It is known that an increased level of red blood cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG) shifts the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve to the right, thus allowing a greater unloading of oxygen at the tissue level. It has been hypothesized that phosphate might help increase VO2max by increasing 2,3-DPG level. Eight trained cyclists underwent three cycle ergometer tests (control, placebo, and experimental) to determine whether phosphate ingestion had any positive effect on VO2max, time to exhaustion, serum 2,3-DPG, and serum phosphate levels. We found no change between the control, placebo, or experimental conditions in pretest serum phosphate levels, but we did find increases in 2,3-DPG levels in the phosphate condition (p less than .05), which suggests that even a small amount of phosphate could increase levels of 2,3-DPG. We also found significant differences in VO2max between the control (p less than .05) and placebo (p less than .02) conditions and also in time to exhaustion between the three conditions (p less than .05). We suggest that phosphate may have an ergogenic effect, but clearly more work needs to be undertaken to ascertain the amount of phosphate required and the magnitude of the effect.
- Ergogenic aid