L-Glutamine Benefits, Use, and Information

If you’ve been around the world of athletics and body building long, you no doubt have heard how L-Glutamine benefits enhance performance. You also may have heard of it if you have been diagnosed with any sort of gastrointestinal problems. You may have even used it yourself, or at least considered doing so. So what are the benefits of this supplement? Some herald it as a cure all, end all, be all supplement for all people everywhere. Others claim it has no benefits, and it may have adverse side effects. So what is the truth? Lets find out. I’ve personally used L-Glutamine quite heavily in the past and had much success while doing it. However, one factor does not determine success in health and fitness, so I wanted to really dive in and find out more about this amino acid and what it can do for the human body.

What is L-Glutamine?

L-Glutamine is an amino acid produced in your body. It is in fact the most common amino acid in your muscles, making up 61% of your skeletal tissue. It is also one of the 20 amino acids encoded by the standard genetic code. It isn’t considered one the “essential” amino acids, but it can become situationally essential in times of intense athletic training or gastrointestinal disease. That is, of course, the science of L-Glutamine (if you want to know more about that science, see this Wikipedia article). But what is the stuff that you can buy in a plastic bottle at your local sporting goods and health food stores? It turns out that it can be made in two ways. Most commonly it is chemically synthesized in a lab. If you want to go the natural route, you can get L-Glutamine that has been derived from the natural fermentation of vegetables. It is significantly more expensive and your options are more limited, but if you are trying to keep things more natural that is the way to go. ALLMAX is a great company for this.  You can buy it here – Allmax Nutrition Glutamine 400 Grams or Allmax Nutrition Glutamine 1000 Grams for a larger quantity. L-Glutamine supplements are normally in a flavorless powder form. This powder can easily be mixed into juices or water, or protein shakes. If you don’t like to use powders, you can get it in pill form. Optimum Nutrition Glutamine 1000mg, 120 Capsules

The Benefits: What Can L-Glutamine Do For You?

Whilst it will not cure every sportsman’s performance issues, many advantages can be derived from its use.

Assisting Muscle Growth

The most common use of this supplement is for muscle growth by athletes and bodybuilders.  This is due to such a large component of our amino acid make-up being l-glutamine.  Supplementing our diet when working out can greatly assist with protein synthesis.  It is not a steroid and is naturally occurring within our bodies. When the body is depleted of this amino acid during intense workouts, muscle wasting can occur.   This can cause tiredness and slower recovery periods.  Supplementation with l-glutamine allows the recovery period to be reduced enhancing the athlete’s strength program by helping to repair the muscles quicker and increase consistency. L-Glutamine is not a miracle cure for laziness or a quick fix, but as a supplement, it enhances results of our workout effort by allowing the body the much needed amino acids for lean muscle growth and healthy maintenance.

Cell Hydration

By assisting cell hydration, cell volume is enhanced thereby reducing recovery time from sporting activity, injury and wounds.  Muscle damage caused by intense workout or injury is repaired more effectively where the cell volume and hydration levels are aided by this very important amino acid.

Metabolism and Growth

Supplementing our intake with l-glutamine can massively increase levels of naturally occurring Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Metabolism is accelerated due to increased levels of HGH which allows the more efficient processing of foods and enhancing the efficient metabolism of fats.  This leads to an improvement in fat reduction and the building of lean muscle.

Gastrointestinal Health

A common ailment of over 40’s is a condition called Diverticulitis.  L-Glutamine has been effective in reducing the severity and incidence of this very painful and debilitating ailment which can thereby reduce the potential risk of colon cancer.  Ulcers and other intestinal issues respond well and its effect on the digestive system boosts the overall immune system. Way back as far as 1987 a study found that 2 million US residents suffered from Diverticulitis with another 25,000 diagnosed each year.  3,000 sufferers die from this painful condition each year. My wife suffers from this, so we know personally how bad it can be.  Remember, to please consult your physician if you feel extreme abdominal pain.  My wife suffered for many years before being correctly diagnosed and her diet is now modified along with l-glutamine to reduce the symptoms.  Surgery is sometimes indicated in extreme cases to reduce the effects, yet lifelong maintenance of this ailment is still necessary to avoid future flare-ups.

Brain Function

During my time as a student, I found the use of l-glutamine to improve concentration and help with stress and anxiety of intense study periods.  It has the ability to calm moods, improve low mental and physical energy levels, increase alertness and helps maintain interest in the subject at hand. L-Glutamine presence within the brain and spinal fluid is 10 to 15 times more concentrated than in the blood, assisting with focus, alertness, memory and intellectual performance.

Reduced Cravings for Alcohol and Sugar

Supplements of l-glutamine can help suppress or curb the sometimes uncontrollable cravings for alcohol or sugary foods.  It does this by helping the body to suppress insulin and thereby stabilising blood sugar levels.  This reduces the body’s draw upon muscle mass to maintain blood sugar levels in times of low calorie intake or strenuous exercise. In a similar way, alcohol cravings can be reduced and in extreme cases has led to the cure of alcoholism. As a result of the reduced cravings of sugary foods or alcohol, weight loss can occur as a fringe benefit.  Similarly, with reduced fat and improved lean muscle mass, caloric metabolism is improved.  This is due to muscle being a higher burner of calories than fat.

L-Glutamine As A Supplement

The most commonly available products are either in powdered form or tablets.  My personal preference is the tablets for convenience, yet my wife prefers the powdered form which she puts into shakes and smoothies.  Bodybuilders who take protein shakes find the powdered form easy to add to their shakes as a snack replacement. For best results, an ongoing and regular supplement 2 to 3 times daily is most effective.  Spread across the day at breakfast, before/after a workout and at bedtime is the most usual timing.  For heavy training periods or bodybuilding, between 5 to 15grams per day is common.

Side Effects

The likeliness of l-glutamine side effects is quite low due to the large component of this amino acid which is naturally produced by our own bodies on a continuous basis.  Despite our body’s large l-glutamine make-up, taking it gradually would always be the best advice.  Start with lower doses and build them up over a week or two, such that you know of any adverse side effects, should that occur. Due to the use of l-glutamine for gastrointestinal remedies, having any kind of reaction should be extremely low.

How to Buy L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is not normally available in the likes of Walmart or Costco although some sports stores do stock it.  I find that ordering on line is simple, reliable and cheaper too. Having previously purchased from a sports store, I found that my subsequent purchases on line saved me about 25% on the store bought products.

In Summary

L-Glutamine is a gentle yet effective supplement known to benefit many ailments and deficiencies.  It is not a steroid, with associated risks and side effects, but a supplement to enhance our body’s natural l-glutamine production.  During times of stress or sporting intensity, these supplements may give you the edge to perform at your peak and to recover more effectively.