Glutamine is one of the condition amino acids making up a protein. Although it’s only classed as “conditionally” essential from a biological perspective, many nutritionists and bodybuilders class glutamine as essential. This article takes a detailed look at glutamine, reviewing the science behind it and answering the question: how essential is glutamine?
Glutamine is known as the most abundant amino acid in the body. It makes up over 50% of the free amino acids in muscle. Most of the body’s glutamine can be found in the muscle with smaller amounts in organs such as the liver, lungs, brain and blood.
It plays a role in fuel utilization for the small intestines and immune system. It is classed as “conditionally essential” meaning it may or may not be essential depending on the situation and individual. For any athlete the research suggests glutamine is essential, especially those pushing their bodies to the limit and challenging the boundaries of human performance.
Glutamine plays a key role in immune function and the body’s ability to handle stress. Anyone involved in the fitness industry knows the role of cortisol or stress. Although it’s healthy and natural when inline with the body’s circadian rhythm or sleep / wake cycle it can cause serious health issues when chronically or constantly elevated. This can lead to ill health, increased disease risk, muscle catabolism or breakdown and fat storage.
Glutamine can help an athlete handle stress and immune health, which is key if you want to constantly push your body. The better you can recover or handle a stressful situation the more volume and intensity you can handle. It also allows you to train more often at a high rate or with greater performance. Research has shown during sickness the body can even deplete glutamine stores by over 50% and these levels can remain depleted for up to 3 weeks. This may make higher doses of glutamine important due to illness or sickness.
In addition to glutamine’s key role and indirect function in immune health, it may help you grow muscle or strength through more direct pathways.
Supplemental glutamine may reduce muscle protein breakdown by increasing intracellular (within the muscle cell) concentrations and by reducing the turnover of mRNA, a transcription factor that may lower your total protein balance or nitrogen balance. In short, it can reduce protein turnover or degradation, which improves protein balance and muscle retention. Remember – long-term muscle is based on two EQUAL factors:
Supplemental glutamine may also reduce glutamine’s relocation from the muscle for other functions. For example, glutamine is used by many processes in the body. On occasions, the small intestines or immune cells may require additional glutamine, at which point the body may remove glutamine stored in the muscle. By providing an abundance of external supplemental glutamine you can ensure the body always has adequate stores (Antonio and Street, 1999).
Glutamine may also spare leucine, the key anabolic protein responsible for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Hankard et al., (1996) found supplemental glutamine helped spare leucine oxidation or use. Other research by Boelens et al., (2001) found glutamine may reduce muscle catabolism or atrophy (wasting).
Other research by Dahl et al., (1996) stipulated that glutamine may increase cell osmolality, which can increase cell swelling and volume. Recent research by hypertrophy expert Brad Schoenfeld highlighted this as one of the 3 key mechanisms behind muscle growth which may support this theory.
Direct research by Hakimi et al., (2012) found significant improvements when adding glutamine supplementation into a weight training program. The participants showed significantly greater increases in upper and lower body strength, explosive muscular power, testosterone levels, Growth Hormone and IGF-1 along with lower cortisol concentrations levels.
Like other KAGED products, the glutamine is a fermented source rather than the typical synthetic supplements on the market. As with medicine and many other consumable products, poor quality is cheap, premium quality is expensive. This why many supplements use synthetic products, it allows for bigger profit margins.
Synthetic products may contain harmful chemicals and substances, they are often made from shellfish, human hair, and bird feathers. In contrast, Fermented L-Glutamine is the purest L-Glutamine you can buy. It's all vegan, non-GMO, free from impurities, heavy metals, and hidden micro toxins. Always look at the quality of a product, not just the price. Buying fermented glutamine eliminates the risk of reactions or intolerances and is a superior choice for long term supplementation use.
As you can see glutamine may be key for athletes and bodybuilders. Although we still need a lot more research into this area, the mechanisms of action and current research are supportive. If you want to add glutamine into your regime make sure you are usingRE-KAGED® post workout and adding in extraKAGED MUSCLE L-glutamine to at least one other meal per day. In terms of dosing, around 10 – 20g per day is sufficient, depending on body size.