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Postworkout Fuel and the Glutamine Connection



Supplement are Essential for Muscle Healing and Repair
fitFLEX Articles - Learn, Share and Discover





Postworkout meals and supplementation are topics debated constantly by one and all. Of course, personal preference, body tolerance and budget have a lot to do with the approach a bodybuilder or strength athlete takes. If what you do and what your buddy does don't seem to match, the reason may not be that one of you is right and the other wrong. It might just be that the two of you see the task differently. However, I'm here to tell you there is a simple method of replenishing lost energy after a workout that won't prompt too much disagreement. Certainly there is more than one way to do anything, but some ways of taking supplements are better than others.

Plugging nutrients and calories back into the muscles after strenuous exercise is essential, but there is more to the equation than this. I'm referring to glutamine, a nonessential amino acid synthesized and absorbed by various organs of the body. From the stomach to the intestines to the muscles its pathway is direct and swift. Strenuous prolonged exercise like intense weight training or other taxing activities decreases the body's glutamine level to the point that supplementation is essential.

Glutamine is also necessary for the formation of a healthy immune system. Resistance training at a bodybuilding or powerlifting level quite literally breaks the body down, so a strong immune system is important. But don't get the wrong idea. Glutamine isn't like vitamin C or an antioxidant. It's an actual energy source for cells - most importantly, muscle cells.

A glutamine deficiency, while not exactly like an essential vitamin deficiency, can still cause problems because it can contribute to infections, colds and flu that develop during periods of intense training, such as before a competition. In fact, I have told many of my clients that supplementing with several grams of glutamine per day, postworkout, can lower your chances of getting a cold, or lessen the severity of colds and flu that have already taken hold.

The glutamine connection is an important one for bodybuilders, though, because it moves ammonia around in the body - ammonia that is created by excess protein and by normal cellular waste. The digestive tract hungers for glutamine and counts on it to advance bodily processes more rapidly and with less toxic effect moves waste around within the digestive tract and body in general, it also clears lactic acid and other cellular waste from muscle bundles.


Glutamine is stored in the cells of the muscle, and that's where it works its magic on muscle repair and recovery. Unless it is replenished, recovery will take a lot more time. On average a lack of glutamine can cause muscle repair and recovery, including elimination of soreness, to take up to two days longer. You can get glutamine from a wide variety of foods, but not in the concentrations you can get with supplementation in the pure powder form. Supplements are convenient and absolutely essential.

Don't believe glutamine can make that dramatic a difference in your training routine?

Think again! Glutamine comprises a whop-ping 60 percent of the amino acid pool in muscles, the most abundant of all aminos in the intracellular amino acid pool. BCAAs, while important to replenish also, comprise only a measly 35 percent. Another benefit of glutamine is that it consists of 19 percent nitrogen, making it a powerful transporter of get into muscle cells. It contributes greatly to protein synthesis and acts against the breakdown of muscle tissue. All of these factors combined make it the correct choice for a major role in recovery.

Unfortunately, however, concentrations of glutamine stored in the muscle fall appreciably after a hard session of training and without supplementation will stay low until complete recovery takes place within the muscles. Continuously low levels of glutamine are associated with overtraining, and its absence sets the process of catabolism in motion.

Glutamine is invaluable to the contest dieter because it is able to drive protein directly into muscle cells where it can be synthesized and turned into new muscle tissue. During periods of stress, such as a competition diet or a particularly intense cycle of training, glutamine level can dip by as much as 50 percent. Still believe glutamine can't be the most valuable supplement in your cupboard? I'd be surprised if you didn't go out and buy a 20-pound container of the stuff today. The problem with supplements in general, and particularly those associated with growth and preventing catabolism, is that most people don't know when to take them to maximize their effectiveness. Is an empty stomach the best environment? Is preworkout the best time?

Does the supplement work when we sleep or exercise? It may not seem like a big deal, but when you take a supplement is just as important as the form or brand. In the case of glutamine the conditions under which you take it are as important as the amount you take and when.

The best possible dosing schedule is one or two teaspoons on an empty stomach, dissolved in some form of liquid, directly after a workout. An even better scenario is adding glutamine to a postworkout carb or combination carb/protein drink in the same amount. Carbohydrate or a combination is a good vehicle with which to carry glutamine into the muscle. It creates an increase in blood glucose level and raises insulin while replenishing glycogen stores in muscle bundles.

Postworkout supplementation is the key to many of the good results one can experience. Consuming the right supplement at the right time can serve to reduce recovery time and make recovery sufficient to create a supportive environment for growth. What's more, swift and complete recovery means less time between workouts and greater gains in the long run.

So why not just eat a meal of steak and baked potato? You could do that, provided you weren't on a competition diet in the early phases, but the best kind of uptake is always a protein and carbohydrate meal in liquid form just after a workout. It's more easily assimilated and doesn't waste energy by making the focal point the stomach and gastric emptying. The body just more easily deals with liquids than with solids.

Use a maltodextrin-based carbohydrate and some form of whey protein powder to mix with supplements such as glutamine and other postworkout recovery substances. These are the highest-quality form of calories you can get, apart from solid food. But, again, your postworkout meal should usually be in liquid form.

If you train as hard as most of my clients and many pro bodybuilders, or as hard as you ought to train to get anywhere in terms of results, you can benefit greatly from supplementing with glutamine and other nutrients that support recovery, repair, growth and fat loss. If I could only use just one recovery aid in addition to food and meal-replacement drinks, I'd choose glutamine as my wonder supplement.






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