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Can L-Glutamine preserve muscles after exercise?

L-Glutamine is the naturally occurring form of the amino acid glutamine, and the names L-Glutamine and glutamine are often used interchangeably. L-Glutamine is stored in skeletal muscles so helps to maintain healthy muscle function and to preserve muscle levels after exercise.

Muscles

When people think of muscles, they tend to think of body builders with bulging muscles, but there is so much more to muscles than this. There are approximately 650 muscles in the body. Muscles are like ‘machines of the body’ that allow the body to produce movement, stabilise joints, maintain posture and to generate heat. The body comprises three types of muscle:

  1. Skeletal – move the skeleton and produce movement voluntarily by stimulation of nerve impulses. Skeletal muscles are attached to the skeleton at either end by tendons and operate by using the bones as levers and the joints as points of movement
  2. Smooth – typically found in muscle walls of organs ie: stomach, digestive and respiratory tracts, bladder, and produce movement involuntarily
  3. Cardiac – the heart is predominantly made up of cardiac muscle and produces movement involuntarily

Energy for muscles

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is often described as the ‘energy currency’ that transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. ATP is used to power muscle contractions and as the muscles contract or shorten, the ATP molecules are broken down or hydrolysed to release energy.  ATP is the only energy source that can directly power muscle activity within the first 10 seconds of exercise, after that time, ATP must be replenished quickly, so muscles begin to breakdown carbohydrates and fats to produce ATP for sustained energy.

Carbohydrate metabolism is far more efficient at producing energy quickly when compared to fat metabolism.

Glucose, or blood sugar, and stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in muscle cells are broken down through a series of steps to produce ATP. Glycogen is converted into glucose by muscle cells and when glycogen levels are depleted, there is a pronounced loss of energy and fatigue. L-Glutamine can also be metabolised by the pancreas, liver and kidneys to produce glucose through a series of chemical reactions and L-Glutamine is an important energy source for many tissues in the body. 

Preserving muscle levels after exercise

L-Glutamine helps to preserve muscle levels after exercise by preventing muscle catabolism (breakdown of muscle fibres), promoting muscle anabolism (repair and building of muscle fibres) and, to enhance glycogen storage. Physical and metabolic stress increases the body's utilisation and demand for L-Glutamine, consequently L-Glutamine may be beneficial during periods of increased physical stress. See more here: L-Glutamine 750.

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