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Pyruvate is an energy intermediate in cells, derived from both glucose and fatty acids to produce ATP. Despite this importance, human studies are not overly promising and the high doses needed are sometimes limited by intestinal side-effects.

Our evidence-based analysis on pyruvate features 14 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel .
Reviewed by
Examine.com Team
Last Updated:

Summary of Pyruvate

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Pyruvate is a 3-carbon energy intermediate produced in cells from glucose, en route to creating ATP (the main energy currency of working cells). Pyruvate supplementation has been proposed to enhance work output and weight loss by providing more efficient energy that bypasses the ability of the body to store glucose as body fat.

Studies in humans with pyvuate supplementation show promise at high dosages when pyruvate replaces dietary carbohydrates.

Pyruvate has a lacklustre pharmacodynamic profile, and is not well absorbed. Some studies fail to note increases in blood pyruvate or muscle pyruvate in response to supplementation due to its inability to be absorbed and utilized well. Low doses of pyruvate (3-5g) tend to return null results rather than positive results in healthy persons.

Due to its poor absorption, high dose pyruvate is known to cause stomach distress and loose stools in dosages exceeding 15g.

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Things To Know & Note

Primary Function:

  • Pyruvate has a caloric content, and will need to be worked into a diet's caloric total

How to Take Pyruvate

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Most studies on pyruvate substituted dietary carbohydrates for pyruvate as pyruvate itself does contain calories. The dose used in studies showing most fat loss is in the range of 20-50g daily, or replacing 10-20% of caloric intake (initially from carbohydrates) with supplemental pyruvate.

The lowest effective range noted in the aforementioned studies is replacing 6-12g of carbohydrates with pyruvate, but even then the results seen with pyruvate are variable and lacklustre enough to warrant caution in buying this supplement.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects pyruvate has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-b - High See all 5 studies
The majority of the evidence currently does not support a role for supplemental Pyruvate in weight loss. The limited evidence to suggest fat loss are in obese women under severe caloric restriction, of which pyruvate was twice linked to increase the already drastic weight loss
grade-b - Low See all 5 studies
Most evidence suggests that standard oral doses of Pyruvate supplementation do not have a reducing effect on weight, but the effects of high dose pyruvate during severe caloric restriction cannot be ruled out
grade-c Minor - See study
May reduce blood pressure in hyperlipidemics, relation to weight loss not known
grade-c Minor - See study
May reduce fatigue during weight loss periods
grade-c Minor - See study
May decrease heart rate alongside blood pressure in hyperlipidemics according to one trial
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
A reducing effect on LDL-C has been noted once during caloric surplus; practical relevance of this information unknown
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in well being may occur secondary to weight loss, although due to the complications in weight loss with pyruvate this may not be feasible
grade-c Minor - See study
A reduction in total cholesterol has been noted once in response to a high fat hypercaloric diet; practical relevance unknown
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on aerobic exercise performance
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on power output noted with pyruvate supplementation in healthy athletes
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on training volume in otherwise healthy persons given an exercise protocol

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Research Breakdown on Pyruvate

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In a study using calcium pyruvate capsules, dosages of 7-25g pyruvate equivalence did not influence blood pyruvate levels nor did they influence whole body pyruvate levels. The lack of urinary pyruvate (less than 0.1%) indicated poor bioavailability.[1] The authors hypothesized that either pyruvate is being lost in the feces, or is being decarboxylated in the stomach and intestines,[1] although low fecal loss rates have been noted in humans.[2]

Pyruvate is theorized to work via increased the metabolic rate, although a lack of evidence exists for this claim according to one review.[3]

Multiple studies have been conducted in persons with pyruvate for fat loss, although the most promising studies were done in the early 90s. When energy intake is restricted to 500kcal, weight loss is enhanced (6.5kg rather than 5.6kg) over a period of 21 days with 12g pyruvate.[4] A lesser deficit, 1015kcal, also results in some weight loss, although the degree was lessened to about 0.4kg more than placebo,[5] and very high dosages (22-44g) can induce some fat loss even near caloric maintenance, although the degree is minor (0.7kg versus 0.1kg loss over 6 weeks).[6]

When dosed at 2g per day, pyruvate appears to be ineffective at changing parameter of body mass even in conjunction with an exercise program[7] although it shows trends of fat loss.[8] This may be a dose issue, as 6g pyruvate appears to be statistically significant, with 2.5kg fat loss rather than 1.2kg over a period of 6 weeks in otherwise healthy overweight persons.[9]

It has been hypothesized that the mechanism is through preserving muscle glycogen by acting directly as a fuel source, and thus prolonging time to glycogen exhaustion.[10]

Studies in humans using large amounts of pyruvate (100g of a Dihydroacetone:Pyruvate mixture in a 3:1 ratio) find increased time to exhaustion in exercises of muscular endurance.[11][2] This dosage increased blood glucose extraction, which can reduce the rate of perceived exertion.[12]

An oral dose of 7g dose not increased blood levels in trained athletes, nor does it increase performance on aerboic exercise.[1]

One review notes that there do not appear to be any significant adverse effects noted with pyruvate supplementation, but that no long term studies are done in humans at this moment in time.[3]

The most common side effect is gastrointestinal upset, which occurs with higher dosages. One study noted loose stools in 58% of the pyruvate group relative to 28% of the control group, which was significantly different.[13] A pharmacodynamic study using 15-25g noted that all subjected complained of increased gurgling/rumbling (borborygmus) and flatulence.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Morrison MA, Spriet LL, Dyck DJ. Pyruvate ingestion for 7 days does not improve aerobic performance in well-trained individuals. J Appl Physiol. (2000)
  2. ^ a b Stanko RT, et al. Enhancement of arm exercise endurance capacity with dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. J Appl Physiol. (1990)
  3. ^ a b Egras AM, et al. An evidence-based review of fat modifying supplemental weight loss products. J Obes. (2011)
  4. ^ Stanko RT, Tietze DL, Arch JE. Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a severely restricted diet supplemented with dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
  5. ^ Stanko RT, Tietze DL, Arch JE. Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a 4.25-MJ/d low-energy diet supplemented with pyruvate. Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
  6. ^ Stanko RT, et al. Pyruvate supplementation of a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet: effects on plasma lipid concentrations and body composition in hyperlipidemic patients. Am J Clin Nutr. (1994)
  7. ^ Ostojic SM, Ahmetovic Z. The effect of 4 weeks treatment with a 2-gram daily dose of pyruvate on body composition in healthy trained men. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. (2009)
  8. ^ Koh-Banerjee PK, et al. Effects of calcium pyruvate supplementation during training on body composition, exercise capacity, and metabolic responses to exercise. Nutrition. (2005)
  9. ^ Kalman D, et al. The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition. (1999)
  10. ^ Ivy JL. Effect of pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone on metabolism and aerobic endurance capacity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (1998)
  11. ^ Stanko RT, et al. Enhanced leg exercise endurance with a high-carbohydrate diet and dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. J Appl Physiol. (1990)
  12. ^ Robertson RJ, et al. Blood glucose extraction as a mediator of perceived exertion during prolonged exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. (1990)
  13. ^ Stanko RT, et al. Plasma lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic patients consuming a high-fat diet supplemented with pyruvate for 6 wk. Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
  14. Stone MH, 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)