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Glutamine: great during recovery, it boosts the immune system response and much more…

While reading this article you will discover many new methods in using this formidable supplement together with its numerous functions: glutamine.

Let’s talk about the main difference between L-glutamine and glutamine peptide. The first primarily acts on the intestine leves and this causes a reduction of absorption within the plasma up to 60/70% in comparison to oral intake.


This distinctive trait is L-glutamine strong point because it is able to nourish instantly lymphocytes and macrophages that are present in great quantities within the intestinal cells; this is where the immune system first lines of defence are deployed considering the intestine’s total surface is equivalent to an entire football pitch.

Glutamine peptide

Glutamine peptide solution loses its immune system functions but at the same time after ingestion the quantities found within plasma increase up to 10 percent.

I personally prefer higher levels of L-glutamine rather that peptide to obtain the same plasma concentration in addition to positive effects on the immune system, this in my opinion, is one of the most important functions benefitting athletes and those who practice endurance sports.

Even if belonging to the non essential amino acid category, glutamine fulfills an important biological role. When the body is under stress performing high intensity training, the liver has the capacity of generating glutamine from other protein compounds to provide quickly the energy needed.

Within the human body 60% of glutamine levels are found in the muscle tissues and after intense and prolonged training the plasmatic amounts decrease.

Studies have been performed on professional athletes to test the decrease in glutamine levels when performing long and strenuous efforts because of overtraining or immunosuppression.

Endurance sports

High intensity training combined to low levels of fat, stress and competition exposes the body more easily to infections (especially close to the first respiratory system airways).

The theory that glutamine is able to increase the immune system’s strength in athletes is now scientifically established. Studies reveal that when performing high and long intensity training, glucose and insulin levels decrease forcing the liver to use the proteic supplies and after these finish, using alanine and glutamine (depriving the immune system of an essential nutrient).

The success in counteracting immunosuppression is limited by high intensity training performed over long periods of time. Moderate physical exercise should be viewed as an ideal way of increasing the immune system effectiveness.

Glutamine facilitates the penetration of water, amino acids and other substances within muscle cells acting as a volumizer, increasing and enhancing the muscular absorption of amino acids, carbohydrates and water.

Water is fundamental within the glycogen synthesis (for every gram of glycogen produced the body adds 2.7 grams of water) this characteristic may be the main cause of an increase of muscular glycogen levels during recovery, making glutamine an excellent supplement to be added within post-workout solutions.

According to recent studies when glutamine is taken on an empty stomach, GH blood values increase. This affects the formation of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant exogenously constituted with glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid.

Going back to what was discussed concerning our immune system’s response, it’s important to remember that physical activity increases the production of free radicals. On the other hand, if backed up by appropriate recovery periods and good eating habits, it improves the antioxidant endogenous systems, including the one led by glutathione peroxidase (GPX).

This though is not sufficient for those who practice high intensity training combined to a stressful style of life or those who exercise more than 10 hours per week… this is why glutamine becomes a good potential candidate even in these cases.

Overtraining syndrome is also affected by glutamine; there is a connection between the permanent plasmatic decrease of glutamine levels and the appearance of the typical overtraining symptoms (chronic tiredness, weight loss, loss of appetite, minor infections, nausea, depression, apathy, cardiac rate increase when resting and cardiac rate decrease when training).

According to some studies administering glutamine and BCAA (branch chain amino acids) may be useful during high intensity training periods in order to strengthen the immune system and reduce overtraining risks.

Another function connected to glutamine is the capability of maintaining an acid-base balance. When training muscles produce different catabolic substances among which lactic acid during lactate training, these go through the bloodstream and tend to increase its acidic levels.

When kidneys detect pH decrease in the blood levels they start to consume glutamine more and more faster. Carbon atoms part of the glutamine molecule are oxidized within the kidneys giving birth to the production of bicarbonate ions released into the bloodstream. Bicarbonate absorbs lactic acid hydrogen ions and other acidifying mixtures, neutralizing them.

The other mechanism calls for ammonia production which the kidneys form in order to eliminate the urea produced by a protein substrate oxidation during training. When lactic acid levels are high, these two mechanisms may increase the kidneys glutamine consumption up to 6-10 times more than usual.

The more glutamine available the quicker will the acid-base balance be restored. Glutamine is also able to overcome the blood-brain barrier contributing, together with glucose, to the production of glutamine acid which is the main fuel used by cerebral cells.

So what are the recommended quantities and when should it be taken?

The recommended quantities are about 1-1.5 grams of glutamine per day. It’s important to emphasize that most studies which confirm glutamine ergogenic properties have distinctly used higher levels (5 grams or 0,1 for every Kg of body weight, according to the type of training taking it more times during the day from 10g to 80g).

Glutamine intake should vary according to training levels and diet. When the diet is noticeably low in protein foods or when training becomes particularly intense and strenuous, that is when glutamine levels need to increase.

In summary, according to what has been stated, lets review the time and quantities of glutamine supplements needed on average.

There are no recommended levels registered that vary according to the type of morphism apart from dosage increase for ectomorph individuals, to be incremented according to their needs.

  • 1 dose, as explained above, 30-60 minutes before performing strength training or lactic acid exercises, to be taken together with low glycemic carbohydrates..

In this way, glutamine can be easily absorbed thanks to the high glycemic levels, this in turn promotes high sport performances.

By combining BCAA intake to stimulate lipolysis, fatigue is reduced when on a reduced carbohydrate diet intake or when HMB is incorporated reducing catabolism during endurance training.

  • 1 dose, taken as explained above on an empty stomach, preferably before going to bed in order to stimulate GH secretion during night time when resting.

In this case, it’s advisable to take supplements together with lots of liquids, branch chain amino acids and Whey Protein to maximize glycogen recovery and facilitate the start of the recovery protein synthesis.

  • 1 porzione come riportato sopra a digiuno, possibilmente prima di coricarsi, per stimolare la secrezione di GH durante le ore notturne di riposo;
  • Also, in connection to its protein absorption, an extra portion may be used as explained above, if combined to the three main meals when following a muscle mass increase program by incrementing daily protein intake improving protein absorption and reducing the induced acidification caused by protein intake and metabolism resulting in nitrogen waste in the kidneys.

It is now up to you, my dear readers, to reach your goals with the same passion I have and KeForma has in accomplishing our work!

Dott. Lorenzo Bergami


  • Welbourne, T.C. (1995) Increased plasma bicarbonate and growth hormone after an oral glutamine load, The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 61, issue 5, (pp. 1058-1061);
  • Bowtell, J.L., Gelly, K., Jackman, M.L., Patel, A., Simeoni, M. & Rennie, M.J. (1999) Effect of oral glutamine on whole body carbohydrate storage during recovery from exhaustive exercise, Journal of Applied Physiology, Volume 86, issue 6, (pp. 1770-1777);
  • Prada, P.O., Hirabara, S.M., de Souza, C.T., Schenka, A.A., Zecchin,H.G., Vassallo, J., Velloso, L.A., Carneiro, E., Carvalheira, J.B., Curi, R. & Saad, M.J. (2007) L-glutamine supplementation induces insulin resistance in adipose tissue and improves insulin signalling in liver and muscle with diet-induced obesity,Diabetologia, Volume 50, issue 9, (pp. 149-159);
  • Vamier, M., et al: Stimulatory effect of glutamine on glycogen accumulation in human skeletal muscle. Amer. J. Physiol., 269:E309, 1995.

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