Is Glutamine Useless? Definitely Not.

Is Glutamine Useless? Definitely Not.

By Jared Boynton | 3/30/2017

Glutamine has gone through some rough patches over the years.

In the early days, glutamine was initially heralded as a crucial amino acid for the maximization of muscle growth and adaptation. This theoretical proposition came off the back of the discovery that although glutamine is the most abundant non-essential amino acid present in the human body, it’s depleted rapidly with exercise; sometimes up to 50%. Logically, researches came to the conclusion that replenishing this supply was crucial for optimum performance.

Over time, however, the overwhelmingly positive hysteria surrounding glutamine diminished. Though the initial theory looked great on paper, there were simply not enough studies that showed a strong correlation between glutamine supplementation and muscle growth. In fact, a study performed by Candow et al in 2001 which supplemented participants with glutamine at 0.9g/kg of lean body mass showed absolutely ZERO gains in performance or body composition.

Ultimately, a study by Coker et al (2000) surfaced that showed that dietary supplementation of 5g glutamine and 3g of BCAAs in an enriched whey shake resulted in a larger accumulation of muscle mass over the control group. A clearer picture of the role of glutamine in the mTOR process began to form, and studies examining the synergy of Leucine and Glutamine were conducted.

 Chiu et al (2012) showed that a cellular deficiency in glutamine resulted in decreased mTORC1 activity, even while in the presence of sufficient leucine and EAAs. This was the holy grail, proving that presence of glutamine is essential to maximize mTORC1 function and directly involved in the muscular growth pathway. Glutamine’s use as an uptake facilitator for Leucine was set in stone.

To summarize: when supplementing Leucine (i.e. drinking BCAAs), glutamine should be additionally supplemented at a rate of 5g glutamine per 3g of Leucine in order to maximize muscle growth.


Jared Boynton is a strength, performance, and conditioning coach with a wide range of knowledge on nutrition, supplementation, biomechanics. His experience has been proven through years of real-world implementation with both his own physique and the physiques of numerous clients. You can contact Jared via email at


  1. Candow DG, Chilibeck PD, Burke DG, Davison KS, Smith-Palmer T: Effect of glutamine supplementation combined with resistance training in young adults. Eur J Appl Physiol 2001, 86(2):142-9
  2. Colker CM: Effects of supplemental protein on body composition and muscular strength in healthy athletic male adults. Curr Ther Res 2000, 61(1):19-28.
  3. Chiu M, Tardito S, Barilli A, Bianchi MG, Dall'asta V, Bussolati O. ‘Glutamine stimulates mTORC1 independent of the cell content of essential amino acids.’ Amino Acids. 2012 May 8. [Epub ahead of print]

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