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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 and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Pyruvate


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]

2Interactions with Obesity and Fat mass


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

2.2Human Studies

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]

3Interactions with Exercise Metabolism

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]

4Safety and Toxicology

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)