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Glutamine For Muscle Recovery: Is It Effective?

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Glutamine for muscle recovery has been demonstrated in studies involving patients in different stressed conditions as well as the physically active healthy population. We will go over what it is, its benefits, compare it with BCAAs, and suggest a product you could try.

Glutamine for muscle recovery – Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid found in protein foods and in pure supplement form. It has been shown to support muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle soreness, and support strength and force recovery.

Glutamine For Muscle Recovery

What Is Glutamine?

Glutamine is an amino acid in the body with roles implicated in immune support and in catabolic situations. It is a routine supplement for patients undergoing surgery.

During times of infection and/or high metabolism, immune cells consume glutamine to a similar or even greater degree than glucose, another energy substrate.

This could potentially lead to a deficiency, which may worsen diseases or infections. In the general healthy population who consume a balanced diet, glutamine supplementation does not improve immunity and/or prevent illness. 

Among the stressed or catabolic population, there are nutritional limitations and disturbances to metabolism that render some non-essential amino acids, such as glutamine, conditionally essential where supplementation may be beneficial. 

Glutamine is found in high concentrations in a variety of vegetable and animal protein-based foods, such as tofu, white rice, beef, and egg. 

Supplementation is usually in either the “free form” where it is an isolated amino acid or in the “dipeptide form” where it is bonded with another amino acid. The most well-known is L-alanyl-L-glutamine. Its effects are supported by the presence of alanine in the peptide formulation.

In animal models, free glutamine together with free alanine have been shown to promote similar metabolic, antioxidant, and immunological effects. There are some other beneficial effects on animal studies but how (if at all) that will translate to humans – hard to say.

Plasma glutamine concentration increases within 30 minutes after supplementation and returns to baseline about 2 hours after supplementation. The L-glutamine dosage for muscle recovery and in general that could be tolerated without side effects is about 20–30g daily or up to 0.65g/kg of bodyweight per day.

With this said, research shows that there is little data to support that glutamine supplementation would be of additional benefit to healthy individuals who have a good nutrition status.

What Are the Benefits of Glutamine for Muscle Recovery?

Potential benefits of glutamine for muscle recovery include:

✅ Glutamine for Muscle Growth and Protein Synthesis

Glutamine is a key component of the amino acid pool used for protein synthesis, which is crucial for repairing and building muscle tissue.

After intense exercise, muscle protein breakdown can occur, and glutamine could help support the rebuilding of muscle proteins.

However, data show there is no significant effect of glutamine supplementation on muscle performance, body composition, or muscle protein degradation in young healthy adults.

✅ Glutamine for Muscle Soreness 

Glutamine may help reduce the severity and duration of muscle soreness, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which occurs after intense exercise.

It has been shown to diminish muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. Either way, this shows it may support faster recovery and more frequent training sessions.

There is some research demonstrating that glutamine supplementation can support recovery of force production.

For example, in a study of 8 men and women who consumed 0.3g/kg bodyweight per day of L-glutamine and a control, L-glutamine supplementation was associated with a faster recovery of peak torque and diminished muscle soreness following eccentric exercise but with doses like 0.3g/kg/day in one dose which means 80kg man should take 24g of glutamine, probably right after training.

However, research remains equivocal in terms of broadly recommending supplementation to healthy and well-nourished individuals.

✅ Immune System Support

Intense exercise can temporarily weaken the immune system, making athletes more susceptible to infections. Glutamine is an important nutrient for immune cells and supplementing with it may help maintain immune system function, reducing the risk of illness that could disrupt your training and recovery.

✅ Gut Health

The intestines use a significant amount of glutamine as an energy source. During intense exercise, the demand for glutamine can increase. Supplementing with glutamine may help maintain gut health and function, which can be crucial for overall nutrient absorption and recovery.

✅ Anti-catabolic Effects

Glutamine has been suggested to have anti-catabolic effects, meaning it may help prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, particularly during periods of intense training or calorie restriction.

Does Glutamine Improve Body Composition?

If you are wondering about L-glutamine benefits for bodybuilding, glutamine has not been shown to improve body composition.

In a short-term, 12-day weight reduction program that included a daily caloric deficit and ingestion of 0.35g/kg bodyweight of glutamine, there was little benefit observed in terms of lean body mass retention with glutamine supplementation.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 47 studies has shown that glutamine has a significant effect on weight reduction, but not body composition.

In the case of inflicting a small calorie deficit, maintaining adequate protein intake is important in order to mitigate the loss of lean muscle mass.

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (19.60g)
  • Servings Per container: 30
  • Calories: 10
  • Total Carbohydrate: 2g

Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is a recovery formula consisting of 5g of L-glutamine, 8g of BCAA (of which 4000mg is L-leucine, 2000mg is L-isoleucine, and 2000mg is L-valine), and 1g of coconut water powder.

BCAAs have been shown to attenuate exercise-induced muscle damage and fatigue as well as support post-workout muscle growth. Coconut water is dense in key electrolytes required by the body, including potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Electrolytes and fluid levels can be depleted following exercise. Many studies have determined the beneficial effects of using coconut water for rehydration. The key ingredients in this product make it a suitable supplement to support recovery.

It is recommended to take one scoop two to four times daily 30–45 minutes before, during, and/or immediately following training. The product comes in four refreshing flavors and contains no artificial sweeteners, colouring, or preservatives, and is gluten-free and non-GMO.

FAQ

When Should I Take Glutamine for Muscle Recovery?

Glutamine after workout could be beneficial since after training, the muscles are in a state of increased protein synthesis and repair. But to be honest in that case you will benefit more from good quality protein source like Transparent Labs Whey Protein. Glutamine post workout in many cases shouldnt be the first choice. 

Glutamine has been shown to positively influence intestinal cellular proliferation and have anti-inflammatory properties that offer it the ability to target intestinal inflammation.

This is beneficial for the management of inflammatory bowel diseases. In individuals with acute critical illness, glutamine can be conditionally essential as plasma concentrations are observed to be low and thought to be related to muscle wasting – but if you are dealing with health problems always consult taking any supplement with your healthcare provider.

Which Is Better for Muscle Recovery, Bcaa or Glutamine?

BCAAs may have a more direct and impactful effect (even more for vegans) for muscle recovery since they have been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle soreness, and be a source of muscle glycogen-sparing energy during prolonged or intense exercise.

Glutamine, on the other hand, shows best results helping with immunity and gut issues. In general, adequate protein intake from a diversity of food sources is appropriate for most people.

In the absence of adequate dietary intake or if dietary intake is difficult, then an all-encompassing whey protein powder supplement is generally sufficient for most people. 

Is Glutamine Good for Muscle Injury?

Following a muscle injury, the body requires amino acids to repair the damaged tissue. Glutamine could possibly contribute to this repair since some injuries can contribute to glutamine deficiency and supplementation can be justified.

Glutamine has also been suggested to have anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects. Since inflammation is a natural response to injury, glutamine may help modulate this.

Does Glutamine Speed up Recovery?

Glutamine can potentially speed up recovery since it has been shown to attenuate catabolic stress from illness as well as exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness.

Above all, adequate protein in general from food sources or supplementation with a whey or balanced plant-based protein supplement is required for recovery. 

Conclusion

Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid that has been shown to mediate the effects of catabolism, support muscle protein synthesis and soreness, mitigate strength loss, improve force and energy store recovery, and support immunity and gut health.

Generally a daily dose of 20–35g is sufficient. Sources of glutamine include protein foods or pure supplements. Have you tried glutamine supplementation in the past? Did you notice any differences after taking it? Share with us, below!

Also read:

References

  1. Vinicius Cruzat et al., “Glutamine: Metabolism and Immune Function, Supplementation and Clinical Translation,” Nutrients 10, no. 11 (2018): 1564.
  2. Maurizio Varnier et al., “Stimulatory effect of glutamine on glycogen accumulation in human skeletal muscle,” The American Journal of Physiology 269, no. 2 (1995): E309-15.
  3. Adriana Bassini-Cameron et al., “Glutamine protects against increases in blood ammonia in football players in an exercise intensity-dependent way,” British Journal of Sports Medicine 42, no. 4 (2008): 260-6.
  4. Carine M Lenders et al., “Evaluation of a novel food composition database that includes glutamine and other amino acids derived from gene sequencing data,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 63, no. 12 (2009): 1433-9.
  5. Raquel Raizel et al., “Determination of the anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects of l-glutamine and l-alanine, or dipeptide, supplementation in rats submitted to resistance exercise,” The British Journal of Nutrition 116, no. 3 (2016): 470-9.
  6. Jay R Hoffman et al., “L-alanyl-L-glutamine ingestion maintains performance during a competitive basketball game,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9, no. 1 4. (2012).
  7. Lindy M Castell et al., “Does glutamine have a role in reducing infections in athletes?,” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 73, no. 5 (1996): 488-90.
  8. Peter Stehle et al., “Glutamine dipeptide-supplemented parenteral nutrition improves the clinical outcomes of critically ill patients: A systematic evaluation of randomised controlled trials,” Clinical Nutrition ESPEN 17 (2017): 75-85.
  9. Vinicius Cruzat et al., “Glutamine: Metabolism and Immune Function, Supplementation and Clinical Translation,” Nutrients 10, no. 11 (2018): 1564.
  10. Alfredo Córdova-Martínez et al., “Effect of Glutamine Supplementation on Muscular Damage Biomarkers in Professional Basketball Players,” Nutrients 13, no. 6 (2021): 2073. 

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Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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