L-glutamine is an amino acid which the body needs to stay in optimum health. Along with 19 other amino acids, l-glutamine is a ‘building block’ of protein, which means it helps make up all the tissues in your body including the internal organs, skin and muscles. It’s made naturally by the body, but some people can experience depleted levels.
L-glutamine is often used in sports and bodybuilding to help with muscle repair and growth. Studies have shown that l-glutamine helps improve the protein synthesis rate within cells,1 which is the process by which your cells use protein to build structures such as muscle tissues and skin. This means that muscle growth is increased when l-glutamine is included in your diet in conjunction with protein and exercise.
L-glutamine might also help with post-exercise recovery, leading to less need for rest days and breaks between workouts. In a 2015 study based on sixteen people, it was shown that l-glutamine intake resulted in faster muscle recovery and reduced muscle soreness after the test subjects performed quadriceps exercises.2
Another reason l-glutamine is important in muscle recovery is that it helps carry nitrogen around the blood and delivers it to muscles. Nitrogen is used in the building of muscle and can be found in protein-rich foods. If the body is in a positive state of nitrogen balance, it is ideally placed to build muscle. If it is lacking in nitrogen, it is very difficult to grow new muscle which is why l-glutamine is important for muscle repair after a workout.
Because strenuous exercise depletes l-glutamine levels in the blood, low glutamine levels have been suggested as a cause of immune system impairment that can occur with heavy training in athletes.3 Therefore, ensuring you have enough l-glutamine available after a workout is important to keep your immune response strong.
It has also been shown to help with the healing of wounds by aiding collagen recovery, which is great news for those recovering from an operation.4
Rich sources of l-glutamine include spinach, kale, cottage cheese, asparagus, wild salmon, cabbage and whey.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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1. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11165886.
2. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25811544.
3. [Online] https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/138/10/2045S/4670120.
4. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24690128.