No matter how much attention is paid to workouts, exercises, and the latest trends in conditioning or training devices…the topic often comes back to the one issue that burns strongly inside almost all exercise enthusiasts looking to build a better body and that is…supplementation.
By far, one of the most well researched and popular supplements on the market (and also the subject of lots of questions) is glutamine.
Glutamine (or L-Glutamine) as it may be referred to, is an amino acid that is considered to be “nonessential” in that your body can produce it naturally. That said, you do use up a LOT of this sucker when you’re working out….so lets just say it’s “Conditionally nonessential”!
Let me explain. Roughly 60% of the total amino acid pool in your body is comprised of glutamine, a large portion of which is found in lean muscle tissue. This stuff is in extremely high demand throughout your body for a number of important processes, and when you workout intensely, glutamine levels can drop by as much as 50%!
Can You Get It In Food?
While it can be found naturally in dairy products, fish, meats, beans and poultry…in order to receive a significantly beneficial amount you’d have to consume an extremely large amount of these foods. This is why supplementing your diet with extra glutamine is a good idea. While glutamine’s effects are not as dramatic as those of creatine, it is still a highly recommended part of a solid supplementation program.
Unlike creatine, glutamine will not lead to any dramatic immediate effects. It won’t add 5-10 pounds of muscle in 2 weeks, or allow you to add 40 more pounds onto your squat. Glutamine, similar to protein powder, produces some of it’s greater overall gains as an effective “anti-catabolic” or recovery assistor….that in the long run (taken every day) can lead to some significant long term gains.
Rather than directly building muscle on its own, glutamine will speed up the muscle-building process by limiting muscle breakdown. It’s simple really. Anytime your body undergoes physical stress (like lifting weights) it will not have to break down muscle tissue in order to obtain glutamine since it will already be provided with an external source you’re taking.
So how much and how often you’re asking?
I would say that 5-10 grams everyday (1-2 teaspoons) is about right. If you use 10 grams, then you should divide the dose into into 2 servings of 5 grams to allow for maximum absorption. Generally for those guys weighing less than 200 pounds I would stick to the 5 grams and for those over 200 pounds you can lean closer to the 10 grams.
By far, the most important time to use a serving of glutamine is directly after your workout, ideally within 30 minutes! This is the time when your body is in a catabolic state and when muscle breakdown is occurring at its fastest rate. Supplementing with glutamine will help to reverse this process and switch your body back into an anabolic state so that muscle growth can take place.
The second most important time would be right before bed. Although sleep is very important in the recovery process, the fact is that most of you will be going up to 8 hours without any food. Glutamine will help to minimize muscle loss during this time and will keep your hard-earned muscle tissue intact. If that wasn’t enough, some research has also shown that taking glutamine before bed will increase the secretion of growth hormone, which we know as an extremely important anabolic booster.
The Verdict Is In…
So the verdict is in…if it isn’t already, glutamine needs to be part of your overall supplementation plan. Along with a multivitamin, omega-3 essential fatty acid, creatine, high quality meal replacement / post workout shake, and night time protein recovery shake….glutamine completes the picture and allows each of those to work to their full extent.
By promoting your body’s natural ability to recover and recuperate from strenuous workouts, this important amino acid keeps you always one step ahead of the recovery curve. As we know…that’s a good place to be. Allowing yourself to slip into a catabolic state for even a second can put you behind the eight ball and bring your results to a screeching halt.
Don’t let this happen. Instead, keep the “anabolic express” chugging right along by adding some vitally important glutamine to your supplementation regimen today!
Have you always found the topic of supplementation a bit intimidating? Let the AthLEAN-X Training System make it “push button” easy! The program tells you exactly what to take, when to take it and how much of each to ensure optimal results (without waste) and maximum carryover to your workouts. See more at /best-workout-program-for-men
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.