Psychology Department

Health Psychology Home Page

Papers written by students providing scientific reviews of topics related to health and well being

Search HomeWeight Loss Alternative Therapy | Supplements | Eating Disorders | Fitness | Links | Self-Assessment | About this Page |


Deana Voulters



Pyruvate +

The Diet Supplement of the Future

    With all of the current controversies surrounding the diet pill Phen Fen, people are quickly seeking other dietary supplements to control their eating habits and also to help burn the fat.  One of the up and coming alternative diet supplements is Pyruvate.  Only recently being introduced to the United States in the beginning of March 1997, Pyruvate has been extensively researched at the University of Pittsburgh for the past twenty seven years led by researcher, Dr. Ronald Stanko.  The Food and Drug Administration has also conducted voluntary research.  Pyruvate is not a drug, but a naturally occurring product and it does not require FDA approval for manufacturing.  Pyruvate has given effective and encouraging results to its users over the past quarter of the century and is receiving increasingly more positive publicity as the diet supplement of choice.

                                                What is Pyruvate?

    Pyruvate is a naturally occurring substance in the human body.  It controls a person's metabolic rate and is produced in the liver.  The more pyruvate a person can produce, the more fat they will burn daily.  Because it is not an artificial stimulant to the metabolism, it will not increase blood pressure and is safe for both children and adults to use.  Side effects are not a concern and none have been reported.

                                                How does it Work?

    To explain exactly how pyruvate works, we must see how it works within the body. The substance is the byproduct of glucose (a six carbon molecule) which, after the Krebs Cycle, yields two molecules of pyruvic acid(a three carbon molecule). Within the ten steps of the Krebs Cycle, it requires two turns to metabolize each glycogen molecule. The unstable bond of acetyl coA breaks and its two products bond to the four carbon oxaloacetic acid to form a six carbon citric acid.  Now, carbon dioxide leaves the Isocitric acid and the six carbon molecule becomes a five carbon one.  his five carbon molecule oxidizes, reducing NAD+.  Thus the removal of the carbon dioxide, the oxidation of the now four carbon molecule, the reduction of NAD+, and the bonding of CoA to a high energy bond to form succinyl CoA catalyzes a multienzyme complex.  Phosphorylation occurs when the high energy bond in the succinyl-Co-A breaks, and the energy is saved when the CoA is replaced by a phosphate group.  This phosphate group is then transferred to GDP to form GTP and succinic acid.  The GTP gives a phosphate group to ADP to form ATP. The succinic acid is oxidized to fumaric acid and FAD is reduced to FADH2.  Water is added to the fumaric acid which creates malic acid and it is oxidized and NAD is reduced to NADH. Oxaloacetic acid is regenerated to begin the cycle again. Pyruvate keeps the ATP plentiful in the liver. If no ATP is present, the body will be unable to metabolize the fat while maintaining muscle.  Pyruvate has the ability to maintain plentiful amounts of ATP so the metabolism will be at the highest rate possible. Pyruvic acid is not chemically stable so in order to stabalize it, the pyruvic acid must be combined with a salt such as sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium.  Pyruvate is found in the natural diet, but only in small amounts containing less than 25 mg in each serving.  Foods highest in pyruvate amounts include red apples  with about 450 mg, certain cheeses, dark beer (especially Guiness) with 80 mg per 12 ounces and red wine with 75 mg per 6 ounces.
    Pyruvic researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that dihydrooxyacetone (DHA) supplemented with pyruvate greatly increased muscular endurance in the arms and legs by 20% in a testing period of seven days.  This means that the mixture of pyruvate with the DHA increased the time period to exhaust the arms and legs by 23 and 13 minutes, respectively.  Recently the researchers have said that the pyruvate alone works even more effectively.  In another experiment, the subjects also claimed that with the mixture of Pyruvate and the DHA, the level of exertion had decreased and the exercise was easier to do.  In these experiments of seven day periods, the researchers gave the subjects placebos of carbohydrates when they were not receiving the dietary supplement.
                                   Pyruvate With Exercise

    The pyruvate makes exercise much easier by enhancing the transport of glucose to the muscle cell, glucose extraction.  After one hour of exercise in the experiment, the mixture of glucose and DHA had increased glucose extraction:nearly 300% in the arm endurance; 60% in the leg endurance; and 50% at rest, which is important because it gives an increase of muscle glycogen.  The increase in both glucose extraction and muscle glycogen is significant because it allows the body to have great endurance for high-intensity activities such as body building and aerobics.  Studies still need to be conducted to see whether or not pyruvate definitely affects anaerobic activity.  Stanko concluded in his research that no matter what the activity is, pyruvate is more effective because it lacks side effects stimulants like caffeine contain muscle?)
    Not only has pyruvate been effective in increasing how long and how much people exercise, it also increases fat and weight loss.  After conducting his experiments on obese female subjects who were given pyruvate for three weeks, Stanko found that they had lost 37% more weight and 48% more fat.  It translated more simply to nearly one extra pound of body fat each week.  The research determined that the maximum effective dose of pyruvate to be 5 grams each day.  (  It is also effective in maintaining  the body weight and fat lost. The more pyruvate in the body leads to the enlargement of the membrane potential of the mitochondria which stimulate metabolism (cellular metabolism)
(  The only two ways that pyruvate can affect fat and weight loss is by increasing the metabolism and utilizing the collected fat.
( Pyruvate as an Anti-Oxidant

Researcher Dr.  Greenway, an endocrinologist in Baton Rouge, says that pyruvate is "a normal constituent of human metabolism, so its safety should be high and that it decreases cholesterol in a high-fat diet, has important anti-oxidant activity and seems to improve cardiac function.   Pyruvate has proven to be a strong anti-oxidant.  Hospitals have begun to store transplant organs in pyruvate because it effectively keeps the organs"alive" fighting the free radicals of the organs.  It has extended the life spans of organs from eighteen hours to one week .  The free radicals that pyruvate attacks are present in the body  and in the same manner pyruvate fights them lowering high cholesterol and blood pressure.
    With less than a year on the American market, pyruvate is getting more and more attention daily.  Recent scares with other diet pills are leading consumers to look at more natural alternatives in the medical field.  In the weight loss category, pyruvate seems to be one of the most popular and safe choices available.  More and more information about the supplement is becoming available for its users to find to see for themselves the results of experiments conducted and past users' successes.   The Evidence         Humans: 
            A clinical test was conducted on eight untrained males (20-30yr).  During the seven days before exercise, a high carbohydrate diet was consumed: 70% carbohydreates, 18% protein, 12%fat; 35kcal/kg body weight.  One hundred grams of eith a placebo (polycose) or dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate were substituted for a ration of carbohydrate.  Dietary conditions were randomized and the subjects consumed each diet separated by 7-14 days.  After each diet, cycle ergometer was performed to exhaustion.  A biopsy of the vastus lateralis muscle was obtained before and after exercise and blood samples were drawn through radial artery and femoral vein catheters at rest, after 30 minutes of exercise, and at exercise termination.  It was concluded that feeding of DHAP for seven days in conjunction with a high carbohydrate diet enhances leg exercise.
Stanko,R.T.,Robertson, R.j. Spina, R.J.Reilly, J.J.Greenanwalt, K.D.,Goss,F.I. "Enhanced leg exercise endurance with a high carbohydrate diet and dihydroxiacetone and pyruvate." Journal of Aplled Physiology 68:119-124, 1990.
            Female obese Zucker rats (aged 6 wk) were randomly assigned to one of two control or one of the experimental-diet groups.  Experimental diets contained 6% pyruvate, 6% dihydroxyacetone, or 3% each of pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone.  Control 1 was fed a normal diet and Control 2 was fed according to the experimental group with the lowest consumption.  After 5 weeks, the rats receiving Pyruvate weighed significantly less than the other controls.  Resting oxygen consumption was significantly higher in Pyruvate fed rats.  The results suggest that pyruvate consumption reduced the weight gain and food conversion efficiency of obese Zucker rats, in part by increasing resting metabolic rate and fatty acid oxidation.
 Cortez,M.Y., Torgan, C.E., Brozinick, J.T.,Miller, R.H,Ivy, J/L. "Effects of pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone consumption on the growth and metabolic state of obese Zucker rats.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 53:847-853, 1991


     Other Useful Websites for Information on Pyruvate :



Psychology Department

The Health Psychology Home Page is produced and maintained by David Schlundt, PhD.

Vanderbilt Homepage | Introduction to Vanderbilt | Admissions | Colleges & Schools | Research Centers | News & Media Information | People at Vanderbilt | Libraries | Administrative Departments | Medical 

  Return to the Health Psychology Home Page
  Send E-mail comments or questions to Dr. Schlundt


Search: Vanderbilt University
the Internet
  Help  Advanced
Tip: You can refine your last query by searching only the results by clicking on the tab above the search box
Having Trouble Reading this Page?  Download Microsoft Internet Explorer.