Luckily, while browsing through a dusty library, we stumbled upon a virtually forgotten pre-World War II study. Otherwise, we would never have known that in 1939 researchers seriously studied whether gelatin might be a sports supplement that improves endurance.
GelatinIn the 1930s, some scientists suspected that fortifying the diet with glycine had positive effects on people's muscles and endurance. Because gelatin is made up of about a quarter of glycine, physiologists at the Long Island College of Medicine in New York City decided to study whether gelatin shakes could increase the stamina of human volunteers.
StudyThe researchers experimented with 6 men and 4 women. All subjects were supplemented with gelatin for approximately 7 weeks.
The researchers used a product from the American Knox. It is still in American stores, by the way. They dissolved 30 grams of that powder in 240 milliliters of citrus fruit juice and gave the gelatin shakes to their subjects.
The researchers experimented with 6 men and 4 women. All subjects were supplemented with gelatin for approximately 7 weeks.
The researchers used a product from Knox, which is still available in American stores. The researchers dissolved 30 grams of this powder in 240 milliliters of citrus fruit juice and gave the gelatin shakes to their subjects.
The men consumed 60 grams of gelatin per day. Three women were given 45 grams of gelatin per day, one 62.5 grams of gelatin per day. When the supplementation was over, the researchers still gave the subjects fruit juice, but without gelatin.
During the experiment, the subjects had to cycle on a velometer several times until they were tired. The researchers then calculated how many Watts the study participants could generate.
There were no exercise protocols in the 1930s. The subjects probably made a submaximal effort.
ResultsSupplementation with gelatin had no appreciable effect on the women in the study. During the supplementation phase, their endurance increased by 3 percent. The researchers did not use statistics (there hadn't been any in the 1930s), but the increase was probably not statistically significant.
The researchers did see an increase in endurance in the men during the supplementation phase. The amount of Watts generated increased by 37 to 240 percent.
The researchers did not understand why women did not respond to gelatin supplementation.
A scientifically obsolete curiosity?You can no longer publish a study like this in 2022. Someone with a little basic knowledge will rightly point out that the reported effects may very well be due to the study design, and may have been caused by a placebo effect or a training effect. But maybe, just maybe, there's something more going on.