Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pyruvate Supplements - Useless as Ergogenic, Surprisingly Effective as Dieting Aid & Body Recompositioning Agent

Pyruvate = Recomp agent, not performance enhancer?
I am not sure if you even remember that pyruvate, which is made from glucose through glycolysis, and can be converted back to carbohydrates (such as glucose) via gluconeogenesis, or to fatty acids through acetyl-CoA, has once been touted as (yet another) "next big thing" by parts of the supplement industry.

The idea was that pyruvic acid could supply energy to working muscles through the citric acid cycle (also known as the Krebs cycle) when oxygen is present (aerobic respiration), and alternatively ferment to produce lactate when oxygen is lacking (fermentation) - this would make it the perfect workout fuel for high intensity exercise, but theory and practice are two very different animals.
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Past studies investigating its efficacy have however yielded mixed results. In the year 2000, Michael A. Morrison , Lawrence L. Spriet , David J. Dyck reported that "oral pyruvate supplementation does not increase blood pyruvate content and does not enhance performance during intense exercise in well-trained cyclists." (Dyck. 2000)

Similarly disappointing results have been reported by Ebersole et al., likewise in the year 2000 for improvements in critical power (there were none) and stand in contrast to observations by JL Ivy who found that pyruvate, when "provided as an oral supplement for several days", whill "enhance aerobic endurance capacity" in rodents (Ivy. 1998) or Stanko et al. who found back in 1990 that feeding  dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate for 7 days  increased  arm  muscle  glucose  extraction  before  and  during exercise,  thereby  enhancing  submaximal  arm  endurance  capacity of (albeit) untrained men.
Weight & amp;fat loss(kg)/4.25-MJ deficit (Stanko. 1995) ➽ Pyuruvate makes dieting more effective.
Previous studies show that Pyruvate propels weight and fat loss: On a standardized 1.015kcal per day diet, subjects lost significantly more weight and body fat, when they received 30 grams of mixed sodium + calcium pyruvate per day. Plus: The pyruvate supplement had protein sparing effects, as well. In spite of the fact that the difference was not statistically significant, the subjects in the pyruvate group lost 5% less lean mass (relative to the total weight loss) than their peers in the placebo group.
Olek, et al. the authors of the most recent pyruvate paper in the open access journal nutrients, were well aware of the fact that pyruvate (PYR), in spite of its importance in energy metabolism, has not been shown to have ergogenic effects after prolonged supplementation. In view of the fact that Morrison et al. indicated that acute oral intake of calcium PYR (Calcium Pyruvate), even at a dose of 25 g, did not modify the PYR concentration in the whole blood or in the plasma, while Olek et al. have previously shown that a single dose of sodium PYR (NaP) does, the researchers from the Gdansk University ofPhysical Education and Sport in Poland decided to re-examine the effect of a single NaP ingestion on blood acid-base status and the exercise metabolism markers.
"Since 0.1 g of sodium bicarbonate per kg of body mass induces metabolic alkalosis 60 min following ingestion [14,15], we hypothesized that a similar NaP treatment before commencing the high intensity physical exertion may change the exercise metabolism." (Olek. 2014)
Nine active, but non-specifically trained, malesubjects (mean ± SEM: 23 ± 1 year old, 1.75 ± 0.02 m height, 72 ± 2 kg body mass) participated in the double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.
"On separate days, the subjects reported to the laboratory in the morning, then rested for 30 min and then ingested placebo or NaP in a random order. In the previous studies the subjects consumed PYR in the amount of ~0.07–0.08 g/kg body mass;  therefore, the subjects in our study ingested NaP in a single dose of 0.1 g/kg body mass (which is ~0.08 g of PYR per kg body mass). " (Olek. 2014)
An hour following the ingestion, the subjects performed the physical exertion. The exercise protocol consisted of 2 min at a power output of 50 W and then for 6 min at a constant power output, corresponding to ~90% O2max. To determine  O2max, participants performed a graded cycle ergometry test on an electromagnetically-braked, cycle ergometer. After an initial warm-up period, the work rate was increased by 25 W/min until volitional exhaustion was achieved.
Figure 1: Lactic acid and blood pH during the placebo (•) and (o) pyruvate trial (Olek. 2014)
As you can see in Figure 1 the lactic acid concentration after the workout was significantly higher in the dotted pyruvate trial. Interestingly, though, the pH and thus the acidity of the blood was only marginally elevated - a clears sign that the buffering function of sodium pyruave Olek et al. had speculated about is real.
Pyruvate as a PGC-alpha driven metabolic engine builder: In view of the fact that high pyruvate levels would usually occur during intense exercise it's no wonder that researchers from Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge have found that it increases mitochondrial biogenesis in rodent muscle (Wilson. 2007)
Table 1: Gas exchange, ventilation and heart rate responses during and after severe-intensity exercise following placebo and sodium pyruvat eingestion. Values are the means ± SEM (Olek. 2014) | As you can see, there are no asterisks (*) which means: None of the differences reached statistical significance.
A brief glimpse at the measured differences in O2 uptake, CO2 output, minute ventilation, respiratory exchange ratio, and heart rate (see Table 1) does yet reveal that the study at hand generally confirms what previous studies by Ebersole et al (2000) and Morrison et al. (2000)  suggested: In spite of the fact that it would be 100% logical, if we saw performance improvements with pyruvate supplementation, the parameters Olek et al. recorded do not suggest that there were any.

And even when it was administered as creatine pyruvate, Van Schuylenbergh et al. did not find any benefits on cycling performance in a 2003 study.
Bottom line: In spite of the fact that it's physiological function would suggest that supplemental pyruvate should increase exercise performance, there is as of now no good evidence that it will actually do that.

Figure 2: Pyruvate may not improve performance, but it promotes improvements in body composition in dieting overweight men and women (Kalman. 1998).
Against that background you may be interested to hear that several studies suggest that it may not improve performance, but could help you lose weight. The ingestion of pyruvate 6 g/d for 6 weeks, along with regular exercise, for example, has been shown to reduce body fat, increase lean body mass, and improve fatigue and vigor scores in a 6-week, double-masked, placebo-controlled study that was conducted by Douglas Kalman et al. in 1998 to determine the effects of pyruvate supplementation on body weight, body composition, and vigor and fatigue levels in overweight men and women. Quite an impressive result. Specifically if you take into consideration that there were no changes in body composition in the placebo group who followed the same diet and training regimen.

Similar, albeit slightly less pronounced effects have been observed in the absence of dietary restrictions by Koh-Banerjee et al. (2005) and in a low energy + no exercise context by Stanko et al. (1992). Unfortunately, the mechanism(s) remain unclear. As Kalman et al. point out, previous rodent studies would suggest that an increase in insulin sensitivity and glycogen storage and decrease in fatty acid synthesis in fat cells may be at the heart of the effects the researchers observed 15 years ago | Comment on Facebook.
  • Ebersole, Kyle T., et al. "The Effect Of Pyruvate Supplementation On Critical Power." The Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research 14.2 (2000): 132-134.
  • Ivy, John L. "Effect of pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone on metabolism and aerobic endurance capacity." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 30.6 (1998): 837-843.
  • Kalman, Douglas, et al. "Effect of pyruvate supplementation on body composition and mood." Current Therapeutic Research 59.11 (1998): 793-802.
  • Koh-Banerjee, Pauline K., et al. "Effects of calcium pyruvate supplementation during training on body composition, exercise capacity, and metabolic responses to exercise." Nutrition 21.3 (2005): 312-319.
  • Morrison, Michael A., Lawrence L. Spriet, and David J. Dyck. "Pyruvate ingestion for 7 days does not improve aerobic performance in well-trained individuals." Journal of Applied Physiology 89.2 (2000): 549-556.
  • Stanko, Ronald T., Denise L. Tietze, and Judith E. Arch. "Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a 4.25-MJ/d low-energy diet supplemented with pyruvate." The American journal of clinical nutrition 56.4 (1992): 630-635.
  • Van Schuylenbergh, Reinout, Marc Van Leemputte, and Peter Hespel. "Effects of oral creatine-pyruvate supplementation in cycling performance." International journal of sports medicine 24.02 (2003): 144-150. 
  • Wilson, Leanne, et al. "Pyruvate induces mitochondrial biogenesis by a PGC-1 α-independent mechanism." American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology 292.5 (2007): C1599-C1605.