Does Glutamine Work?

June 24th, 2007 by Paul Johnson

Glutamine is a heavily pushed supplement in the bodybuilding community. Is glutamine all hype or does it really work?

What is glutamine?

Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid with multiple roles in the body, especially in building muscle and digestive health.

Why do bodybuilders supplement Glutamine?

Glutamine is the most widely used amino acid by the body for building muscle. Post workout there is a huge drop in glutamine levels as the muscles use it for protein synthesis. This implies there is a need for glutamine. It is this reason why glutamine supplementation is advocated by some.

Glutamine may sound like a miracle muscle builder, but there is some things we have to remember. During a bulk phase you will be eating a lot of protein, therefore getting a lot of glutamine already. Since it is a non-essential amino acid, the body will also be able to quickly manafacture the extra glutamine it needs postworkout. The intestinal gut also takes a particular liking to glutamine. In fact about 90% of glutamine is absorbed directly by the intestine to be used for energy. So, in essence most of the glutamine you take, just goes down the toilet anyways!

Glutamine studies:

A few studies have been done on glutamine to help us answer if Glutamine works.

A study done by Candow published by Eur J Appl Physiol 86:142-149, 2001 had 31 volunteers do resistance for 6 weeks. One group supplemented glutamine at high doses(0.4 grams per lb of lean muscle), while the other had maltodextrin. Both groups gained muscle at the same rate.

Another study published in J Strength Cond Res 17(3):425-438, 2003 had 29 on a strength training program. They were in 3 groups, creatine only, placebo, and glutamine and creatine. Both creatine groups gained muscle more than placebo, however no difference between the non-glutamine and the glutamine creatine combo. A seperate study in that issue J Strength Cond Res 17(4):810-816, 2003, using ribose, glutamine, and effervescent creatine showed no difference with the glutamine group.

Glutamine has also been suggested as a supplement that is better for dieters. The reason is due to some research on glutamine during stress situations. What does science say about that? The only study I could find on muscle preservation during dieting, is published in Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2003) 2, 163-168. The researchers had 18 athletes for 12 days on a weight loss program, with half taking glutamine(0.16 g/ lb of bodyweight). They found no difference in muscle retention between the glutamine and non glutamine group.

Summary:

According to the research, Glutamine supplementation is a waste of money, whether bulking or cutting. Glutamine supplementation may have other health benefits; such as maintaining gut health and immunity and helping those with illnesses.

  1. Sue on September 20th, 2007

    Sue

    I just wanted to say that the quality of your site is exceptional. On top of all that it really complements the content that is provided by your site.

  2. Damo on September 2nd, 2008

    The above studies miss the point I think. Glutamine is used by many as a means of aiding recovery.
    Recover Quicker from Workouts = Workout more often = More Muscle.

  3. Adam on May 7th, 2009

    I have started using Glutamine purposly for recovery. I am going very hard in the gym, increasing wieghts and reps.
    I also box which means recovery from wieghts is extremely important for me. I find this stuff exceptional, i very very rarely get sore…

  4. Steve on May 8th, 2009

    I agree with the previous post. If the study was conducted where both the glutamine and non-glutamine groups were working out at the same levels, than yes there should be no difference. However, if someone takes glutamine and has a faster recovery time due to the supplement, than in theory they should be able to work out harder and longer due to less soreness.

    More research needed here.

  5. admin on June 30th, 2009

    Whether the study is flawed or not (who knows) there is other reasons to believe Glutamine probably doesn’t work at all (or at least not good enough to justify its cost).

  6. jack on November 24th, 2009

    glutamine is garbage. want results? up protein and work out intesity and eat every 2-3 hours drink plenty of water. simple… supplement indusrty is all hype. protein and creatine and thats it…….

  7. David on April 2nd, 2010

    I have been taking a teaspoon of Glutamine every night with Whey Protein and have noticed a slight difference in recovery time. I say if you can afford $26 bucks to try it see if it works for you. GNC Glutamine Powder is what I bought.

  8. chris on October 7th, 2010

    I have tried glutamine for several months on different occasions, continually sore and dont seem to recover from DOMS any faster than I ever have, but dont we shoot for that anyways[soreness]? and glutamine is a: non-taste and b: water soluable and c: extremely cheap to produce. 3 things supplement companies LOVE and will see the crap out of.

    ….also just realized this thread is from June09. OH WELL