Pyruvate is a relatively new supplement to
the athletic and sports nutrition industry. Pyruvate is actually
derived from pyruvic acid. Pyruvate is the compound which starts
the Krebs cycle. The Krebs cycle is an energy cycle which is
directly responsible for the production and precursors of ATP
(Energy). Pyruvate is currently known for having numerous benefits
which include: reduction of fatty mass, lowering of blood lipids,
improved endurance during aerobic activity, increased ATP/energy
production, and a decrease in the chance of regaining previously
lost fat mass. It has also been hypothesized that pyruvate is
most effective when combined with another supplement called dihydroxyacetone
(DHA). Some evidence suggests that combined supplementation of
these two products can influence metabolism.
It's apparent from several studies that moderate dosages of pyruvate
may be somewhat ineffective, especially in enhancing endurance
activities. However, when the supplement is taken in higher dosages
and is also combined with DHA, improvements in upper and lower
body endurance was visible (87). Pyruvate is naturally produced
in the human body as a result of digestion and metabolism of
starches and sugars. Pyruvate can also be found in foods or substances
such as red apples, cheese, dark beer, and red wine to name a
Although there have been many favorable testimonials and claims
regarding pyruvate, there has been less research to back up these
positive statements. However, there are currently a select handful
of studies which can shed light on this situation. One of these
enlightening studies was done by Stone et al (40) in which they
investigated the efficacy of two dietary supplements (pyruvate
and creatine) on measures of body mass, body composition, and
performance in 42 American football players for a period of 50
weeks. In this study, there were four groups: pyruvate, creatine,
pyruvate and creatine combined, and placebo. There were several
key results from this study. First of all, pyruvate alone seemed
to have no significant effects on any physiological markers of
performance or body measurements. Secondly, creatine alone seemed
to have significant effects on body compositions and muscular
strength. However, more noteworthy is the effects of the combined
group of pyruvate and creatine in which there was the greatest
increase in strength and power, decrease in body fat, and increase
in lean muscle mass. Finally, the placebo group experienced no
significant effects. In other words, the combined group using
both pyruvate and creatine experienced the best results.
Another study of significance by Kalman et al (41) was done to
ascertain the effects of pyruvate supplementation (6 grams a
day) on body weight, body composition, and fatigue levels in
healthy overweight men and women. There were two groups consisting
of either a placebo or a pyruvate group. Quite simply, the results
indicated that 6 weeks of pyruvate supplementation had a significant
effect on decreasing body fat and overall body weight compared
to the placebo group. Another study by Kreider et al (42) showed
similar results as far as the effects pyruvate had on the reduction
of body fat and overall bodyweight.
Another group of researchers in two small controlled trials reported
that pyruvate and DHA together enhanced the endurance of certain
muscles in untrained men compared to that in a placebo group
(43, 44). In both studies, subjects were randomly assigned to
either a pyruvate and DHA group or a placebo group. In all groups,
subjects performed endurance activities at 70% VO2 to exhaustion.
Both studies concluded that supplementation of 25 grams or more
of pyruvate combined with DHA seemed to have a very positive
effect on fighting exhaustion in both upper and lower body endurance.
It also showed that muscle glycogen concentration, especially
for the upper body study, were significantly elevated by pyruvate-DHA
supplementation. Of further note, endurance times for the upper
body endurance study were increased from 133 minutes to 160 minutes
with the use of pyruvate-DHA. In the lower body study, the analysis
showed that endurance times increased from 66 minutes to 79 minutes
with the use of pyruvate-DHA. All in all, it appears that pyruvate-DHA
supplementation greatly enhances endurance time to exhaustion
with a given workload. It also appears that pyruvate is in a
highly potent state when combined with dihydroxyacetone (DHA).
Summary and Recommendation
Pyruvate data seem to be fairly clear in regards to its positive
effect on high performance athletes. Pyruvate seems to greatly
reduce fatigue associated with exercise, improve aerobic endurance
times, reduce body fat, and seems to increase muscle mass, power,
and strength when combined with creatine. It also appears that
creatine and pyruvate together work better than either one alone.
It is also quite apparent that pyruvate must be combined with
dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to be effective. However, this does not
appear to be a problem since most products on today's market
include DHA in their pyruvate supplement formula.
Dieting with a moderate decrease in caloric intake (10-15%) along
with supplementation of pyruvate is also recommended. Although
more studies need to be conducted to determine the exact dosage
amount to take, a good rule of thumb is 1 gram of pyruvate supplementation
per 10 pounds of body weight. However, consuming as much as 30
grams of pyruvate could possible lead to gastro-intestinal irritation
therefore dosage amounts should be monitored by the individual
consuming it. In any case, supplementing with pyruvate in moderate
amounts seems to be totally safe and effective. Therefore, toxicity
is not an issue. Pyruvate should generally be taken before meals
and exercise for best results.
According to consumerlabs.com and other valid sources, some of
the best pyruvate products include: BodyTech Pyruvate, Pinnacle
Pyruvate 1000, Epic Nutrition 5-Tetra, Genesis Nutrition Pyruvate
1000, and NOW Pyruvate.
40. Stone MH, Sanborn K, Smith LL, O'Bryant HS, Hoke T, Utter
AC, Johnson RL, Boros R, Hruby J, Pierce KC, Stone ME, Garner
B. Effects of in-season (5 weeks) creatine and pyruvate supplementation
on anaerobic performance and body composition in American football
players. Int J Sport Nutr. 1999 Jun; 9(2): 146-65.
41. Kalman MS, Douglas RD, Carlon M. Colker MD, Ilene Wilets
PHD, James B. Roufs MS, RD, and Jose Antonio PHD. The effects
of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight
individuals. Applied Nutritional Investigations. 1999 May.
42. Kreider R, Koh P, Ferreira M, et al. Effects of pyruvate
supplementation during training on body composition & metabolic
responses to exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998; 30: S62.
43. Stanko RT, Robertson RJ, Galbreath RW, et al. Enhanced
leg exercise endurance with a high-carbohydrate diet and dihyroxyacetone
and pyruvate. J Appl Phys 1990;69:1651-6.
44. Stanko RT, Robertson RJ, Spina RJ, et al. Enhancement
of arm exercise endurance capacity with dihydroxyacetone and
pyruvate. J Appl Phys 1990;68:119-24.
87. Kern, Mark. Pyruvic Acid. CRC Desk Reference of Sports
Nutrition, San Diego State University. 144-145. 2005.