In this article we will look into the amazing supplement known as Glutamine.
We will examine its many health benefits, contraindications and ways of administration.
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
My experience with Glutamine
Glutamine is another controversial supplement. Most people believe it does not work. Some legends (such as Charles Poliquin) say that it does. I personally consider it to be an amazing supplement and I have seen results in recovery, healing my gut and improving my immune system.
I also use it in cases of stomach flu or diarrhea with equally great results. For muscle gains, I stack it with other supplements.
It comes in powder form, tablets and pills. I opt for the cost-effective powder, which is odorless, tasteless and free of any artificial crap (e.g. artificial sweeteners).
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is basically an amino acid found in protein. It is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. Conditionally means that it becomes essential when our body is in a specific trauma state such as injury, sickness or confinement in bed which can lead to muscle wasting and muscle atrophy. (People who are serious about their muscle development must minimize muscle wasting at all costs)
Glutamine levels get depleted in high stress situations (Excess stress means higher levels of cortisol which can lead to a compromised immune system) or after intense workouts (which make your body use glutamine to repair muscular damage). Both these situations require higher glutamine plasma levels.
It is also used for the creation of other amino acids and serves as raw material (nitrogen and carbon) in muscle repair (muscle is made up of amino acids which come from nitrogen).
Glutamine is mostly created and stored in muscles and in the lungs.
As an amino acid it can be found in high concentrations in meat, eggs and especially milk products such as whey and casein protein.
Glutamine has the following benefits:
- Has the ability to heal and maintain a healthy gut. This, in turn, can help with better absorption of nutrients and thus rebuilding of muscles.
- Can be used for energy instead of carbs, making it excellent for maintaining energy levels for people on a diet. (Some cells in the body prefer glutamine as a source of fuel rather than using glucose.)
- In the bodybuilding world it was introduced as the ultimate muscle builder due to its ability to increase protein synthesis and prevent catabolism or muscle breakdown. However these effects take place mostly in glutamine-deficient persons and not (always) in healthy humans.
- Can raise growth hormone levels according to this study. The study showed that even a small amount of glutamine was enough to elevate growth hormone plasma levels. Another study revealed a similar result when glutamine was used in combination with glycine (which is also shown to raise G.H levels).
Glutamine can also:
- Protect the heart as it has cardioprotective properties in patients who have undergone heart surgery
- Aid in general health due to its strong antioxidant properties
- Allow for faster muscle rebuilding after intense exercise (faster recovery)
- Protect against muscle wasting in stressful situations or illness.
- Improve intestinal and gut health and protecting the immune system
- Prevent muscle wasting in cancer and HIV patients (in some cases)
- Be used as a recovery aid for muscle repair in people who have suffered muscular damage (people in accidents, burn victims, etc.)
When and how to take it
When you are buying amino acids ALWAYS buy the L form (L-Glutamine) as everything else is chemical and toxic.
There have been bodybuilders experimenting with ultra-high doses of L-glutamine for muscle gain but I do not recommend this dosage as you can end up with a crazy amount of ammonia in your body (which tends to show up as small pimples on your arms. This can also indicate liver toxicity)
High doses are only recommended in HIV patients and under medical supervision.
Vegans should definitely supplement with L-Glutamine as plant sources are usually poor in this amino acid.
Glutamine can be found in pills but you will need to pop a handful of them in order to get to your activation dose. This is why the powdered version is better since you can take a large dose in one go.
Note: Do not add glutamine to hot beverages, as the high temperatures tend to destroy it.
Safety and side effects
Glutamine is considered to be SAFE for most healthy adults when taken orally at the recommended dose.
The highest safe level is defined as 14-15gr. No toxicity or adverse side effects were observed or reported when glutamine was taken at high doses (50-60gr) for short periods of time.
See contraindications and interactions below for more information on when not to take Glutamine supplements.
Special Precautions & Warnings
There is not enough information regarding the safety of L-glutamine so avoid using them during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do not give glutamine to a child unless instructed by a doctor.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Consult with your doctor before using this supplement especially if you have any of the following conditions or take the following medication/substances:
- Sensitivity to MSG (monosodium glutamate): as glutamine is actually converted to glutamate in your body.
- Seizures and Mental diseases.
- Hepatic encephalopathy.
- Sensitivity to glutamine
Avoid using L-glutamine and check with your doctor if you are taking the following medication as L-Glutamine can decrease or alter their effects or even affect chemicals in the brain:
- Lactulose (to reduce ammonia),
- Chemotherapy (cancer medication),
- Seizure medication and other.
Do I need to cycle off?
Technically, cycling is not required for this supplement as it can get depleted however, I do recommend 3-6 months on and taking 2-4 weeks off in order to enhance absorption.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
Glutamine is one of my favorite supplements for both optimal health and muscle building. It will help you heal your gut and restore your digestive health, build muscle or lose fat while protecting your precious muscle when used as part of a balanced nutritional and exercise program.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
Studies and sources:
- Domanski MJ, et al Association of myocardial enzyme elevation and survival following coronary artery bypass graft surgery . JAMA. (2011)
- Sufit A, et al Pharmacologically dosed oral glutamine reduces myocardial injury in patients undergoing cardiac surgery: a randomized pilot feasibility trial. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. (2012)
- MacLennan PA, et al Inhibition of protein breakdown by glutamine in perfused rat skeletal muscle . FEBS Lett. (1988)
- MacLennan PA, Brown RA, Rennie MJ A positive relationship between protein synthetic rate and intracellular glutamine concentration in perfused rat skeletal muscle. FEBS Lett. (1987)
- Zhou X, Thompson JR Regulation of protein turnover by glutamine in heat-shocked skeletal myotubes. Biochim Biophys Acta. (1997)
- Millward DJ, Jepson MM, Omer A Muscle glutamine concentration and protein turnover in vivo in malnutrition and in endotoxemia. Metabolism. (1989)
- Carvalho-Peixoto J, Alves RC, Cameron LC Glutamine and carbohydrate supplements reduce ammonemia increase during endurance field exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2007)
- Coëffier M, et al Enteral glutamine stimulates protein synthesis and decreases ubiquitin mRNA level in human gut mucosa. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. (2003)
- Potsic B, et al Glutamine supplementation and deprivation: effect on artificially reared rat small intestinal morphology. Pediatr Res. (2002)
- Glutamine and Barrier Function in Cultured Caco-2 Epithelial Cell Monolayers
- Glutamine Synthetase: A Key Enzyme for Intestinal Epithelial Differentiation?
- Seth A, et al L-Glutamine ameliorates acetaldehyde-induced increase in paracellular permeability in Caco-2 cell monolayer. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. (2004)
- Bai M, Jiang Z, Liu Y Glutamine dipeptide attenuate mucosal atrophic changes and preservation of gut barrier function following 5-FU intervention. Zhonghua Wai Ke Za Zhi. (1996)
- Chun H, et al Effect of enteral glutamine on intestinal permeability and bacterial translocation after abdominal radiation injury in rats. J Gastroenterol. (1997)
- Luminal Glutamine Perfusion Alters Endotoxin-Related Changes in Ileal Permeability of the Piglet
- Sevastiadou S, et al The impact of oral glutamine supplementation on the intestinal permeability and incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis/septicemia in premature neonates. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. (2011)
- Lima NL, et al Wasting and intestinal barrier function in children taking alanyl-glutamine-supplemented enteral formula. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. (2007)
- van den Berg A, et al The effect of glutamine-enriched enteral nutrition on intestinal permeability in very-low-birth-weight infants: a randomized controlled trial. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. (2006)
- Luo M, et al Metabolic effects of enteral versus parenteral alanyl-glutamine dipeptide administration in critically ill patients receiving enteral feeding: a pilot study. Clin Nutr. (2008)
- Li Y, et al Oral glutamine ameliorates chemotherapy-induced changes of intestinal permeability and does not interfere with the antitumor effect of chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer: a prospective randomized trial. Tumori. (2006)
- Shao A, Hathcock JN Risk assessment for the amino acids taurine, L-glutamine and L-arginine . Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. (2008)
- Garlick PJ Assessment of the safety of glutamine and other amino acids. J Nutr. (2001)
- Roth E Nonnutritive effects of glutamine. J Nutr. (2008)
- Effects of an oral mixture containing glycine, glutamine and niacin on memory, GH and IGF-I secretion in middle-aged and elderly subjects. Arwert, Deijen JB, Drent ML.
- Increased plasma bicarbonate and growth hormone after an oral glutamine load. Welbourne.