Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, but during times of physical stress, it becomes essential, as the body is unable to manufacture enough. Glutamine is required in large amounts every day to maintain proper function of many organs and the immune system.
There are considerable amounts of research into the use of glutamine in sports, but with very mixed results. Glutamine is also used clinically, in the intensive care setting, to aid wound healing in burns, post surgery and sepsis patients. It is also the amino acid preferred as a source of energy for intestinal muscle cells to aid absorption of other nutrients. Its use in medicine is also controversial, with mixed reports, that it has significant benefits to critically ill patients (Lacey & Wilmore 1990; Roth, et al 1990; Heys, et al 1999).
Glutamine has other functions, including being involved in the manufacture of the powerful antioxidant glutathione (see Chapter 10), and has also been shown to increase growth hormone release (Welbourne 1995).
In bodybuilding it is used for the same reasons as in medicine, in that weight training stresses our bodies intensely. Some scientific evidence points to glutamine being of little use in sports, but anecdotal reports and other studies have shown significant benefits.
When demands for glutamine are high and there is insufficient dietary glutamine, the body cannot manufacture sufficient amounts, so it is taken from muscle stores. Therefore, not only do we have insufficient amounts for muscle growth, but glutamine is also taken from muscle. Exogenous glutamine is therefore anti -catabolic.
Also, the way in which glutamine is taken is debatable. Many quality MRPs are fortified with extra glutamine, and also some quality protein powders contain added glutamine over and above the source of the protein. It is probably best to consume a small amount of additional glutamine throughout the day. This is helped by spreading out consumption of MRPs, and by consuming some glutamine with meals. Studies have shown that 50 - 85% of supplemented glutamine is not absorbed (Phillips 1997), due to other amino acids competing for intestinal receptor uptake in absorption, so I would take one dose of one to two grams at least half an hour away from other protein sources. Take glutamine with carbohydrate, e.g. mixed in fruit juice. Glutamine has its place for the more advanced bodybuilder, in aiding recovery.
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Bodybuilding is the process of developing muscle fibers through various techniques. It is achieved through muscle conditioning, weight training, increased calorie intake, and resting your body as it repairs and heals itself, before restarting your workout routine.