Postbiotics supplementation improves exercise performance even at lower dose - six-week RCT

By Hazel Tang

- Last updated on GMT

A fitness class © Getty Image
A fitness class © Getty Image

Related tags postbiotics supplementation exercise Clinical trial

Supplementation of the postbiotic Lactiplantibacillus plantarum TWK10 (TWK10) has shown to reduce physical fatigue and improve exercise endurance even at a low dose, according to a six-week trial conducted by Synbio Tech, National University of Taiwan and National Taiwan Sport University.

The study focused on assessing the effects of heat-killed TWK10 on exercise capacity, muscle strength, physiological adaptation, and body composition among untrained but healthy volunteers.

It found that the physical indices, hand grip strength, muscle weight, and endurance time, which are correlated with exercise performance, were remarkably improved by administration of TWK10 for six weeks at one-tenth of the dose used in previous trials.

Conducted as a placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial, the research involved 30 healthy male adults aged 20 to 40 with no professional exercise training.

Before the trial, participants underwent measurements for height, weight, biochemical parameters, and exercise endurance capacity. Fifteen participants were randomised to the control group, while the remaining participants were part of the TWK10-HK groups.

Following the two-week washout period, the control group received two placebos, whereas the TWK10-HK group took two TWK10-HK capsules daily after meals for six weeks.

The TWK10-HK dose administered in this study was 30bn cells per day, which is one-tenth of the amount used in previous studies.

The evaluation included assessments of exercise endurance performance in a 30-minute exercise challenge, grip strength, fatigue-related parameters, and body composition. Dietary information was also recorded both before and after administration, as well as before the exercise endurance performance test.

To analyse the impact of heat-killed TWK10 administration on the physical features of the subjects, the study employed principal component analysis (PCA). All 30 subjects were assessed before and after administration based on seven physical features: body weight (BW), body mass index (BMI), muscle weight, body fat mass, grip strength (right and left hands), and endurance time.


After six weeks, the TWK10‐HK group exhibited a noteworthy 1.24-fold increase in time to exhaustion as compared to the control group.

Additionally, as compared to the baseline, the mean time to exhaustion in the TWK10‐HK group significantly rose by 1.26-fold, in stark contrast to the control group where no significant increase was observed.

Prior to the administration of placebo or heat‐killed TWK10 capsules, there were no significant differences in grip strength between the control and TWK10‐HK groups, either in the right or left hands of the subjects.

However, following six weeks of administration, the TWK10‐HK group showed a significant 1.12-fold increase in grip strength in the right hand and a 1.09-fold increase in the left hand as compared to the control group.

Furthermore, the grip strength in the TWK10-HK group also significantly increased from the baseline.

In addition, the TWK10‐HK group demonstrated a significant reduction in lactate accumulation during both the exercise and recovery phases compared to the control group.

Specifically, the production of serum lactate during the 30-minute exercise challenge and the clearance of serum lactate during the 60-minute recovery phase were markedly decreased in the TWK10‐HK group as compared to the control group.

In addition, the level of serum ammonia in the TWK10‐HK group exhibited a significant reduction during both the exercise challenge and the recovery period when compared with the control group.

Notably, no significant differences were observed in glucose and creatine kinase levels between the control and TWK10‐HK groups throughout the exercise and recovery phase.

Health benefits of postbiotics

While the health benefits of probiotics are well-established, recent studies have shed light on the advantageous effects of consuming non-viable microorganisms.

These include heat-killed or heat-activated probiotics (postbiotics), cell-free supernatants, or purified key components. Notably, TWK10 has exhibited the ability to enhance endurance performance and increase muscle weight and strength in both mice and humans.

High-dose administration of heat-killed TWK10 has proven effective in improving exercise endurance performance, reducing fatigue, and mitigating responses to exercise-induced inflammation in humans.

For instance, individuals who supplemented with varying doses of viable TWK10 or heat-killed TWK10 for six weeks experienced enhanced exercise performance and reduced serum lactate and ammonia levels.

Viable TWK10 administration was associated with a decrease in fat mass change and an increase in muscle weight change. In elderly individuals, supplementation with viable TWK10 for 18 weeks resulted in increased muscle mass and improved muscle strength.

In this study, the administration of 30 billion cells of heat‐killed TWK10 for six weeks significantly reduced physical fatigue, improved exercise endurance capacity, and enhanced handgrip strength in healthy individuals without specific exercise training.

Remarkably, consecutive administration of heat‐killed TWK10 also significantly increased overall muscle weight in the absence of exercise intervention in the human body.

Nevertheless, researchers emphasise the need for further investigation to delve into the functionality and understand the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of heat-killed TWK10.

“By administration of heat‐killed TWK10, sufficient ergogenic effects comparable to 10 times higher doses of viable or heat‐killed cells were exerted in healthy adults without specific exercise training.” Researchers wrote.
“Therefore, heat‐killed TWK10 could be considered as a potential ergogenic aid for improving aerobic endurance performance and as a potential effective nutritional supplement for muscle gain.”


Source: Physiological Reports

Effects of heat‐killed Lactiplantibacillus plantarum TWK10 on exercise performance, fatigue, and muscle growth in healthy male adults

Authors: Yi-Chen Cheng et al.

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