If you're shopping for supplements, one that has the glutamine amino acid might catch your eye. Considering many women use glutamine for weight loss, you may be wondering if this dietary addition is right for you. Learn how glutamine works — and get your doctor's OK — before you buy.
What is glutamine?
Glutamine is one of many amino acids — the building blocks of protein — that your body uses for nearly every single process that keeps you moving each day. Some of these processes can affect your waist size, like protein synthesis — the key to building lean, calorie-torching muscle — and metabolic regulation. Good news: Your body constantly produces a large amount of this essential amino acid thanks to your skeletal muscle. But if you want to shed a few pounds, you might be thinking about consuming even more glutamine for weight loss.
Is glutamine safe?
Since your body produces the glutamine amino acid naturally, it's widely considered safe, and studies have found promising results after testing the healthy upper limits of supplementation. There has been very little indication of adverse side effects from taking glutamine, according to a 2001 survey that looked at four different studies of people supplementing with it. One of the studies was even conducted on infants to make sure the supplement was safe for the little ones — and it was.
Does glutamine work?
If you're looking for a leg up on whittling your waist, consider glutamine an easy aid after you get your health practitioner's OK. In a small Italian study, obese and overweight women who took glutamine dropped more pounds without dieting than women who took another supplement with the same amount of protein but no glutamine. After four weeks, both groups reverted back to their old diets. When there was no trace of the lingering glutamine, they were switched to the non-glutamine supplement. Both groups showed the slimming effects only when taking glutamine — and this was without changing their diet or workout habits. "It was a significant reduction of body weight," said lead author Alessandro Laviano, MD.
There's another more subtle benefit to taking glutamine for weight loss that could tip the scales in your favor. Evidence has been building that there's a connection between your gut's bacterial composition and obesity, and this amino acid just might help you achieve a better balance for slimming down. Overweight and obese women who added glutamine to their diets for 14 days showed a marked change in the composition of their gut bacteria in a 2015 Nutrition study. At the end of the 14 days, they had a noticeable decrease in their ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes — two major gut bugs used as a biomarker for obesity. This result is consistent with other weight-loss programs.
But researchers aren't the only ones seeing results. Food-addiction expert Julia Ross, MA, author of The Diet Cure, says her "clinic has already seen thousands of people use the supplement with great success — even during the holidays," when indulgent, less-than-healthy food choices are the status quo.
How much of a glutamine dosage should you take?
You can buy glutamine supplements in both powder and capsule form. With many brands, the powder is more cost-efficient, but this depends on the dose you're taking as well as the frequency. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that as little as 20 grams per day is effective for weight loss (spaced out as approximately 5,000 milligrams four times daily). Up to 50 to 60 grams per day is widely considered safe, but check with your health practitioner to find out what's the safest option for you.
The powder is frequently sold unflavored, although more brands are starting to make versions in flavors like Berry Citrus and Lime Sherbet. Some people report that not all of the powder dissolves completely in water, but they're usually able to add it to smoothies without it affecting the flavor. The taste of the unflavored powder is reported to be neutral or slightly sweet.
Different brands and forms of the supplement come in varying doses, so be sure to check the label on each product to see how many grams or milligrams it has per serving and how many servings come in each container.
Things to Know Before Trying Glutamine for Weight Loss
Very little research has been done on taking doses of the supplement at a larger concentration than 0.3 g/kg in a single dose (adding up to about 20 grams for an average 150-pound woman). Most studies have been done on patients who are sick, because glutamine helps maintain muscle mass and rebuild cell tissue. A daily intake of 50 to 60 grams per day has shown no harmful side effects, but it's crucial to note that this supplement intake was given to hospital patients for a short amount of time, not to healthy people looking to use glutamine for weight loss. The author of the 2001 survey still has reservations about the safety of taking the supplement at high doses because of proven toxicity of very high-protein diets. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate dose of the glutamine amino acid for you.
It’s worth noting that in a 2015 study, a single dose of glutamine administered to participants was associated with an increased meal size. The study was small and the long-term effects of the amino acid were not analyzed, but this finding does counter anecdotal evidence that the supplement can cut hunger and cravings.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before you start taking the glutamine amino acid as a dietary supplement. This is especially important if you have any type of chronic illness, disease, or history of cancer.
Where do you buy glutamine powder or glutamine supplements?
Although more drug stores are carrying supplements, your best bet is to go to a health food or supplement store. You can also order a wide variety of the powders online, like the ones we've listed below.
Solaray L-Glutamine Capsules
Grow and maintain your muscles with these capsules from Solaray. Your body needs l-glutamine to synthesize muscle tissues, and when you're building lean mass, it's easier to burn and keep off fat. Just take one of these easy-to-swallow capsules once a day and get your metabolism will start revving up to burn fat.
Where to buy: $9, Amazon
Integrative Therapeutics L-Glutamine Drink Mix
Get your glutamine fix with a glass of this tasty lemon-lime drink. Bioavailable curcumin, a component that makes up turmeric, is also included in the mix. This powerful ingredient has been shown to help with everything from cancer prevention to helping digesitive problems. Simply mix one scoop into water or juice and sip up those benefits!
Where to buy: $49.88, Amazon
Optimum Nutrition L-Glutamine Muscle Recovery Powder
Protein shakes and smoothies can now be even healthier when you add glutamine powder to your recipe. It's flavorless so you can mix it in with anything and give your body on of the essential amino acids it needs. On top of whittling your waist, you'll find that l-glutamine will also help mend your sore muscles after a strenuous workout.
Where to buy: $37.85, Amazon
Now Sports L-Glutamine Capsules 1000 Mg
Double up on your intake with just one capsule. This supplement offers 1,000 mg in one pill and will ensure that you're giving your body an added boost of l-glutamine. By increasing the dose of this amino acid, your body receives more than what it already makes. This in return speeds up the fat burning process. Your gastrointestinal health and your iron-pumping muscles will be thanking you.
Where to buy: $10.76, Amazon
BPI Sports Best Glutamine Essential Amino Acid
If you're someone who loves hitting the gym or focuses on really toning and getting lean, this dietary supplement is a perfect complement to your exercise habits. This specific powder provides six advanced forms of glutamine so you can amp up your energy, speed up your recovery time, and build muscles to melt fat.
Where to buy: $26.81, Amazon