Glutamine 2

Author: Craig Coghlin CPT (Canfit Pro), CFC (CSEP)
For anyone who has ever asked about glutamine, they will know the standard answer is some derivative of it is a non-essential amino acid, and is the most abundant amino acid in the blood plasma. But Id like to take you a step further and teach you what it is exactly, and if supplementation is really necessary.

What is it?

Glutamine is a gluconeogenic molecule, which means it is able to form glucose, a form of energy, from certain molecules (pyruvate, lactate, and glycerol). Thus it has been thought to be able to provide some extra zip during endurance events. But studies to back this up are currently conflicted, some citing the fact that adding protein to a carbohydrate solution containing glutamine after exercise has the ability to increase glycogen storage (the storage form of glucose). Yet carbohydrate alone has the ablitity to do this.

Glutamine is actually a form of energy in itself, but not directly for exercise. It contributes energy to lymphocytes and microphages, key cells involved in the immune system. So logically by keeping your immune system in top condition, you would prevent overtraining, and stay healthier, allowing for more regular exercise. Actually, glutamine becomes a conditionally essential amino acid in special populations, such as burn victims, whom have undergone traumatic catabolism. For those who havent experienced overtraining, youre a lucky group. Overtraining
is characterized by sleep disturbances, irritability, fatigue, and depression. Yet it is easily avoided through simple practices such as program variety and proper rest. Overtraining can even increase your susceptibility to illness, possibly due to an impaired immune system. Some studies have discovered lower than normal levels of glutamine in those experiencing overtraining syndrome.

So is supplementation necessary?

At the current time, research is divided. Some studies have found that with glutamine supplementation, plasma levels are maintained and there is a lower incidence of infections. Yet similar studies find that there is no increase in specific lymphocyte distribution (infection fighters). So, it is thought that supplementation may be beneficial to those engaged in heavy exercise training.

There are a certain group of steadfast believers who maintain that glutamine has anabolic effects. There have been some studies that have actually shown glutamine to increase HGH (human growth hormone) levels and increase cell volume. These studies have not been supported.

So in conclusion, supplementation with glutamine may prove beneficial, but there will be large individual variations. Experimentation is an option, as any excess will simply be excreted and should not pose any harmful side effects. Yet as with anything else, if there is doubt, always consult a physician first.