Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

Athletes who are not fit may benefit from supplementation with the sugar ribose. After intensive exercise they will experience less muscle damage, and simultaneously the supplement will enable them to perform better during short and explosive movements. A sponsored study, published by exercise scientists at Montana State University in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, suggests this.

What is ribose?
Ribose is a sugar, but of a different type than sugars such as glucose, fructose and galactose. These sugars have a skeleton of 6 carbon atoms, ribose has a skeleton of 5 carbon atoms.

Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

Ribose molecules are ound in the information-carrying molecules in the cell nucleus. The RNA molecule, that passes instructions from the DNA to the cell, consists for a large part of ribose. A variant of ribose, deoxyribose, is an important building block of DNA.

Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

Supplement manufacturers claim that ribose can accelerate the recovery of muscle cells during and after intense exertion. The extent to which these claims are correct is still not clear, as study outcomes are not consistent.

The researchers, who were paid by BioEnergy, [] divided 26 subjects into two equally large groups: a fit group [HVO2] and a less fit group [LVO2].

All groups first received 10 grams of ribose per day for 2 days. Then followed 3 days in which the subjects had to move intensively for 62 minutes each day. They first did an interval training of 60 minutes, in which they had to cycle for 8 minutes moderately-intensive, and then 2 minutes at a high pace.

After the interval training, the subjects had to cycle as hard as possible for 2 minutes. In that last part of the session, the researchers determined how much power [say: speed] the subjects could develop.

On another occasion, the researchers repeated the experiment. Then they gave their subjects glucose [another word: dextrose].

The non-fit subjects [mean peak VO2: 39.9] generated a little more power out during the last part of the session if they had used ribose. Ribose had no effect on the subjects with a good condition [peak VO2: 52.2].

Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

The non-fit subjects reported a little less fatigue during the session if they had used ribose. Again the supplement had no effect on the fit subjects.

After the session, the researchers found less creatine kinase in the blood of the non-fit subjects if they had used ribose. In this group, ribose apparently reduced muscle breakdown. In the fit subjects, ribose had no effect - again.

Out of shape? Ribose turns you into a better athlete

"Some studies have reported mixed performance benefits with D-ribose, probably reflecting protocol differences, dosing of D-ribose, timing of the D-ribose dosage, intensity of exercise, and subject specificity", the researchers wrote. "For this last reason we developed a protocol that induced a level of high intensity, anaerobic exercise in two fitness level groups."

"The analysis revealed that the lower VO2 value subjects had a significant improvement in performance, lower changes in creatine kinase, and lower rating of perceived exertion was recorded with D-ribose compared to dextrose."

"Assessment of metabolic serum parameters did not reflect any appreciable differences between the treatments, not clearly demonstrating a potential mechanism accounting for this benefit."

"In summary, D-ribose demonstrated a performance, perceptual, and serum benefits in the lower fitness adult subjects undergoing high intensity exercise. The stress of high intensity exercise has the potential to be benefited with supplementation of D-ribose around these exercise sessions."

"Future studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism(s) of action of D-ribose ingestion and exercise."

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2017) 14:47.

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