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How Glutamine Can Help Sugar Addiction or Craving

Susanna Sisson's picture
Sugar Craving

Maybe you are trying to cut carbs to lose weight; maybe you just want to cut down on sugar. Either way, there will come a time when most people have cravings. So, if sugar is your kryptonite, you should consider taking L-glutamine.


Why do we crave sugar? That’s like asking an alcoholic why that person craves alcohol. Sugar is addicting and elicits a physical and psychological response when ingested. and, study after study confirms that fact. One such study, conducted by Dr. David Ludwig, a professor at Harvard, which has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, proves foods with higher sugar content and glycemic index are addictive in the same way as cocaine and heroin. For anyone who has ever tried to give up sugar that probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

What Dr. Ludwig and his colleagues found is that sugar stimulates the same pleasure center in the brain, the nucleus accumbens, that is activated when people take drugs or gamble, and that pleasurable feeling drives people to continue the activity, be it gambling or eating sugar.

Another problem is that food manufacturers specifically design foods to be highly addictive in order to keep people coming back and increase sales. Foods high in fat and sweets stimulate the release of the body’s own opioids (chemicals like morphine) in the brain. In addition, we also develop a tolerance to sugar so that it takes more and more to get the same “high”.

Eating too much sugar is linked to a laundry list of negative health effects, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Today, the average sugar intake in the U.S. is 22 teaspoons per person per day, which is four times the amount that the World Health Organization suggests is healthy.

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How does L-glutamine help?

I first heard about the amino acid L-glutamine in 1977 when reading Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution (1972). I was cutting carbs in order to lose weight and tried the supplement and it worked. After a few weeks on the diet my cravings were gone. Glutamine works by improving insulin sensitivity and glutamine converts to glucose quickly which may alleviate craving. [2]
There are other benefits of taking glutamine. Glutamine is not an essential amino acid, meaning we don’t have to get it from food because our bodies can convert glutamic acid into glutamine. Athletes often use glutamine which converts to glucose quickly for both short burst activities like sprinting and long distance running and cycling. Glutamine improves endurance, reduces fatigue, buffers acid produced during strenuous exercise and improves VO2max, a measure of how well athletes utilize oxygen. [3]

What are other ways to reduce cravings?

• Just say “NO” to sugar - Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners 100 percent and your cravings will go away.
• Drink more water which will curb not only cravings but hunger.
• At meals combine healthy protein like fish with healthy fats like avocado and healthy carbs that are low in sugar like red bell peppers.
• Eat a good breakfast with protein and eat protein in every meal and snack.
• Eat small, frequent meals.
• Exercise more.
• Get a good night’s sleep.
• Increase intake of Vitamin D, amino acids including glutamine, Omega 3, chromium and lecithin.
• Manage stress.

Cravings will occur so be ready for them. Glutamine supplements are readily available so keep them on hand. Also prepare meals and snacks ahead of time and for special occasions when low carb might not be an option.

1. http://www.businessinsider.com/evolutionary-reason-we-love-sugar-2014-4
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24062772
3. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/10/2045S.full