People who undergo strenuous exercises need something extra to help their muscles recover. Otherwise, we will experience muscle soreness and pain for days at an end. Surely, that can make plans to hit the gym go down the drain!
Glutamine has gained quite a bit of popularity, and many people claim it improves muscle recovery. We need glutamine to build muscles, but can it help us get ready for working out the next day?
Can glutamine also build muscles?
We will take up each question in detail and provide accurate scientific information. But first, let’s find out what relationship glutamine shares with our muscles.
The Role of Glutamine in Muscle Formation
Glutamine supports many functions in our body. One of them is developing proteins for our muscle tissues. Therefore, glutamine has a role in muscle development, as per WebMD.
Generally, our bodies can make enough glutamine to support muscle growth. However, our bodies need more glutamine under certain conditions. It happens when our cells or muscles break down more quickly than our body can repair.
In such cases, glutamine may support the development of muscles. In fact, doctors use glutamine to treat burn patients who have a greater rate of muscle breakdown than healthy people.
As a result, glutamine may help in the muscle recovery of athletes who break down more muscles. However, does glutamine actually build muscles?
Can Glutamine Build Muscles?
Scientists conducted studies to find if glutamine can build muscles. Unfortunately, the results of the studies are not very promising.
In one study, participants took 0.9 grams of glutamine for each kilogram of body weight. All the men in the study were also resistance-trained.
However, the study did not find glutamine to impact lean body mass.
Next, researchers tried glutamine on wrestlers and made them go through high levels of stress. They wanted to create a situation where the participants experienced stress like burn victims.
This study, too, didn’t find any change in lean body mass or fat mass.
Further studies on the topic were also not encouraging. A meta-analysis of 5 studies also found glutamine to have no effect on body mass.
Therefore, scientists concluded glutamine doesn’t build muscles when taken as a supplement.
Next, let’s explore if glutamine has any role in muscle recovery.
Does Glutamine Help Muscle Recovery?
Glutamine may be more effective for muscle recovery than building muscles. Scientists have done many studies that show glutamine to reduce muscle soreness and facilitate repair.
According to Livestrong, glutamine helps transport nitrogen to damaged muscles after exercise. It helps create a positive nitrogen balance that supports muscle repair. Additionally, endurance athletes may get a boost to immunity after working out for longer periods.
What Science Says
Researchers wanted to test whether glutamine is effective for muscle recovery. So, they conducted studies where the participants performed muscle-damaging exercises. The researchers also gave them glutamine and put some of the participants in the placebo group.
In one such study, glutamine resulted in two improvements:
- Reduced muscle soreness
- Better strength recovery
WebMD also agrees with the findings of the study. It says glutamine may improve recovery after exercise and bring down fatigue.
Another study tested the effectiveness of leucine and glutamine on muscle recovery. Leucine is an amino acid and found in BCAA supplements. So, what did researchers find?
Scientists saw leucine helps in strength recovery after 72 hours of exercising. But leucine and glutamine work best to recover strength after 24 to 72 hours after working out.
Not all Research is Promising
A handful of studies didn’t find glutamine to help muscle recovery. In one such study, glutamine didn’t facilitate recovery in untrained men.
However, the participants were all untrained men. They were also given a lower dose of glutamine.
In addition, another study didn’t find any benefit of glutamine for women in strength recovery. But both men and women experienced relief from muscle soreness.
Some experts in the fitness world also believe glutamine provides zero benefits for muscle recovery. One of them even considers glutamine a complete waste of money.
As per Examine, glutamine can improve recovery after strength training. However, it doesn’t help in building muscle mass.
Should We Take Glutamine for Muscle Recovery?
Research seems to be inconclusive when it comes to using glutamine for muscle recovery. So, what should we do?
Let’s begin with what we know. According to Examine and other sources, doctors use glutamine for burn patients. It is effective in repairing tissue when the rate of breakdown is faster than synthesis.
As a result, glutamine may facilitate muscle recovery only when we train very strenuously. It may not work for casual gym-goers or bodybuilders.
Bodybuilding.com seems to agree here. It says glutamine can help in muscle recovery only when you “punish” yourself every day. Or in other words, it may provide some benefit to people who train very intensively.
Additionally, glutamine works only in heavy doses. Small doses are not effective in bringing any positive results.
However, glutamine alone may not provide the best results, says Bodybuilding.com. Therefore, athletes combine glutamine with other supplements like BCAA for a better outcome. In fact, we need the presence of BCAAs, especially leucine, to build muscle tissue, even if we take glutamine.
In addition, athletes can also try glutamine with creatine. It can help them grow muscle mass and size.
Glutamine may help muscle recovery if we train very hard frequently. We will need to damage our muscles and put our bodies under stress, just like burn victims. Only then will glutamine work for muscle recovery.
However, not all athletes of bodybuilders train so strenuously. Therefore, glutamine may not be the best choice for recovering from our exercises. It may only reduce our muscle soreness to some extent.
Additionally, we need to take large amounts of glutamine to experience any results.
We can try glutamine with other supplements to improve its effectiveness. Otherwise, we can try proven supplements that help repair muscles and aid recovery after working out.
What can glutamine do for muscles?
Glutamine plays a role in muscle protein synthesis. It helps deliver nitrogen to our muscles for growth and development. However, taking glutamine supplements may not be the best way to build muscles. It may only reduce muscle soreness and improve strength recovery.
How much glutamine do we need for muscle recovery?
We can try up to 30 grams of glutamine per day for muscle recovery. However, remember to divide the dose into smaller parts and take them with meals. Additionally, athletes may take glutamine before or during exercising.
Why do athletes take glutamine?
Bodybuilders and athletes take glutamine to help with muscle recovery. However, glutamine may not be very effective and work best in combination with other supplements. In addition, glutamine may reduce muscle soreness.
Can we take glutamine after workouts?
It is best to divide the dose of glutamine into small doses. Athletes can take a dose after working out and rest with meals throughout the day.
Can glutamine help build muscles?
Glutamine has no effect on body mass. Therefore, it will not help us build muscles. Bodybuilders can take more effective supplements like creatine or BCAA to build muscles.