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Dextrose May Be Better Than Ribose for Enhancing Athletic Performance

  • Authors: News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD
    CME Author:
    Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd
  • CME Released: 1/17/2006
  • Valid for credit through: 1/17/2007, 11:59 PM EST
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This article is intended for primary care clinicians, sports physicians, and other specialists who care for athletes.

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Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the effect of dextrose vs ribose supplementation on rowing performance in collegiate rowers.
  • List potential adverse effects of dextrose or ribose supplementation on collegiate rowers.


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  • Laurie Barclay, MD

    Laurie Barclay is a freelance reviewer and writer for Medscape.


    Disclosure: Laurie Barclay, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


  • Gary Vogin, MD

    Senior Medical Editor, Medscape


    Disclosure: Gary Vogin, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Author(s)

  • Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd

    Clinical Professor of Family Medicine; Director, Division of Faculty Development, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California


    Disclosure: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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Dextrose May Be Better Than Ribose for Enhancing Athletic Performance

Authors: News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD CME Author: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEdFaculty and Disclosures

CME Released: 1/17/2006

Valid for credit through: 1/17/2007, 11:59 PM EST


Jan. 17, 2006 -- Dextrose supplementation enhances athletic performance compared with ribose supplementation, according to the results of a randomized, double-blind trial reported in the January issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.

"It has been hypothesized that ribose supplementation rapidly replenishes adenosine triphosphate stores and thereby improves exercise performance," write Laura Dunne, MD, from Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues. "Sports medicine journals have described ribose as 'a rising star on the supplement scene.'"

In this 8-week study, 31 female collegiate rowers were randomized to receive ribose or dextrose supplementation, 10 g each in 8 oz of water, before and after practice and 2,000-m time trials.

In the time trials, dextrose was associated with more improvement at 8 weeks than was ribose (median, 15.2 vs 5.2 second; P = .031).

"We doubt ribose impaired, and hypothesize dextrose enhanced, rowing performance," the authors write. "Further research is needed to define what role, if any, dextrose and ribose play as athletic supplements."

The better rowing performance in the dextrose group than the ribose group was unexpected, and the authors suggest it might be due to the efficient transport and conversion of glucose and dextrose to adenosine triphosphate and muscular energy.

Study limitations include failure to control for phase of menstrual cycle; and not all rowers completing all the time trials because of missed practices due to schedule conflicts, illness, and leaving the crew team.

"Ribose may be ineffective as an athletic supplement, or ribose may be effective only for sustained anaerobic activity, or the generally suggested does of ribose may be too low to result in performance enhancement," the authors conclude. "We can identify no reason why ribose should impair exercise performance. Therefore, it appears low-dose dextrose may improve athletic performance."

The General Pediatrics Research Fund of the Children's Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, supported this study. Bio-Energy, Inc, provided the dextrose and ribose for this study.

Clin J Sports Med. 2006;16:68-71