by John Stone, Certified Personal Trainer
Glutamine has been a staple supplement in the kitchen of most advanced bodybuilders and athletes alike for several years now. Like most health supplement discoveries however, Glutamine has risen to the top and then fallen from the ranks on several occasions. What was it that made Glutamine such a hot topic, and then what happened when it fell from grace, only to rise again? After reading this article you will know more than you ever thought you needed to know about this amino acid, and you might also rediscover how it can effectively aid you in the pursuit of health and fitness.
Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid found in the blood stream, and is known as a proteinogenic amino acid, meaning it is necessary for protein synthesis, which ultimately leads to increased muscle mass. Glutamine is also essential to the balance of acidity and alkalinity in the body, and is used by the kidneys to create Ammonium, which helps to regulate the pH levels in the blood. Glutamine is also easily converted into glucose, which can provide a quick source of caloric energy, without causing an extreme surge in glucose levels which leads to overproduction of insulin. In other words, for those extremely serious about utilizing a low carb diet, one might initially think it’s a good idea to avoid Glutamine because it can become glucose. Upon further inspection however, it is revealed that this process happens fairly regularly in the absence of glucose, and in some ways it will help the dieter maintain their low carb diet. The brain loves glucose. By allowing your body to convert glutamine into glucose, you provide a source of energy for the brain, but you also avoid the high insulin spike that comes from consuming glucose itself, which is ultimately the main point of a low carbohydrate diet.
Glutamine is known as a conditionally essential amino acid. Under normal circumstances, the body is perfectly capable of making Glutamine using Glutamate and Ammonia, by way of the Glutamine Synthetase enzyme. But in extreme situations such as disease, burn trauma and rigorous exercise, the body cannot keep up with its need for Glutamine, and this is where supplementing the diet with extra Glutamine can mean the difference between disease and health.
Glutamine is useful not only for burn victims, or for athletes, but also for post-operative recovery. Studies have shown that Glutamine supplementation can greatly accelerate the healing process following surgery. Glutamine also helps maintain a positive nitrogen balance, which is a marker of anabolism, or the growth and preservation of muscle tissue. In addition, it has been discovered that oral loading of Glutamine can stimulate the anterior pituitary gland which leads to an increase in Human Growth Hormone levels.
Glutamine is the preferred energy source for the cells of the intestines. This is potentially one of the most important benefits of Glutamine supplementation and upon further examination, it will make sense that this also helps the athlete achieve their goals of increased muscle mass and decreased recovery time between workouts. The reason why this is important, is that the intestinal tract is one of the largest organs involved in immunity. Our intestinal walls must be healthy in order for our entire immune system to function well. By increasing Glutamine supplementation, you are providing the most important element to the immune system, which helps to decrease inflammation as a whole, throughout the entire body. By decreasing inflammation, Glutamine helps the body to heal faster from intense workouts and to build new muscle tissue.
For many years, Glutamine was regarded as one of the most effective exercise supplements on the market, next to Creatine. At one point, the popularity of this supplement faded, and many people stopped taking it. As research continues to evolve however, it is becoming more and more clear that Glutamine supplementation is an excellent way to help the body recover from exercise, build new muscle mass, enhance the immune system, and to reduce inflammation.
John Stone is a certified personal trainer by the American Fitness and Aerobics Association with an extensive knowledge of health supplements, diet and nutrition, as well as hormone replacement and ergogenic aids. He is the author of the blog Metabolic Alchemy, and a regular contributor on several popular discussion forums. You can contact John Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.metabolicalchemy.com to read more information on tips and tricks to enhance your metabolism and outsmart your genetic code.