although the lungs and the brain also release small amounts.
The liver can produce glutamine, but its primary role appears to be to regulate glutamine metabolism.
The body creates glutamine from glutamate and ammonia using the enzyme glutamine synthetase as a catalyst.
High protein foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans, and dairy products are the best sources of dietary glutamine.
Glutamine provides the primary food for cells in the lining of the small intestine.
The lining of the small intestine is essential to the proper digestion of food and provides a barrier that helps prevent bacterial infections in the gut.
Symptoms of glutamine deficiency include weight loss, changes in bowel function, increased number of infections and fatigue.
In addition to its role in the digestive system, glutamine fuels cell in the immune system and is required for lymphocyte cell division (reproduction of immune cells).
Glutamine serves as a source of energy for the brain and the body. When combined with Glutamic Acid and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, it can aid in the brain’s metabolism.
Further, the body can use l-glutamine to produce Glutamic Acid and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid.
In terms of the body, glutamine is used by bodybuilders and dieters alike because it can aid in building and maintaining strength.
Glutamine is found in most animals and plants, but the best sources for glutamine are high protein foods.
The body can produce glutamine, but it protein is an essential element in the metabolic process.
Small amounts of glutamine supplements are sometimes added to protein drinks, but these are not a natural or even an exceptionally rich source of glutamine.
Meats, Poultry, and Eggs
Animal food sources are usually high in both protein and glutamine since animals use the amino acid in cell division.
Beef, pork, venison, and poultry are especially good sources of the amino acid.
It is best to eat meat from animals that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Eggs are another glutamine-rich food, and the best eggs are those laid by free-range chickens that have not been the fed growth hormones added to commercial animal feeds.
Check with local organic farmers for hormone and antibiotic free meats. Fresh fish is high in glutamine and protein and low in fat.
Yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and low fat or skim milk are all excellent sources of protein, calcium, and glutamine.
While other cheeses and dairy products contain protein and glutamine, they are often high in fat.
Processed cheeses usually have a high sodium content since salt is used to make many varieties of hard cheese.
Soft, unripe cheeses provide lots of protein and glutamine without fat and high sodium levels which that have little nutritional value.
Commercially Baked Bread
While bread might not usually be considered a source of glutamine, some commercial manufacturers add glutamine and proline, which is another amino acid, to improve the consistency of the dough.
This may cause problems for individuals with sensitivity to gluten since it raises the gluten content in the bread.
You can check the ingredient labels on commercially baked bread or do an internet search to find out which breads are enriched with glutamine.
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Vegetables, Beans, and Nuts
Raw, dark green vegetables like spinach and parsley are rich in glutamine.
Heat destroys amino acids, so the best sources are uncooked vegetables.
Other good vegetable choices are cabbage, beets, kale, and wheatgrass.
All beans and legumes are rich in glutamine and are an excellent source of the amino acid for vegetarians and vegans.
The concentration of glutamine is different in different types of nuts, but nuts, eaten in small quantities can be a vital source of this amino acid.
Protein Bars and Energy Drinks
Depending on the formulation, protein bars may supplement all of the amino acids including glutamine.
Some energy drinks are enriched with glutamine. While not everyone considers these natural sources, they are foods that can provide extra glutamine in the diet.
Protein shakes, protein bars and energy drinks enriched with glutamine are usually available at health food stores, day spas, and fitness centers.
A high protein diet that is high in glutamine is especially important for vegetarians who may not get enough amino acids in their food. Most healthy individuals consume enough protein and glutamine-rich foods to avoid any dietary deficiency.
Glutamine is the most plentiful nonessential amino acid in the human body.
It is primarily produced in the skeletal muscles and has a variety of functions. The term non-essential means that the body can produce glutamine and does not need to obtain it from outside sources.
It is considered a conditionally essential amino acid if the body is unable to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet its needs.
Glutamine gets transformed into glucose when the body requires more glucose for energy.
After extreme exercise, the muscles in the body release large quantities of l-glutamine.
In some cases, this can lead to a temporary deficiency. In this case, some would say that it becomes, temporarily, an essential amino acid.
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There is some anecdotal evidence that taken in small to moderate doses; glutamine supplements may improve memory.
The supplements have been used with some success in the treatment of ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
They are also used in the treatment of alcoholism and seem to eliminate the addict’s craving for alcohol while they reportedly relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep.
There is no evidence that glutamine is effective in relieving anxiety in individuals who are not alcoholics.
Control Blood Sugar
L-Glutamine is also associated with blood sugar control.
When blood sugar is low, glutamine works to suppress insulin to stop the further decline of the sugar levels.
It also stimulates glycogen to be released to help increase the blood sugar to normal levels.
And because it is a glycogenic amino acid, it can convert to sugar – as it does in the brain – for energy production in a process called gluconeogenesis.
This function has produced other exciting and varied use of Glutamine, especially in decreasing sugar and alcohol cravings.
Glutamine Is Fuel for Muscle and Cell Regeneration
Some bodybuilders believe that glutamine will help them get bigger faster because it stimulates the production of HGH or human growth hormone.
While glutamine does act on the pituitary gland when it crosses the blood-brain barrier, it only stimulates the production of a very small amount of HGH; this is not enough for anti-aging or muscle growth benefits.
Bodybuilders shred, or cause a small amount of muscle damage, to build larger muscles and glutamine can provide the fuel for faster healing of damaged muscle cells and fibers.
Unless an athlete is involved in an intense training program, a well-balanced, high protein diet should provide all the glutamine necessary for muscle health.
Those who engage in intense bouts of exercise may benefit from taking oral supplements in moderate doses, or about five to 10 grams daily.
There is no evidence that doses at this level are harmful, but taking too much of a single amino acid supplement can cause an imbalance in other amino acid levels in the body.
Supplements may be more readily absorbed if mixed with a protein drink or juice.
Digestive Tract Health
Like all amino acids, glutamine provides fuel to cells, especially cells in the lining of the intestines.
This fuel promotes the repair and proliferation of the cells and encourages a healthy digestive system.
There is evidence that glutamine has an anti-inflammatory action and supplements are used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases of the digestive system like peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Boosts the Immune System
Glutamine provides fuel for many of the cells in the body and laboratory research has shown that it is important in the function of lymphocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils which are vital parts of the body’s immune defense, making this one of the most important glutamine benefits.
Glutamine supplements have been used to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients and to reduce the incidence of infection in patients following surgery.
They are also used to improve recovery in trauma and burn victims and in the treatment of necrotic infections.
Prevents Muscle Wasting and Weight Loss
In chronic, serious diseases like HIV and cancers, the patient’s body may be unable to produce sufficient glutamine for its needs.
In these cases, glutamine supplements have proved helpful in slowing or preventing the loss of muscle mass and in counteracting some of the side effects, like weight loss, caused by immunosuppressant medications and chemotherapy.
Glutamine is the primary fuel that allows muscle cells to repair themselves and produce new cells.
Shortens Recovery Time
Serious injuries, surgery and necrotic diseases cause the body to use glutamine at a rate faster than it can create it.
Supplements are used to increase the amount of the amino acid in the bloodstream which can shorten recovery time and reduce the number of infections in seriously ill, injured or post-op patients.
In athletes and bodybuilders, glutamine supplements taken during periods of intense training can prevent overtraining syndrome and promote faster healing between workouts.
In most healthy people, the body can produce glutamine faster than it uses it.
Glutamine deficiency is most common in the elderly, the seriously ill, those with serious injuries and in athletes and bodybuilders following intense physical workouts.
Research suggests that there are many glutamine benefits and, when taken in moderate doses, it has few harmful side effects.
Individuals with poor muscle mass may not produce enough glutamine to meet their needs and can benefit from supplements. Those who have suffered a serious injury, significant burns or who have undergone major surgery also may have a glutamine deficiency. Doctors treating postsurgical patients or those with injuries that could deplete their body’s supply of glutamine often administer the amino acid intravenously.
Generally, recovery times are shorter and infections less common in patients receiving glutamine supplements.
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Here’s Why Bodybuilders and Athletes Can’t-Do Without L-Glutamine
Although most athletes and bodybuilders eat a high protein diet that encourages production of glutamine in the body, intense exercise can deplete glutamine in the blood faster than stressed muscle tissue can produce it.
Athletes and bodybuilders may benefit from moderate doses of glutamine supplements, especially when they are training hard for an upcoming competition.
When muscle mass is lost, catabolism or muscle break down occurs causing muscle wastage which then sets off a chain reaction where the body begins to rob muscles of glutamine required for nitrogen transport which then begins to drain the immune system.
Studies have also found that glutamine counteracts cortisone steroid induced muscle atrophy.
Essential to the regeneration of germ-fighting cells in the blood and immune system, glutamine deficiency can leave the body vulnerable to infection.
The intense exercise that runners, cyclers, and swimmers participate in keeps the body at the maximum oxygen uptake for extended periods of time.
This can lead to a temporary drop in blood levels of glutamine. Overtraining syndrome associated with endurance sports can cause a drop in performance, mood swings and an increased number of infections.
Glutamine supplements can relieve or prevent the symptoms of overtraining syndrome.
Another important application for glutamine has to do with the specific diets that bodybuilders and athletes need.
In those diets consumption of calories and protein is typically high adding to the stress which can affect the ph-levels in bodybuilders and athletes.
L-Glutamine Dosage For Bodybuilders?
Glutamine comes to the rescue of bodybuilders by the production and metabolism of glutamine in the kidneys to maintain an acid/alkaline balance.
It essentially works to negate the effects of acute acidosis in uncontrolled diabetes, kidney diseases, reduced oxygen in the body, fluid, and electrolyte loss.
The l-glutamine dosage you take will depend on many factors like your workout intensity, size and so forth.
The greater the acidity, the higher the rate of glutamine metabolism in the kidneys.
Studies show it only requires 2 grams of glutamine intake to produce a rapid increase in plasma bicarbonate (alkaline building reserves).
It is widely accepted that 10-15 grams ingested prior and post workout in up to 5-gram dose benefits bodybuilders, although the exact amount used in a day for optimization has not been determined.
Research has found a strong correlation between survival in the worst infected patients and the muscle glutamine levels.
Its use therefore by athletes brings about several major benefits such as:
Stimulating muscle protein synthesis by supplying nitrogen around the body.
Decrease muscle catabolism and atrophy during exercise.
Increase stamina by replenishing glycogen under conditions of glycogen depletion.
Decrease muscle recovery time.
Reduce the chances of illness or infection by boosting the immune system.
L-Glutamine Side Effects
While glutamine is a substance that is produced naturally in the body, some people may not be able to produce enough of this amino acid to meet their body’s needs.
Moderate doses of glutamine supplements have few side effects for healthy people and may provide benefits for those involved in sports or bodybuilding.
If side effects do occur, they are usually mild or moderate and disappear when the supplement is discontinued.
Serious side effects of glutamine supplements include blood in the urine or stool, coldness or tingling of the hands and feet caused by blood circulation problems, darkening of the skin, rapid heartbeat, rapid respiration, and fainting.
Anyone experiencing these side effects should seek medical help immediately.
Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction that includes hives, difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, hands, ankles, tongue, and throat.
Serious allergic reactions require quick medical intervention.
Although glutamine supplements can benefit athletes during training, it is best for anyone considering supplements to consult a medical professional.
These supplements can present a risk to people with certain medical conditions, and in high dosages, glutamine may cause neurological damage.
A doctor can determine if taking any supplements will enhance your training results.
It is best to have a balanced approach to diet and supplements to maximize training while preserving the natural harmony of the body.
Diabetics should discuss the intake of l-glutamine foods or supplements with their doctors before consuming them.
It is hoped that at some stage research data might be available on glutamine and its correlation and effects on diabetes.
The importance of l-glutamine however, cannot be understated, and apart from its impressive portfolio of beneficial function, its future potential – while not a panacea for all ailments – leaves much room for scientific exploration of other benefits and applications.
As a precaution, anyone considering starting a regimen that involves L Glutamine should consult a physician, nutritionist, or other qualified professional.
Glutamine is listed as a conditionally essential amino acid because, in times of physical stress, the body may not be able to synthesize glutamine fast enough to meet its needs.
Serious injuries, burns, infections, high-intensity exercise and surgery can use up the body’s stores of glutamine creating a deficiency.
Under normal circumstances, the body produces enough of this amino acid, so it is only considered essential during times when glutamine consumption is greater than the body’s ability to produce it.
L-Glutamine foods and supplements can be beneficial, especially for those who engage in high-intensity exercise, those who have been injured, patients suffering from infection and patients with intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease.
Before taking glutamine supplements, individuals should consult their doctors since the supplements may be contraindicated for those with certain medical conditions.