The Complete Guide to Glutamine

in Sportsfuel Articles and Blog
The Complete Guide to Glutamine
Have you always wondered about glutamine and the role it plays in the body, particularly in regards to athletic training and bodybuilding? Read on for the complete guide to Glutamine.

Amino acids are essential nutrients for athletes and bodybuilders, and while all of them play an important role in the body, glutamine stands out for being absolutely crucial to fitness support. Glutamine is found in higher levels in your body than every other amino acid, as it's found in all of your muscles and in your blood plasma.

While your body can produce some glutamine, it often can't make enough to fully support proper functioning, particularly if you work out frequently. That's why glutamine supplements are so incredibly popular among fitness enthusiasts and athletes, and why you should consider adding one to your sports nutrition regimen.

Glutamine in Your Body

Your body produces glutamine by breaking apart molecules of another amino acid called glutamate or glutamic acid. The components of the amino acid bind ammonia, helping to transport nitrogen into various tissues in your body. This is important because nitrogen is required by the body to produce new cells and repair damaged tissue. Most of your body's supply of glutamine starts off in the muscles and is then transported to the white blood cells, the small intestine and the kidneys for use.

Glutamine's Many Functions

Glutamine has a number of key responsibilities, including:
    • Controlling the production of protein synthesis and the breakdown of proteins
    • Assisting with the metabolism of branched chain amino acids
    • Supporting the activities of the digestive system and immune system
    • Helping to form glucose used for energy production
    • Moving water through your body
    • Conducting nerve signals
    • Maintaining body pH levels
If you don't get enough glutamine in your diet, you can develop a number of symptoms of deficiency. You may get sick more frequently, feel fatigued even when you haven't completed any strenuous activities and begin to lose muscle mass.

How Does Glutamine Help Athletes & Bodybuilders?

Many supplements that athletes and bodybuilders take regularly are used to further workout goals like burning body fat and increasing muscle size. Glutamine supplements are generally not used for these types of reasons. Instead, they are used to help support overall health and well-being. Studies show that glutamine may have the potential to:

    • Help the body more easily absorb electrolytes, decreasing the risk of exercise-related dehyration
    • Boost levels of growth hormone to lessen feelings of fatigue
    • Work with branched chain amino acids to activate the signals that tell the body to produce new muscle cells

The Different Types of Glutamine

There are many different ways that you can add glutamine to your sports nutrition plan. Here is a rundown of the various types commonly used in supplements and which type is best for different needs:


Products with L-glutamine feature glutamine in a free form. Generally, free glutamine is the best choice when you're looking for a powdered supplement that you mix with water or a capsule or tablet.

Peptide-bound Glutamine

Peptide bound glutamine is a combination of l-glutamine and an additional chain of molecules. Commonly used forms include l-alanyl-L-glutamine and glycyl-L-glutamine hydrate. Typically, peptide-bound glutamine is the best choice for ready-to-drink shakes and smoothies and for bars.

Acylated and aKIC Glutamine

N-acetyl-l-glutamine and alpha-ketoisocaproyl-glutamine are formed when l-glutamine is combined with compounds that are derived from alpha-Ketoisocaproic acid or a compound called acyl. So far, research seems to indicate that these forms of glutamine are not easily absorbed by the body when taken in supplements. 

Stacking Glutamine

Like most sports nutrition supplements, glutamine is usually more beneficial when it is used in conjunction with or "stacked" with other types of supplements. Some supplements that you may consider combining with glutamine include:

Electrolyte Supplements

Since glutamine has been shown to help your body better absorb electrolytes like sodium and potassium, many experts recommend taking a glutamine supplement alongside an electrolyte supplement. 

Branched Chain Amino Acids

As previously explained, there is some evidence to suggest that branched chain amino acids and glutamine supplements team up to tell the body to start producing muscle cells. This means that the combination of the two supplements could help support gains in bulk.


Studies indicate that taking glutamine with the amino acid citrulline could help to enhance the recovery process after workouts.


Using Alpha-Ketoglutarate along with glutamine has also been shown to signal to the body that it's time to begin generating new muscle cells. In addition, the combination can support the production of an antioxidant called glutathione, which helps to fight oxidative damage to the body

How to Use Glutamine

Here are some tips to help you get the most from a glutamine supplement:
    • Most experts recommend a dosage of 20 to 30 grams of glutamine per day
    • Strive to have glutamine with food, particularly when you're eating carbs
    • When you're going to hit the gym or compete, have at least one-third of your glutamine prior to your workout and one-third during your workout
    • On days when you're not working out or competing, try to split your dose into small increments taken every 2 to 3 hours
    • You don't need to cycle glutamine. Studies show it's more beneficial to use it continuously

Potential Side Effects of Glutamine

At doses of 30 grams or less, there are no known side effects of glutamine supplements. Studies have shown that glutamine could likely be safe even when taken at a rate of .308 grams per pound of body weight. For a person that weighs 77 kilograms, that equates to a dosage of about 52 grams of glutamine per day.

The Takeaway

Overall, glutamine is an important nutrient that can become depleted when you workout hard and train frequently. The consequences of not having enough glutamine in your diet can go well beyond stymieing the results from your workout; there are serious health consequences associated with glutamine deficiency. The primary reason to use a glutamine supplement is to help keep your amino acid at ideal levels. If you're looking to complete your sports nutrition plan and ensure that you're giving your body all of the fuel that it needs to support your training efforts, a glutamine supplement could be an excellent addition to your current supplement regimen.

It's important to keep in mind that glutamine is not likely to help you improve the results from your workouts if you use it on its own. That's why it's generally recommended that glutamine be used alongside other supplements rather than as a sole supplement formula. This doesn't mean that you can't purchase a supplement or powder that only contains glutamine and no other nutrients; it just means that you should also be using other supplements alongside that standalone product of your choosing.

Sportsfuel has a wide variety of glutamine supplements with both standalone and combination product options to meet your needs. If you need help selecting the right product to help you increase the amount of glutamine in your diet, feel free to contact us for assistance.

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