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Bodybuilding.com - All About Glutamine: Your Expert Guide

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Home Articles & Videos Supplementation Muscle Building Glutamine

ALL ABOUT
GLUTAMINE
THIS IMPORTANT AMINO ACID HAS PLENTY
OF FANS AS WELL AS SOME DETRACTORS!

SUPPLEMENTATION
MUSCLE BUILDING
Amino Acids & BCAAs

Some call it a bodybuilding staple.


Others say it doesn't live up to the
hype. Use our expert guide to see what
glutamine means for you!

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Beta Alanine
Casein Protein

by Chris Lockwood, Ph.D.


Last updated: Mar 11, 2014

Creatine
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Glutamine
Growth Hormone
Hormones
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Supplements
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If your body was a country club for supplements, you'd see glutamine everywhere: chilling
by the pool, hobnobbing with directors, and playing entirely too much tennis.
As the most abundant amino acid in the body, glutamine can be found in muscle tissue,
plasma, and in nearly every animal product you ingest. On average, it constitutes a little
more than five percent of the amino acids found in animal-derived protein sources such
as meats, dairy products, and eggs. That may not sound like much, but make no doubt:
Glutamine is critically important to a wide range of bodily processes.

EXPERT GUIDES: GLUTAMINE


WATCH THE VIDEO - 10:23

Soy Protein

FAT LOSS
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
IMMUNE FUNCTION
SUPPLEMENT TIPS AND
QUESTIONS
SUPPLEMENT INDUSTRY
INGREDIENT GUIDES

Something this important has to be an "essential" acid, right? Not exactly. Glutamine is
considered "conditionally essential." This means your body can produce enough to meet
its needs under normal circumstances, but not always. In other words, you need to
consume dietary sources of glutamine under certain circumstances when your body is
under extreme duress.
As a supplement, glutamine has plenty of die-hard fans. It also has detractors who say that
unless you are a recovering burn patient, this amino is best left on the shelf. I'm here to
sort through the research and help you decide if glutamine is right for you.

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WHAT IS GLUTAMINE?
Glutamine is created in the human body when
the non-essential amino acid glutamate (or
glutamic acid) is broken down and binds with
nitrogen-containing ammonia molecules. Think
of glutamine as a kind of nitrogen sponge. It
mops up ammonia and shuttles nitrogen
between tissues, where it can be used for cell
growth and tissue repair, among many other
functions. It's been reported that some 30-35
percent of all nitrogen derived from protein
breakdown is transported in the form of
glutamine. Glutamine can also be broken down
to re-synthesize glutamate, which makes
glutamine a critical source of ammonia and
nitrogen.
Approximately 70 percent of your body's
internal glutamine is produced in skeletal
muscle, from where it travels to the small
intestine, kidneys, and white blood cells. These
are the dominant sites of glutamine usage.

"GLUTAMINE IS A NITROGEN SPONGE.


IT MOPS UP AMMONIA AND SHUTTLES
NITROGEN BETWEEN TISSUES."

Internal levels of this amino acid depend on various factors. Pregnancy and lactation
significantly deplete the body's glutamine stores, as do exhaustive exercise, illness,
disease, starvation or fasting, rapid growth and development, and other conditions of
extreme physiological stress. These are some of the conditions where increasing your
glutamine intake or considering supplementation is appropriate.

WHAT DOES IT DO?


Glutaminelike other alpha-amino acidsis involved in regulating protein synthesis and
breakdown. However, there's far more to it than that. Glutamine significantly affects BCAA
metabolism, gut barrier maintenance, normal immune function, glucose formation, water
transport, neurotransmission, and more.
Your kidneys are a primary consumer of glutamine use that's where the ammonia cleaved
from glutamine works to maintain your body's acid-base balance. Anywhere you find
ammonia, you'll find glutamine. As metabolic acidosis increasesas in response to intense
training or a high-protein dietrenal uptake of glutamine soars. In fact, one study found
that just four days of a high-protein, high-fat diet, was enough to cause a 25 percent drop
in glutamine levels in the plasma and muscle tissue.
If all of these competing uses begin to outpace your body's ability to produce glutamine,
then you may start to show signs of deficiency, including muscle wasting, depleted
energy, and increased susceptibility to infections.

WHAT ARE THE PERFORMANCE AND PHYSIQUE APPLICATIONS?


Despite glutamine's various functions, little evidence suggests it will directly result in
increased muscle mass, reduced body fat, or gains in muscle strength or power in normal,
healthy people. However, given how stressful intense training is on the human body,
athletes may see certain benefits from supplementing with significant levels of glutamine,
or from stacking it with other supplements.
One study found that when athletes suffered from mild dehydration, supplemental
glutamine increased exercise performance and enhanced fluid and electrolyte uptake
when combined with a glucose and electrolyte beverage. Supplementation has also been
shown to raise levels of growth hormone in response to cycling to exhaustion.

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Extracellular concentrations of glutamine have also been shown to activate the signaling
pathway mTOR, which is known to be responsible for increasing muscle size. However,
here again, the benefits of glutamine supplementation required that other conditions be
met: in this case, mTOR signaling appeared to require the presence of BCAAs (leucine,
most importantly), as well as some threshold level of cellular hydration.
In another case, collegiate track and field athletes who consumed four grams of glutamine
per day for eight weeks, along with a loading and maintenance dose of creatine, saw
greater gains in lean body mass than those who used creatine alone. This may sound
significant, but it's hard to draw conclusions over a mere eight weeks at such a low
dosage. Whether higher doses or a longer study would have resulted in significant
differences is anyone's guess.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TYPES OF GLUTAMINE?


Other than your stack, the most important thing to consider when selecting a glutamine
product is the delivery system. If you're purchasing a powder, capsule or tablet, then free
form L-glutamine works best. However, because glutamine is unstable, avoid ready-todrink beverages or protein bars claiming to contain supplemental L-glutamine.
If you favor RTDs and bars, look for the peptide-bound forms of glutamine, such as Lalanyl-L-glutamine, glycyl-L-glutamine hydrate, or an ingredient listed as "glutamine
peptide." Just remember that the glutamine concentration of one of these peptide forms is
typically approximately 65-70 percent. In other words, there's only about 6.5-7g of
glutamine per 10g of glutamine peptide. Dose accordingly.

Regardless of the form, up to 90 percent of ingested glutamine is eliminated during first


pass. A mere fraction of the glutamine you consume will make it beyond your liver. The
majority of the glutamine you consume being eliminated by the digestive enterocytes and
immune cells within your gut.
It's best to avoid products that contain n-acetyl-l-glutamine (not to be confused with Nacetyl glucosamine) or alpha-ketoisocaproyl-glutamine (also known as aKIC-glutamine).
Both the acylated and aKIC forms may be stable, but the existing evidence suggests that
they're both poor delivery forms for glutamine.

WHAT SHOULD I USE IT WITH?


Consider stacking glutamine with sodium and other electrolytes first and foremost.
Glutamine transport occurs via a sodium-dependent mechanism, and it has been shown to
significantly increase cell volume, electrolyte absorption, and hydration. This might be
helpful for both endurance and physique athletes, the latter because cell water volume is
one of the many aspects of muscle hypertrophy. Significant decreases in cell water
volume can also inhibit mTor signaling, which is crucial to building muscle.
Other candidates to stack with glutamine include:

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Other candidates to stack with glutamine include:
BCAAs: There are two main reasons why combining BCAAs and glutamine may promote
greater gains in muscle mass and performance. First, ammonia concentrations, and
therefore glutamine, directly affects BCAA metabolism. And second, mTOR signaling from
extracellular glutamine first requires the uptake of BCAAs, primarily leucine. BCAAs plus
glutamine might promote performance and muscle gains.
Citrulline: Glutamine functions as a precursor for arginine and NO synthesis by
transporting citrulline between tissues. Using glutamine with citrulline might boost
citrulline's ability to stimulate the production of
nitric oxide, which might lead to better oxygen
delivery and nutrient transport to skeletal
muscle. More nutrients to the muscle might
translate to better recovery and growth. That
may sound somewhat indirect, but then again,
a messenger substance like glutamine has its
hand in a lot of processes.
Alpha-Ketoglutarate: Like glutamine, aKG
serves as a precursor to glutamate and has
been shown to dose-dependently spare
glutamine degradation and increase mTOR
signaling pathways, as well as glutathione.
This means that glutamine, taken with aKG,
might boost the potential for muscle growth
and the production of glutathione, a powerful
antioxidant.
Glucose or N-Acetylglucosamine: Glucose
deprivation reduces glutamine uptake and
negatively affects cell growth and survival. If
you're on a low-carb diet, it appears that the
glycoprotein N-acetylglucosamine (NAG),
which is available in supplement form, might
be able to restore glutamine uptake and
metabolism, potentially boosting recovery and
cell function.

"GLUTAMINE MAY INCREASE CELL


VOLUME, ELECTROLYTE ABSORPTION, AND
HYDRATION. THIS MAY BE HELPUL FOR
ENDURANCE AND PHYIQUE ATHLETES."

HOW SHOULD I TAKE IT?


It appears that the daily intake of supplemental glutamine needs to be highat least 20-30
g per day, consumed frequentlyin order to raise plasma glutamine concentrations.
To provide some perspective, consider that critically ill patients usually receive a constant
intravenous infusion of between 20-30 g of glutamine per day. However, the bioavailability
of infused glutamine they receive is 100 percent. It's no more than 30 percent from orally
consumed glutamine. Thus, I recommend up to 30 g of glutamine per day in divided
doses throughout the day, preferably with meals or snacks containing carbohydrates to
support glucose utilization.

On training days, I recommend you consume glutamine prior to or during exercise to

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On training days, I recommend you consume glutamine prior to or during exercise to


support hydration, electrolyte transport, and BCAA metabolism. You could take 10 g
before, during, and after your workout, or you could reduce those dosages to 5 g if you
also dose in the hours leading up to or following exercise. On non-training days, consume
at least 5 g of glutamine at frequent intervals, at least every 2-3 hours, to sustain an
increase in plasma glutamine concentrations.
There appears to be no need to cycle glutamine. In fact, there's more evidence to support
the need for chronic ingestion of glutamine during periods of extreme physiological
stress.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?


There's a considerable amount of data supporting the lack of adverse reactions to
glutamine doses as high as 30 g per day. A recent 13-week toxicity study concluded that
the "no-observed adverse effect level" (NOAEL) for L-glutamine occurred at the highest
daily dose provided to male and female rats.
In a human, this dose equates to roughly 0.308 g of glutamine per pound of body mass
per day. For a 170-pound adult, that's a little more than 52 g of glutamine per day. Again,
this dose was shown to result in an extremely high level of safety with no documented
adverse effects.

WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE?


Yes, glutamine is a key player in a whole host of functions that dramatically impact your
ability to achieve your overall health and fitness goals. However, if you're depending
solely upon glutamine or aren't using enough, you may be disappointed.
Maximizing glutamine's effects on your body requires you to use your head first. If you're
not training hard, your body probably can supply you all you need. But if you're the type
who punishes your body regularly, taking it in the right way could help you keep
performing at an elite level.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Chris Lockwood, Ph.D.
Dr. Chris Lockwood earned his Ph.D. in Exercise
Physiology and his M.S. in Exercise & Sports Science.
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Doughboy818
Bioavailability is no more than 30 percent from orally
consumed glutamine. Recommended amount is 30G. Does
that mean to take 100G of glutamine daily? O_o
Rep Power: 0

Feb 27, 2013 6:09pm | report

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/all-about-glutamine-your-expert-guide.html

Body Stats
ht: 5'11"
wt: 199 lbs
bf: 21.0%

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Bodybuilding.com - All About Glutamine: Your Expert Guide


philipphilipx
Feb 28, 2013 12:31pm | report

Rep Power: 0

Mikeyhouser
There is so many holes in glutamine, but I swear I
recover faster whenever I take it consistently
Feb 28, 2013 1:38pm | report

Body Stats
ht: 5'7"
wt: 170 lbs
bf: 11.8%

Rep Power: 0

DrChrisLockwood
No, I am not recommending you consume 100g to
derive 30g. I am recommending up to 20-30g of Lglutamine be consumed, per day.
Rep Power: 0

Feb 28, 2013 8:14pm | report

KammingaJ

Rep Power: 0

The safety blurb says you can basically that .308g


times your body weight and this will give you the
correct dosage. Ex. .308g which is roughly 30% so
.308 x 200lbs=61.6grams per day to get your fully
absorbed 100%....
Mar 13, 2013 8:48pm | report

atokad
well I drink a shake in the morning, 2 scoops after i workout
and casein at night. The protein bottle says it has 5g of
glutamine per scoop so i think i'm good
Rep Power: 0

Feb 27, 2013 6:37pm | report

AlexisBT

Rep Power: 0

I have to rate this article as a 1.... You mostly point out that
studies have proven over and over again that glutamine
supplementation is mostly useless. Then you go on and
provide a mostly unclear bottom line, in which you don't
provide any real conclusion.
Article Rated:

Body Stats
ht: 5'6"
bf: 9.0%

Feb 27, 2013 6:49pm | report

DrChrisLockwood

Rep Power: 0

I'm sorry that you felt the article wasn't up to your


expectations. I do, however, feel that I provided a
sound background about glutamine, in an easy to
understand format. I presented both sides of the
argument, for and against. Since much of research
occurs in a bubble (so to speak), and I have over 19
years of experience within this industry upon which I
also draw upon when I posit a theory, I tend to take
some liberties based upon those experiences. In
other words, it would have been irresponsible of me to
strongly recommend glutamine, as the data doesn't
currently support such a strong recommendation.
Equally irresponsible, though, would be to discount
glutamine supplementation altogether, b/c doing so
first and foremost assumes that EVERY study within
EVERY subject population and under EVERY
physiological and environmental condition has been
tested. It's good for my academia friends whom I
support with research grants that that isn't the case, or
else they'd be out of jobs and research would cease.
The point I'm trying to make is that I intentionally try to
provide an unbiased, but realistic perspective when I
author these articles. If you're expecting something
other than that, then I can see where you're
disappointed. Hope that helps. - chris
Feb 28, 2013 8:22pm | report

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Bodybuilding.com - All About Glutamine: Your Expert Guide

elzachary
Excellent article Doc! There is to much derision on this
particular topic. Glad to see an open minded approach in your
presentation. 30 grams a day.....wow!
Rep Power: 0

Feb 27, 2013 7:41pm | report

Body Stats
ht: 5'8"
wt: 165 lbs
bf: 7.0%

DrChrisLockwood
Thank you! Am glad you liked the article.
Feb 28, 2013 8:22pm | report
Rep Power: 0

Basketball22

Rep Power: 0

Honestly all I see here is an article that says there isn't alot of
science backing glutamine but there still MIGHT be some
benefits so please keep spending money buying glutamine. I
love bb.com but most science I've seen on glutamine is too
inconclusive and other educated lifters who's opinions I trust
say roughly the same thing.

Body Stats
ht: 6'0"
wt: 180 lbs
bf: 15.0%

Feb 27, 2013 9:50pm | report

boxedindj

Rep Power: 0

Long story short with the article; if you push yourself


to really hard in the gym, then this can help to repair
as quicker than your body would do it on it's own.
If you are an easy going person during work outs, and
don't leave sore and sweating like a pig needing to
recover, your own body can fix that.

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 140.8 lbs
bf: 17.9%

Feb 28, 2013 3:08pm | report

DrChrisLockwood

Rep Power: 0

@Basketball22. FWIW, I could care less if someone


continues purchasing glutamine, and anyone who
knows me would tell you the same about my
character. In fact, if you go back and re-read how I
wrote my recommendation, you'll see that I only stated
that the daily dose needs to be very hight to
potentially raise plasma glutamine levels; that IF you're
going to take glutamine, then here's how I recommend
consuming it.... Thanks.
Feb 28, 2013 8:28pm | report

scubasqueekers
30 grams! Thats crazy! Here is a study concerning the long
term side effects of taking 40 grams of glutamine per day!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22990615
Rep Power: 0

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 215 lbs
bf: 12.0%

Feb 27, 2013 10:49pm | report

WissamShami
very informative ... I will save some money to buy some
Glutamine .. I think it will help me ..
Feb 28, 2013 1:47am | report

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 163.14 lbs
bf: 12.0%

Rep Power: 0

Musclefriendly

Rep Power: 0

Smart athletes know which supplements work and which


ones are bogus. Glutamine is one of many ********
supplements and totally useless for bodybuilders.
Nonetheless the most successful bodybuilders and fitness
athletes emphatically promote the use of this nonessential
amino acid (glutamine), claiming all sorts of unfounded
benefits because these athletes are talking puppets owned

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/all-about-glutamine-your-expert-guide.html

Body Stats
ht: 5'7"
wt: 182 lbs
bf: 12.0%

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benefits because these athletes are talking puppets owned
by their glutamine-selling sponsors within the greedy fitness
industry so they will promote whatever ******** supplements
their sponsors tell them to!
Feb 28, 2013 11:43am | report

boxedindj

Rep Power: 0

Pretty much, and now they are taking use of


bodybuilders to try and do the same. Then again,
some people may need it due to working long hours
or highly physical work etc etc, but unless you literally
put your body through absolute hell, then there's no
need for it and your body can repair itself naturally.

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 140.8 lbs
bf: 17.9%

Feb 28, 2013 3:15pm | report

DrChrisLockwood

Rep Power: 0

@Musclefriendly. Not certain if you're attempting to


belittle me b/c you perceive that I'm some 'greedy
fitness industry talking puppet', or that I'm just not that
smart. I hope that, in time, you'll find that perspective
is enlightning, and that a re-read of the above article
will show that I attempt to remain scientifically neutral;
anything else, with so few human oral use
interventions from which to draw upon, would be
irresponsible and equally ignorant. Thank you
Feb 28, 2013 8:35pm | report

Mikeyhouser
The one thing I wish he would touch on more is glutamine
supplmentation during a cutting phase vs. a bulking/building
phase.
Rep Power: 0

My question: How much glutamine does one really need who


is eating plenty of carbs protein, fat and calories all
together??? Is it still dependent on exercise?

Body Stats
ht: 5'7"
wt: 170 lbs
bf: 11.8%

Feb 28, 2013 1:37pm | report

boxedindj

Rep Power: 0

It has nothing to do with diet or exercise, and will not


effect your body goals whatsoever. It will not help you
gain nor lose, is what I mean. It's used to help with a
quick recovery after putting your body through
torturing hell.

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 140.8 lbs
bf: 17.9%

Feb 28, 2013 3:12pm | report

DrChrisLockwood

Rep Power: 0

@Mikeyhouser: To directly answer your question:


Nodoby knows at this point. There simply hasn't been
enough clinical trials, under enough conditions and
with varying types of exercise interventions, to
provide you with a definitive answer. I do tend to
agree with @boxedindj, though; that is, whatever is
occuring needs to be eliciting an over-reaching
(precursor to overtraining) response to probably make
any kind of noticeable difference.
Feb 28, 2013 8:39pm | report

boxedindj
Informative, but confusing. I think short and simple with
minimum science and statistic ******** would have proven to be
a better article. But that's my opinion.
Rep Power: 0

Feb 28, 2013 3:10pm | report

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 140.8 lbs
bf: 17.9%

DrChrisLockwood

Rep Power: 0

Thanks for the feedback. I think it comes across as


confusing b/c I neither strongly recommend or don't
recommend this product. That is, people like answers
in 'black' or 'white'; the world, however, more times
than not exists in the grey.
Feb 28, 2013 8:41pm | report

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/all-about-glutamine-your-expert-guide.html

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Bodybuilding.com - All About Glutamine: Your Expert Guide


Feb 28, 2013 8:41pm | report

boxedindj

Rep Power: 0

@DrChrisLockwood
I got taught in my First Aid course all about grey and
how much it sucks. We got taught to think in black and
white. Yes, there are some grey, noticeably, in the
world. Even with supplements, exercises (etc). But
people just don't like them. Though, I do.. gives time
to be creative and uncertain. :p

Body Stats
ht: 5'10"
wt: 140.8 lbs
bf: 17.9%

Again, entirely my opinion and I applaud your research


and what not. It was educational, nonetheless.
Feb 28, 2013 10:25pm | report

sk1951
How about buy the stuff and use it...like I do. *s*

Body Stats

Mar 11, 2013 7:12pm | report

ht: 6'0"
wt: 250 lbs
bf: 20.0%

Rep Power: 0

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