What is glutamine and why should you be supplementing with it? This essential amino acid is the most abundant amino acid in your body and is vital to a whole host of metabolic functions and operations. After glucose it is the most abundant source of cellular energy you have. It helps regulate your body’s ph levels, transports waste form the cell structure, and in larger doses has been shown to increase blood plasma levels of Human Growth Hormone or HGH. It shortens healing time, aids in recovery after intense exercise, surgery, trauma, burns, and has shown promise in reversing gastrointestinal wall damage caused by IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gluten sensitivity.
If all that isn’t enough to convince you to give this readily available and cheap supplement a shot; then you my friend are hopeless and beyond reasoning with. Seriously though, more people should be upping their intake of Glutamine. The good news is if you take any kind of post-workout whey protein than you’re already receiving a dose of 3-5 grams with every serving. Recent research though has demonstrated that doses of 10-15 grams a day are far more effective and practical especially if you’re engaged in a regular high intensity workout regimen. Your body burns through a tremendous amount of glutamine before and after your workouts to fuel and then repair muscle cells. Failing to restock your body’s glutamine levels is like trying to breathe through a wet rag; sure you get air but barely enough.
Men looking to raise their blood serum levels of testosterone should pay particular attention to their glutamine intake. This amino acid is one of the regulators of HGH. Intense workouts cause a flood of hormones to be released into the blood stream including HGH, but without adequate glutamine and other essential amino acids your body is handicapped as far as how much testosterone it can release and direct towards muscle growth. Related to this issue is the way your body breaks down proteins and amino acids for energy. Let your glutamine levels run low and your body will begin breaking down muscle tissue and protein into its constituent amino acid chains to burn for fuel causing a loss of lean muscle tissue. Glutamine can also replace glucose as a fuel source in the brain working alongside substances like MCT’s or medium chain triglycerides to help convert the body to burning stored fat for energy and wean it off of simple carb dependence.
This over reliance on dietary carbs for a fuel source can become an issue in those converting to a Paleo style diet. The truth is carbohydrates are absolutely essential to your body’s energy needs; they are in fact what your body uses to produce energy in the form of glucose and glycogen. However we want to force the body to manufacture these simple sugars by breaking down fat stores and increasing amino energy intake so the body will leave existing muscle and protein reserves alone. Glutamine does this by first providing a quick ready source of fuel especially for the brain, but it also tricks the body into preserving protein or muscle not cannibalizing it for fuel.
I think the most exciting aspect of glutamine is its role in healing. If you suffer from gluten sensitivity then chances are you also suffer from some level of IBS. This debilitating condition can stem from the fact that gluten and other grain proteins destroy the lining of the intestines and stomach which then allows toxins and non desirable proteins to enter the blood unregulated where they cause havoc, cancer, and a whole host of inflammatory conditions and auto-immune diseases. Glutamine has been shown to not just alleviate this but reverse and speed recovery and healing times. It’s also been proven to dramatically reduce healing times from burns, bone breaks, trauma and maybe best of all sharply reduce delayed onset muscle soreness form intense exercise.
If you’re serious about your health and exercise then you need to look into adding glutamine to your daily supplements. No serious CrossFit participant, weightlifter, or endurance athlete should be without this amino acid in their kitchen or bathroom. I buy mine in bulk in the form of unflavored powder which can be added to shakes, cooked into meals or any food, beverage, or desert. The real question then is not why should you take this, but why you aren’t already?