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10 Best Glutamine Foods - Ranked From Highest To Lowest

L-Glutamine is an amazing amino acid and a favorite fuel source for your intestinal lining. So if you're looking to further support your gut health, you've probably been trying to work out which foods contain high amounts of glutamine. Well, in this guide we're going to look at 10 of the most popular food sources of glutamine. We'll cover the obvious foods like beef and chicken, but also look at some plant based foods. Best of all, we'll show you how much glutamine is in them and rank them from highest to lowest, so you know what to focus on eating more of.

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Table of Contents

    1. Why glutamine is good for us

    Glutamine is a remarkable amino acid, because it can fuel your intestinal lining, strengthen the gut barrier and support overall gut health.

    In fact, the cells lining your GI tract love it so much they can go full Joey Tribbiani and gobble it up directly.

    So while your muscles may love protein, your gut prefers glutamine.

    In fact, here’s world-leading research scientist, Dr Dominic Dagastino explaining to Dr Rhonda Patrick just how much your gut loves glutamine:

    So if it wasn’t clear already, glutamine is your gut’s best friend.

    And so in today’s article we’re going to look at:

    1. How you can get more glutamine in your diet
    2. What the best glutamine-rich foods are - that way you can really prioritize which foods to eat
    3. Plus, we’ll even rank them from highest glutamine content to lowest

    2. Which foods contain glutamine?

    Well, if you’ve already done some research into glutamine-rich foods, you’ve probably read a few articles online or seen some videos on Youtube.

    They all look pretty similar. You’ll get a list of protein-rich foods like chicken, beef and eggs. Plus some vegetables like cabbage, as well as other foods like nuts.

    In fact, here’s Stanford University’s very own Dr Andrew Huberman - a neuroscientist and host of the very popular Huberman Lab podcast - discussing which foods are rich in glutamine…

    Huberman's list of foods high in glutamine

    1. Beef
    2. Chicken
    3. Fish
    4. Milk
    5. Cheese
    6. Eggs
    7. Beans
    8. Cabbage
    9. Spinach
    10. Parsley

    10 glutamine foods

    Now, while this sort of list is interesting, it is not extremely useful.  After all, you’re probably wondering…

    • How much glutamine is actually in each food?
    • What other foods are high in glutamine?
    • And of course, which foods are the highest in glutamine?

    Glutamine content of food

    But here’s the thing: it’s really hard to find data on how much glutamine is in foods.  For example, you won’t find it in the USDA database. And you won’t find it in other credible nutritional databases like ESHA.

    And so unsurprisingly, most experts simply don’t answer these questions.

    And of the few experts that do try to answer them, well, they often end up confusing Glutamate or Glutamic acid with Glutamine - meaning their answers are not very accurate.

    Of course, here at Essential Stacks we are glutamine experts, as we make Gut L-Glutamine, one of the most popular L-Glutamine powders available. So as you can imagine, our research team has the answers for you…that no one else does. And, that’s exactly what we’ll focus on now.

    3. What foods are high in glutamine?

    So in terms of what foods are high in glutamine, the general rule is, if it has a significant amount of protein, it will also have a good amount of glutamine.

    And that’s because glutamine is one of the main amino acids you’ll find in protein. To find out exactly how much glutamine is in protein, we had to do some digging into the scientific literature.

    Thankfully we found this 2000 research paper published in the World Journal of Surgery, where researchers found:

    “Most naturally occurring food proteins contain 4% to 8% of their amino acid residues as glutamine”.

    In other words, roughly 6% (on average) of the protein in foods comes from glutamine.

    So what does all of this mean for you?

    Well, let’s illustrate it by showing an example.

    how much glutamine in beef

      Glutamine in steak (example calculation)

      • So say you ate an 8 ounce or 240 gram serving of steak.
      • Using the USDA database, we can say steak - in this instance strip or porterhouse - contains about 22.7 grams of protein per 100 grams.
      • That would mean your filet of steak would have 54.5 grams of total protein in it.
      • And if roughly 6% of that protein is in the form of glutamine, it means we can say there is likely around 3.27 grams of glutamine in the steak.

      Now that you can see how the protein content of food determines whether it is high in glutamine or not, let’s run these numbers for the 10 foods Dr Hubmerman mentioned in his video and see whether they’re really good sources of glutamine…or not.

      4. How much glutamine is in beef, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, beans, cabbage, spinach and parsley?

      Just before we look at how much glutamine is in these foods, it is worth mentioning that our research team at Essential Stacks has pulled the protein content of the foods straight from the USDA food database.

      That way the numbers are all consistent with each other.

      Glutamine foods list

      Food

      Protein (g) / 100 g  

      % Glutamine of protein

      Glutamine (g) / 100 g

      Beef

      26

      6%

      1.56 g

      Chicken 

      28

      6%

      1.68 g

      Fish (salmon)

      20

      6%

      1.2 g

      Milk (skim)

      3.4

      6%

      0.20 g

      Cheese (cheddar)

      25

      6%

      1.50 g

      Eggs

      13

      6%

      0.78 g

      Beans (pinto)

      21

      6%

      1.26 g

      Cabbage (red)

      1.4

      6%

      0.08 g

      Spinach

      2.9

      6%

      0.17 g

      Parsley

      3

      6%

      0.18 g

      Key takeaways

      1. So first up, let’s look at beef. As we can see above beef has 26 grams of protein in every 100 grams of meat, and if 6% of this is glutamine, then we can say there is 1.56 grams of glutamine in every 100 grams.
      2. Now if we look at those numbers for chicken, fish, dairy products and eggs, we can see the glutamine content of these other animal-based foods - which Dr Huberman mentioned as being good sources of glutamine - are quite good as well. For example, chicken, fish and cheese are all delivering sizeable amounts of glutamine, roughly in line with beef. While eggs are delivering about half as much, and milk is delivering just a fraction of the glutamine.
      3. Now let’s look at the plant-based foods Huberman mentioned. Beans - in this case we used pinto beans as the proxy for beans - are delivering a very respectable amount of glutamine. Almost on par with the animal based foods. By contrast, cabbage, spinach and parsley clearly have much less glutamine. And that’s not surprising, since they don’t contain much protein.

      Now while this data is interesting, it is not very useful.  Since the serving size of these foods can differ quite a lot.

      For example, most people will eat more than 100 grams of beef in a meal. While almost no one - except for maybe our French friends across the pond - is going to eat 100 grams of parsley in a sitting!

      5. How much glutamine per serve?

      Just before we show you the data - it’s worth mentioning that our research team debated what constitutes a typical serving size of these foods. After all, there is so much conflicting info out there on this.

      For example, if you look at the American Heart Association they recommend 3 ounces of meat as a serving size.

      But here’s the thing: that is not very reflective of how much people eat in real life.

      So we worked hard to find the right balance for serving sizes of each food, and you can see just below what we believe is a typical serving size.  We think this balances healthy eating with reality.

      So with these serving sizes in mind, let’s now see how much glutamine each food delivers in a typical serve.

      Glutamine per serve list

      Food

      Glutamine (g) / 100 g

      Serving Size

      Glutamine (g) / serve

      Beef

      1.56 g

      6 oz / 170 g

      2.65 g

      Chicken 

      1.68 g

      6 oz / 170 g (1 breast)

      2.85 g

      Fish (salmon)

      1.2 g

      7 oz / 200 g (1 filet)

      2.4 g

      Milk (skim)

      0.20 g

      8 fl oz / 237 ml

      0.47 g

      Cheese (cheddar)

      1.50 g

      1 oz / 28 g

      0.42 g

      Eggs

      0.78 g

      2 medium eggs / 120 g

      0.94 g

      Beans (pinto)

      1.26 g

      ½ cup cooked / 85 g

      1.07 g

      Cabbage (red)

      0.08 g

      ½ cup cooked / 75 g

      0.06 g

      Spinach

      0.17 g

      ½ cup (cooked) / 100 g

      0.17 g

      Parsley

      0.18 g

      1 tablespoon / 3.8 g

      0.006 g

      This is fascinating right.

      1. Chicken, steak and fish are clearly the best sources of glutamine, delivering around 2.5 grams of glutamine each per serve.
      2. Meanwhile, eggs and beans are not bad either, giving us around 1 gram of glutamine per serve.
      3. The dairy products in milk and cheese are a bit further behind, both offering around half a gram of glutamine…roughly.
      4. Lastly, the other plant based foods that Huberman said were good sources of glutamine - well, we can see they are offering just a fraction of the glutamine you’ll find in the animal based sources. Meaning they are not great sources of glutamine. For example, you’ll find roughly 4700% more glutamine in a filet of chicken, than you will in a ½ cup of cooked cabbage!

      6. How to eat more glutamine rich foods

      So now you can see which types of foods contain high amounts of glutamine…as well as which ones don’t offer much glutamine by comparison…I bet you’re wondering how you can eat more glutamine-rich foods?

      • Well, the first thing you should do is download our free Top 50 Glutamine Foods List. This will show you the highest glutamine foods you can eat, including how much glutamine you’ll get per serve.
      • Next, you should read another article we wrote on How to eat 15 grams of glutamine per day. In it we show you how to build the Perfect day of glutamine-rich meals, from breakfast to dinner. Very cool!
      • And finally, you should check out one more article we published recently about How much glutamine to take per day. This will be really helpful for you, since it will help you set the right glutamine target to match your health goals.

      7. Is there better data for food with l glutamine?

      Just before we finish the article, myself and the research team at Essential Stacks, wanted to mention that better glutamine data has emerged since the 2000 paper we mentioned earlier.

      But…the problem is that it is very limited.

      And if you want to geek out with us, I’ll quickly explain what has happened.

      So basically in 2009 this study appeared in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

      Evaluation of a novel food composition database that includes glutamine

      These researchers used gene sequencing to determine the precise glutamine content of 6 foods. See what I mean…it was very limited!

      And so while the 2000 study declared 4 to 8% of protein content in food is glutamine, these researchers found the range may be somewhat wider and differs across the food groups.

      6 glutamine foods analyzed by gene sequencing

      Here are the results of the 6 key foods they measured.

      6 glutamine foods

      And to make this more useful for you, we crunched the numbers and built them out for the 6 foods using our table structure. Which we can see just below...

      Food

      Protein (g) / 100 g

      % Glutamine of protein

      Glutamine (g) / 100 g

      Serving Size

      Glutamine (g) / serve

      Beef

      25.9

      4.8%

      1.231

      6 oz / 170 g

      2.09 g

      Milk (skim)

      3.4

      8.1%

      0.275

      8 oz / 237 ml

      0.65 g

      Rice (white)

      2.7

      11.1%

      0.301

      1 cup / 200 g

      0.60 g

      Corn

      2.5

      16.2%

      0.406

      0.5 cup / 82 g

      0.33 g

      Tofu (soy)

      6.6

      9.1%

      0.603

      0.5 cup / 126 g

      0.76 g

      Egg

      12.6

      4.4%

      0.559

      2 medium eggs / 120 g

      0.67 g

      Key takeaways

      So a few interesting takeaways we found from this 2009 study:

      1. Although the precise glutamine content of beef and eggs were lower than the 6% average figure we used in our earlier analysis - the overall picture that beef and to a lesser extent eggs, are high glutamine foods, remains clear.
      2. For milk though, it was interesting to see the precise glutamine content being higher, coming in at 8.1%. This bumps the actual glutamine content up a bit, making milk slightly more respectable in terms of being a glutamine rich food.
      3. Meanwhile, for the 3 plant based foods in rice, corn and tofu - well, the results were fascinating! They are much higher in glutamine as a percentage of protein, than the 4 to 8% range. For example, a whopping 16.2% of every gram of protein in corn, is in the form of glutamine! Of course, these plant based foods don’t have as much total protein as the animal based foods, especially beef. So when you crunch the numbers, you can see the glutamine per 100 grams is still much less than beef. If we look at the amount of glutamine per serve though, we can see that rice and tofu are pretty decent sources of glutamine, while corn is a moderate source.

      So the 2 big takeaways here…

      1. High protein animal-based foods remain the best source of glutamine and sit in the 4 to 8% glutamine range, in line with the earlier study.
      2. Some plant-based foods may also offer respectable amounts of glutamine, as many sit above the 4 to 8% range.

      With all of that said, the reality is most people looking to increase their glutamine intake, are doing so to support their gut health.

      And if you are one of them, then you probably know all too well that certain plant based foods like legumes, tofu and corn may not be easy to tolerate - especially at these serving sizes.

      9. Easiest way to get extra glutamine (L-Glutamine powder)

      And finally, if eating more glutamine-rich foods like meat and seafood, sounds like a chore or something that might quickly get expensive, then there is a much easier way to get extra glutamine.

      And that is by taking a glutamine supplement.

      We of course make this glutamine powder. It is made right here in the USA, contains no animal products and is 3rd party tested.

      Best of all, it is a much more affordable source of glutamine than food.

      • For example, while a filet of steak and salmon may deliver 5 grams of glutamine together, they will also cost around $15 to $20. 
      • By contrast, 1 scoop of Gut L-Glutamine, which also delivers 5 grams of glutamine, costs only 50 cents. 
      And so if you’re interested in trying it, you can shop our L-Glutamine powder here.

      Evidence Based

      An evidence hierarchy is followed to ensure conclusions are formed off of the most up-to-date and well-designed studies available. We aim to reference studies conducted within the past five years when possible.

      • Systematic review or meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
      • Randomized controlled trials
      • Controlled trials without randomization
      • Case-control (retrospective) and cohort (prospective) studies
      • A systematic review of descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method studies
      • A single descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method study
      • Studies without controls, case reports, and case series
      • Animal research
      • In vitro research

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