Ketone-based sports drink promises edge for athletes
Monday, January 20, 2014 - 02:23
Jan. 21 - A sports drink that tests suggest can increase performance levels by up to two percent will go on the market later this year. The key ingredients of the drink are flavoured compounds called ketones which the drink's developers say, are particularly effective in enhancing performance in endurance athletes. Jim Drury has more.
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The creators of the DeltaG drink say it could give professional athletes an advantage.
Developed at the University of Oxford, it has a novel ingredient - lab-produced ketones, which mimic the ketones, or compounds, found naturally in the body as acids left over after fat is burned.
British World Champion rower Brianna Stubbs was in the team that developed the drink and says it helps her row faster.
DeltaG is the result of 20 years work by Professor Kieran Clarke.
She says ketones are absorbed rapidly by the body's organs and are a valuable energy source. They're produced naturally when the body is being starved. Providing them in drink form, says Clarke, provides all the gain, and no pain.
SOUNDBITE (English) KIERAN CLARKE, PROFESSOR OF PHYSIOLOGICAL BIOCHEMISTRY AT UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, AND CREATOR OF DELTA D DRINK, SAYING:
"Over time when you haven't eaten you produce these ketones and it takes about seven days to two weeks, in fact, to bring the ketone levels up and we can get that same level within one drink."
Developing DeltaG was problematic. Ketones taste unpleasant so different flavours were developed and tested until a palatable drink was found.
And trials with athletes showed impressive results.
SOUNDBITE (English) BRIANNA STUBBS, DELTA-G DRINK TEAM MEMBER, SAYING:
"In the study that I did the results were that on ketones people went two percent further, which is actually...it doesn't sound like much but in real world terms it's a really, really big effort and if you're at the top level of sport, then any change of that margin is going to be really significant, so that was quite exciting as well."
Sports dietician Richard Miller agrees that ketones can provide an energy boost, but says their potential is limited to specific disciplines.
SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD MILLER, CLINICAL AND SPORTS DIETICIAN, SAYING:
"For endurance performance, so for marathon running or for triathletes or for anything that's sustained long endurance activity, ketones could be an interesting way of powering that performance because it's potentially a limitless energy supply, if somebody was using their own body fat for fuel, as an example. But for things like intermittent exercise, so our team sports like football or hockey or netball or something like that, or high-threshold activity like sprinting or bodybuilding or any sort of Olympic lifting that rely on glucose to power the exercise I think it's got limited potential."
Drinks in orange, chocolate, coffee and berry flavours will go on the market in the US this year.
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