Glutamine and Glycogen Resynthesis


Chronically Injured
Jul 22, 2005
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I just read Poliquin's statement (compiled by the editors) regarding glutamine and glycogen resynthesis over at T-Nation.

Research has demonstrated that consuming glutamine following exercise can accelerate muscle glycogen resynthesis and glutamine levels, which are critical in the prevention of overtraining, and the creation of an anabolic environment. I recommend ingesting 0.33 g/kg of glutamine, so for a 90 kg man that would be 30 grams. If someone has a higher percentage bodyfat, I up the glutamine and reduce the carbs.

I've seen other authors refer to this over at T-Nation in the past as well and I'm hear to say, I think its bullshit.

I believe this is the study that they are referring too...

From 1999.
Effect of oral glutamine on whole body carbohydrate storage during recovery from exhaustive exercise.Bowtell JL, Gelly K, Jackman ML, Patel A, Simeoni M, Rennie MJ.
Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom DD1 4HN. [email protected]

The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of glutamine in promoting whole body carbohydrate storage and muscle glycogen resynthesis during recovery from exhaustive exercise. Postabsorptive subjects completed a glycogen-depleting exercise protocol, then consumed 330 ml of one of three drinks, 18.5% (wt/vol) glucose polymer solution, 8 g glutamine in 330 ml glucose polymer solution, or 8 g glutamine in 330 ml placebo, and also received a primed constant infusion of [1-13C]glucose for 2 h. Plasma glutamine concentration was increased after consumption of the glutamine drinks (0.7-1.1 mM, P < 0.05). In the second hour of recovery, whole body nonoxidative glucose disposal was increased by 25% after consumption of glutamine in addition to the glucose polymer (4.48 +/- 0.61 vs. 3.59 +/- 0.18 mmol/kg, P < 0.05). Oral glutamine alone promoted storage of muscle glycogen to an extent similar to oral glucose polymer. Ingestion of glutamine and glucose polymer together promoted the storage of carbohydrate outside of skeletal muscle, the most feasible site being the liver.

Here's John Berardi's argument against this study... which seems to be very strong, in my opinion.

And with respect to glycogen replenishment in endurance athletes, it's interesting to note that the first study that looked at glycogen resynthesis using glutamine missed a couple of things. Basically, the study showed that after a few glycogen depleting hours of cycling at a high percentage of VO2 max interspersed with very intense cycle sprints that were supramaximal, a drink containing 8g of glutamine replenished glycogen to the same extent as a drink containing 61g of carbohydrate.

The problem was that during the recovery period, a constant IV infusion of labeled glucose was given (i.e., a little bit of glucose was given to both groups by IV infusion). While this isn't too big of a deal on its own since the infusion only provided a couple of grams of glucose, the other problem is that during glycogen depleting exercise, a lot of alanine, lactate, and other gluconeogenic precursors are released from the muscle.

What this means is that there's a good amount of glucose that will be formed after such exercise, glucose that will be made in the liver from the gluconeogenic precursors and that will travel to the muscle to replenish glycogen. Therefore, without a placebo group that receives no calories, carbohydrates, or glutamine, we have no idea of knowing whether or not the placebo would have generated the same amount of glycogen replenishment as the glutamine group or the glutamine plus carbohydrate group. To say it another way, perhaps there's a normal glycogen replenishment curve that was unaffected by any of the treatments.

Taken from here...

The real kicker is that the above study that T-Nation and friends are running with has NEVER been recreated to my knowledge.

Here are a couple of examples...

From 2000
The effect of free glutamine and peptide ingestion on the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis in man.van Hall G, Saris WH, van de Schoor PA, Wagenmakers AJ.
Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. [email protected]

The present study investigated previous claims that ingestion of glutamine and of protein-carbohydrate mixtures may increase the rate of glycogen resynthesis following intense exercise. Eight trained subjects were studied during 3 h of recovery while consuming one of four drinks in random order. Drinks were ingested in three 500 ml boluses, immediately after exercise and then after 1 and 2 h of recovery. Each bolus of the control drink contained 0.8 g x kg(-1) body weight of glucose. The other drinks contained the same amount of glucose and 0.3 g x kg(-1) body weight of 1) glutamine, 2) a wheat hydrolysate (26% glutamine) and 3) a whey hydrolysate (6.6% glutamine). Plasma glutamine, decreased by approximately 20% during recovery with ingestion of the control drink, no changes with ingestion of the protein hydrolysates drinks, and a 2-fold increase with ingestion of the free glutamine drinks. The rate of glycogen resynthesis was not significantly different in the four tests: 28 +/- 5, 26 +/- 6, 33 +/- 4, and 34 +/- 3 mmol glucosyl units x kg(-1) dry weight muscle x h(-1) for the control, glutamine, wheat- and whey hydrolysate ingestion, respectively. It is concluded that ingestion of a glutamine/carbohydrate mixture does not increase the rate of glycogen resynthesis in muscle. Glycogen resynthesis rates were higher, although not statistically significant, after ingestion of the drink containing the wheat (21 +/- 8%) and whey protein hydrolysate (20 +/- 6%) compared to ingestion of the control and free glutamine drinks, implying that further research is needed on the potential protein effect.

And this...

From 2006
Addition of glutamine to essential amino acids and carbohydrate does not enhance anabolism in young human males following exercise.Wilkinson SB, Kim PL, Armstrong D, Phillips SM.
Exercise ****bolism Research Group, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada.

We examined the effect of a post-exercise oral carbohydrate (CHO, 1 and essential amino acid (EAA, 9.25 g) solution containing glutamine (0.3 g/kg BW; GLN trial) versus an isoenergetic CHO-EAA solution without glutamine (control, CON trial) on muscle glycogen resynthesis and whole-body protein turnover following 90 min of cycling at 65% VO2 peak. Over the course of 3 h of recovery, muscle biopsies were taken to measure glycogen resynthesis and mixed muscle protein synthesis (MPS), by incorporation of [ring-2H5] phenylalanine. Infusion of [1-13C] leucine was used to measure whole-body protein turnover. Exercise resulted in a significant decrease in muscle glycogen (p < 0.05) with similar declines in each trial. Glycogen resynthesis following 3 h of recovery indicated no difference in total accumulation or rate of repletion. Leucine oxidation increased 2.5 fold (p < 0.05) during exercise, returned to resting levels immediately post-exercise,and was again elevated at 3 h post-exercise (p < 0.05). Leucine flux, an index of whole-body protein breakdown rate, was reduced during exercise, but increased to resting levels immediately post-exercise, and was further increased at 3 h post-exercise (p < 0.05), but only during the CON trial. Exercise resulted in a marked suppression of whole-body protein synthesis (50% of rest; p < 0.05), which was restored post-exercise; however, the addition of glutamine did not affect whole-body protein synthesis post-exercise. The rate of MPS was not different between trials. The addition of glutamine to a CHO + EAA beverage had no effect on post-exercise muscle glycogen resynthesis or muscle protein synthesis, but may suppress a rise in whole-body proteolysis during the later stages of recovery.

Why the hell are they running with information that hasn't been duplicated in 9 years? And if anyone has knowledge of research contradicting my opinion, please post it.

I'm thinking that this might have something to do with Poliquin's opinion on glutamine...

He also sells his own fish oil, BCAA's, & BA which he conveniently seems to recommend ridiculous amounts of.
You are 100% correct. Orally taken glutamine does ABSOLUTELY nothing.
Nice work Monger. I saw Poliquin's tip on glutamine in today's T-nation article, and was like "WTF??? Why the fuck would he be recommending glutamine?!?".

I've said it before and I'll say it again, sure, it's an insulin secretagogue and an alkalizing agent, but for fuck's sake, so is ANY carb, and as far as alkalizing, eat your damn veggies.

If he wasn't selling it, it would still be stupidly insane, but this makes him look just as bad as the scam artists at T-nation. See what he's recommending for BCAAs? He's selling those, too.

"My athletes might go through 40 or 50 capsules per workout. We just dump about fifty capsules in a bottle and make sure they're all gone by the end of the workout. I find that to be very anabolic."

If he wasn't selling it, it would still be stupidly insane, but this makes him look just as bad as the scam artists at T-nation. See what he's recommending for BCAAs? He's selling those, too.

Yes, he also sells his own fish oil and, in my opinion, recommends dangerous amounts (for blood thinning reasons).

Even his recommendation of BA (which he also sells) seems sketchy with his "take it till you tingle" advice. As noticed in our BA thread, it seems like some individuals can take quite high doses without tingles.
Poliquin's an extremist. Not only does he recommend glutamine, but 30g? That's 30g glutamine, 40g Fish Oil and 30g of BCAA's? Talk about pill popping...
40g of fish oil...........HOLY HELL. I can't even imagine that. I though the 10g I took was a lot but 40g is just ridiculous.
glutamine supplementation is not necessary. most people get enough from their diet. it's in whey protein too.
*tries to join discussion*

So yeah, if you take the flux capacitor to the forth power and takes its eigen values, you make able to fit the model using the gauss-Newtonian method.

glutamine supplementation is not necessary. most people get enough from their diet. it's in whey protein too.

That's not really the point, you know? It doesn't even reach your muscles in the first place.
ok I realize I should have worded it differently. I was just trying to say that if glutamine was beneficial, most people already get a lot through their diet and whey protein supplement. :)
I think he's about right. Most whey and casein protein is about 14-20% glutamine. Which really means most people don't call for THAT much additional glutamine, if any at all (I wouldn't, according to his calculations I would need about 23g) In a good day I'll consume about 150-180g of protein, which if you are extremely conservative and assume 150g, with 14% being glutamine, would give me 21g. In reality the number is more toward 25-30g/day.
ok I realize I should have worded it differently. I was just trying to say that if glutamine was beneficial, most people already get a lot through their diet and whey protein supplement. :)

I see.
dang, i just bought some glutamine about 3 weeks back to try out

guess ill finish out the bottle and be done with it