Protein, Glutamine & Creatine: What Are They?

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By Jake Bradshaw

You won’t be the only person at the gym who doesn’t know about these three supplements. We hear from trainers all the time – both on television and at the gym – to take these protein boosters to gain muscle. With names like these, it is always difficult to configure their benefits.

To change your body, you must know what kind of fuel you are feeding it. Everything you eat and drink is stored somehow in your body like a dirty sponge, so it’s crucial to educate yourself. To gain muscle, to better your immune system, and to be happy with your body these three supplements have to be a part of your dictionary – no questions.

Let’s start at the beginning. The key term to note while reading the rest of this article is “amino acids.” These acids are essential to the body because they function our body. They work our brain, give us oxygen at times, and give us life. Amino acids can be ingested, however a lot of it is taken from various parts of our body – including our muscles. The three supplements are forms of amino acids.

What Is Protein?

The most specific kind is whey protein and it’s actually one of the most important things you need to do after exercise. Protein builds muscle – Period! In a recent study led by Stefan Pasiakos from the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in 2011, they evaluated the benefits of muscle growth from immediate post-workout protein intake versus normal food consumption of it throughout the day.

The results were 33% greater with the post workout protein intake. Why? Because the whole point of protein is to quickly repair your muscles. When taken as a supplement instead of through food, it gets into your bloodstream immediately, so your muscles will soak it faster. Otherwise, your muscles will have to wait a few hours for your body to digest it from your stomach.

It’s important to note that depending on your favorite workout routine, digesting whey protein daily may not give you the right results you want. For example, if you are a yoga fanatic, yes you’re working  your muscles, but taking in a lot of whey protein will only bulk you up. Instead, you should concentrate on glutamine and get your protein from food.

The best kind of protein is Whey Protein Isolate – it is 90% pure protein. The other kinds are concentrated and should be avoided.

What Is Glutamine?

Glutamine is our muscle’s best friend. Think of it as his wing man. It is 60% of our muscle’s amino acid content. Glutamine is extremely important to us because they are the fuel for our immune cells which rebuild our tissues when they get worn out. If we have little glutamine in our body, the cells would take it from the next source – our muscles. This is why glutamine is our friend.

Our cells CONSTANTLY need glutamine. Even if we’re not working out, they are being taken naturally.  If you don’t have enough glutamine in your diet, it is more likely that they will take it from your muscles. When we take glutamine, we are giving the cells what they need so they won’t take it from our muscles. In a sense, it doesn’t help GAIN muscle but it prevents them from SHRINKING. This can be one of the most important things to understand if you want to gain muscle mass.

What Is Creatine? 

Think of creatine as an energy tool – an extremely beneficial one. It is made up of amino acids and is made naturally in our body, but can also by synthesized. When you are exercising, the energy your body uses is called ADT. Once it is used up, it digs into our body’s other resources to then become ADP which is immediate energy.  What creatine does is it is used as a resource to turn ADP back into ADT, thus recycling the energy process all over again while recovering at the same time.

In a sense, creatine isn’t exactly a muscle builder, however it does feed your muscles with the energy it needs to complete your workout. Many sports nutrition supplements will have creatine in them for energy during your workout and recovery after. It makes your muscles less tired, however it isn’t necessary for muscle growth.