Welcome to yet another installment of FRIED-DAY. I use these days to outline the dangers of overtraining and try to offer some hypotheses as to why we suffer from overtraining.
Today let’s talk about glutamine and “The Glutamine Hypothesis”
Last time I spoke about the central fatigue hypothesis and talked about BCAAs. BCAAs are three essential amino acids that cannot be broken down by the liver and therefore enter the bloodstream. Like BCAAs, glutamine is one of the amino acids. Glutamine, however, is a non-essential amino acid, meaning our bodies have the ability to manufacture it.
Glutamine is associated with a lot of useful roles including DNA/RNA synthesis, nitrogen transportation, gluconeogenesis, acid-base balance, and immune cell function. Glutamine is stored in our skeletal muscle and when we exercise it is released in order to make glucose for energy. Exercise lasting longer than two hours will deplete our muscles of glutamine.
Studies have shown that our immune systems cannot function as well when we suffer from lower physiological glutamine. Several scientists believe that the depleted glutamine stores is linked to the upper respiratory infections that many runners and athletes suffer when they overtrain.
As with the other hypotheses, this does not account for all of the symptoms related to overtraining. In my mind, overtraining does a plethora of damage to our bodies and throws our entire chemistries off. So far we’ve learned that by exercising we deplete our bodies of glycogen, BCAAs, and glutamine.
When our bodies undergo physical stress (exercise) we alter our equilibrium and we need time to regain a healthy balance. Imagine you throw a party in your home. Your guests come in and eat your food, drink your beverages, maybe knock a few things over, track dirt in, fill your garbage bin. You need time to take out the trash, go grocery shopping, vacuum, and anything else you need to do to get your home back to the way it was. Imagine throwing a party every day for a week….a month….6 months. Would you be able to keep up?