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The Road To Recovery

Using Post-Workout Glutamine To
Support Strength and Reduce Soreness

Glutamine is a “non-essential” amino acid in the sense that our bodies are usually able to produce enough of it for modest purposes. Which is to say, if you’re a couch potato, you probably don’t need to supplement with glutamine on a daily basis. For workout warriors, however, the situation is radically different.

When you first hit the gym floor and start working at a high level, bloodstream glutamine will increase, usually within the first five minutes. This elevation will continue through your workout and into the post-exercise interval, resulting in severe glutamine depletion in muscle tissue. How severe? Well, depending on the amount of work output, glutamine levels can decline by as much as 50%. This is a calamitous scenario, because adequate glutamine levels are linked to proper cell hydration. When cell hydration falls off a cliff, muscle catabolism and deterioration increase markedly. Clearly, this is an outcome that can affect athletes negatively in several ways, principally with regard to strength support and post-workout soreness.
Glutamine: The Latest From the Labs

Emerging evidence is indicating that providing glutamine in high dosages before your most intense, high volume workouts and for a few days after the exercise bout can minimize the typical decrease in strength seen after a stressful, damaging bout of exercise while also minimizing soreness.

In a yet to-be-published study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Canadian researchers reported on new evidence that glutamine can help recover strength and soreness. In this study, sixteen healthy men and women completed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study where they completed the same testing conditions after taking either a placebo or glutamine. On the morning of testing, participants arrived well-rested and took their first of four doses of glutamine or placebo. Then prior to testing on each of the next three days, the remaining doses of glutamine or placebo were consumed. Glutamine was provided at a dosage of 0.3 grams/kg body mass/day and to ensure the same amount of calories was ingested in both the glutamine and placebo groups, a maltodextrin carbohydrate was also provided. Under both conditions, maximal torque production was measured along with muscle soreness before, immediately after, as well as at 24, 48 and 72 hours after completing an exercise bout that consisted of 8 sets of 10 repetitions using a knee extension exercise at an intensity of 125% of their maximal strength (Legault, Bagnall, and Kimmerly 2015).

When glutamine was provided, significantly greater amounts of torque were produced immediately after completion of the exercise as well as 72 hours after the exercise bout, while similar torque values were found between glutamine and placebo 24 and 48 hours after the exercise bout. Impressively, providing glutamine resulted in significantly lower levels of soreness 24, 48 and 72 hours after completing the damaging exercise bout. In summarizing the results of their study, the authors stated that glutamine supplementation resulted in faster recovery of peak torque while also reducing soreness levels after damaging, eccentric exercise.

A few years prior to this brand-new research, Street and investigators completed a similar investigation and provided similar outcomes. In this study, 15 active, college-aged men completed either a glutamine or placebo condition where they completed 100 drop jumps before supplementing with either glutamine or maltodextrin. Before, 24, 48 and 72 hours after the exercise bout, participants had their peak torque measured along with their soreness levels and creatine kinase levels, a key protein found in muscle that increases with muscle damage. Again, when glutamine was provided, peak torque levels returned to normal at a faster rate when compared to the placebo condition and soreness levels were significantly lower as well.

The Devil is in the Details

When results from both studies are combined, they provide consistent evidence that high doses of glutamine before and throughout recovery from an intense, damaging bout of exercise can help to recovery strength levels and minimize soreness. For years, the scientific literature provided somewhat disappointing results when it came to the impact of glutamine supplementation, but this evidence has started to shift the landscape for how glutamine can and should be used.

For starters, the dosing amount appears to be a key element in these recent studies. The glutamine dosage used (0.3 grams of glutamine per kilogram of body mass) was relative to each person’s body mass. At this dosage, an individual with a body mass between 160 and 200 pounds (72.7 – 90.9 kilograms) would ingest 22 – 27 grams of glutamine, an amount higher than some of the previously published studies (Cribb et al. 2006, Bowtell et al. 1999, van Hall et al. 2000). For further proof, look no further than the two published studies that have examined glutamine’s ability to improve the recovery of strength and offset soreness.

A study conducted by Street in 2011 required a glutamine dosage of 0.3 grams/kg body mass/day and found a positive effect for glutamine. Later in 2013, Rahmani Nia and colleagues had participants ingest a lower dose of glutamine (0.1 grams/kg body mass/day), three days per week for four weeks and did not find a beneficial effect for glutamine (Rahmani Nia et al. 2013). The most recently published study (Legault, Bagnall, and Kimmerly 2015) provided the higher dose of glutamine (0.3 grams/kg body mass/day) and again, found a beneficial impact for glutamine.

Key Point #1
The dosing for glutamine appears to be an important factor as two studies have reported a positive outcome when glutamine was provided at a higher dose (Legault, Bagnall, and Kimmerly 2015, Street, Byrne, and Eston 2011).

Key Point #2
The intensity of the resistance training bout might also be an important factor. Why, you ask? Well in 2000, Jose Antonio and colleagues published a study where they also provided glutamine at the higher dosage of 0.3 g/kg body mass/day and had participants complete a challenging resistance training workout involving the leg press and bench press exercises. They reported that glutamine had no impact over the number of repetitions completed between glutamine and placebo, but the level of damage and stress invoked from this workout was likely less than protocols where eccentric muscle contractions dominate the workout. To further illustrate this point, the study by Rahmani Nia in 2013 had participants complete eccentric contractions at only 75% of their one-repetition maximum, while most eccentrically dominated studies employ higher intensity levels (100 – 150% one-repetition maximum). (Rahmani Nia et al. 2013).

In contrast, when higher doses of glutamine were provided surrounding a high-volume bout of exercise that significantly increased muscle damage and soreness, glutamine supplementation appears to facilitate faster recovery of strength levels and reduce the amount of soreness (Legault, Bagnall, and Kimmerly 2015, Street, Byrne, and Eston 2011).

Key Point #3
Finally, not only is the glutamine dose and intensity of exercise bout important, but so is the pattern or timing of when the glutamine is provided. The recently published investigation by Legault required all participants to ingest the first of four doses right before the damaging bout of exercise was completed (Legault, Bagnall, and Kimmerly 2015). Then supplementation was continued in the morning for each of the next three days. This pattern effectively maximized glutamine levels prior to the damaging episode and then maintained these levels for each of the next three days. Thus providing high doses of glutamine in the morning of a heavy training bout and for three days after a heavy training bout might be three key points to fully take advantage of glutamine.

Supplement Wisely!

An excellent way to get adequate levels of glutamine, on a daily basis, is to consume regular doses of a high-quality whey protein isolate such as ProSource’s original NytroWhey or NytroWhey Ultra Elite. Both premium proteins contain crossflow microfiltrated whey protein isolate particularly rich in the anabolic protein fractions (beta-lactoglobulin, glycomacropeptides, alpha-lactalbumin) that contain high amounts of glutamine peptides and other crucial growth factors essential to strength and growth support.

Another superior way to get the levels of glutamine used in present and on-going studies (and in the same pattern as that used in this research) is to ingest glutamine powder (ProSource Glutamine). ProSource offers superior-sourced glutamine in three different formats for your convenience, including Mega Glutamine Caps for easy ingestion on the run, Glutamine Powder for easy mixing into your pre-workout supplement drink, and Ultra Glutamine, a highly bioavailable form of N-acetyl-L-glutamine. Remember, an optimal dose and timing when combined with an intense workout appear to be the combination of factors where glutamine will offer the greatest benefit.

Final Wrap Up

In conclusion, supplemental glutamine appears to offer invaluable support for athletes who train intensely. Let us not forget, of all the amino acids, glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in our skeletal muscle (Rowbottom, Keast, and Morton 1996). Glutamine also operates as a key fuel source for immune cells to promote a healthy, robust immune system (Windmueller and Spaeth 1974), particularly for athletes who are undergoing heavy training volumes (Koo et al. 2014). To support strength and reduce overall soreness after your heavy-duty workout, go with glutamine!

Read more about NytroWhey Ultra Elite here.

Read more about ProSource Glutamine Powder here.

Read more about Original NytroWhey here.

Read more about ProSource Mega Glutamine Caps here.


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):1770-7.

Cribb, P. J., A. D. Williams, M. F. Carey, and A. Hayes. 2006. "The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine."  Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 16 (5):494-509.

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):1241-6. doi: 10.1589/jpts.26.1241.

Legault, Z., N. Bagnall, and D. S. Kimmerly. 2015. "The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise."  Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2014-0209.

Rahmani Nia, F., E. Farzaneh, A. Damirchi, and A. Shamsi Majlan. 2013. "Effect of L-glutamine supplementation on electromyographic activity of the quadriceps muscle injured by eccentric exercise."  Iran J Basic Med Sci 16 (6):808-12.

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.

Street, B., C. Byrne, and R. Eston. 2011. "Glutamine supplementation in recovery from eccentric exercise attenuates strength loss and muscle soreness."  Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness 9 (2):116-122.

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. doi: 10.1055/s-2000-10688.
Windmueller, H. G., and A. E. Spaeth. 1974. "Uptake and metabolism of plasma glutamine by the small intestine."  J Biol Chem 249 (16):5070-9.

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.