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Blackcurrant: Improving fat oxidation during exercise

Since observing that blackcurrant extract can significantly improve cycling and running performance in elite, trained and recreational athletes, scientists have been intent on finding the cause for it.


They’ve struck upon several findings – similar to beetroot, blackcurrant improves blood flow, but uniquely, favours fat as fuel during exercise. The discoveries have exciting implications for endurance athletes and those participating in sports characterized by high-intensity, repeated sprints.



In a nutshell, blackcurrant is potent and unprecedented for increasing fat oxidation (or burning) during low and moderate-intensity exercise, in normal and hot conditions, for both men and women, in short and long-duration cycling and running studies.

Why is this relevant to performance? It is difficult to influence changes in healthy, fit individuals who have a high degree of aerobic conditioning. Therefore, something that can encourage greater use of fats during exercise and preserve carbohydrate is considered beneficial for reducing fatigue and aiding endurance.

In a 2018 Liverpool John Moores University study in trained women cyclists, researchers found one week’s loading on the Informed-Sports certified berry extract CurraNZ increased fat oxidation equivalent to rates normally seen after three-four weeks of daily exercise. They found subjects improved by on average 27%, with some responders of up to 55%.

Most of these studies have seen significant increases to fat burning after just one week’s intake of blackcurrant. However, the most recent discovery is that the benefits are even greater after two weeks of daily use – but no effect if used every second day.

And just when scientists weren’t expecting it, they have found that the berry increases fat oxidation by 30% when exercising in hot conditions.



Compared to normal temperatures, the body burns less fat and more carbohydrate when exercising in the heat. This new research suggests that blackcurrant is somehow counteracting the decline that occurs to fat burning under hot conditions.

The findings came as a total surprise to the researchers, who were not expecting to see any improvements in this respect.

Mark Willems, Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester, says: “Athletes participating in really long events like IronMan don’t have fat-loading strategies, they have carbohydrate-loading strategies before and during the race. The consequence of using more carbohydrate is that its by-products lead to greater fatigue than if you were burning fat. So, it’s a good thing if you can rely less on carbohydrate.

“What we are seeing here is blackcurrant causes a really substantial increase to fat oxidation in the heat. It may help restore fat burning closer to rates associated with exercise in normal conditions.

“We weren’t expecting to find anything, so we have no idea why blackcurrant is providing such a stimulus in these conditions.

“An increase of 30% is a very high value for a supplement, even in a fasted state. For some reason, the combination of polyphenols and heat is having a big effect. We don’t know the reason but it’s a very exciting finding.

“Our next step is to conduct a performance study in the heat to see if blackcurrant does have a performance effect under hot conditions.”

*Use discount code WHICHCAMP at curranz.com to receive 30 capsules of CurraNZ for the reduced rate of £19.80. Certified by Informed-Sport, CurraNZ comes with a 100% guarantee to improve muscle recovery


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