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ATP is the final energy currency in the body. It is the energy that fuels muscle contraction. Our bodies have metabolic pathways that continually replenish ATP during exercise. However, during very intense exercise the breakdown of ATP is so great there can be a loss in ATP from muscle. This could have serious adverse effects on performance. Ribose is a precursor for ATP resynthesis. Thus, the assumption is that ribose supplementation can either prevent ATP loss or speed the resynthesis of ATP during recovery. A recent study provides some support for the latter hypothesis (1). In a well controlled study (randomized, double blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled), 8 subjects performed intense cycling exercise (15 x10 sec sprints) two times per day for 7 consecutive days. Thereafter, subjects received either ribose (600 mg/kg body weight/day) or placebo for 3 days. Muscle biopsies were taken at several time points to assess ATP levels and performance was assessed after supplementation. The 7 days of intense exercise depleted muscle ATP levels by about 15 to 20% but after 3 days of ribose the levels had increased back to baseline whereas ATP remained decreased during placebo. Thus, ribose does indeed appear to contribute to ATP resynthesis after intense exercise.

1. Hellsten Y, Skadhauge L, Bangsbo J. Effect of ribose supplementation on resynthesis of adenine nucleotides after intense intermittent training in humans. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004 Jan;286(1):R182-8.