Ergogenic and ergolytic substances

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Sep;24(9 Suppl):S344-8.


Genetic endowment and proper training are the major factors contributing to athletic success in endurance and ultraendurance events. Proper nutrition, primarily adequate carbohydrate and fluid, prior to and during the event is also critical. Endurance athletes often utilize other nutritional substances or practices, often referred to as ergogenics, in attempts to obtain a competitive edge by enhancing energy utilization and delaying the onset of fatigue. Numerous nutritional ergogenics have been used in attempts to enhance endurance performance, but with several exceptions most have been shown to be ineffective, including bee pollen, L-carnitine, CoQ10, inosine, amino acids, alkaline salts, and vitamin E at sea level. Research findings are equivocal relative to the ergogenicity of caffeine, phosphate salts, and vitamin E at altitude. Loss of excess body fat, a nutritional practice, may be an effective ergogenic. Conversely, some agents such as alcohol may impair performance, an ergolytic effect. Additional research is necessary to support the efficacy of several nutritional ergogenics to enhance prolonged endurance performance, such as caffeine, phosphates, specific amino acids, and various commercial products. Such research should involve exercise tasks comparable in intensity and duration to that experienced in the marathon and similar endurance events.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / pharmacology
  • Bicarbonates / pharmacology
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Coenzymes
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Phosphorus / pharmacology
  • Physical Endurance* / drug effects
  • Sodium / pharmacology
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Sports*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology
  • Vitamins / pharmacology
  • Weight Loss


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Bicarbonates
  • Coenzymes
  • Vitamins
  • Ubiquinone
  • Phosphorus
  • Caffeine
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Sodium
  • coenzyme Q10