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L-Glutamine

May 12, 2011 –

When I first started P90x, the only supplement I had ever taken was a multivitamin. The use of supplements was completely foreign to me. Are these drugs? Are they safe? What do I use them for? I would look inside a GNC and have no clue what any of this stuff was. I will be touching on many supplements in upcoming blogs.

Today’s supplement is L-Glutamine. This was a new supplement to me as I had never even heard it prior to starting P90x journey. It seemed to appear in alot of material and was even dashed into some of the other supplements I was taking such as P90x Results & Recovery Drink and my GNC Wheybolic Extreme Protein Powder. I also saw it as a stand-alone powder. So lets take a deeper look…

What is Glutamine, where does it come from,  and what does it do for the body?

Although Glutamine is a non essential amino acid, it can become a conditionally essential in certain situations, such as intensive athletic training. Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid found in human muscle and plasma.  Over 60% of the free-floating amino acid pool in skeletal muscle cells is made up of Glutamine.

90% of all Glutamine is synthesized in muscle mass. Dietary sources of Glutamine include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, and parsley. Small amounts of free Glutamine are also found in vegetable juices and foods, such as tofu.

Glutamine plays a variety of roles, including:

1) Protein Synthesis (like other amino acids)

2) Regulation of acid-base balance in the kidney by producing ammonium.

3) Cellular energy, as a source, next to glucose

4) Nitrogen donation for many anabolic processes.

5) Carbon donation, as a source, refilling the citric acid cycle

6) Nontoxic transporter of ammonia in the blood circulation.

Why would I need to use an L-Glutamine supplement?

This is where the term “conditional essential amino acid” comes into play. During times of physical stress, such as intense exercise or even surgery, the body requires greater dosages of it. If your Glutamine sores are depleted, you may feel decreased strength, stamina, and recovery.

Ah, I can see a trend here. So if you are doing intense exercise, which would be P90x, Insanity, Turbo Fire, or other activity, you will want to replenish your Glutamine. Now we know why it is in many Recovery Drinks. :)

One other important fact is that bodybuilders tend to be more susceptible to illness because their Gluatmine levels are depleted. So  it is not just important to gain more muscle, but also to ensure you are still getting the natural benefits that standard Glutamine levels provide to your body.

What dosage should I take and when should I take it?

Typically for those doing intense exercise, you should consumer 12-15grams per day in doses of 5g. For those doing intermediate or beginner workouts, 500-750mg should suffi. The P90x Results & Recovery Formula contains 500mg of L-Glutamine. A full serving (3 scoops) of GNC Wheybolic Extreme 60 contains 10g of L-Glutamine.

You can also buy L-Glutamine as a stand alone supplement. It comes in powders and chewable tablets. I have used both. Chewable tablets are very cheap, but less effective. Powder is the most efficient form. I take L-Glutamine a few times per day.

1) Post Workout – P90x Results & Recovery Formula (0.5g)

2) Morning Snack – I put (1) scoop of GNC Wheybolic Extreme Protein in my Shakeology so this is ~3.5g. I have also been putting an additional 5g scoop of straight L-Glutamine. Once I am done with my stand-alone powder, I will probably not buy more given what my Whey Protein provides.

3) Afternoon – I spread my supplements out through the day, so I take a few of them mid afternoon. I take a 5g L-Glutamine Chewable Tablet along with some other supplements.

4) Post Dinner – I make a Protein shake with (2) scoops of GNC Wheybolic Extreme Protein which provides ~7g. I have also been putting an additional 5g scoop of straight L-Glutamine powder. Once I am done with my stand-alone powder, I will probably not buy more given what my Whey Protein provides.

So I am currently probably overdoing it a little bit which is why I will drop the stand-alone powder which will decrease my daily intake me from ~25g to 15g.

Is it safe to supplement and are there any side effects?

There have been studies on L-Glutamine supplementation and they have shown that it can minimize the breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism. However, there is still debate amongst the experts as whether an orally administered L-Glutamine supplement definitively raises Glutamine levels in the body. Even after running a marathon, many people have seen their Glutamine levels raise to normal levels 6-9 hours after the race. However, another study shows that levels have been raised back to normal within 30 minutes of taking a supplement.

There are no significant side-effects to supplementing with it except for an upset stomach which only happens if you take large quantities of it at one sitting.

Final Recommendation

If you are doing intense / extreme workouts, especially P90x, Insanity, or Turbo Fire, I would recommend that you supplement with L-Glutamine. Although the research is not as conclusive as say creatine, it is relatively inexpensive and the potential benefits outweigh the fact that there are no side effects and no real downside. However, check to see if your protein powder also contains the supplement as it is sometimes added into a proprietary blend.

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