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New Study: Probiotics and Carbohydrate Usage

Fresh off the press we bring the latest study from Dr Jamie Pugh and the research he has been carrying out at Liverpool John Moores University. Jamie has already published a number of studies that have looked at GI symptoms in endurance athletes and the potential effects of probiotic supplementation. (check out the PhD timeline).

In this most recent study, the team looked at whether probiotics could help increase the amount of carbohydrate used during exercise. Carbohydrate is the main fuel source for muscle when we exercise or compete at high intensities. Many people will take on gels and sports drinks during endurance exercise in order to try and delay fatigue and increase performance. However, this can accumulate in the gut and lead to gut discomfort - up to 30% of runners report moderate or worse gut symptoms that can affect race performance. This study looked at whether probiotic supplementation could increase athletes ability to use a carbohydrate drink.

The design

Well trained cyclists completed a 2 hour cycle ride while consuming around 75 grams of carbohydrate per hour in the form of a drink. By taking breath samples, it is possible to calculate exactly how much of the drink is being digested, absorbed and then used by the exercising muscle. 

After completing a baseline trial participants then supplemented with either Lab4 probiotic or a placebo for 4 weeks, before repeating the 2 hour ride, where the same measures were taken.


Probiotic Range

- A range of quality probiotics containing different amounts of Probiotic strains
- Helps support digestion (1)
- Supports immunity (2)

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The results

When compared to placebo, the participants were able to oxidise (use) more of the carbohydrate drink during exercise, after they had supplemented with the probiotic. Blood analysis revealed that there was a greater contribution of glucose from the drink, suggesting that more of the drink may have been absorbed through the intestine. 

While this effect was seen, there was no difference between gut symptoms - because there weren’t really any. This is most likely because of the type of exercise (cyclists usually report fewer symptoms than a runner, and there are less symptoms at moderate compared to higher exercise intensities). There was also no difference in performance in a time trial at the end of the 2 hours.

What does this mean?

This proof of principle study shows that probiotics may alter exercise metabolism in some way. If an athlete takes on carbohydrates during exercise, probiotics may help them use more of it - the benefit of which will be greater the longer the exercise duration. Of course, more studies are needed to replicate this and see what the effects would be for runners. The findings could help explain part of why runners were seen to suffer from less severe gut symptoms during a marathon race after supplementing with a daily probiotic, compared to a placebo group.


Ultimate Antioxidant

- Suitable for Vegetarians 18
- Different antioxidants
- Helps against free radical damage

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If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.

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