You might already have all of the common staples when it comes to supplements. But what about some of the others like glutamine? Is it worth adding this to your supplement lineup, or is it easier to just get it from food? Maybe you’ve never even heard of it. If not, it might be something you want to try.
Let’s go over some of the ways glutamine can benefit your workout, what foods are the best sources, and if supplementing might be a good option for you.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is an amino acid that works as a building block for protein. It’s not one of the nine “essential” amino acids because your body can make it. However, it’s still helpful to pay attention to how much you’re getting from food to get the most benefit. There might even be times when your body needs more than it can produce.
There are actually two types of glutamine:
- L - Glutamine - The most abundant and important type for the body. This is the type of glutamine found in food and supplements.
- D - Glutamine - Much less abundant and does not seem to play much of a role in the body.
Although the difference between the two types is very small (the molecules just look slightly different), L-glutamine is the key player. In fact, it’s a concentration in the blood is higher than any other amino acid.
Benefits of Glutamine
Since glutamine is the most common amino acid in the blood and other fluids in the body, you can probably imagine it has some pretty important roles. Immune health and gut health are two areas where it’s most beneficial.
The immune cells actually use glutamine as a source of fuel. Without enough, the immune function could decrease. In instances where the body is particularly stressed such as critical illness or surgery, the amount of glutamine in the blood may decrease. At the same time, the body may not be able to make enough to keep up with its needs.
Glutamine is especially important for the intestinal cells. Like the immune cells, the cells in the intestines need glutamine for fuel.
The cells that use glutamine form the barrier in the intestinal wall that prevents toxins from entering the digestive system. This barrier is also for preventing conditions like leaky gut syndrome.
Does Glutamine Help With Muscle Gain?
Glutamine builds protein, which builds muscle. So yes, glutamine plays a role in muscle building. Although the body can make glutamine and it’s not “essential,” it can become “conditionally essential” when the body can’t make enough to keep up with it’s needs.
There’s not enough research to show whether or not supplementing glutamine actually increases muscle gain. However, studies do show that supplementing could help with exercise performance by improving recovery and soreness.
Foods High In Glutamine
Animal products are generally the best source of protein, meaning they’re also the best sources of glutamine. This includes foods such as:
The best vegetarian-friendly sources include rice, corn, nuts, seeds, and tofu. However, these foods only have a high percentage of glutamine when compared to protein overall. They’re still not very impressive sources of protein.
Additionally, the glutamine content of food isn’t commonly studied. If you’re unsure, remember that basically any high-protein food is likely a good source of glutamine.
Can You Supplement Glutamine?
Yes! It’s a great way to optimize glutamine’s benefits and also have a better idea of how much you’re getting (since it’s not like glutamine is usually on a food label). Adding this supplement to your regime is especially helpful if you have high protein needs. If you follow a plant-based diet, your glutamine intake from food alone may also be low.
Some brands may not specify, but supplements are made with L-glutamine. Since this amino acid is made naturally in the body, it’s safe to take as a supplement. Be sure to choose something like Naked Glutamine that has no extra ingredients like artificial sweeteners or flavors.
There’s no specific time when it’s really best to take a glutamine supplement, which makes it even easier to incorporate. However, you may not see noticeable benefits if you take glutamine alone. Overall protein intake will help you achieve the most benefit for muscle and strength building.
Glutamine is an amino acid that is important for tissue building all over the body. It’s most well-known for its role in immune and gut health. However, it also participates in building muscle tissue.
Although the body can make glutamine, there are several instances when the body may not be able to make enough to keep up with it’s own needs. In these instances, you have to consume more glutamine through the diet.
The best sources of glutamine are also the best sources of protein - animal products. Someone with high protein needs or someone who follows a plant-based diet would benefit most from a glutamine supplement.