Alissa Marrapodi

June 7, 2011

20 Min Read
Energy Efficient

Whether going for an early-morning run or hike, or waking up to the daily grind of work, school and everyday life, the body needs energy. Its a necessary physiological and cellular conversation that takes place on a continuous basis; and, just like any other conversation in the body, when interrupted, it can cause a negative effect. Interruptions in energy can occur for many reasons, including age, diet, lack of sleep, depletion of essential nutrients or vitamins, etc. These interruptions are clearly prevalent in consumers and are reinforced in the marketplace, as sales of energy-marketed goods are swelling. According to SPINS, energy bars and gels grew 17.4 percent since 2010 (52-week period ending March 19, 2011) in the conventional and natural channels combined. They also reported energy and other functional beverages saw a jump in sales the past year, with a combined channel increase of 8.7 percent, but more notably, sales in the natural channel alone jumped from $6,215,481 in March 2010 to $7,400,705 in March 2011a 19.1-percent increase. An interesting note is SPINS reported sales of functional juice drinks and Kombucha, the effervescent tea touted for energizing, longevity and mental clarity, declined in 2011 by 9.1 percent. Another energy medium is supplements. According to Euromonitor International,2009 sales of dietary supplements with energy positioning achieved US$1.2 billion in total retail value sales.
These numbers prove the natural products industry is getting consumers attention. Heres a run down of the science backing some of these ingredients that are the talk of the marketplace:

Caffeine Chatter

Percolated, popped or however else consumers like it, caffeine has been an energy staple and Americas go-to jump-starter for centuries. Caffeines mechanism of action differs from other energy sources and systems, in that it stimulates the central nervous system, making it neurological versus cellular. One of the major players, outside of coffee, is Red Bull. Red Bull and Hype energy drinks were the subjects of an Iranian study in which 10 male student athletes performed three randomized maximal oxygen consumption tests on a treadmill. Each test was separated by four days, and participants were asked to ingest Red Bull, Hype or placebo drinks 40 minutes before the exercise.1 Researchers said drinking Red Bull and Hype prior to exercise testing is effective on some indices of cardiorespiratory fitness, but not on the blood lactate levels. Separately, a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study published in April 2011 examined the effect of Red Bull on repeated sprint performance in 15 female soccer players.2 Subjects performed three sets of eight bouts of the modified test after ingestion of 255 mL of placebo or Red Bull one hour pre-exercise. Their findings indicated 255 mL of Red Bull containing 1.3 mg/kg of caffeine and 1 g of taurine did not alter repeated sprint performance, rating of perceived exertion or heart rate in women athletes versus placebo, noting one serving of Red Bull provided no ergogenic benefit for women athletes engaging in sprint-based exercise.

JAMA recently published a commentary on the dangers of energy drinks, mainly due to the recent uproar over alcoholic energy drinks.3 According to Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., and Mary Claire OBrien, M.D., from University of Maryland School of Public Health, Energy drinks, with or without alcohol, pose a threat to individual and public health and safety and more research is needed to guide regulation, highlighting a few reasons, including: 

  • Among adolescents, caffeine consumption has been linked to elevated blood pressure and sleep disturbances. In pregnant women, high caffeine intake is associated with risk for late miscarriages, stillbirths and small-for-gestational-age infants;

  • Regardless of whether energy drinks are mixed with alcohol, recent research suggests energy drink use might confer a risk for alcohol dependence and perhaps nonmedical prescription drug use. The mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear; and

  • Caffeine's neuropharmacologic effects might play a role in the propensity for addiction.

However, in February 2011, researchers from the New York Department of Health said: We did not find convincing evidence of an association between maternal caffeine intake and the birth defects included in this study.4

Despite Arria and OBriens warnings, caffeine gets the job done. The Department of Kinesiology at California State University found caffeine ingestion in individuals regularly completing rigorous resistance training significantly increases post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and energy expenditure pre-and post-exercise, noting the magnitude of this effect was relatively small.5 Fourteen strength-trained men who were caffeine users initially completed one-repetition maximum (1-RM) testing of four exercises: bench press, leg press, lat row and shoulder press. On each of two days separated by one week, they completed four sets of each exercise to fatigue at 70 percent to 80 percent 1-RM, which was preceded by ingestion of acute caffeine (6 mg/kg) or placebo. EPOC was significantly higher (P<0.05) with acute caffeine (26.7 ± 4.1 L) compared to placebo (22.8 ± 3.8 L). With acute caffeine ingestion, oxygen uptake was significantly higher (P<0.05) from 10 minutes pre-exercise to 70 minutes post-exercise. Respiratory exchange ratio was significantly different (P<0.05) with acute caffeine versus placebo. Caffeine intake increased total energy expenditure by 15 percent (P<0.05), but the additional calories burned was minimal (+27 kcal). Another study published in March 2011 found catechin-caffeine mixtures or a caffeine-only supplementation stimulated daily energy expenditure dose dependently, and, compared with placebo, daily fat-oxidation was only significantly increased after catechin-caffeine mixtures ingestion.6

Green tea is a popular source of catechin-caffeine and plays an energetic role in the beverage category. One study examined the effects of a catechin-rich green tea extract (GTE) on running endurance and energy metabolism during exercise in BALB/c mice.7 Compared to exercise-control mice, running times to exhaustion in mice fed 0.5 percent GTE were 30-percent higher and were accompanied by a lower respiratory exchange ratio, higher muscle beta-oxidation activity and lower malonyl-CoA content. Additionally, muscle glycogen content was also higher in the GTE group. Plasma lactate concentrations in GTE-fed mice were significantly lower after exercise, along with an increase in free fatty-acid concentrations.

Functioning as a thermogenic impacting beta-3 receptors found in cells walls, bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) has been the subject of a couple of exercise/energy studies. A three-arm, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in 10 healthy adults aged 20 to 31, found exercise was less strenuous 83 percent of the time when supplemented resting and one hour before exercise with a product containing 21 mg of Citrus aurantium (as Advantra Z®, from Nutratech Inc.) and 304 mg of caffeine (dietary supplement as Ripped Fuel Extreme Cut®, from TwinLab).8 And, a combo of Advantra Z, green tea and guarana increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) at rest and during a treadmill test.9

Along the same lines, 3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone, aka 7-oxo-DHEA, also exhibits a thermogenic effect. 7-Keto (from Humanetics) in combination with calcium citrate, green tea extract, ascorbic acid, chromium nicotinate and cholecalciferol (as HUM5007) increased resting metabolic rate (RMR) and thermogenesis above basal levels with the possibility of helping obese individuals with impaired energy expenditure.10

Cellular Talk

Mitochondrion and ATP talk to each othera lot. These two are responsible for the metabolic conversion of food to energy. Mitochondrion, an organelle found in most eukaryotic cells (versus prokaryotic cells), is the provider of cellular energy. Whats it do? It oxidizes the products of cytoplasmic metabolism to generate ATP. See why these two talk a lot? Nutrients are first transformed into ATP via the Krebs cyclecarbohydrates are converted into glucose, fats to glycerol, and fatty acids and proteins to amino acidsand then ATP is responsible for distributing energy all throughout the body.

D-ribose is a key component to ATP. Its a naturally occurring pentose carbohydrate that helps increase muscular strength and helps reduce fatigue. In a four-week, double blind, placebo-controlled trial, healthy, male, recreational bodybuilders aged 18 to 35 years were recruited and randomized to a ribose-supplemented group (10 g/d in powder formulation; as Bioenergy RIBOSE, from Bioenergy Life Sciences) or a placebo group (dextrose).11 Each subject participated in a heavy-resistance training program designed to increase skeletal muscle mass. Twenty men were enrolled; 19 subjects completed 24-hour dietary recalls and exercise performance testing; 12 subjects completed the study (24-hour dietary recalls, exercise performance and body composition). No baseline differences were found between the two groups for any of the measured parameters. The ribose-supplemented group experienced a significant pretreatment-to-post-treatment increase in the total work performed, whereas the placebo group did not change significantly (19.6 percent ribose [P=0.028] versus 12 percent placebo). In addition, the ribose-supplemented group experienced a significant increase in 1-RM bench press strength, whereas the placebo group did not change significantly (3.2 percent ribose [P=0.008] versus 1.7 percent placebo). No pretreatment-to-post-treatment within-group or between-group differences were found for any of the measures of body composition or the 24-hour dietary data. In an unpublished clinical study sponsored by Bioenergy Life Sciences, D-ribose reduced fatigue symptoms in an aging Baby Boomer population via 3-g two times/d doses. Significant improvements in quantitative measures of breathing efficiency and cellular energy management were observed, as well as improved functional capacity, aerobic exercise tolerance and mental health.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) also talks cellular, as its synthesized by the body, stored in the outer membrane of the mitochondria and used in the synthesis of 95 percent of the energy (ATP) the body makes. According to Euromonitor International, CoQ10 ranked seventh in 2009s dietary supplement global sales, earning US$898 million, with a 2009 to 2014 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6 percent. Japanese researchers who orally administered 100 or 300 mg/d of CoQ10 in healthy adults found it improved subjective fatigue and physical performance.12 Another study examined CoQ10s affect on muscular injury and oxidative stress during exercise training.13 Eighteen male kendo (martial arts) athletes were randomly assigned to either a CoQ10 group (n=10; 300 mg/d) or a placebo group (n=8) in a double-blind manner for 20 days. Serum creatine kinase (CK) activity and myoglobin (Mb) concentration significantly increased in both groups (at three days and five days). Serum CK (at three days), Mb (at three days) and lipid peroxide (at three days and five days) of the CoQ10 group were lower than placebo group. The leucocyte counts in the placebo group significantly increased (at three days) and neutrophils significantly increased in both groups (at three days and five days). Serum scavenging activity against superoxide anion did not change in either group. In a separate study, CoQ10 supplementation increased muscle CoQ10 concentration and lowered serum superoxide dismutase (SOD) oxidative stress, while also increasing plasma CoQ10 concentrations and time to exercise exhaustion.14

An Ayurvedic ingredient that works with CoQ10 to augment energy is PrimaVie®, a standardized mineral ingredient from Natreon. According to an unpublished clinical trial, treatment with PrimaVie  for 15 days augmented energy synthesis during physical exercise (in the form of the Harvard Step Test) in human volunteers, established by the increments of ATP and the established energy indices, e.g., adenylate energy charge (AEC) and total adenine nucleotide (TAN), and ATP/ADP ratio, in the whole blood. PrimaVie also normalized CoQ10 levels in whole blood and reduced the uric acid levels.

L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps the production of cellular energy. In a German study, L-carnitine increased fat oxidation.15 A total 12 volunteers received an individual regular diet either without or with 3 g/d of L-carnitine supplements (as Carnipure, from Lonza) for 10 days. L-carnitine supplementation led to a significant increase in 13C-fat oxidation, whereas protein synthesis and break down rates (3.7 and 3.4 g/kg/d, respectively) remained unchanged, indicating the increased dietary fat oxidation in slightly overweight subjects was not accompanied by protein catabolism. In a second study, researchers investigated the effects of oral L-carnitine (as Carnipure, from Lonza) supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy subjects before and after L-carnitine supplementation (three 1-g doses/d for 10 days).16 The studied results confirmed oral L-carnitine supplementation increased in long-chain fatty acid oxidation in vivo in subjects without L-carnitine deficiency or without prolonged fatty acid metabolism. Additionally, results from a randomized, balanced, crossover, double blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study revealed L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation attenuated hypoxic stress following resistance exercise.17

Another amino acid that advantageously affects energy is L-alanyl-L-glutamine. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10 physically active males volunteered to determine the effect of acute L-alanyl-L-glutamine (AG; as Sustamine, from Kyowa Hakko) ingestion on performance changes and markers of fluid regulation, immune, inflammatory, oxidative stress and recovery in response to exhaustive endurance exercise, during and in the absence of dehydration.18 During the first visit (T1), subjects reported to the laboratory in a euhydrated state (normal hydration) to provide a baseline (BL) blood draw and perform a maximal exercise test. In the four subsequent randomly ordered trials, subjects dehydrated to -2.5 percent of their baseline body mass. During the second visit (T2), subjects achieved their goal weight and were not rehydrated. During visits three to five, subjects reached their goal weight and then rehydrated to 1.5 percent of their baseline body mass by drinking either water (T3) or two different doses (T4 and T5) of the AG supplementation. Subjects then exercised at a workload that elicited 75 percent of their VO2 max on a cycle ergometer. Glutamine concentrations for T5 were significantly higher immediately prior to the exercise stress and immediately following the exercise protocol than T2 to T4. When examining performance changes, significantly greater times to exhaustion occurred during T4 and T5 compared to T2. Plasma sodium concentrations were greater immediately prior to the exercise stress and immediately following the exercise protocol for T2 than all other trials. Aldosterone concentrations immediately prior to the exercise stress and IP were significantly lower than that at BL and once goal body mass was achieved. Arginine vasopressin was significantly elevated goal body mass was achieved, immediately prior to the exercise stress and immediately following the exercise protocol compared to BL measures. No significant differences were observed between trials in C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, malondialdehyde, or in any of the other hormonal or biochemical measures. Researchers concluded AG supplementation provided a significant ergogenic benefit by increasing time to exhaustion during a mild hydration stress, likely mediated by an enhanced fluid and electrolyte uptake.

Three-Way Conversations

Energy isnt just about performance and stamina; its also about mental alertness and focus, too. PhosphatidylSerine (PS) and alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline (A-GPC) are both popular supplements in the brain-health aisle; whats more is their ability to improve sports activities in addition to work on muscle soreness. PS (as SerinAid®PS, from ChemiNutra), functioning as a key ingredient in a performance bar (IQ Plus Foods Golf Bar), improved accuracy, ball flight trajectory and lowered stress levels in subjects when eaten prior to playing a round of golf.19 It also improved cognitive functionnamely, decision-making skillsand focus in individuals lifting weights.20 In a separate study of weight-lifting individuals, PS (as SerinAid PS) also suppressed cortisol and reduced post-exercise muscle soreness.21 In a 2010 study, A-GPC dramatically improved agility and eye-hand coordination skills involving quick decision making in rapid athletic movements in an exercise protocol.22

Another ingredient that affects mental energy and works to increase ATP is citicoline. A study published in NMR in Bioscience found a citicoline supplement (as Cognizin®, from Kyowa Hakko) may help to mitigate cognitive declines associated with aging by increasing energy reserves and utilization, as well as increasing the amount of essential phospholipid membrane components needed to synthesize and maintain cell membranes.23 The study used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to characterize the effects of citicoline on high-energy phosphate metabolites and constituents of membrane synthesis in the frontal lobe. Phosphorus metabolite data were acquired  from 16 healthy men and women who orally self-administered 500 mg or 2,000 mg Cognizin Citicoline for six weeks. Significant increases in phosphocreatine (7 percent), beta-nucleoside triphosphates (largely ATP in brain, 14 percent) and the ratio of phosphocreatine to inorganic phosphate (32 percent), as well as significant changes in membrane phospholipids, were observed in the anterior cingulate cortex after six weeks. These treatment-related alterations in phosphorus metabolites were not only regionally specific, but tended to be of greater magnitude in subjects who received the lower dose.

Other Conversations

Athletes are always on the lookout for ways to build and maintain muscle strength and muscle endurance; a zinc, magnesium and B vitamin combo may deliver just that. A double blind, randomized study assessed the muscle attributes and selected blood hormones of football players in response to a nightly supplementation regimen during spring football over an eight-week period.24 A total of 12 subjects were administered ZMA® (from Interhealth; 30 mg zinc monomethionine aspartate, 450 mg magnesium aspartate and 10.5 mg of vitamin B6) and 15 subjects took a placebo. Free testosterone increased with ZMA (132.1 to 176.3 pg/mL) compared to placebo (141.0 to 126.6 pg/mL); and IGF-I increased in the ZMA group (424.2 to 439.3 ng/mL) and decreased in placebo group (437.3 to 343.3 ng/mL) (P<0.001), confirming the efficacy of a ZMA preparation on muscle attributes and selected hormones in strength-trained, competitive athletes.

B vitamins independent of zinc and magnesium have fared well on energy, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), panthothenic acid (B5), biotin (B7), pyridoxal (B6) and cobalamin (B12). These Bs play an essential role in maintaining mitochondrial function, according to a 2006 Canadian review.25 Japanese researched sought to clarify the relationship between intracellular concentrations of methylmalonic acid and metabolic and growth inhibition in vitamin B12-deficient rats.26 The study outlined the important role vitamin B12 plays in energy, as the results showed unusual accumulation of methylmalonic acid caused by vitamin B12-deficiency disrupted normal glucose and glutamic acid metabolism in rat liver, mostly likely due to inhibition of the Krebs cycle. Vitamin B12-deficient rats (14 weeks old) excreted more urinary methylmalonic acid and had lower body weights than the control rats. Hepatic methylmalonic acid levels were increased and correlated with the extent of the growth retardation during vitamin B12-deficiency. Isolated hepatocytes and mitochondria from normally fed rats were labeled with glutamic acid respectively, in the presence or absence of 5 mM-methylmalonic acid. Although methylmalonic acid did not affect the incorporation of 14C into protein and organic acid fractions in the hepatocytes, it inhibited 14CO2 formation (an index of glucose oxidation by the Krebs cycle) by 25 percent and incorporation of 14C into the amino acid fraction by 30 percent. In the mitochondria, methylmalonic acid inhibited 14CO2 formation by 70 percent, but not the incorporation of 14C into the protein fraction. The incorporation of 14C into the organic acid fraction was significantly stimulated by the addition of methylmalonic acid.

In Australia, six untrained women cycled for 60 minutes at approximately 58 percent of maximum oxygen uptake after ingestion of a placebo or nicotinic acid (NA) 30 minutes before exercise, and at baseline and 30 minutes of exercise. Researchers determined niacin may improve carbohydrate metabolism during cycling in women who are unaccustomed to exercise-reduced plasma free fatty acid (FFA) availability on carbohydrate metabolism during exercise.27

These conversations, including thermogenic, cellular and others, will continue to happen as long as consumers need energy to speak to their everyday needs as well as their athletic needs. And as research efforts grow and expand, it will only help strengthen the natural product industrys conversation with consumers.


References are on the next page...

References for  "Energy Efficient"

1.       Rahnama N, Gaeini AA, Kazemi F. The effectiveness of two energy drinks on selected indices of maximal cardiorespiratory fitness and blood lactate levels in male athletes J Res Med Sci. 2010 May;15(3):127-32

2.       Astorino TA  et al. Effects of red bull energy drink on repeated sprint performance in women athletes Amino Acids. 2011 Apr 3

3.       Amelia M. Arria et al. The High Risk of Energy Drinks JAMA. 2011; Published online Jan. 25, 2011.

4.       Browne ML  et al. Maternal caffeine intake and risk of selected birth d efects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Feb;91(2):93-101

5.       Astorino TA et al. Effect of acute caffeine ingestion on EPOC after intense resistance training J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2011 Mar;51(1):11-7

6.       Hursel R et al. The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis Obes Rev. 2011 Mar 2.

7.       Abdul G Dulloo et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1040-45

8.       Haller CA et al. Human pharmacology of a performance-enhancing dietary supplement under resting and exercise conditions. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;65(6):833-40. Epub 2008 Mar 13.

9.       Sale C et al. Metabolic and physiological effects of ingesting extracts of bitter orange, green tea and guarana at rest and during treadmill walking in overweight males. Int J Obesity. 2006;30(5):764-73

10.   Zenk JL, Frestedt JL, Kuskowski MA HUM5007, a novel combination of thermogenic compounds, and 3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone: each increases the resting metabolic rate of overweight adults. J Nutr Biochem. 2007;18(9):629-34.

11.   Darin Van Gammeren, Darin Falk and Jose Antonio Ph.D. The effects of four weeks of ribose supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in healthy, young, male recreational bodybuilders: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial Current Therapeutic Research 2002;63(8):486-495

12.   Mizuno K et al. Anti-fatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition. 2008 Apr;24(4):293-299

13.   Kon M et al. Reducing exercise-induced muscular injury in kendo athletes with supplementation of coenzyme Q10. Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb 20;1-7

14.   Cooke M et al. Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 208 Mar 4;5(1):8

15.   Wutzke Klaus D,  Lorenz Henrik The effect of L-carnitine on fat oxidation, protein turnover, and body composition in slightly overweight subjects Metabolism 2004;53(8):1002-06

16.   Müller DM et al. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy adults Metabolism. 2002;51(11):1389-91

17.   Barry A. Spiering et al. Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on muscle oxygenation responses to resistance exercise J Strength Cond Res 2008;22:113035

18.   Hoffman JR  et al. Examination of the efficacy of acute L-alanyl-L-glutamine ingestion during hydration stress in endurance exercise J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 20103;7:8

19.   Jager, R, Purpura, M, Geiss, K-R, Weiss, M, Baumeister, J, Amatulli, F, Schroder, L, and Herwegen, H. The effect of phosphatidylserine on golf performance. J International Soc Sport Nut 4: 23-42, 2007.

20.   Parker, A, Gordon, J, Thornton, A, Lubker, J, Bartlett, M, Jager, R, Purpura, M, Bird, M, Oliver, J, Simbo, S, et al. The effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation on cognitive functioning prior and following an acute bout of resistance training in young males. J International Soc Sports Nut 7(Supp 1): 2, 2010.

21.   Fahey, TD, and Pearl, MS. The hormonal and perceptive effects of phosphatidylserine administration during two weeks of resistive exercise-induced overtraining. Biology of Sport 15(3), 135-144, 1998.

22.   Hoffman, J., et al. The effects of acute and prolonged CRAM supplementation on reaction time and subjective measures of focus and alertness in healthy college students.  J International Soc Sport Nut 7:39, 2010.

23.   Silveri MM et al. Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy NMR Biomed. 2008 Nov;21(10):1066-75

24.   L.R. Brilla and Victor Conte. Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength JEPonline 2000;3(4):26-36

25.   Depeint F et al. Mitochondrial function and toxicity: role of B vitamins on the one-carbon transfer pathways Chem Biol Interact. 2006;163(1-2):113-32. Epub 2006 May 24

26.   Toyoshima S et al. Accumulation of methylmalonic acid caused by vitamin B12-deficiency disrupts normal cellular metabolism in rat liver Br J Nutr. 1996;75(6):929-38

27.   Howlett KF et al. Carbohydrate metabolism during exercise in females: effect of reduced fat availability. Metabolism. 50(4):481-7, 2001



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