I have always been curious about Glutamine. I always hear acquaintances and friends talking about supplementing with glutamine. I always disregarded their banter because of the added expense of yet ANOTHER supplement. I mean… adding glutamine to my long list of supplements which includes creatine, whey powder, multi vitamins, and BCAAs, seemed like quiet the added expense. But to my surprise the powder form of glutamine is as cheap as $12.99 for a vitamin sized bottle. Naaat baddd!
So, what is glutamine?
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of protein), which essentially means that it is one of the amino acids that our body produces naturally (we do not need to get it from our daily food intake) from other obtainable compounds. It is stored in our muscles and is the most abundant amino acid in our body; it also functions as the main fuel for our immune system. Our muscles emit glutamine into our bloodstream during HARD exercise; this can subsequently cause depletion of our glutamine reserves. Now this can be bad because when the glutamine reserves are depleted our body will start eating away at our treasurable muscle to provide it with sufficient amounts of glutamine. If your workouts are beastly and intense you may deplete up to 50%, but if you’re just a regular-joe-gym-rat then you may deplete nothing. It all depends on the intensity of your workout. Our body uses glycogen (from the breakdown of carbohydrates) for energy during our workouts. Now if our glycogen stores are depleted our body will steal fuel from protein in our muscles BUT glutamine has the magical power to directly increase enzyme activity, the particular enzyme which makes glycogen in our muscle and liver cells, so the body will now use this newly created glycogen instead of robbing our muscles. Wonderful isn’t it?! So supplementing with glutamine can help during glycogen depletion and save our preciously sculpted muscles. A good immune system builds superb muscles and glutamine functions as a protector of this immune system. When the immune system is doing repair it uses readily available glutamine as its primary fuel, but when this fuel begins to run low the body will look for glutamine elsewhere…and where is glutamine stored? In our muscles! So you know what that means! Muscle depletion!! Also glutamine plays a vital role in cellular hydration which of course increases the procedure of building and repairing muscle tissue. Basically glutamine seeps into the cell and pulls water in to puff it up. And we all know that puffed up hydrated cells have a slimmer chance of collapsing which means you get to maintain size and mass.
So moral of the story: if you want to prevent muscles from depleting, enhance recovery, and maintain solid mass I would recommend supplementing with glutamine post workout (that is if your workouts are INTENSE). From my research it seems like taking it post workout is best because that is when reserves are at their lowest.
O and p.s heat destroys glutamine so don’t mix it into your coffee or tea!