Astaxanthin Reduces Heart Rate and Carbohydrate Oxidation Rates During Exercise in Overweight Individuals

Int J Exerc Sci. 2023 Feb 1;16(2):252-266. eCollection 2023.


Astaxanthin (AX) is an antioxidant which may spare endogenous carbohydrates and improve fat oxidation rates, thus improving metabolic flexibility. To date, no studies have attempted to examine the impact of AX in an overweight cohort, whom often suffer from metabolic inflexibility. Nineteen subjects (mean ± SD: age: 27.5 ± 6.3 years; height: 169.7 ± 9.0 cm; body mass: 96.4 ± 17.9 kg; BF%: 37.9 ± 7.0%; BMI: 33.4 ± 5.6 kg/m2; VO2peak: 25.9 ± 6.7 ml·kg-1·min-1) were recruited and supplemented with either 12 mg of AX or placebo (PLA) for 4 weeks. Subjects completed a graded exercise test on a cycling ergometer to examine changes in substrate oxidation rates. A total of 5 stages, each lasting 5 min and resistance increased 15 W each stage, were completed to examine changes in levels of glucose and lactate, fat and carbohydrate (CHO) oxidation rates, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Although there were no changes found in rates of fat oxidation, blood lactate or glucose, or RPE (all p > 0.05), a significant decrease was observed in CHO oxidation from pre to post supplementation in the AX group only. Further, the AX group demonstrated a 7% decrease in heart rate across the graded exercise test. These findings suggest that 4 weeks of AX supplementation may offer some cardiometabolic benefits to overweight individuals, and be a favorable supplement for these individuals beginning an exercise program.

Keywords: Substrate oxidation; lactate; metabolic flexibility; supplement.