You most likely would have heard about Glutamine or L-glutamine on your on-going strength training journey, whether you be a veteran or a newbie.
There might be a few of your friends who would swear by glutamine, while others would talk about the issues they faced while using this supplement, which might range from stomach ache to liver and kidney problems. Now let’s jump right into the subject.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine (or L-Glutamine – which is just a variant) is an amino acid found in abundance in our bodies – and is said to be conditionally essential. Unlike essential amino acids (that is not produced in our bodies), glutamine is generally synthesised by a healthy person, who is not in stress. However, more amount of glutamine is required during the time of serious illness, injury, muscle loss or high-intensity training. It has been effectively used as a medical aid in the treatment of burns and AIDS patients.
Related Article: Glutamine vs L-Glutamine: What’s the Difference
If you are looking for the returns that it gives for a person in the fitness industry, there are quite a few benefits.
- Enhances the working of the abdominal tissues as well as immunity (1)
- Necessary for brain functioning (2)
- Increases protein synthesis, prevents muscle breakdown and aids in faster muscle tissue recovery by restoring muscle glycogen (3).
- Improves the recovery time for endurance workouts (4)
- Decreases DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) after exercising.
- Burns fat and increases metabolism
You can read more about glutamine and its positive points in the links given below.
Nonetheless, you might have come across some article, or heard a colleague of yours mentioning that glutamine has a number of side effects, and it is best to avoid it altogether. The myths surrounding glutamine, unfortunately, is due to misinformation being floated around the web and on forums. A few of the anecdotal evidence provided by these websites are also just that – circumstantial. Let us go over a few of the few of the glutamine side effects, and see whether they are fact or fiction.
Side Effects of Glutamine (Or Are They?)
Here is a list of the L-glutamine side effects, and the explanations or counter arguments for the same.
Before you delve further into this topic, bear in mind that almost all the cases that are related to the ill effects are either due to the overconsumption of glutamine, or that the user may not have sought more info about the same.
1) Stomach Upsets and Constipation/Diarrhoea
Cause: This normally occurs if there is an excess of glutamine in your body. Also, it affects only a small percentage of the consumers (5).
Prevention: If you have never taken this supplement before, it is recommended that you start off with a lower dosage (start off with 1g of glutamine, 3 times a day) and then increase it gradually. If the pain persists along with any other symptoms such as nausea or vomiting amongst others, consult your doctor.
2) May Cause Allergies Such as Rashes and Swelling
Cause 1: You are sensitive to Monosodium Glutamate (or MSG for short) (6).
Precaution: Doctors advise people that are sensitive to MSG from taking glutamine. Check with your doctor if you are averse to it. If by any chance you have consumed L-glutamine and are experiencing allergies pertaining to it, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Cause 2: You might have ingested more than the prescribed amount.
Symptoms: The person might show the signs of rashes, swelling, sweating too much, dry mouth or feeling dizzy.
Precaution: Although not life threatening, get a check-up done to be in the clear.
3) It Might Cause Distress to the Kidneys and Liver
Cause: You are already diagnosed with liver failure or kidney disease (7).
This is one of the glutamine side effects that usually make its way into forums. To a certain extent, that is true – that is, if you are already diagnosed with a liver or kidney disease or failure.
Reason: One of the reasons that this happens is because these are the organs that filter your blood for any possibly harmful substances, and high amounts of L-glutamine is usually flushed out. This may put a strain on the kidneys and liver – another reason why you shouldn’t ingest large quantities of glutamine.
Precaution: If you are suffering from liver damage or kidney disorder, you would be advised to avoid glutamine altogether. Moreover, if you have a reduced kidney function, a lower dosage is recommended, but after a consultation with your health care provider.
4) Warning Signs Shown in the Cardiovascular or Skeletal System
Cause for Heart Issues: A few people have reported chest pain and other heart problems, but these conditions arise only in those cases where a person is already afflicted with a heart condition (8).
Precaution: If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your physician.
Cause for Issues to the Musculoskeletal System: In the same vein, if you have any disorders of the muscles or the skeletal system, consuming glutamine might aggravate the symptoms such as joint, muscle or back pain.
Precaution: We would suggest that you talk with your doctor if you ever notice these warning signs.
5) Glutamine Could Interfere with Your Medication
You can’t rule this one out. Although not well researched, there have been instances when glutamine has interacted with certain medication or other supplements. For example, if you consume anti-seizure medicines, glutamine could decrease its effectiveness (9).
Precaution: We recommend that you take the advice and consume it under the supervision of your physician.
Hopefully, you would have gotten a much better understanding about glutamine but would be weighing your options. You might be thinking.
I Don’t Need Glutamine
You probably would be right, if you were not trying to tone up your body. An average person produces enough glutamine to meet his daily requirements, and may also be supplemented through the food he eats.
On the contrary, a person who is involved in strength training or is in the cutting stage would have his glutamine levels deplete, and that affects his overall performance and endurance. Another factor that might come into play is the lack of glutamine that a person (who is trying to get the perfect physique) would obtain through diet.
Glutamine Can Be Consumed In Any Way or Form
And that is where the problem lies. As with any good thing, be it food, supplements, or exercise, too much of it is never good. Follow the instructions on the packaging, and begin taking the supplement in lower quantities.
Furthermore, never have glutamine with a hot beverage, as the heat could denature the amino acid and make it lose its properties.
Before you incorporate glutamine into your diet, consult with your doctor. We would suggest that 1 – 5 g of high-quality glutamine, three times a day, in the beginning, should do the trick. The best times to ingest it would be those periods where the maximum benefits can be obtained – that would be the first thing in the morning, maybe around lunch time or post workout, and one hour before going to bed.
Related Article: Glutamine Dosage: How, How Much and When to Take Glutamine
With the misconceptions taken care of, we hope you are well informed to take the right choices when it comes to your fitness and health. What do you feel is the biggest myth that is doing the rounds? If you have anything to share, please do so in the comment section below.