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What is Glutamine?
L-Glutamine is an extremely versatile supplement that benefits those looking to pack on muscle, lose weight, and improve overall health. As a conditional amino acid, the body can synthesize it to an extent, meaning if you're physically active, it's necessary to consume glutamine from your diet or supplement program. The most common dietary sources of glutamine are beef (1.14g glutamine per 4 oz), skim milk (0.7g glutamine per cup), white rice, and corn. 
There has been extensive debate regarding the bioavailability of glutamine. Some people feel as if it is an absolute necessity for workout recovery, while others feel as if it cannot be absorbed. Thankfully, recent research indicates that consuming L-glutamine orally raises plasma glutamine levels significantly.  In fact, L-glutamine absorbs rapidly, and raises plasma glutamine levels up to 20% within 30 minutes.  Furthermore, supplementing with glutamine gives your intestines an adequate supply of this versatile amino acid, which may improve overall health of the intestine. 
Recovering from a brutal workout as fast as possible necessitates rapid protein synthesis, as lifting weights causes microtears in your muscle fibers. Glutamine amps up your recovery rate by elevating the body's synthesis of protein.  Elevated protein synthesis is beneficial for those looking to pack on muscle as well as those looking to retain muscle while trying to cut fat, as weight loss can have a negative impact on overall protein status.
Glutamine also plays a major role in the distribution of protein within the body due to it acting as a transporter at times. In fact, l-glutamine is responsible for up to 33% of the translocation of protein within the body, thus by consuming additional glutamine, not only are building blocks present to synthesize protein, but the transporters are there to make it happen in the right places. 
In addition to directly increasing protein synthesis, l-glutamine can raise HGH levels 4-fold.  Elevated HGH equates to faster muscle recovery and improved lean mass in addition to accelerated recovery of connective tissue, such as tendons and ligaments. 
Glutamine benefits the regulation of blood sugar due to its effects on glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).  As evidenced by their names, these peptides are responsible for glucose regulation, and supplementing with glutamine can increase the production of GIP and GLP-1, resulting in improved blood sugar control. 
One study observed individuals who consumed L-glutamine prior to consuming a meal saturated with carbohydrates—what most would consider a cheat meal or junk food. This study showed that participants who consumed glutamine before eating a plethora of carbohydrates had a lower spike in blood sugar. 
The area of the small intestine that signals GIP and GLP-1 secretion is also where glutamine is absorbed and is partially used as fuel. This particular area of the intestine, the duodenum, is vital for immune function. L-Glutamine improves the immune system in two ways: it improves the functions of the GI tract and increases the presence of glutathione, which is an antioxidant. Improved gut barrier function ensures food moves properly along the digestive tract and is absorbed adequately. Glutamine can improve this gut barrier function, which is likely due to glutamine acting as a rich fuel source for the cells of the intestine.  The antioxidant glutathione can improve intestinal health as well. Research indicates that supplemental glutamine helps produce glutathione while also preventing the natural destruction of glutathione, which improves bodily prevalence of this antioxidant two fold.  Additionally, glutathione has neuroprotective effects by protecting neurons from excitotoxicity. 
Most users and experts agree that the ideal l-glutamine dosage is 1-5 grams daily.. As with any supplement, starting on the lower end of the spectrum and slowly experimenting with higher doses can significantly reduce any potential side effects.
- Sandhu, JK, et al. "Astrocyte-Secreted GDNF and Glutathione Antioxidant System Protect Neurons Against 60HDA Cytotoxicity." NEUROBIOLOGY OF DISEASE 33.3 (2009): 405-14. Web.
Additional ResourcesGlutamine Examine Page
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