Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. Total body glutamine levels are in the 100,000 mg level. To give you an idea of how abundant this amino acid is, try to give this some thought: in a healthy person, its levels in the blood are three to four times greater than all amino acids. What this means is that it is a source of fuel and energy for your body. It is particularly concentrated in the brain, skeletal muscles, stomach lining, lungs, heart, kidneys and liver.
Because of this critical distinction, glutamine is arguably the most important in the process of building muscle and gaining strength. It is found in natural food sources such as beans, beef, pork, poultry, fish, dairy products, raw parsley, raw spinach and cabbage.
This powerful amino acid preserves muscle tissue that is already built. Muscle breakdown occurs whenever a person pumps iron at the gym at an intense level and when the body isnít supplied with enough protein.
By making sure to stick to proper training and eating habits, the body is sure to synthesise muscle tissue. Glutamine comes into the picture by minimising the rate of muscle breakdown, resulting in overall net gains in muscle mass.
It also helps remove ammonia, a colorless gas with a strong, pungent odour. It dissolves in water to produce a strong alkaline solution. Ammonia is one of the common waste products. Glutamine helps the body to discharge excess amounts. Some studies also suggest that it strengthens the immune system. Not only that, it reduces infections particularly those brought about by surgery,
Glutamine is highly concentrated in the brain, being 10-15 times more concentrated in the cerebro-spinal fluid than in the blood. Thus, it fuels up the brain in the absence of glucose (the other major brain fuel). It sharpens focus, concentration, memory, intellectual performance, alertness and attentiveness.
When blood sugar levels drop, glutamine suppresses insulin levels to prevent these levels from dropping any further. Whatís more is that it stimulates the release of glycogen to restore blood sugar levels back to normal.
Another impressive feature that it has is its being a glycogenic amino acid, which means it can convert sugar into energy.
These blood-stabilising features of glutamine may partially explain why it decreases alcohol and sugar cravings in some studies.
Lastly, it is the main fuel source for the cells lining the intestinal tract. Studies suggest it promotes healing of impaired gut mucosa such as in cases of ulcers, ulcerative colitis and Crohnís disease. It also enhances bowel function where there has been a partial removal of the intestines.
Glutamine aids in the muscle recovery process and as such should be taken within the first 30 minutes right after a workout. Note that the bodyís glutamine levels can drop by as much as fifty percent after a rigorous training session at the fitness centre. The ideal dosage is five grams, post-workout.
It is also advisable to consume another five grams right before going to sleep as this will minimise muscle breakdown and it will also increase the natural secretion of growth hormone, a powerful anabolic substance.