What do Lance Armstrong and Tim Tebow have in common besides unfathomable strength and name recognition?
It would have to be FRS – a fitness supplement drink utilizing the red wine-like antioxidant quercertin. Found naturally in the body and in most health foods, it is touted for its benefits in increasing endurance.
However, studies being conducted at Castleton State College in the exercise science department are attempting to show justhow beneficial this supplement really is – or isn’t.
After graduate school testing on quercertin and work with the U.S. Olympic Ski team, associate professor of exercise science Justin Carlstrom had the idea of testing one of the supplements supposedly attributed to athletes’ success.
“I saw that nutrition was a huge factor there [with the ski team], and here was this supplement that supposedly could improve endurance-I thought, yes and no,” said Carlstrom. “There’s been plenty of testing done-especially by companies funded by FRS – but none have tested the supplement on exercise in higher altitudes.”
Carlstrom, who describes himself as somewhat of a “supplement cynic,” received funding from the Vermont Genetics Network and started the project last summer.
Utilizing students and faculty with cycling training – especially from the Killington Pico Cyclist Club – Carlstrom designed the study and the lab exercises to get what he hopes are the best results.
“I wanted trained cyclists because I thought it was important to the specifics of the study,” said Carlstrom.
One test subject, professor Andy Weinberg, said that the study, if successful in proving the benefits of quercitin, would, “allow professional bike riders to take a supplement that does not damage the body while still improving performance.”
Ashleigh Raub, who also assisted during the study, said it was done by measuring a variety of variables in the participants.
“Since the study was done on humans, it will be hard to eliminate all the other variables that could affect the results,” said Raub.
Although Carlstom is less hopeful about the possibilities of positive effects on riders, he says it is too soon to tell.
“Everyone is so individual with their diets, genetics and training,” said Carlstom. “We started by taking a baseline of all the participants and then, for two weeks, introducing a supplement to most and a placebo to others.”
In some cases, Carlstom said participants got the whole dose of 1,000 milligrams of quercitin and others got Tang from home.
Weinberg, who admitted he was one of those subjects the received the Tang, obviously saw no change in his performance.
By testing air intake, energy output, body mass, lactic acid levels and a variety of other factors, the results will attempt to show the change in endurance in relation to altitude. With this many variables, the results will take some time to analyze.
Carlstrom hopes the research will find its way into a journal and at very least to an exercise science meeting this summer.
Students like Raub said they’re just happy to be a part of such a neat study.
“I would encourage other students to engage in these opportunities if they have the chance because it really helps to gain out of class experiences on topics that interest them,” Raub added.