Pyruvate for Sports & Fitness
Also known as: Pyruvic Acid
What is it?
Pyruvate (the buffered form of pyruvic acid) is a product created in the body during the
metabolism of carbohydrates and protein.
Where is it found?
Pyruvate is formed in the body as a byproduct of the normal metabolism of carbohydrates and
protein and is present in several foods, including red apples,
cheese, dark beer, and red wine. Dietary supplements of pyruvate are also available.
Why do athletes use it?*
Some athletes say that pyruvate
- helps boost metabolism.
- helps them lose body fat.
- helps increase endurance.
What do the advocates say?*
Pyruvate appears to promote weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate. There is good
research based on human studies showing that pyruvate helps to promote weight loss in
overweight people on low-fat diets.
Although pyruvate promotes weight loss, which is good for heart health, it is important to
monitor cholesterol levels as it may reduce HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
How much is usually taken by athletes?
Three controlled studies of untrained individuals using a combination of 6 to 10 grams per
day of pyruvate and an exercise program reported greater effects on weight loss and body fat
compared with those taking a placebo with the exercise program.1 2
3 However, controlled studies of the effects of pyruvate supplementation on exercise
performance have tested only trained athletes, and these athletes did not experience
improvements from pyruvate supplementation. Seven grams per day did not improve aerobic
exercise performance in cyclists,4 and an average of 15 grams per day did not
improve anaerobic performance or body composition in football players.5
Are there any side effects or interactions?
High intakes of pyruvate can trigger
gastrointestinal upset, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. One preliminary study in exercising women
found 10 grams per day of pyruvate reduced blood levels of HDL (the “good”
cholesterol) after one month.6
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions
*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for pyruvate based
on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials
that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific
articles on pyruvate. For more complete and detailed information, including references and
safety information, see Pyruvate as a nutritional
1. Kalman D, Colker CM, Wilets I, et al. The effects of pyruvate
supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition
2. 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 [abstract].
3. Kalman D, Colker CM, Stark S, et al. Effect of pyruvate
supplementation on body composition and mood. Curr Ther Res
4. Morrison MA, Spriet LL, Dyck DJ. Pyruvate ingestion for 7 days does
not improve aerobic performance in well-trained individuals. J Appl Physiol
5. Stone MH, Sanborn K, Smith LL, et al. 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;9:146–65.
6. Koh P, Kreider R, Ferreira M, et al. Effects of pyruvate
supplementation during training on hematologic and metabolic profiles. Med Sci Sports
Exerc 1998;30:S155 [abstract].