The Truth About Glutamine


I’m intrigued by several amino acids, because I can actually feel some of them. I get great results from glutamine, whereas all of my friends say it sucks. Who’s right?


Glutamine’s story goes back some ways to the mid/late 90’s. Yes, it’s been out that long – which catches some people by surprise.

Being the “most abundant amino acid in muscle”, it was thought that just using more of it would lead to greater cellular swelling, upping the protein synthetic response.

There’s also some data showing a scant 2g sublingually leads to a roughly 4x increase in GH levels, although like other aminos its transient and not enough of a boost to really see anything from.

Reasons Why Amino Acids Work Better For Some People

The discrepancy between the results you and your friends cite (or lack thereof, in their case) could be explained by several things:

1.) Glutamine is conditionally essential, and you may be subject to the conditions that make it so. Stated another way, people do a LOT better on glutamine if using bolus doses on a rather severe diet. People eating less than 70% of maintenance calories using 20-30 grams of Glutamine/day say its made a noticeable difference.

2.) You may have digestive or other stomach issues that glutamine helps to repair. This is the most common scenario I’ve seen – people that have Crohn’s disease etc. find that it works like magic to make things better. Part of the reason is DOESN’T work so well in most is that anything less than a 10g dose gets eaten up by the stomach lining. The bulk powder will teach you this, just put a few grams in your mouth and swallow. It’s actually soothing to the stomach, and that’s with NO stomach issues. It’s likely Glutamine has improved these people’s digestion to a point where they can start assimilating nutrients from their food, and finally being able to build muscle.

3.) Burn Victims: Like OKG from years prior, Glutamine started to show up in medical studies showing burn victims recovered faster. If you think about it though these people are hyper-catabolic, just a more severe example of someone dieting stringently I gave above.

The “average” person though that isn’t dieting, over-training, doesn’t have stomach issues though is going to be disappointed. I went through kilos of the stuff shortly after it was introduced and never saw anything – other than a lighter wallet.

Final Thoughts on Glutamine

Overall, I consider Glutamine a niche item, but important for those that really need it. While I’m glad its still around, its disappointing noob’s still fall for it. If you see it randomly added to pre-workouts, intra or post workout formulas just know that’s window dressing. The space is better taken up by something that really works, or ditched altogether the bring the cost down.

Interesting amino with a great story, but ultimately another failure added to the supplement junkyard.

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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