Aside from creatine and protein, glutamine is probably the most popular bodybuilding supplement of the last decade.
Purported benefits include better recovery, more muscle growth, and enhanced mental performance.
But there has been something of a backlash against glutamine supplements in recent years, with critics pointing out that your body can make glutamine and claiming that taking in extra is just a waste of money.
So what’s the truth here? Does glutamine work as a vital to your success in the gym, or just a product of snake-oil salesman looking for a quick buck?
Let’s take a deeper look to find out.
What Is Glutamine?
Glutamine is the most abundant of the 20 or so amino acids found in the human body,.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and are of vital importance to anyone looking to build muscle. That’s the main reason bodybuilders eat so much protein on a daily basis.
It also constitutes more than 60% of the aminos in your muscles
Yet, for all its important work, not everyone will benefit from taking in extra glutamine.
Essential nutrients are those that the body requires but cannot manufacture from other substances. In order to survive, you need to consume essential nutrients from your diet.
Glutamine is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid.
It’s abundant in most animal protein sources like beef, chicken, and fish, and even some vegetables. What glutamine you don’t get from food, your body can manufacture from the other amino acids and nutrients you consume.
Most of the time, your body will make plenty of glutamine to keep your stores topped off.
There are certain circumstances, thought, that will make it impossible for you to produce enough glutamine, and then you must get it from external sources.
When DO You Need Glutamine Supplements?
There are generally three conditions under which glutamine becomes an essential amino acid and when bodybuilders in particular will want to consider using a supplemental form:
When you’re sick or injured, your body marshals all of its resources for healing, and that can take a toll on your glutamine stores and your ability to make more of the amino. Adding glutamine powder to the mix can help you get well faster and keep you from losing as much muscle while you’re “down.”
During Stressful Periods
Because glutamine provides energy to your brain, it is especially important during periods of physical, mental, and emotional stress. Not only do you tend to think — and overthink — a lot when you’re stressed, but your body is often working harder to fight off all the negative chemicals and other damaging side effects that you’re producing during these periods.
Dieting stressful and it also often leads to a slightly malnourished state. That’s especially true if you’re not extremely careful with your food and supplement choices or if you drop your calories to ultra-low levels. If you’re not taking in glutamine from your protein sources, or the building blocks from other foods, then your stores will deplete and you will not see the results that you want.
Many bodybuilders spend most of their days in one of these three states. From nagging colds and sniffles to high-intensity training and job stress to dieting for the beach or a show, physique athletes put a tremendous load on their bodies nearly all the time.
In fact, the scientific community has recognized the potential benefits that glutamine can afford to hard-training athletes for years.
Back in 1999, researchers at the University of Nebraska researchers at the University of Nebraska-Kearney conducted a review of available studies and found that ” glutamine has potential utility as a dietary supplement for athletes engaged in heavy exercise training.”
And exercise doesn’t get much “heavier” than bodybuilding!
So, when you’re training hard on a consistent basis, supplemental glutamine can help keep you at the top of your game both in and out of the gym. It’s vital to keeping your immune system healthy, growing muscles, and maintaining a healthy, positive mind.