Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise Journal

Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 142-151, 2010

Spirulina has long been used for energy and endurance as well as many other health benefits such as immunity, eye health and cardiovascular health. New research published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine shows that Spirulina may be the perfect nutrient for athletes and validates its positive effects on energy and endurance.

This double blind human clinical study compared treadmill endurance of subjects taking Spirulina versus placebo and found significant improvement in only four weeks of supplementation at a dosage of 6 grams per day. The researchers concluded: “We report for the first time that supplementation of Spirulina for 4 weeks increased exercise performance, possibly through an increase in fat oxidation rate and increased glutathione levels.” (Kalafati et al, 2009)

A natural product that makes you train harder and burn more fat during your training sessions… sounds a bit too good to be true?

Moderately trained participants took part in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Each subject received either the natural supplement spirulina or a placebo for 4 weeks. They were then asked to run on a treadmill at an intensity corresponding to 70%-75% of their VO2max for 2 hours and then at 95% VO2max until exhaustion.  Exercise performance was measured and blood samples were drawn before, immediately after, and at 1, 24, and 48 hours after exercise.

The results showed a clear advantage in those taking spirulina. Time to fatigue after the 2 hour run was significantly longer after spirulina supplementation (2.05 minutes ± 0.68 minutes vs 2.70 minutes ± 0.79 minutes – around a 25% increase). Furthermore ingestion of spirulina significantly decreased carbohydrate oxidation rate by 10.3% and increased fat oxidation rate by 10.9% during the 2 hour run compared with the placebo trial.

The study used only relatively small amounts of Spirulina of just 6g a day, making these very achievable results for all of us in training.

It’s role as a whole food:

One of the key aspects for me is that is compensates for deficiencies in the diet and stimulates the metabolism.

You receive essential nutrients in a concentrated form without excess calories. It balances your blood sugar levels and gives you the energy you need during weight loss, which once you start restricting calories, most often than not you start to feel listless, tired, irritable and hungry!

Considered the most complete naturally cultivated nutrient in the world:

  • Approx. 60% complete digestible protein Contains every essential amino acid
  • More carotenoids than any other whole food
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, chlorophyll and enzymes

The National Research Council Committee on Diet and Health recommends that we eat 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Even for a person who eats well, that’s a challenge.

Spirulina’s concentrated nutrition makes it an ideal food supplement for people of all ages and lifestyles.

1 Serving of Spirulina = 5 servings of fruits & vegetables

Supplement Regime

  • Spirulina: Consume 3000mg – 6000mg per day for optimal results. Ensure the Spirulina you are using is Hawaiian from Cyanotech. They make the purest and best quality Spirulina in the world. I use the Marcus Rohrer brand, which also uses a unique bottle (VioSol® glass) that locks in the potency of the Spirulina. It fits the requirements of a superior multi-vitamin and goes beyond RDA.
  • Omega-3 fish oil (6g): A high-quality, pure, natural fish oil supplements with no synthetic additives are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which the human body needs to function optimally, yet cannot produce in the necessary levels for good health. Don’t worry too much about Omega-6 and 9 as these two can easily be consumed with the food you eat, i.e. Olive oil, chicken, eggs, avocado and nuts and seeds. Ensure it’s a quality product, correctly sealed, without PCB’s and Mercury. Personally, brands that I recommend are Amipro with the lemon flavour which masks the fishy taste and also doesn’t repeat on you. Also a great brand if you are on a budget and still want quality is “Real thing”.
  • Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc combination formula: Take 4 before you go to sleep. You should be supplementing your diet with 1000mg Calcium per day as well as 15mg Zinc. A great product I use for convenience sake and is of the highest quality is a Calcium, Magnessium and Zinc combination made by Solgar which I take before bed.

The all too familiar “I’m eating for two” adage is now no longer an excuse to double on what you eating. Nowadays, it’s known that the diet for an expectant woman is not about how much is eaten, but about maximizing nutrition with smart food choices.

Women are now getting back to their pre-baby weight in record time through eating correctly during pregnancy. They are not gorging and overeating on the wrong foods; they are nutrition savvy; they go to nutritionist for assistance; they supplement correctly and they are staying active! It’s a simple formula that goes a long way.

In a nut shell – I recommend eating organic food as much as possible, (if this isn’t possible don’t sweat it, just make sure all your animal products, including chicken, meat and dairy are all hormone free and free-range.) Make sure at least half your diet consists of raw fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds; the rest coming from lean, hormone-free protein sources and some wholegrains. Essential fats are vital and keep your moods in check and cravings at bay. They include salmon, nuts and seeds, avocado and a good quality Omega 3 fish oil that’s free of PCB’s and mercury.

  • Remember natural, unprocessed food is nutrient dense – processed food is calorie dense
  • Your body looks for nutrients and not calories, so make sure you feed it correctly!

Maintaining a healthy diet with foods that provide key nutrients is important throughout pregnancy. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is vital for producing healthy red blood cells and may lower the likelihood of a baby being born with neural tube defects. Calcium-rich foods build strong bones and teeth and may also play a role in maintaining healthy blood-pressure readings. Iron is essential for healthy blood as is omega-3 fats, especially those found in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. These are important for a developing foetus and are vital to brain and neurological development.



1 Comment
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