Glutamine and Sport

Glutamine and Sport

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Glutamine and Sport

We uncover the benefits of glutamine and its effects on your sport performance.

WORDS: Belinda Reynolds


Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is of paramount importance for overall health. Training at high intensities has been found to deplete available glutamine levels in the body, and low concentrations have been noted in athletes experiencing significant discomfort from overtraining. (1,2)

Sportspeople often think of glutamine as a supplement for muscle protein synthesis, repair and growth - and for good reason. Glutamine, along with the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) make up a large component of muscle protein mass. Its benefits, however, go far beyond this. Not only does glutamine assist the formation of other amino acids (e.g. L-arginine), it plays fundamental roles in energy production, the clearance of “fatigue factors” from the blood during training (e.g. ammonia, phosphorous) and regulating acid-base balance, to enhance performance (1,3). It also supports immune function 4, reduces exercise induced inflammation, and maintains intestinal health in athletes 1,5. In a 2008 trial, when glutamine (3.5g) was given together with maltodextrin (50g) half an hour before exercise, and results compared with maltodextrin alone, the blend was proven to be superior.

Subjects on the mixture showed a greater increase in the distance covered during an exercise test. The blend also led to an increase in the length of time for which the intermittent exercise was tolerated, and athletes experienced reduced feelings of fatigue, all when compared to maltodextrin alone 6. These results are believed to be due to glutamine’s role in the krebs cycle (a key energy producing process in the body), and a resultant ability of glutamine to enhance the efficiency of metabolic processes.

Glutamine also appears to increase a process known as gluconeogenesis in the liver that maintains glucose and glycogen availability to working muscles.

For the full article, purchase Men's Muscle & Health Magazine issue 10 or subscribe online.

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