Many people use glutamine to aid in recovery from training, and many feel that it also helps to give a “full” look to the muscle (meaning that there is more water and glucose in the muscle). A study done on rats may give some insight as to why glutamine improves muscle fullness and pumps in some users.
The study actually looked at the effects of both alanine and glutamine supplementation on rats and compared the two to no supplementation at all, but what we are really interested in is the effects that glutamine supplementation produced in the rats. After 2 months of supplementation, the rats consuming glutamine showed increased uptake of glucose in skeletal muscle and liver due to increased insulin sensitivity in these tissues. Supplementation with glutamine also decreased insulin sensitivity in body fat, reducing the storage of glucose as body fat.
The observed effects of glutamine supplementation in rats may or may not translate to human use. Anecdotal evidence seems to support these results to some degree, as some users of glutamine report increased muscle fullness and pumps. Glutamine is quite popular as a recovery aid to decrease muscle soreness when taken before or after training, and this is just one more possible benefit associated with its use.
Prada PO, Hirabara SM, de Souza CT, Schenka AA, Zecchin HG, Vassallo J, Velloso LA, Carneiro E, Carvalheira JB, Curi R, & Saad MJ. (2007). L-glutamine supplementation induces insulin resistance in adipose tissue and improves insulin signalling in liver and muscle of rats with diet-induced obesity. Diabetologia. 50(9), 1949-59.
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