The most abundant amino acid found in the body, glutamine is required for a number of tasks relating to your general health and well-being. However, this powerful amino acid is often disregarded, as it’s not one of the nine “essential” amino acids. But make no mistake, glutamine plays a vital role in helping your body with performance and recovery.
Supplements containing glutamine are especially beneficial for athletic or muscle gaining purposes - as they can help enhance recovery after your workouts. They’ve also been clinically shown to support your immune system and fight off germs - which is especially handy during winter time.
What Is Glutamine?
As already mentioned, glutamine is the most abundant amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body. Although glutamine is not an essential amino acid (as the body produces it), it can fall into the same category if your body becomes glutamine deficient. This can happen when you're sick, have suffered physical stress or trauma, or sometimes even during heavy training and prolonged endurance exercise. In these situations, your levels of glutamine can only be increased through diet or supplementation.
What Foods Contain Glutamine?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and because glutamine is one of them, you’ll find it in many protein sources, along with various other plant based foods. Some common glutamine sources include: Beef, eggs, milk, whey protein, rice, spinach, cabbage, and more.
What Is The Difference Between Glutamine and L-Glutamine?
As well as glutamine, you may also have heard of “l-glutamine.” Often these terms are used interchangeably in the sports and nutrition world.
However, there is a big difference between the two, mainly in their chemical structure. You see, l-glutamine is an isomer of glutamine, which essentially means it has a different arrangement of atoms. Like glutamine, our bodies produce l-glutamine, and it can also be found in various foods and supplements.
The Benefits Of Glutamine Supplements
Overall glutamine plays an important part in healthy body function during times of rest, physical exercise and during illness / disease.
Here are two of the stand out benefits this underrated amino acid gives you:
Gut Health Benefits:
Glutamine is the preferred source of the gastrointestinal cells in our body. These cells are responsible for maintaining structure and limiting the issue of gut mucosal atrophy. Other health issues can include reduced number of cells, decreased surface area, and loss of intestinal function. What this means is by getting more glutamine into your system you have a better chance of avoiding or limiting these kinds of gut issues.
Immunity And Performance Benefits:
As we’ve already touched on, glutamine plays a big role in maintaining a healthy immune system and aiding with recovery. High intensity training can weaken our immunity and make us more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold or other respiratory infections. It’s even been shown that during prolonged exercise like a marathon, can deplete blood glutamine levels by as much as 20%.
This is where supplementation can help. One study found that marathon runners had a 32% lower incidence of respiratory tract infection symptoms supplementing with glutamine when compared with those who did not.
In terms of sporting performance, glutamine has also been shown to assist in the absorption of water and electrolytes in the bowel, which worked as a successful rehydration strategy.
Glutamine - Recommended Dosage
It is recommended that you start with 5 grams of glutamine a day, though this can be increased to around 10 to 15 grams of L-Glutamine a day. When taking a higher dose supplement it 2 to 3 times daily - in the morning, after a workout, and at night before bed; with each serving being around 5 grams. You should note that you will likely already be getting some L-Glutamine in your diet and from other supplements you're taking (make sure to read the labels to see how much). The best times to take L-Glutamine powder is in the morning, after a workout, and at night before bed time.