Glutamine & Ketogenic Diet

by Anthony Marrone

About Anthony Marrone

Anthony Marrone holds a Ph.D. in kinesiology from the University of Michigan where he worked in both the athletic and nutrition departments. He began writing in 1985 and his writing has appeared in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" and the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."


A ketogenic diet allows you to consume protein and fat but a limited amount of carbohydrates. By limiting your carbohydrates, you can lose body fat at least as effectively as when you follow a low-fat diet. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a low-carbohydrate diet not only allows you to lose fat, but maintain lean muscle tissue. Consult a health care provider before beginning any dietary program.

Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is based upon your ability to be in the state of dietary ketosis, where you are burning ketones, or fatty acids, as your primary fuel source. While you will always burn a certain amount of glycogen and amino acids for energy, by maintaining a very limited carbohydrate intake, you can cause your body to effectively burn fat while limiting lean muscle loss. This is accomplished by consuming at least 60 percent of your calories from fat, and no more than 5 percent of your calories from non-fibrous carbohydrates such as sugars, grains and starches.


Glutamine is an amino acid, or a building block of simple and complex proteins. Because your body synthesizes glutamine on its own, glutamine is not considered essential. However, if you are engaged in high-volume athletic training, glutamine may become conditionally essential, as your levels will deplete faster than your body can synthesize more. Glutamine functions as an antioxidant -- antioxidants help remove toxins from your system. Supplemental glutamine can also raise growth hormone levels, according to a 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Glutamine can also stimulate your immune system, according to a 2001 study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Recommended Glutamine Use in a Ketogenic Diet

The late Dr. Atkins, long-time proponent of the low-carbohydrate lifestyle, recommends glutamine supplementation while on a ketogenic diet. According to Dr. Atkins, anyone following a low-carbohydrate diet should take 5 grams of glutamine supplementation per day. He also recommends 1 to 2 grams of glutamine to halt sugar cravings. Dr. Atkins also recommends glutamine supplementation for bowel control, immune system function and recovery from exercise. According to Dr. Atkins, everyone but pregnant and nursing women should supplement with glutamine.

Ketogenic Inhibition

There is one downfall to using glutamine while following a ketogenic diet plan -- inhibition of ketosis. For most people, once they are in ketosis, glutamine will not push them out of ketosis, but in some people it will. They only way to determine this is via experimentation, and measuring ketone levels via Ketostix. Ketostix are strips that are used to measure ketone output in urine, and are the only method of determining whether or not you are truly in ketosis.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or