Glutamine originally became popular among athletes and bodybuilders looking to preserve muscle tissue. It was commonly used to help people lose weight, burn fat, and build muscle.
While glutamine is still a popular supplement in the fitness world, it’s now being found that glutamine supplementation benefits can go beyond just being an aid in fitness. This incredible amino acid has been shown to help with everything from your digestion to your immune system.
Here at Haven Athletic, we take health and fitness very seriously. Below we will discuss some of the many benefits glutamine can offer not only for your fitness journey but for your overall health as well.
What Is Glutamine?
Glutamine, also known as L-glutamine, is one of the 20 amino acids found in protein sources such as eggs and meat. It is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. Simply put, it is an essential amino acid that is a building block of proteins and is needed in large quantities for your body to function properly.
The body can make enough glutamine for its basic needs; however, in times of extreme stress, such as intense exercises or injuries, your body may need more glutamine than it can produce.
Even if you need a little extra glutamine than your body makes naturally, you can typically get more through your diet instead of going for a specific supplement. However, there are medical conditions that lower glutamine levels in the body. In these cases, glutamine supplements are needed.
What Foods Have Glutamine?
Glutamine is found in animal proteins such as meats and dairy. Glutamine is also found in plant-based protein sources like beans, asparagus, spinach, parsley, tofu, and red cabbage.
It has been found that animal proteins provide more amino acids that are easier to digest than plant proteins. Some common animal-based foods that contain L-glutamine include eggs, milk, bone broth, cottage cheese, fish (cod or salmon), venison, and turkey.
A study showed that many people consume anywhere from three to six grams of glutamine in their daily diets. If you are looking to increase your glutamine, dietitians recommend that you get at least three servings of it from L-glutamine-rich foods.
Health Benefits of Glutamine
As stated above, there are many benefits to L-glutamine supplementation. Let's dive into these benefits:
1. Can Improve Gastrointestinal and Immune System
L-glutamine helps support overall intestinal health and the digestive system. If you deal with symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or leaky gut, research has found that taking oral glutamine supplementation may significantly improve your symptoms.
Leaky gut is a theoretical condition, and it is based on the concept of relative intestinal permeability. Our intestinal lining is designed to absorb water and other nutrients from our food into our bloodstream. However, some people have increased intestinal permeability, which means their guts let out more water and nutrients, causing a “leak.”
Leaky gut syndrome is something many people struggle with, and some consider it to be a cause of certain autoimmune diseases today. A leaky gut can contribute to thyroid issues, along with arthritis, skin issues, and other serious health concerns.
A clinical study showed that glutamine is the major fuel source for cells of the smaller intestines, and it has proven to support gut health and help treat leaky gut syndrome.
L-glutamine may also treat ulcers by reversing damage done to the digestive tract; plus, it’s a healthier alternative to antibiotics.
IBS is another syndrome that is affected by intestinal health. L-glutamine can help balance IBS by balancing the mucus production in the intestinal tract allowing for healthier bowel movements.
Clinical studies have shown that L-glutamine can help reduce intestinal inflammations and may help people recover faster from food sensitivities that can cause a lot of intestinal issues.
Another study showed that glutamine played a significant role in maintaining healthy gut microbiota and immunity, which helps reduce swelling in the intestinal lining and prevents the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut.
2. Can Improve Athletic Performance and Muscle Growth
L-glutamine can help with your athletic performance by boosting your metabolism, improving muscle recovery, helping build muscle, and decreasing muscle loss.
Muscle protein synthesis is also known as muscle building. Glutamine reduces muscle mass breakdown and helps with muscle tissue repair, and can lead to increases in muscle mass.
It is essential to increase your glutamine intake when doing intense workouts because your body is under stress while working out, and the muscles require more glutamine than your body naturally produces. This is when a glutamine supplement can be helpful for increasing your glutamine levels instead of just getting it through food.
Clinical trials have shown that during and after an intense workout, your glutamine levels can decrease by 50%. Therefore, glutamine supplementation while performing tough workouts is essential as it can help reduce muscle loss by using carbohydrates for energy rather than your muscles.
Supplements such as creatine, BCAAs, and pre-workout shakes often contain glutamine and give your muscles the extra strength needed to help increase your exercise performance.
Many avid gym-goers will pack their BCAA powders or pre-workout supplements in their Haven Athletic Gym Duffel for an extra boost in their workout so they can work out harder and more frequently.
L-glutamine is synthesized by the body from glucose or glutamate. However, there are individuals whose bodies do not produce enough. The majority of people who don’t get enough glutamine typically eat a low-protein diet.
Other reasons people suffer from low glutamine include immune disorders, chronic gastrointestinal disorders, increased stress, infections or illnesses, or treatments like radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Healthcare professionals have started to rely heavily on glutamine dipeptide-supplemented parenteral nutrition to help treat critically ill patients because it can significantly help reduce hospital mortality and shorten the length of hospital stays.
Forms of Supplements
Glutamine comes in multiple forms: capsules, tablets, and powders.
There are two forms of L-glutamine: free form glutamine or trans-alanyl-glutamine.
Free-form glutamine is best taken as a powder with food so that it is properly absorbed into the body.
Trans-alanyl-glutamine is much easier to digest and can be had with just water or juice.
Both glutamine supplements are best taken right before or right after a workout to support your metabolism and weight loss as well as muscle building and muscle recovery.
The amount of glutamine supplement you should take will vary from person to person.
However, when it comes to the average healthy individual who is supplementing simply because of their intense workouts, the recommended dosage is two to five grams twice daily and maybe more if your workouts are extremely intense and taxing.
Some athletes like bodybuilders like to combine their glutamine with BCAAs during their workouts or mix it with their post-workout creatine to help boost muscle recovery and restore their body’s energy.
Glutamine has become an essential supplement for athletes to help enhance their exercise performances. However, as we learned, glutamine benefits more than just avid gym-goers and bodybuilders.
Oral glutamine may help significantly improve many ongoing health issues and has allowed many individuals to see relief in their symptoms.
As always, it is best to seek medical advice from professionals before supplementing glutamine to ensure you have no underlying medical concerns that could be negatively affected by glutamine supplementation.