Study: Trehalose can help boost exercise performance

By Kavitha Sivasubramaniam

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/mihtiander
© iStock/mihtiander

Related tags exercise exercise performance Carbohydrate

Trehalose can be effective in enhancing exercise performance even in low doses, according to a new study.

When taken while exercising, the solution enables blood glucose levels to rise, in addition to a better insulin response in comparison to glucose solution. It helps maintain performance in the later stages of exercise.

Trehalose, a naturally occurring carbohydrate, can be found in common foods such as mushrooms, seaweed and yeast. Extracted from foods in small quantities, it is believed to be a rare sugar. However, since an enzymatic method for producing it was discovered, it can be mass produced at low cost and is now used more frequently in the food industry.

The two experiments

The study aimed to determine the lowest concentration of trehalose at which its properties could still be advantageous.

Groups of healthy men in their 20s took part in experiments one and two, with both following the same protocol.

One group of 12 and another of 10 took part in recreational training. They fasted for 12 hours before taking part in a 60-minute constant-load exercise using a bicycle ergometer. They drank 500 ml of water, 8% glucose, and 6% or 8% trehalose.

The second group experiment did the same but ingested a drink containing 4% or 6% trehalose.

Both groups then performed four sets of the Wingate test combined with a 30-minute constant-load exercise. The randomised, cross-over trial drink experiments took part during intervals of seven to 12 days.

Mean power in the Wingate test was used to measure performance. Blood glucose levels were evaluated after blood was collected from fingertips at 12 points during each experiment.

Key findings

No differences in performance were discovered between the groups with concentrations of 8%, 6%, and 4% trehalose solution during the later stages of high-intensity five-hour intermittent exercise.

The findings indicate that trehalose could be beneficial in forming a new mixed carbohydrate solution. However, further research is required to establish the trehalose response of individuals while they are taking part in endurance exercise.

The authors conclude: “Trehalose is unlikely to cause a decrease in exercise performance and is expected to preserve carbohydrates in the body and maintain performance in the later stages of exercise.

“It is possible to prepare special tailor-made trehalose drinks by determining the trehalose activity of individual athletes. However, further studies are required to clarify the effects of mixed solutions of trehalose and other carbohydrates in order to achieve this goal.”

Source: Nutrients

Published online:​ 

Effects of Trehalose Solutions at Different Concentrations on High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Performance’

Authors: Naomi Hamada et al.

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