Is Glutamine Supplement Important In The Bodybuilding Game?

Muscle Recovery and Muscle Growth Glutamine Supplements

Muscle Recovery and Muscle Growth Glutamine Supplements

The supplement industry is rife with ingredients that claim to deliver game-changing gains, superhuman performance, and Wolverine-like recovery. To be honest, there are only a few ingredients that have been proven time and again to work in humans. Creatine, beta alanine, betaine, and caffeine are examples of proven supplement commodities that have been used in supplements for a long time. Another OG supplement that is still widely used today was once considered a “must have” for building muscle and improving recovery. Today’s ingredient spotlight is on Glutamine, and it’s time to shine some light on this aspiring muscle-building supplement.

What exactly is Glutamine?

Glutamine is a semi-essential amino acid. Essential amino acids are amino acids that your body CANNOT produce on its own and must obtain through diet, either from whole foods or amino acid supplements. Nonessential amino acids are those that the body can synthesize from other amino acids, fats, and carbohydrates on its own.

Conditionally essential amino acids are those that the body has an ample supply of under normal circumstances; however, in times of illness, injury, or extreme stress, the body is unable to synthesize enough to keep up with demand, converting the amino acid from conditionally essential to essential. Glutamine is classified as conditionally essential because your body usually has more than enough glutamine stored for its needs. In fact, glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and it is stored throughout the body, but it is especially abundant in the skeletal muscles (61 percent of your muscles consist of glutamine).

What is the function of glutamine?

Glutamine is involved in a variety of bodily processes. Because glutamine is an amino acid, it is used to make a variety of proteins in the body, which is why many people mistakenly believe it is a “muscle food.” supplement.

Glutamine is produced in your muscles and transported to the organs that require it via the bloodstream. Because of its high nitrogen and carbon content, it acts as a type of “fuel” for many different cells (including lymphocytes and macrophages) in the body. This is especially important after a severe injury or surgery, because nitrogen is required for wound repair and optimal organ function. In fact, glutamine provides about one-third of the nitrogen required for these processes. In these types of situations, glutamine demand rises, and the body is unable to produce enough glutamine.

Glutamine also plays a role in cognitive function because it is a precursor for the excitatory neurotransmitters glutamate and aspartate, as well as the inhibitory amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Is Glutamine Good for Muscle Growth?

Given glutamine’s high concentration in muscle and its high nitrogen content, it’s easy to see why many people believe glutamine is an effective supplement for muscle recovery or muscle growth. After all, maintaining a net positive nitrogen balance in your muscles, where nitrogen input exceeds nitrogen output, is the key to muscle growth and recovery.

So, in theory, nitrogen (from glutamine) is required during periods of “injury” (i.e. skeletal muscle breakdown caused by exercise) to support repair efforts and fuel the immune cells that are repairing your damaged muscle cells. It’s easy to see why taking glutamine supplements can be beneficial.

When you dig deeper into the science of glutamine supplementation, the research tells a very different story. While early glutamine studies found it to be beneficial for burn victims, people with stomach ulcers, and people with muscle-wasting diseases (such as AIDS), those studies by and large administered glutamine intravenously, which means it was injected directly into the bloodstream.

The research, however, tells a very different story in otherwise healthy individuals looking to use glutamine to improve recovery and muscle growth. Several studies have been conducted, and no benefit from glutamine supplementation has been found in terms of recovery, muscle growth, athletic performance, or strength.

Glutamine for Muscle Recovery in Exercise Research?

A six-week study in which healthy young adults performed resistance training supplemented with 0.9g/kg bodyweight. Researchers came to the following conclusions at the end of the trial:

This review looks at the effects of glutamine on exercise and finds a lack of evidence for definitive positive ergogenic benefits from glutamine supplementation.”

Another 2008 study on glutamine supplements in athletes concluded:

  • “The majority of studies have found no beneficial effects on various immune responses after exercise of maintaining plasma glutamine concentration with glutamine supplements during exercise and recovery.”
  • Essentially, these studies show that glutamine supplements have no effect on increasing plasma glutamine concentrations, improving recovery, or building muscle.
  • You’re probably wondering why early studies with glutamine showed it was effective, but it wasn’t when used by gym bros.

Glutamine has a low bioavailability.

The first glutamine research studies were conducted on critically injured or ill people. They were given glutamine either by injection or through an IV. That is, the glutamine is being delivered directly into your bloodstream. Oral supplementation was used in studies with glutamine supplementation in athletes, where glutamine was ingested as a liquid, capsule, or powder, and this is where the glutamine problem arises.

It has a very low bioavailability. In other words, glutamine is poorly absorbed by the body when consumed orally. This is due to the fact that glutamine is highly valued by the stomach, liver, and intestines. They’re greedy and refuse to share glutamine. When you take glutamine supplements, the glutamine passes through all of those organs before it enters your bloodstream and is delivered to your muscles.

Essentially, those expensive glutamine supplements are absorbed by your digestive system and never reach your muscles.

To further emphasize the point, other research suggests that supplementing with glutamine may actually be harmful.

Glutamine’s Negative Effects

A study published in 2014 looked at the effects of glutamine supplementation on ventilated patients. The researchers discovered that supplementing with glutamine did not reduce muscle protein breakdown (catabolism) and even increased de novo glutamine production, implying that glutamine supplementation may hasten muscle breakdown.

Furthermore, the same study found that glutamine supplementation may increase the inflammatory response, leading to excessive inflammation and complications.

According to other research, glutamine supplementation can actually reduce mTOR phosphorylation, which is the exact opposite of what you want when trying to maximize muscle growth.

As if that weren’t bad enough, other research suggests that certain tumors can “reprogram” themselves to use different fuel sources (glucose is their preferred fuel source). Scientists have discovered that glutamate (derived from glutamine) can meet the glutamine requirements of glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer. Given all of the negative research on glutamine supplements, it’s understandable to wonder why supplement companies continue to sell them.

Simply put, GREED!

Glutamine is an extremely inexpensive ingredient, which is why it’s commonly used to “fill out” low-quality pre workouts, amino acid supplements, and protein powders. Furthermore, supplement companies are betting that the average consumer doesn’t know much about supplements, and they’re making millions off of the uninformed consumer.

Advanced Molecular Labs is here to help you sort through the nonsense and deliver the truth about supplements, which is why we only use ingredients supported by human research in our supplements.

Last Word

At the end of the day, you don’t need to take Glutamine supplements. It is not an essential amino acid and can be easily synthesized from other amino acids in the body or obtained from a variety of foods you consume on a daily basis, as the BCAAs naturally found in protein serve as glutamine precursors.

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