We know that being stressed out is not contributing much to our overall health in a positive way, right? We know deep down… Heck we feel it deep down when we get stressed out that we are just taking years off of our lives, but more importantly for the time being, we are becoming ruthlessly ineffective and probably making poorer decisions than we ordinarily would.
Well that same feeling that you get after a long hard day of things not going your way… it happens after a night of drinking as well. And much of it has to do with the simple amino acid that we call glutamine.
If you have much knowledge in the fitness and nutrition realm, you’ve probably seen L-Glutamine before, and you’ve seen that it’s common amongst bodybuilders and fitness fanatics, but I’m looking at it from an entirely different angle here. I’m talking about how the process of drinking depletes your glutamine stores and causes a rebound in glutamine that may not be exactly what you want (in other words, the wrong amount of glutamine at the wrong time).
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It’s role in digestion, building muscle, and coping with stress are huge. But one of the things that makes it the most unique is that it is one of the only compounds (besides glucose) that can cross the blood-brain barrier and be used as a source of fuel for the brain. Now for those of you that follow a high-fat, lower-carb diet, you can quickly see how lower levels of glutamine can be detrimental to your productivity if you don’t have blood glucose in the picture.
How Alcohol Is Making You Sluggish
But let’s talk about how alcohol and glutamine comes into play when you’re going out to drink. I’ve been there in the business world with you and we all know that sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the company dinner or the get together that channels you into a night of drinking that you swore you were going to abstain from. So let’s face it, if you’re going to drink, you’re going to want to know what is happening to slow you down or hurt your bottom line (at least the next couple of days).
When we consume alcohol, it shuts of the production of glutamine. So quite literally, during the time that we are drinking, our bodies are no longer creating glutamine that can repair muscle and aid in digestion, but its not the cessation of glutamine production that is the culprit when it comes to a loss of productivity, it’s actually what happens after we stop drinking.
Once alcohol is no longer being consumed, the production of glutamine is no longer halted, so this means that the body tries to make up what it lost and increases the overall production of glutamine. Sounds great, right?
It would be, except for the fact that glutamine stimulates the brain, remember? It serves as an energy source for the brain which means that you are now getting a mega dose of brain stimulation when you really don’t want it. As a matter of fact, your body is generally tired at this point in time. It’s been a long night of networking and meeting with important people and you’ve probably used up a lot of your muscle glycogen by simple standing around and moving. So what do you do? You go to sleep!
But you’re going to sleep with a brain that is high on glutamine and never able to drop into the truly restorative states of sleep. So even if you feel like you’re sleeping hard because you weren’t waking up throughout the night (or you passed out cold), you’re not fully recovering. Whether its four hours, eight hours, or twelve hours, you’re not restored properly and you’re not going to perform at your best.
Have you ever noticed that when you get up in the morning after a night of drinking that you’re a bit more anxious and restless than usual? That’s simply because you’re operating in an impaired state.
Here’s the interesting thing though, if you’re looking at kicking the habit of drinking altogether, or you just want feel like you have a bit more control over your decision to drink, a study by the University of Texas found that simply adding glutamine as an isolated supplement daily can reduce alcohol intake and the desire to drink as well as reduce stress levels overall. It does this by alleviating some of the underlying symptoms of depression which can sometimes be markers to grab a drink in the first place.
So in the end, a little supplementation of glutamine is going to be the way to go. Take 1-2 grams with every meal throughout the day, specifically on days that you know you’re going to either be tempted to drink, or you KNOW that you’re going to drink. If you can’t kick the habit altogether, you might as well mitigate the effects of a non-productive following day.
If you’re on the path to becoming the most optimized version of yourself, identifying what works specifically for you is imperative to the success of your business, your brain, and your body.