Glycerol increases hydration within cells, allowing tissues to remain hydrated during prolonged endurance exercise, when taken in combination with ample amounts of water. It’s also been shown to reveal (or give the illusion of) greater muscle definition and a more vascular appearance.
Glycerol is found in some foods and pharmaceuticals as a sweetening agent, but the amounts are so small they aren’t beneficial.
Endurance athletes, especially marathoners and triathletes, have found glycerol beneficial during long-term strenuous activities by preventing dehydration — a major cause of fatigue. As a “last-minute prep” before photo shoots and such, some bodybuilders and models claim it helps reduce water retention, giving the illusion of increased muscle definition and vascularity.
No deficiency conditions are known to exist.
Research indicates that Glycerol may be useful in the treatment of:
Glycerol is the backbone of triglycerides and phospholipids and is naturally produced in our bodies. It has become a popular supplement among endurance athletes because it appears to help prevent dehydration during long-term exercise. More recently, people more interested in showing off their physiques, such as bodybuilders and models, have found that glycerol may help make their muscles look more defined.
Preliminary studies indicate glycerol draws water into the bloodstream and holds it there, somewhat like a sponge. This can be an enormous advantage for endurance athletes because as much as three to four pounds of fluid can be lost during strenuous exercise. By replacing this fluid during exercise, we may delay fatigue and significantly boost performance levels. Recent studies also suggest glycerol may prevent the breakdown of muscle through its protein-sparing action.
Staying properly hydrated can also prevent more serious conditions, such as heat exhaustion and even stroke. And it can prevent a drop in your blood plasma levels. Sufficient blood plasma levels are needed to carry vital nutrients and oxygen to muscle cells. A drop in blood plasma levels can increase the time it takes for muscles to recover after exercise, and it may make it more difficult for your skin to cool down quickly.
Studies show that athletes training for more than one hour can exercise longer and maintain a cooler body temperature longer when they supplement with a water-glycerol mixture. Drinking glycerol before exercise may reduce the amount of water lost and protect against dangerous dehydration. Drinking glycerol after exercise may help rehydrate your body more quickly for a faster recovery.
Glycerol’s hydrating benefits and potential muscle-definition-enhancing properties may make it a powerful tool for the hard-training athlete. Especially useful when training for long periods of time in hot weather, glycerol may be a potent weapon in the fight against fatigue and dehydration.
The amount of glycerol used depends more on bodyweight than anything else. Note, water intake with glycerol is also very important.
Some experts suggest even more specific amounts with greater amounts of water: about half a milliliter for every pound of bodyweight with 20 times more water than glycerol. For example, a 150-lb person would use 75 ml of glycerol with 1,500 ml of water (that is, a little over 6 cups or 100 oz).
Experts recommend taking glycerol over a period of a few hours during strenuous exercise or a half hour before exercise and again immediately after.
Glycerol attracts water like a magnet and thus helps carry water throughout the body with it. Without sufficient water intake, glycerol may actually dehydrate the body, so water and glycerol must be used together.
Some people report bloating, nausea, and lightheadedness, so you may want to give glycerol a test run several days before competition to see how your body responds.
No known toxicity.