Pyruvate is a salt of pyruvic acid, a natural compound formed in the body as the end product of glucose metabolism. Its primary function is to trigger the release of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy for all cells in the body. In addition to the amounts formed in the body, pyruvate is present in small amounts in foods such as cheese, red apples, and red wine. It is also available as a dietary supplement, used to promote weight loss and physical endurance.
Pyruvate supplements are commonly used as weight-loss aids, and preliminary studies indicate they may be helpful in this area. In three small, placebo-controlled studies conducted on overweight individuals, pyruvate was found to promote weight-loss and reduction in body fat. In another study conducted on 17 obese men who lost weight and body fat on a low calorie diet and were then placed on a high calorie diet, subjects taking pyruvate experienced less weight and body fat regain than subjects taking a placebo.
Although pyruvate is often promoted as a "sport supplement," reputed to increase strength and endurance, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims. In a study conducted on 42 football players, pyruvate supplementation failed to produce any improvement in lean body mass or muscle strength. Although some studies indicate that pyruvate may improve endurance in laboratory rats and in untrained individuals it appears to provide no benefit for well-trained individuals.
While some human studies on pyruvate and weight loss have used as much as 44 grams of pyruvate,a 6 gram per day dosage combined with exercise was found to be effective in one study. Although pyruvate appears to have very low toxicity, high intakes may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.