Glutamine, also known as L-glutamine, is one of the 20 amino acids in the human body. Because it’s produced by the body in sufficient quantities, its classification is that of a nonessential amino acid. Glutamine is made in the lungs and comprises 60% of skeletal muscle tissue.
And although it’s abundantly present most of the time, its levels tend to drop markedly when the body undergoes any kind of stress. This is mainly the byproduct of the release of a hormone, known as cortisol, into the blood stream whenever the body is under duress. For weightlifters, glutamine supplements make for an attractive option to combat the shortage which occurs when they need the amino acid most – during and after a workout session.
There are a number of benefits that glutamine supplements bring to the table with regards to bodybuilding.
By virtue of the fact that the amount of glutamine in muscle is virtually depleted during an intense workout session, the muscle begins to undergo dehydration and subsequently catabolism, causing a decrease in muscle mass. Glutamine supplements essentially reverse the process. They replenish glutamine levels, promote protein synthesis, and thereby facilitate greater muscle growth.
Also, the build-up of lactic acid in muscles during weight lifting causes muscle fatigue resulting in a curtailed performance. Glutamine helps increase the levels of plasma bicarbonate which act to buffer the accumulation of lactic acid, and thus boost performance.
Glutamine encourages the production of HGH, Human Growth Hormone. A recent study has shown that the intake of as little as 2 grams of glutamine resulted in a 400% increase in growth hormones.
One of the functions of glutamine is to transport nitrogen, an integral component to muscle growth, to wherever it’s needed. This greatly enhances muscle tissue recovery after an intense training session; without the necessary levels of glutamine to ensure the presence of nitrogen, the rebuilding of torn muscle can take considerable longer.
Glutamine helps bolster the immune system’s ability to fight bacterial and viral diseases. It promotes the production of lymphocytes which are cells that combat pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. This is especially beneficial to weightlifters whose levels of glutamine are low during and after training.
The benefits of glutamine are not solely restricted to the realm of bodybuilding. The amino acid plays a major role in other areas of maintaining a healthy body. Glutamine is a natural neurotransmitter; it chemically facilitates the transmission of information in the human brain. And in the absence of glucose, glutamine supplies energy to the organ thereby maintaining brain function.
Furthermore, studies have shown that glutamine serves as a primary source of energy for the digestive system. Lack of the amino acid can cause a loss of epithelial cell integrity in the thin lining of the digestive tract, which, in turn, may enable infectious agents to permeate the body.
Glutamine has also been determined to possess wound and burn healing benefits. A 2010 study showed that patients who were given glutamine intravenously experienced shorter hospital stay, as well as a reduced number of infectious complications when compared to those who did not get injected.