Glutamine (also often referred to as glutamate, or glutamic acid) is one of twenty amino acids in the human body found in the normal genetic code of human beings. Glutamine is often referred to in areas of weight lifting and bodybuilding because there are glutamine supplements that are supposed to help fuel the body, as well as help to prevent the immune system’s vulnerability after highly physically demanding events like marathons or triathlons, or anything similar in nature.
Glutamine is often times recommended to individuals training to be endurance based athletes for high level competitions. The reason for this comes from scientific studies that were done after several people noticed that many of these great long distance athletes had a bizarre tendency to catch a cold or get sick after a competition. This seemed really strange for individuals who were in such amazing health. Why did these people tend to get sick, and why did it seem to consistently take place after these major competitions?
The reason that endurance athletes often catch colds or a minor flu after completing a marathon, or any similar high stress endurance event, is because glutamine levels are very low after such an athletic event, weakening the body’s immune system and causing the athlete in question to be particularly vulnerable.
Basically this is how glutamine works: glutamine is used by cells of your intestines for fuel. When the intestines don’t have as much fuel, this can cause the body to be especially weak and the viruses and bacteria that cause colds will find your body a much more hospitable host at this point. Using glutamine supplements can help endurance athletes to help lower their chances of catching colds or illness after a high stress major event like a triathlon. In addition to this, for some individuals glutamine has shown some effectiveness for dealing with certain digestive conditions.
While studies are still relatively new on glutamine and glutamine supplements, there is at least some evidence that these supplements can help keep the immune systems of endurance athletes slightly healthier and more likely to fight off colds, stomach flus, and other basic pains and discomforts. Because of these effects, glutamine has also been used because of its promise in helping more seriously sick individuals have an appetite and heal after or during treatments that are hard on the body, such as chemo.
While scientists are spending time on this use for glutamine supplements, glutamine has been used for bodybuilders for a variety of reasons. Many believe that glutamine is an excellent way to treat overtraining syndrome, and can also increase recovery from workouts, although actual studies are at best, mixed, on whether or not this is actually true and effective.
While glutamine supplements may help out certain types of athletes, it’s hard to say what the exact effect is for each individual will be, but the studies we have say that it does appear to definitely help endurance athletes from getting sick after a major event, and that’s where its best application may very well lie.