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Irish researchers have developed a 'game-changer' for tired sportspeople

The supplement was developed to aid warfighters.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

A NEW SPORTS supplement could be a game-changer for tired sportspeople according to researchers at DCU.

The research has revealed a supplement known as “ketone ester”, which they say has the ability to help Gaelic, soccer, rugby and other team players make better decisions in the crucial closing minutes of a game.

Ketone esters are generally regarded as beneficial for endurance sports people like long-distance runners and cyclists, but this is the first research conducted into its benefits in enhancing physical and cognitive performance within team sports.

The research, carried out by Brendan Egan and Mark Evans of the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University, and funded by the Irish Research Council, shows that while these new supplements don’t improve running performance in team sports, they may help players reduce bad decisions made due to fatigue and exhaustion during the final stages of a match.

The research focused on 11 male team sports athletes in two main experimental trials – identical, except for the supplement drink, consumed before and during the exercise performance test.

Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Physiology at DCU, Dr Brendan Egan, says, “Given that team sports athletes are presented with a multitude of decisions throughout match play, interventions that preserve or improve decision-making could positively influence performance outcomes”.

The supplement was originally developed in the United States through funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with a special interest in assisting performance in warfighters.The commercial version used in this study is known as KE4 by KetoneAid, Inc.

“Despite the lack of benefit to physical performance, the novel finding of preserved executive function after exhausting exercises suggests that there remains a possibility that ketones could enhance sports-specific performances of team sport athletes,” Dr Egan added.

A ketone is an organic substance made naturally in our bodies during periods of fasting or starvation when it can act as a fuel for the brain and muscle, but is now available in supplemental form.

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