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Pyruvate (weight loss supplement information)

Updated on December 16, 2006

Pyruvate chemistry: a short primer

Pyruvate is a naturally-occurring compound, and is the salt form of pyruvic acid (just like phosphate is the salt form of phosphoric acid). This means pyruvate and pyruvic acid can turn into each other pretty easily depending on whether they're in an acid or alkaline environment.

Pyruvic acid is the compound that starts the Krebs Cycle, the fundamental process that happens in the mitochondria of every cell, that generates the energy we use to live. ATP (adenosine triphospate) is the end product, and ATP is used to move our muscles, power our brain, and keep us alive.

Pyruvate and weight loss

A research group led by Ronald Stanko at the University of Pittsburgh studied the effects of pyruvate in obese women over the course of three weeks and published its findings in 1992. The women were divided into two groups, both of which followed a 1000-calorie per day liquid diet:

  1. the control group got nothing else
  2. the test group 36g of pyruvate daily

The results? The women taking pyruvate lost an average of 13 lbs, while the control group lost an average of 9.5 lbs -- a difference of 3 1/2 lbs.

A second study was performed using a combination of pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone, the chemical in sunless tanners (!). Women taking the combination and fed a 500-calorie per day diet lost almost 2 lbs more over the course of 21 days than women without the supplement. The combination consisted of 16g of pyruvate and 12g of dihydroxyacetone.

Does pyruvate help you lose weight?

The results don't seem very compelling, for these reasons:

  1. Low-calorie condition testing only. The test subjects were on extremely low-calorie diets. We don't know what would happen if they were to take the pyruvate supplement on normal diets (over 2000 calories, for most people).
  2. Cost. They were taking extraordinarily large doses of the supplement. The first test group was taking 36g per day, and the second 16g per day. Since the most inexpensive supplement capsules (like from Now Sports) contain 1g apiece, which works out to about $.10 per capsule, you'd be spending anywhere from $1.60 to $3.60 per day.

It's unlikely that pyruvate is harmful, since it is a chemical that our body produces and uses, although your money and energy might be better spent elsewhere.


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    • vic profile image

      vic 10 years ago

      This is a nice Hub. I've seen Pyruvate in some energy enhancing sports supplements. Thanks.