Last week, I showed you how the Special Forces use whey protein powder to keep their muscles strong. But whey protein isn’t the only supplement your muscles need to stay strong. There’s an ingredient in many protein powders that can help preserve the muscles you already have.
Maintaining your muscle strength is vital as you age. It will help you remain independent longer than just about anything else you can do. It keeps you walking and caring for yourself. And it helps your heart stay young as well. So preserving your muscles is vital.
The nutrient that can help is glutamine. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that plays a significant role in cell metabolism, especially in the cells of your muscle tissue. In fact, two-thirds of the glutamine in your body resides in your muscles.
What’s more, exercise causes your body to boost the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol, as you may know, is the stress hormone. But it’s also a muscle-wasting hormone. Too much of it can really cause your muscles to deteriorate. By taking glutamine after you exercise — or during stressful times in life — you can help keep your muscles strong and energetic.
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In one study, researchers followed 18 participants. They divided them into three different groups of six. Then they had all of the participants cycle for 90 minutes to deplete their muscle energy stores (glycogen). After the exercise, they gave the groups an infusion of glutamine, alanine+glycine, or saline.
The researchers found that muscle glycogen levels remained constant in those receiving the saline. That means the saline kept the muscles from losing energy. The group taking the alanine+glycine saw their glycogen levels drop by 18%. And the group taking the glutamine experienced a 16% increase in their muscle glycogen levels.
But there’s more. Two hours after exercise, those who took the glutamine had significantly higher levels of glycogen than the participants who took either saline or alanine+glycine infusions. That means the glutamine helps keep your muscles full of energy. And, with muscles, more energy means healthier and stronger muscles.
So taking glutamine for your muscles is a great idea. However, if you pick up a bottle of whey protein, such as Advanced Protein Powder, you’re far more likely to see “glutamic acid” rather than glutamine. An animal-based protein powder with glutamic acid actually contains 50% glutamic acid and 50% glutamine.
To know how much glutamine you’re getting in an animal-based protein powder, simply cut the number in half and you’ll have the glutamine dose per serving. Both glutamic acid and glutamine amino acids should be in balance to enhance your muscles’ performance. This is why many athletes prefer to use an animal-based protein rather than a plant-based protein, which is 80% glutamine.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.