Glutamine: A Versatile and Valuable
Amino for Highly Active Athletes

The process of improving your physique is not something where a shotgun approach is typically effective long-term. Building high-quality muscle takes time and a muscle-fueling diet along with a workout program that will stimulate strength and growth are necessary factors.

Within your diet, a daily and seemingly ongoing delivery of the essential amino acids has been shown from a number of research investigations to favorably impact stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. Our bodies use 20 different amino acids to build protein. Some of them are readily produced by our body (nonessential amino acids), others are produced but sometimes not in adequate amounts (cysteine, glutamine, arginine, etc.) and finally nine of them are not produced at all (essential amino acids). In addition to our body having no ability to produce them, the essential amino acids take on an even greater importance to exercising athletes because studies have shown them to be absolutely required for stimulation of muscle protein synthesis (Tipton, Gurkin et al. 1999, Volpi, Kobayashi et al. 2003).

The positive impact of the essential amino acids on muscle growth, performance and stimulation of muscle protein synthesis is unquestioned (Phillips 2011). For these reasons alone, high-quality protein products that deliver high quantities of the essential amino acids are commonly recommended and a number of studies indicate that greater amounts of protein are needed to promote positive adaptations to a resistance training program (Phillips 2004, Cermak, Res et al. 2012). The entire family of NytroWhey proteins including original NytroWhey and NytroWhey Ultra Elite incorporate whey protein isolate, the protein source with the highest concentration on amino acids, essential amino acids, branched-chain amino acids and leucine. Indeed, the whey isolate in both NytroWheys are formulated via an advanced ultra micro-filtration technology ideal for preserving the vital and fragile protein fractions (alphalactalbumin, lactoferrin, and glycomacropeptides) rich in amino content.

The Essential
Non-Essential Amino Acid

Of course, we’ve written many times about BCAAs (especially leucine) already. Today, we’re here to talk about the conditionally essential amino acid glutamine. “Conditionally essential” means that the amino acid in question is usually present in the body in entirely adequate levels, but can becomes depleted under certain conditions.

What does this mean for you? Well, first, if you’re not a highly active athlete and have no desire to be one, you can stop reading right here. The conditions that can lead to glutamine depletion involve high-intensity exercise. If you’re not engaging in such activity, you’ve got more than enough glutamine coursing through your tissues and bloodstream to accommodate your semi-active lifestyle and health. Congratulations.

So, are the couch potatoes out of the room? Good. Whey protein products such as original NytroWhey and NytroWhey Ultra Elite contain high quantities of glutamine, and there’s a reason for that. Glutamine has a storied history within bodybuilding and exercise performance and has been a staple for many athletes who are training hard and feel it is beneficial to their recovery efforts. Glutamine is well-known to be a primary fuel source for a number of cell types in our body, especially muscle, digestive and immune cells (Windmueller and Spaeth 1974). Many people are surprised to learn that glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our blood and our skeletal muscle. In fact, studies have indicated that glutamine comprises up to 60% (and beyond) of the amino acids found in our muscle tissue (Rowbottom, Keast et al. 1996).

Glutamine is known to promote anabolic conditions in muscle cells and increase the rate of protein synthesis, primarily by increasing the hydration state of muscle cells. Cell dehydration can adversely affect cell function, leading to a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state. This is especially common in the short period after a bout of especially intense exercise. Unfortunately, this critical period is exactly when you should be rebuilding damaged muscle tissue in order to gain and maintain the muscle mass gans you just worked so hard to manifest.

Versatile, Valuable Super Amino

Research supports other aspects of glutamine’s importance for bodybuilders as well. For example, research has indicated that in response to exhaustive bouts of cycling exercise, glutamine doses of 8 grams/day over a two-hour period promoted the storage of muscle glycogen and when combined with carbohydrate even greater amounts of glycogen were replenished (Bowtell, Gelly et al. 1999). Another study by van Hall in 2000 indicated that when increased amounts of glutamine were ingested as part of a whey protein hydrolysate (like that found in NytroWhey Ultra Elite), the resynthesis rate of glycogen might be increased (van Hall, Saris et al. 2000).

A recently published study involving young athletes indicated that glutamine supplementation may also help to minimize fatigue during maximal exercise as well as enhance immune function. In this study, five elite rowing athletes supplemented on different occasions with either a placebo, the branched-chain amino acids or glutamine (Koo, Woo et al. 2014). When glutamine was provided, creatine kinase levels appeared lower in the recovery stage when compared to the end of exercise, a pattern not seen win the other conditions. The authors from this study concluded that glutamine supplementation had a positive effect on the decrease in fatigue factors measured in the blood at recovery and after maximal exercise when compared to placebo or BCAA supplementation. In addition, the authors also indicated that glutamine supplementation seemed to help the immune function of the athletes.

These findings in addition to a number of other studies provide information to suggest that glutamine availability is an important consideration promoting recovery. To illustrate this point, a 2000 study using triathletes supplemented them with the branched-chain amino acids and found that BCAA supplementation helped prevent the 23% decrease in glutamine levels found in the blood after completing their events. The authors went on to discuss the observed relationship that exists between low levels of glutamine levels in the blood and immune suppression (Bassit, Sawada et al. 2000).


Commonly supplemented doses of glutamine in the studies discussed in this article range from 5 – 20 grams per day. Most athletes take glutamine after they are done training because this is the period of time when your body’s level of glutamine will be the lowest. ProSource Glutamine Powder and ProSource Mega Glutamine Caps are easy, inexpensive and convenient ways to achieve this daily dosage of glutamine, while ProSource's Ultra Glutamine utilizes a unique and highly bioactive N-acetyl-L-glutamine from Italy, the highest grade available, to ensure stability during digestion. And, of course, NytroWhey Ultra Elite also contain several grams of high-qulaity glutamine per one-serving scoop. Serious athletes require more nutrional support than your average person, and glutamine is certanly a worthwhile consideration for maximized performance.

Read more about ProSource Glutamine Powder.

Read more about NytroWhey Ultra Elite.

Read more about ProSource Ultra Glutamine.


Bassit, R. A., L. A. Sawada, R. F. Bacurau, F. Navarro and L. F. Costa Rosa (2000). "The effect of BCAA supplementation upon the immune response of triathletes." Med Sci Sports Exerc 32(7): 1214-1219.

Bowtell, J. L., K. Gelly, M. L. Jackman, A. Patel, M. Simeoni and M. J. Rennie (1999). "Effect of oral glutamine on whole body carbohydrate storage during recovery from exhaustive exercise." J Appl Physiol 86(6): 1770-1777.

Cermak, N. M., P. T. Res, L. C. de Groot, W. H. Saris and L. J. van Loon (2012). "Protein supplementation augments the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to resistance-type exercise training: a meta-analysis." Am J Clin Nutr 96(6): 1454-1464.

Curthoys, N. P. and M. Watford (1995). "Regulation of glutaminase activity and glutamine metabolism." Annu Rev Nutr 15: 133-159.

Koo, G. H., J. Woo, S. Kang and K. O. Shin (2014). "Effects of Supplementation with BCAA and L-glutamine on Blood Fatigue Factors and Cytokines in Juvenile Athletes Submitted to Maximal Intensity Rowing Performance." J Phys Ther Sci 26(8): 1241-1246.

Phillips, S. M. (2004). "Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports." Nutrition 20(7-8): 689-695.

Phillips, S. M. (2011). "The science of muscle hypertrophy: making dietary protein count." Proc Nutr Soc 70(1): 100-103.
Rowbottom, D. G., D. Keast and A. R. Morton (1996). "The emerging role of glutamine as an indicator of exercise stress and overtraining." Sports Med 21(2): 80-97.

Tipton, K. D., B. E. Gurkin, S. Matin and R. R. Wolfe (1999). "Nonessential amino acids are not necessary to stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in healthy volunteers." J Nutr Biochem 10(2): 89-95.

Van Hall, G., W. H. Saris, P. A. van de Schoor and A. J. Wagenmakers (2000). "The effect of free glutamine and peptide ingestion on the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis in man." Int J Sports Med 21(1): 25-30.

Volpi, E., H. Kobayashi, M. Sheffield-Moore, B. Mittendorfer and R. R. Wolfe (2003). "Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in healthy elderly adults." Am J Clin Nutr 78(2): 250-258.

Windmueller, H. G. and A. E. Spaeth (1974). "Uptake and metabolism of plasma glutamine by the small intestine." J Biol Chem 249(16): 5070-5079.

Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.