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

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Spirulina boosts runners' performance

Spirulina supplementation makes long distance runners perform better. That's the message of an article that sports scientists from the University of Thessaly in Greece published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. This simple algae supplement gets muscle cells to burn more fat.

Spirulina & exercise

Spirulina boosts runners' performance
A few years ago Taiwanese researchers discovered that spirulina pills increased students' stamina, and they also protected their muscles from damage caused by over-exertion. The Greeks repeated the study, but this time with 9 fit students. The test subjects had been running an average of twice a week for 3 years.

The test subjects had to run as hard as they could on a treadmill, once after they'd taken a placebo, and once after taking spirulina. The subjects started at a speed of 10 km/hr. The researchers raised the speed by 1 km every minute, until the subjects could no longer keep up.

The test subjects took 6 g Spirulina platensis a day for a period of 4 weeks prior to doing the running test. The pills came from the Greek Algae AC factory. The subjects took 2 g with each meal.

The figure below shows that taking the supplement lengthened the amount of time that the subjects were able to keep running.

Spirulina boosts runners' performance

The runners' muscles used slightly more fats and slightly less carbohydrates while they were running.

Spirulina boosts runners' performance

The researchers measured the concentration of a number of endogenous antioxidants in the subjects' blood. The tripeptide glutathione (GSH) reacts most clearly, as shown below.

Spirulina boosts runners' performance

The body manufactures glutathion itself. The glutathion molecules render free radicals harmless, and in doing so turn into another molecule: GSSG. The enzyme glutathione reductase then converts GSSG back again into its active form. That's why researchers often look at the ratio between GSH and GSSG. High GSSG and low GSH means molecular stress and damage.

This was not the case with the runners. Their GSSG concentration rose by the same amount as their GSH, as the figure below shows.

Spirulina boosts runners' performance

The improvement in performance is a result of a higher rate of fat burning and the increased production of GSH, the researchers think. They remain silent on the question of the relationship between these two factors.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jan;42(1):142-51.

Spirulina gives you more energy 12.06.2016
Spirulina gives runners more stamina 18.11.2008

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