If you consume both creatine and glutamine as part of your sports nutrition to aid with exercise performance, you might be wondering what exactly the difference is between the two.

Here we'll discuss the critical role of glutamine vs creatine when it comes to fitness and exercise performance, what their benefits are, and more.

If you regularly take exercise supplements, you will have seen both creatine and glutamine in many pre-workouts.

While both glutamine and creatine are known to build lean body mass and muscle tissue, there are some significant differences between the two.

How They Work

Creatine, also known as creatine monohydrate, provides more energy by providing an increase in adenosine-triphosphate, which helps with muscle fuel and energy. 

After consuming creatine, you'll likely feel short bouts of power and strength that help greatly with intense exercise.

Glutamine's main role, on the other hand, is nitrogen transport which has an impact on muscle soreness, the health of your immune system as well as the gut lining. 

L-Glutamine helps with directing the body where and when to place these nitrogen atoms to both rebuild and repair muscle tissue.

Therefore, glutamine is vital for the immune system function - exercise recovery and rebuilding your gut lining, whereas creatine helps provide energy.

Creatine also focuses more on metabolic processes, whereas glutamine is more geared toward muscle protein synthesis.

Learn More - How Long Does Creatine Take To Kick In And Work?

Molecular Structure

In molecular structure, both creatine and glutamine are composed of amino acids. 

However, when it comes to glutamine, it is a single conditionally essential amino acid, whereas creatine is made of three different amino acids - two are conditionally essential (arginine and glycine) and one essential (methionine).

When it comes to glutamine, it's also important to note that it is a non-essential amino acid that's exceptionally important for recovery.

While L-glutamine is commonly brought up and used as a source of comparison, there is no real difference between the two.

L-glutamine is an isomer of glutamine, commonly found in foods and supplements, and is also one of the most abundant amino acids in our body.

On the other hand, creatine is typically produced naturally by the kidney, liver, and pancreas. You can also get creatine from dietary sources such as red meat. Although it is a naturally occurring chemical, creatine is typically stored in skeletal muscle tissue.

Learn More - Creatine Vs Creatinine (What Are The Key Differences?)

Even though we naturally produce creatine, creatine supplementation is common as it helps increase muscle mass and strength.

See Below - Glutamine Molecular Structure Formula

Glutamine Molecular Structure Formula

Performance Benefits

Regarding performance benefits, glutamine is typically used for reducing muscle fatigue, but it can also be used to build muscle and prevent the breakdown of muscle mass.

Creatine supplements, on the other hand, focus more on improving power and strength. It's also great for high-intensity training and anaerobic endurance training.

Here's a great snapshot of the benefits of creatine and glutamine.

Creatine:

  • Increases both muscle strength and muscle mass[1]
  • A recovery supplement
  • Helps with brain functions
  • Enhances speed, endurance, and metabolism
  • Helps to produce energy to aid athletic performance

Glutamine:

  • Helps with muscle protein synthesis
  • Helps to support immune cells and a healthy immune system[2]
  • Detoxifies the liver, aiding in gut health
  • Aids in overall immune health and fitness

Ingredients

As mentioned earlier, glutamine, or L-glutamine, is one of the twenty essential amino acids we require to function properly. 

It's the most abundant amino acid and helps with protein synthesis. Other than glutamine supplements, you can also find it in meat and eggs.

Creatine, on the other hand, is also an amino acid and is made in the kidneys, pancreas and liver. You can find it in food such as red meat, and it's stored in the skeletal muscle tissue for later use.

Glutamine Benefits & When You Should Take It

When it comes to taking glutamine, you should be taking it post-workout. As glutamine helps to increase the production of human growth hormone, taking glutamine post-workout can increase muscle growth while also cutting down on body fat and increasing metabolic activity.

When it comes to the dosage, it is recommended to take 30 grams per day (5 grams six times a day) for up to 16 weeks.

One of the main reasons why bodybuilders drink glutamine, however, is to help with muscle gain. As glutamine is an essential building block, it helps in preserving muscle mass and overall muscle body composition. It also aids in fat loss and is great for resistance training.

Glutamine has also been shown to help with muscle recovery as it reduces muscle soreness and muscle fatigue from high-intensity exercise.

Some other benefits of glutamine include:

Adding A Scoop Of Optimum Nutrition Glutamine Powder To Water

Boosting Immune System Health

When you become ill, your body may begin to break down muscle tissue. Glutamine supplements are a critical fuel for immune cells like white blood cells, and hence can help decrease infections and strengthen the immune system.

Intestinal Health

Taking enough glutamine can also help ensure that the intestinal system remains healthy, as it helps fuel the cells within the intestinal lining.

This helps with preventing toxins from coming through, and scientific evidence suggests that it aids in gut health.

Creatine Benefits & When You Should Supplement It

When it comes to creatine supplements, it's best to take them before your workout - whether it be weight lifting or high-intensity exercise.

Not only will creatine help to increase glycogen storage which sustains energy levels, but it also helps with muscle recovery. When it comes to the dosage, you should have a dose of 10-15g per day for at least 10 days.

Additional creatine is typically taken during the loading phase though this is not usually recommended, it can help with boosting levels of muscle strength.

For creatine supplementation, there are various types of supplements, from creatine monohydrate to creatine ethyl ester.

The difference between the two supplements is the inclusion of ester salts. Creatine ethyl ester also generally results in less water retention.

There are a number of health benefits that you would reap from consuming creatine supplements. They include:

Producing More Energy

Creatine monohydrate increases the amount of phosphocreatine in your cells. This stored cellular phosphocreatine can help stimulate the energy process and produce the chemical ATP, which gives you more energy.

Build Muscle Mass

Creatine supplements help with overall muscle growth. Taking creatine can also assist with the formation of complex proteins that become muscle - helping to ensure that the human body has both lean body mass and tissue growth.

Improves Performance During Training

Creatine helps with both endurance and stamina. With that, you'll not only get an increase in strength but also faster recovery, improved brain performance, increased muscle mass, and less fatigue.

Helps With Brain Function

Creatine is an effective supplement when it comes to brain function. Research suggests that it can help with combating not just Alzheimer's disease but also Parkinson's disease.

See more - Creatine Brain Benefits (Does It Help Brain Function?)

Woman working out chest with barbell

Frequently Asked Creatine versus Glutamine Questions

Can you take glutamine and creatine together?

Yes, you can take both creatine and glutamine together. In fact, combining both may work as a great sports drink or post-workout nutrition drink, and you could see greater gains.

How do BCAAs differ from L Glutamine & Creatine?

Known as branched-chain amino acids, these supplements are made up of L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. Supplementing with these can help with protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown.

Can I take glutamine on an empty stomach?

You can take glutamine on an empty stomach. In fact, amino acids are best absorbed when you supplement them on an empty stomach. Make sure you're not taking too much glutamine, however, as that can result in lower back pain, fast heartbeat, dizziness, and more.

How long does it take to see results from glutamine supplementation?

It depends on the individual, but it typically takes about three months to see results from protein powder glutamine supplementation as this substance is stored in your muscles and used gradually.

Conclusion

When it comes to glutamine vs creatine, it’s obvious that there are differences between the two.

While both glutamine and creatine can help with muscle synthesis and overall exercise performance, creatine focuses on providing you with that extra bout of energy during your workout, while glutamine is a recovery supplement that's great for those that lead an active lifestyle.

Most people find a healthy balance in using both supplements.

References: 

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/6/1255
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/131/9/2515S/4687557 
Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.