By Team ICG® Master Trainer Joan Kent
Have you ever felt as if your legs weren”™t recovered enough for the day”™s training? Do you ever look for quick ways to bring your legs back to full capacity, e.g., ice, massage, cross-training, stretching, so you can work hard again?
This post is about glutamine and its effects on recovery.
Glutamine is an amino acid, one of the most abundant amino acids in the body. It”™s released when muscles contract. A long, hard training can deplete glutamine by 25% to 30% or more.
The significance of this is that glutamine is a fuel used not only by muscles, but also by immune cells. The immune system manages recovery of all types: illness, injury, surgery, and training. Glutamine is a fuel source for cells that line the GI tract, which guards against microorganisms that cause disease. In addition, glutamine facilitates glycogen synthesis, which is highly important after training.
For both optimal health and optimal recovery, glutamine needs to be replaced after training.
The obvious way to replace glutamine is through food selection. Since glutamine is an amino acid, many protein foods contain it. Examples of glutamine-containing proteins are: beef, fish, chicken, pork, eggs, egg whites, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, and cottage cheese.
Some vegetables also contain glutamine: Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, kale, parsley, spinach, cabbage and others. Raw vegetables work better than cooked.
Glutamine can also be found in fruits: apples, apricots, avocado, bananas, cantaloupe, dates, figs, grapefruit, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, persimmon, pineapple, and strawberries.
The long fruit list doesn”™t contradict my previous posts that recommend minimizing sugars, including fructose, the sugar in fruit. I suggest limiting the number of fruit servings per day to one or two, and choosing your fruits from the above list to help with glutamine replacement.
Other foods that contain glutamine are: beans, soy, peanuts and other legumes; wheat, barley, beetroot, corn, nuts (small amount).
If you”™ve been training hard enough to feel that you”™re not recovering fully — even with these foods in your training diet — you might want to go with a glutamine supplement. I”™m most familiar with glutamine powder, although it”™s also sold in tablet form. If you use a supplement, try taking 1 heaping teaspoon (5 grams, the usual recommended dosage) before bed. Mix the powder into about an ounce of water and drink it, then drink a full glass of fresh water. Glutamine powder has worked well for me, but I”™d like to hear from you if you give it a try.
One of the benefits of taking glutamine before bed is that it can trigger a release of human growth hormone. HGH is a complex topic, but it has been shown to have immune benefits and to aid in cell and muscle recovery.
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wow, so glad to see this as i struggled fora long while with my legs not recovering like they use to and the feeling of more leg stress and not understanding why. my personal trainer recommended glutamine powder of which i was skeptical because i hadn’t heard of it before.
I began using it and must say i found improvements. My only issue and tip to others is to maybe start with a lower dose and gradually building up. I didn’t know the GI tract connection and interesting as the full 5 mg dose gave me some not so nice GI issues and so i had to cut back to half the dose. I tried building myself back up gradually to the 5 mg and as soon as i did the same issue occurred. So back to my 1/2 dose and i’m good to go. Thanks Joan
Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. I’m glad to know that glutamine has worked for you — and appreciate your tip on graduating the dosage. What you describe didn’t happen to me, but it’s a smart idea to start with a low dose and gradually build.
In the future, I’ll recommend doing that when I suggest glutamine for clients. “Just in case” is a good strategy.
is there a particular brand you recommend and how often do you recommend one use this?
Are there side effects? Have you experienced any of the side effects?
Thanks for your question. I’m not aware of any side effects, other than the GI distress Renee described. I haven’t experienced any, but it might be a good idea to do what we discussed above and try a small dosage before moving up to the usual 5 g (1 heaping tsp).
Renee, the brand I’ve used most often is GNC’s own brand. Regarding frequency, let your body tell you. If your training has been intense, use the glutamine for a day or two. Once you’re recovered, it’s no longer necessary. If you’re in a high-intensity phase of your training, say for a few weeks, you might try glutamine after each hard training. Once you move into recovery-level work, it’s no longer necessary.
Thanks, you two.