Glutamine is an amino acid essential for muscle strength. It serves as a building block to protein, helping to synthesize this nutrient in the body. Due to its necessity in the maintenance of muscles, questions still remain about this amino acid's effect on weight.
Glutamine is predominantly used as part of an experimental treatment to prevent muscle wasting as a result of disease. Both HIV/AIDS and cancer can lead to what's known as cachexia, which is a loss of weight due to muscle atrophy. It's often taken in combination with beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, or HBM, and l-arginine. But it's not actually the glutamine that's responsible for the prevention of cachexia. It appears that HBM slows the rate of protein breakdown in the body.
A 2002 study conducted by the Department of Surgery at the Veterans Affair Medical Center in Reno, Nevada indicates that glutamine improves the synthesis of protein in the body. When combined with HBM, patients not only maintain lean muscle but gained body weight as a result of fat-free mass, which is characterized as skeletal muscle. In 2000, The Nassau County Medical Center in East Meadow, New York conducted a similar study, but on patients with HIV/AIDS. This research demonstrated that the mixture of HBM, glutamine and arginine can increase body weight as a result of lean body mass.
Based on current studies, you shouldn't see an increase in weight as a result of glutamine. This amino acid only appears to affect lean muscle, not fat reserves. Taking glutamine as part of dietary supplementation doesn't change your metabolism or affect the caloric needs of your body. However, you may experience weight gain as a result of lean muscle when taken in combination with strength training. Further studies are necessary to determine the exact affect on muscle in "healthy" individuals.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that glutamine can be taken in doses of 500 milligrams, one to three times a day. However, some medical professionals prescribe this amino acid in doses upward of 15,000 milligrams. Do not take this amount unless under the supervision of your doctor.
No known side effects have occurred as a result of glutamine supplementation. However, this amino acid may adversely interact with prescription medications. Always talk to your doctor before taking this or any other supplement. Supplements containing amino acids can increase or decrease the efficacy of prescription drugs.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Muscular Dystrophy: Hope Through Research
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Glutamine
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Glutamine
- DietSpotlight.com: L-Glutamine
- American Journal of Surgery: Reversal of Cancer-Related Wasting
- Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition: Nutritional Treatment for Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus-Associated Wasting