By John Parrillo
Can the supplement calcium pyruvate make body fat vanish? At least three studies say – yes.
An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study looked at 13 obese women who went on a pretty low-calorie diet (500 calories daily) for 3 weeks. Half the women supplemented with 19 grams of pyruvate and 12 grams of a pyruvate-like substance called dihydroxyacetone for three weeks; the other half (the control group) received a carbohydrate placebo. After three weeks, the pyruvate groups lost more weight (14.3 pounds) and body fat (9.5 pounds), compared with the control groups, who lost 12.3 pounds of weight and 7.7 pounds of fat. Specifically, that’s a 16 percent greater weight loss and a 23 percent better fat loss than those taking the placebo experienced. Another way to put it: The pyruvate combo resulted in a loss of 0.6 pound of fat a week. (1)
Now I don’t recommend dropping calories that low. However, if you want to strip off that last bit of fat prior to a bodybuilding contest, pyruvate supplementation with a temporary reduction in calories may be a good strategy.
The other study employed more calories – 1,000 calories a day – and involved 14 obese women. Some supplemented with 36 grams of protein for 3 weeks, while the rest took a carbohydrate placebo. The pyruvate supplementers lost 37% more weight than the controls (13 pounds versus 9.5 pounds). Even better: pyruvate stimulated a fat loss of 48 percent – the equivalent of almost an extra full pound of pure pudge a week.(2)
I don’t want to leave the guys out on this discussion. Here are the results of six-week study in which overweight men and women took 6 grams of pyruvate daily while following a 2,000-calorie diet Twenty-six people were assigned to either a placebo group, a control group (no supplements or special diet) or a pyruvate group.
In addition, all subjects participated in an exercise program three days a week. It consisted of a 45-60 minute aerobic/anaerobic routine.
After the experimental period, the pyruvate group lost 4.8 pounds of pure fat. By contrast, the control group gained 0.1 of fat; the placebo group lost 0.2 pound of fat. (3)
The bottom line with this study is that taking 6 grams of pyruvate in conjunction with a liberal-calorie diet and an exercise program resulted in a significant decrease in fat mass.
How Does Pyruvate Work in Fat Loss?
Scientists believe pyruvate exerts a fat-loss effect in several possible ways. Pyruvate:
• May increase the breakdown of fat in the body.
• May rev up your metabolic rate, possibly by increasing thyroxine, a thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones are chemical regulators of metabolism; thus, boosting their secretion may boost metabolism.
• May increase muscle mass. This has been observed in some research and could also account for pyruvate’s metabolic-stimulating effect, because muscle increases metabolism.
• Reverses the order in which your body uses energy. Normally, the body draws on carbs first for energy, then protein, and finally fat. Remarkably, pyruvate appears to reverse that order to burn fat first for its energy needs. But why the reversal? Pyruvate may reduce insulin levels in the body. Insulin is a busy hormone. Among its duties is to promote fat storage. But if insulin levels are low, less fat is stored in fat cells – which could partially explain pyruvate’s effect on fat-burning.
• Affects “feed efficiency.” This term describes how efficiently calories are turned into body fat. A high feed efficiency means more calories are stored as fat (something you see after eating sugar and a lot of processed foods); a low feed efficiency means fewer calories are deposited as fat. Somehow pyruvate appears to decrease feed efficiency by accelerating the body’s use of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) by the working muscles. It maneuvers more glucose, from the breakdown of glycogen into cells, into muscle cells where it is burned for energy. Pyruvate may thus increase endurance and significantly reduce muscle fatigue – which is why the supplement has become so popular among all types of athletes.
Beyond fat-burning, pyruvate offers other benefits, based on research. For example, pyruvate:
• Prevents fat regain and helps you keep weight off;
• Boosts energy levels (this means it may help you train harder) because it helps to provide energy through the Krebs cycle, which produces an energy molecule called ATP. ATP is what powers your muscles.
• Works as an antioxidant to fight free radicals and heal the tissue damage they cause;
• May help fight heart disease, possibly by reducing bad cholesterol.
Our pyruvate supplement is Parrillo Calcium Pyruvate (CP). Made naturally in the body, CP is involved in energy-producing reactions that occur at the cellular level. During normal metabolism, carbohydrate fuel (glucose) is split into pyruvate, also known as pyruvic acid, inside individual cells. Pyruvate enters the mitochondria, the energy factory of cells, and undergoes a further series of chemical reactions, ultimately releasing carbon dioxide and water, and producing energy in the form of ATP, a molecular that powers our bodies. ATP makes muscles contract, allows our organs to do their jobs, and promotes other cellular energy processes that are vital to live.
For best results, take 1 to 2 capsules of pyruvate daily – preferably in divided doses, about every 4 to 6 hours with meals. Some researchers feel that CP should be taken with a carbohydrate food, because carbs help pyruvate get into your system more effectively. Drinking ample water throughout the day (8 to 10 8-ounce glasses or more) seems to help CP work better.
If you’re already using Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™, adding our CP to your supplement program is a great idea. Supplementing with both can help extend your endurance and increase your training intensities.
“Senior” athletes should definitely consider CP supplementation, because it seems to work really well the older you are. Why? Because the body’s own supply of pyruvate naturally declines with age. A study published in 2013 found that calcium pyruvate improved strength and muscle quality in men and women age 65 and older – without even lifting weights. (4) I don’t recommend that you disband your strength training routine and rely on CP only, however, since we know from tons of other research that lifting weights is a true fountain of youth.
CP is very safe, because it is a natural component of your body’s metabolism. Remember, your body makes pyruvate, more specifically pyruvic acid, on an ongoing basis. CP causes no harmful side effects when taken as recommended.
Supplementing with CP doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want. If you do that, you’ll just get fat! Your best bet is to follow the Parrillo Nutrition Program – and train regularly, hard, and intensely – while supplementing with CP.
1. Stanko, R.T., et al. 1992. Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a severely restricted diet supplemented with dihydroxycetone and pyruvate. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 55: 771-776.
2. Stanko, R.T., et al. 1992. Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a 4.25-MJ/d low energy diet supplemented with pyruvate. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 56: 630-635.
3. Kalman, D., et al. 1999. The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition 15: 337-340.
4. Stout, J.R. 2013. Effect of calcium β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (CaHMB) with and without resistance training in men and women 65+yrs: a randomized, double-blind pilot trial. Experimental Gerontology 48: 1303-1310.