Pyruvate is the buffered form of pyruvic acid in the human body and is the byproduct of metabolized carbohydrates and protein. Along with being naturally produced in the body, pyruvate can be found in some foods including red apples, red wine, cheese, and dark beer. Pyruvate is supplemented for weight loss and potential ergogenic properties (Koh-Banerjee 2005). Pyruvate is thought to boost metabolism and increase endurance in athletes (Michigan Medicine 2015a, Michigan Medicine 2015b).
In energy metabolism, pyruvate acts as a gateway compound between glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. In anaerobic conditions, such as high-intensity exercise, pyruvate is created from the breakdown of sugar and amino acids. Under aerobic conditions, pyruvate is transported into the mitochondria, where it is converted to acetyl coenzyme A to be used in the Krebs cycle for energy production. It is thought that supplementing pyruvate can change the efficiency of food metabolism leading to enhanced lipolysis and greater energy utilization from fat sources. Pyruvate is also proposed to have a carbohydrate-sparing effect in athletes, which could lead to improved exercise performance. (Koh-Banerjee 2005)
Evidence for effects of pyruvate supplementation on exercise performance in trained athletes has not demonstrated any clear benefit (Michigan Medicine 2015a). Randomized clinical trial results are not convincing at showing pyruvate is effective in reducing bodyweight (Onakpoya 2014). Additionally, pyruvate supplementation has not shown significant effect on ventilatory anaerobic threshold, maximal exercise capacity, or time to exhaustion (Koh-Banerjee 2005).
High intake of pyruvate, greater than 15g/day, that is required to achieve the proposed ergogenic effects has been known to cause adverse gastrointestinal events including gas, bloating, and diarrhea (Michigan Medicine 2015b). Some results also report increases in LDL ("bad") cholesterol and decreases in HDL ("good") cholesterol with dosing of 10g/day (Michigan Medicine 2015b). Overall pyruvate does not appear to be effective for weight loss or use as an ergogenic aid (Onakpoya 2014).
Koh-Banerjee PK, Ferreira MP, Greenwood M, Bowden RG, Cowan PN, Almada AL, Kreider RB (2005). Effects of calcium pyruvate supplementation during training on body composition, exercise capacity, and metabolic responses to exercise. Nutrition, 21(3), 312-319.
Onakpoya I, Hunt K, Wider B, Ernst E (2014). Pyruvate supplementation for weight loss: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 54(1), 17.
Ostojic SM, Ahmetovic Z (2009). The effect of 4 weeks treatment with a 2-gram daily dose of pyruvate on body composition in healthy trained men. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 79(3), 173.
Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. (2015a). Pyruvate. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2903001
Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. (2015b). Pyruvate for Sports & Fitness. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-3893002#hn-3893002-why-use