Supplements ~ Ribose
Ribose is a naturally
occurring substance found in every living cell, and foodstuff we eat.
It's an integral part of the
adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule and is therefore integral to you
being able to produce energy to pedal your bike.
Before you delve too deep
in to this supplement factsheet you may wish to take a quick look
at the Anaerobic Capacity
factsheet to better understand how vital ATP is to your energy
So, is ribose
supplementation important to your energy production?
Read on to help you draw your own conclusions.
is is it?
Ribose is a simple, five carbon
sugar, a monosaccharide found in all living cells. It's generated
in the body from glucose. Ribose is also the starting point for
the production of ATP and is a vital cog of the DNA wheel. So it's
importance to life and energy production is right up there with oxygen!
D-Ribose, the supplement, is
a white powder, that's water soluble and is produced from the
fermentation of corn syrup. It's almost tasteless, relatively
inexpensive and a little can go a long way.
First, a little,
not-too-heavy, science. You'll often see
carbohydrate written in journals or sports books as CHO. That's
because carbs are built around combinations of
Carbon, Hydrogen and
Oxygen molecules. As you can see
above, Ribose has 5 carbon molecules; Glucose has six, C6H12O6
and Maltose has twelve, C12H22O11.
Most -ose compounds are sugars; fructose, galactose, sucrose, glucose etc.
So when looking at the labels on your food, energy bars or drinks look
out for the "ose's" and try not to think of the Two Ronnies
(apologies to our non-UK readers).
does it do?
It's thought that taking D-Ribose as a supplement
dramatically speeds up the ATP regenerative process.
Natural ATP regeneration is
a slow process due to lost enzymes in the Pentose Phosphate Pathway.
These lost enzymes prevent ATP regeneration from glucose metabolisation;
once the enzymes have been replenished ATP regeneration can begin.
To give nature a hand we can
use ribose to bypass the Pentose Phosphate Pathway and speed the
synthesis of nucleotides to form ATP without waiting for the slow enzyme
balance to be restored. That bit seems a bit heavy but we'll
explain here in real terms what it means.
production within our body comes from adenosine triphosphate (top) being converted to
(bottom) adenosine diphosphate. The energy conversion process
revolves around the loss of a phosphate molecule, not from
any activity of ribose.
Ribose forms part of
adenosine; which is made up of adenine and ribose. But it's purely
a transport medium and an enabler rather than "the" energy constituent.
Think of adenosine as the delivery truck and the triphosphate as the
cargo of fuel.
Research has shown that ribose
supplementation increases the manufacture of ATP in skeletal muscle by
anything up to 430%. Ribose can also improve the salvage and re-use
of ADP by as much as 700%. Which seems impressive but does that
help us as athletes?
Ribose has been shown to:
increase the manufacture of ATP in
▼ change perceptions of effort
▼ change levels of fatigue endured
▼ stimulate release of adrenaline
▼ affect the workings of cardiac
All the above is well and
good but we need to ask, how does a 430% increase in skeletal muscle ATP
it do it?
The body stores all around it
approximately 75 grams
of ATP which it uses to produce energy. To get a handle on how
much ATP is required, around 15,000 grams (15 kilos) per hour is processed to produce the
energy we use in competition. So a fair proportion of the
molecules in those 75 grams get a right hammering when they have to drop
and regenerate a phosphate molecule many thousands of times a minute
when exercising hard.
It's little wonder that some
get "lost" during the process which makes them unavailable for further
energy production. Which may lead to fatigue or at the least a
reduction of effort. The reason we "lose" molecules is a little
too heavy to go in to here, please just accept that you wont have at the
end of your effort all those you started with.
It is thought that ribose
helps the body to manufacture more adenosine frameworks, the enablers of
phosphate transportation. The more trucks there are available, the
more fuel can be delivered.
As we said above, some of
these fuel carrying frameworks are destroyed or lost during heavy
exercise and may take a few days to be replenished. Ribose
supplementation can increase and speed up this regenerative and
replenishment process quite significantly, preparing the body for
further effort, sooner. With supplementation, full replenishment
can be seen in 6-22 hours.
It's been claimed that
during prolonged, strenuous activity, the availability of more adenosine
frameworks sustains ATP availability and allows longer
energy production or increases the time to exhaustion. The theory behind this is
sound but what of the practicalities?
It may be probable that
having more ATP available doesn't necessarily mean you have more power.
Just as having more fuel in the tank of your car doesn't make it go
faster. But it will make it go further.
How can it
have proved ATP concentration is brought back to normal levels more
rapidly with ribose supplementation than placebo taking control groups.
Which would suggest that you could be ready to go again sooner than if
you had not taken the supplementation at all.
As we explained earlier,
when ATP use is higher than the level at which it can be regenerated
there is a decrease in fuel carrying adenosine frameworks by as much as
32%. Without these transport frameworks performance and the
subsequent recovery are noticeably reduced.
Replacing lost adenosine
levels back to a baseline naturally, can take several days. With
supplementation this can be reduced to hours.
One noticeable factor I have
experienced, is that on a Monday, after two, hilly, four hour Saturday
and Sunday rides, I can run upstairs without the leg pain and burn I
previously used to suffer until a Tuesday. This is purely
anecdotal, but for me it works; and my Tuesday sessions don't have that
"leg-stinging" first 10 minutes of burn.
So for me, I've seen a
definite improvement in recovery and have experienced less perceived
effort towards the end of my longer endurance rides.
What is the
Ribose has been seen to produce the desired effects with as little as
3-5 grams per day.
Ribose can be taken as a
daily supplement. However, I take 5 grams mixed in water (it very
easily dissolves) straight after a training session and on my endurance
rides I put 5 grams in each water bottle.
I be aware of?
In extreme cases, over 50
grams per day, there have been incidents of "gastric distress". I
don't believe any of you reading this would be foolish enough to think
if a little is good a lot must be better. Everything in
moderation. So stick to the dosage indicated and you won't be
wasting your money.
aware of claims that ribose is the new creatine it's not. They do
completely different things.
Creatine is a perfect supplement to take
with ribose because Creatine Phosphate is where the phosphate comes from
that attaches to the adenosine diphosphate to make it adenosine
triphosphate. Still with me? And if you remember, it's the
losing of the phosphate molecule that drives the muscles.
Take ribose for recovery and
creatine for power. I'd recommend mixing the two only during
very heavy bouts of interval training. And never take creatine for
any longer than you have to.
There have been no
peer-review journals that support ribose as an ergogenic aid that
increases performance in relation to power. And to be honest, most manufacturers have never claimed that. Just be aware what you are
buying and why you are buying it. That way everyone wins.
This article is neither an endorsement or a condemnation of the subject
of this article or any other supplement use. It is here to allow
the reader to draw their own informed conclusion.
Do your research and
if any doubt consult a physician before undertaking any supplement
regimen. Never take more than the stated dose and never mix any
drug or supplement with alcohol. Always check that you are not
contravening any sporting code, ethics or permitted levels for your
sport before undertaking any supplementation.
I get some?
Pedal Power are stocking Torq Ribose; and Torq energy bars which themselves contain ribose.
A 500 gram tub, which could
last for 100 training sessions, is less than the price of a racing tyre
at £30. At just 5 pence per training session isn't it worth a try?
What can you get for five pence these days, I don't even think you can
get five, penny