L-Glutamine the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells. It is released from the muscle during times of stress (such as hard weight training workouts) and dieting. This amino acid not only has been shown to be a great anti-catabolic agent (protects the muscle from the catabolic activities of the hormone cortisol), to be a contributor to muscle cell volume, and to have immune system enhancing properties but also to help in the following ways:
- Regulation of protein synthesis (this is one of the ways in which steroids exert their muscle building effects).
- Accelerating glycogen synthesis after a workout.
- Sparing the use of the glycogen stored in the muscle cell (recall that the glycogen stored in the muscle cell is what gives the cell the healthy volume and firmness that you seek).
- Faster recuperation from weight training workouts.
How To Use It
Due to its anti-catabolic properties and the fact that it accelerates glycogen synthesis after a workout, glutamine is best taken 20-30 minutes after a workout with a protein shake. On days that you don't workout, just take it with your last protein shake of the day. While there is much debate amongst experts as far as dosage is concerned, I always like to remain on the conservative side. Therefore, I feel that 3-5 grams is a sufficient dosage to start with and as your stomach gets used to it you can increase it to as much as 10-15 grams.
As far as cycling this supplement, there is no evidence that suggests cycling would improve its efficacy.
As far as side effects we only experienced a slight stomach discomfort during the first week of use (I took the straight powder form). Other than that, I did not experience any other side effects and I have not found any literature that links its use to anything bad.
As usual, I recommend that you start with a low dosage (such as only 3 grams a day) in order to assess your tolerance. From there you can build up to 10-15 grams split in 2-3 servings per day (1 in the morning, 1 after the workout and another one before bed). I would reserve the highest dosage schedule for periods of extremely hard training such as pre-contest training.
By looking at the effects that this supplement can provide you with, along with the fact that these days it can be purchased for a very cheap price, we wonder why more athletes don't use it. This is especially important during dieting, as a way to protect the muscle from being cannibalized by the effects of cortisol.
On a final note, please remember that like any supplement you need to stick to high quality brands.
Good brands of Glutamine that I have used are:
- Champion Nutrition
- Beverly International
About The Author
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Learn more about Hugo Rivera.