When it comes to bodybuilding, there are tons of supplements that the gym rats use. Whey protein to pack on muscles, creatine to boost their endurance, and fish oil to boost overall health.
With these mainstream supplements taking all the limelight, they often overlook a rather important member of this supplement family that's needed to fight fat, improve muscle mass, and aid in recovery: L-glutamine.
If you are just a regular couch-potato, you may not need this supplement at all since your body is producing it in sufficient quantities. But the day you get up and decide to work out, L-glutamine bodybuilding supplementation becomes something to consider. Let’s dive into how glutamine can aid in bodybuilding. Let's also take a look at glutamine vs BCCA, and to find out if you should take glutamine before or after workout, and more.
Workout & Muscle Building
Losing weight is a common part of many New Year's resolutions. But what people forget while trying to fulfill this resolution is that getting lighter is not always healthier. While weight loss is a sign of good health, sometimes, it is occurring at the expense of your muscle mass which can be disastrous for your health.
Have you ever noticed how many diet plans emphasize strength training instead of simple cardio, simply because it helps you retain muscle mass? But why? Why is muscle mass so important, and you don't want to lose it.
Why do we want to lose weight? The first answer that comes to most people's minds is because it is aesthetically appealing. A well-built body with muscles is not only attractive but also signifies personal qualities like discipline and self-control. In addition, the presence of these muscles are a sign of strength in our society. If you have well defined muscles, people know who to turn to when moving a couch or carrying boxes upstairs. But is that all you need muscle mass for? Certainly not.
Muscles play an extremely important role in the regulation of overall health. They are crucial for maintaining your metabolic health, they improve your bone strength, control body weight, and improve your resistance to disease and stress. (1) In short, if you are looking for improvements in your strength, mobility, resilience, and energy, you have to rev up your muscle game (2)
How Your Body Builds Muscle
Everyone has muscles in their body, but some of us are literally packing with them. This increase in muscle size occurs if you challenge your muscles by constantly exposing them to weight lifting or any other type of resistance. This triggers a process known as "muscle hypertrophy”, which gradually increases the size of the muscles. What happens is that when you expose your muscles to constant levels of stress, the muscle fibers become injured. To repair this injury, these injured fibers fuse resulting in an increase in their size and mass.
In addition to resistance training, there are other factors, such as certain hormones, that also help the body build muscles. Some of the most prominent ones include insulin growth factor, human growth factor, and testosterone. Collectively, these hormones have the following effects on muscle building:
- They improve the processing of proteins in the body.
- They limit the protein breakdown which, in turn, protects the already existing muscles.
- They enhance tissue growth.
- They trigger certain anabolic factors which consequently improve the protein synthesis and initiate muscle growth.
- They activate satellite cells that are crucial for developing new muscles.
BCAA & Glutamine
BCCAs and glutamine are among the top supplements when it comes to building new muscle and repairing the old ones. But have you ever wondered what they really are?
BCCA refers to branched-chain amino acids, and this description is based on their chemical structure. It includes three out of the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own and hence, requires external supplementation. These amino acids include:
Leucine improves the endurance and physical performance by stimulating the synthesis of muscle protein at a higher speed.
Isoleucine improves the overall energy levels, oxygenates the body and regulates the blood glucose levels.
Valine plays an important role in synthesizing other important amino acids in the body.
Glutamine is a "conditional amino acid" that naturally exists in the human body. Regarded as one of the most abundant amino acids in the body, it plays an important role in multiple biological processes. It is also one of the very few amino acids that can cross the blood-brain barrier to enter the brain.
Glutamine is primarily produced in the muscles and shifted to different parts of the body wherever it is needed. It is like a fuel for different body cells and efficiently provides them with energy under normal circumstances i.e. when you are not putting your body under extra stress. However, the moment you decide to use more of this amino acid than your body can produce, i.e. during exercise, muscle wasting can occurs.
The Benefits of Glutamine For Workout Routines
Now let's get to the real question. Why is L-glutamine so important for your workout routine?
It Strengthens the Immune System
Your immune system needs glutamine to regulate itself, but this need becomes even more crucial as you expose your body to prolonged periods of intense exercise including strength training, marathons, etc.
Research has shown that factors like oxidative stress and inflammation can disrupt normal immunity in those performing endurance exercises. A deeper analysis has revealed how these factors are strongly related to glutamine deficiency. (3) This disruption in the immune system is also the reason why athletes are at a higher risk of catching diseases like cold and flu. In such individuals, supplementing with L-glutamine can prevent these diseases.
It Builds Lean Muscles
As mentioned before, intense training sessions can deplete the glutamine stores in your body and creates a deficiency that cannot be overcome by your body naturally. As a result of this deficiency, you may feel excessively tired and your recovery process may slow down as well. With enough glutamine supplementation, you can not only overcome this fatigue but also improve your recovery speed. (4)
It Replenishes Cell Hydration and Volume
So much exercise and so little time to rest! Your body's cells are definitely going to get exhausted someday. While you may normally not give much thought to these cells, they are crucial for your health and normal functioning. To take care of these precious little body cells, glutamine supplements can help. These supplements rehydrate them and improve their cell volume. These two processes greatly improve your overall health, making your body powerful enough to recover from the strains and injuries of daily workouts.
It Triggers Fat Loss
While you are packing on muscle mass in the gym, you are simultaneously trying to get rid of as much fat as possible. And what makes this process a lot easier? L-glutamine, of course. Supplementing your body with an adequate amount of L-glutamine boosts the levels of human growth hormone in the body. As the levels of this hormone increase, it improves the way your body is processing and metabolizing fats. The result? Greater, more efficient fat loss. (5)
So with the amazing combo of L-glutamine and your regular workout routine, you can get rid of unwanted fat from the body with no compromise on your lean muscle mass.
It Cuts Down Your Sugar Cravings
You constantly give your blood, sweat, and tears to the gym every single day with a hope to tone down and get rid of all the fat, right? Great! But what about those sudden cravings for chocolate or cookies in the middle of the night? What are you doing to keep your daily cravings at bay? If you are trying to lose weight and tone up, those sweet treats can be your greatest enemy.
The good news, you do not need to follow any complicated diet or stack up on piles of supplements to get your cravings under control. All you need is L-glutamine as it possesses the power to reduce your sugar cravings.
How you may ask? L-glutamine can regulate the insulin levels in the body and maintains the blood sugar levels during exercise, without causing any spikes which would otherwise cause you to crave sugar. (6)
When to Take L-Glutamine
To adequately supplement your workout routine, you must consume at least 5 grams of glutamine per day. The ideal amount of this supplement for the best athletic performance is yet to be determined. However, most experts recommend consuming 2 to 5 grams of it thrice a day. If you are into intense exercising, up to 10 grams of this supplement may also be taken twice daily.
You can either consume a glutamine supplement before or right after working out by mixing it in your meals or beverages. Don't skip out of glutamine on your rest days because it still helps muscle regeneration and continues to support your metabolism even when you are not training. For best results, use it along with B vitamins which is a chief regulator of glutamine in the body.
If you are a hardcore gym rat or an occasional trainer who loves to stay fit and healthy, adding L-glutamine to your daily routine is a must. This amino acid is crucial for maximizing your workout results and will work wonders when it comes to muscle building. Remember, your body cannot make glutamine on its own when you are working out. So consider supplementation with glutamine. Your muscles will thank you!