The holidays are over and it is time to go back to school or work. It is also time for good resolutions! And that can go through the resumption of physical activity. But, as you can imagine, we are not all equal: some are good, some are not… 

Physical performance would be due to a bacterium

And if the physical abilities were due to the microbiota composition? This is what are reported the team of Joslin Diabetes researchers after analyzing Boston runners in 2015. Scientists recovered fecal samples from athletes over a 2-week period: from one week before until one week after. After a genetic analysis to determine the bacterial composition of the gut microbiota, they made a surprising discovery! It appears that an increase in the abundance of the bacterial Veillonella species was observed after the running. This abundance was also  observed in a marathoner’s microbiota compared that of a sedentary person.

To complete this study, researchers isolated the species Veillonella atypica from marathoners and administered it to mice: the physical performance of rodents on the treadmill have been improved by 13%! The mice that benefited from the bacteria were much more enduring.

It would be able to metabolize lactic acid

If this bacterium allows such feats, it would be thanks to its ability to metabolize lactic acid, responsible for fatigue and muscle pain among others. This substance is Veillonella’s only source of carbon, which allows it to be converted into propionate, a short-chain fatty acid, which is responsible for improving physical abilities.

The conclusions lead to reflection: Aleksandar Kostic, one of the authors of the study, explains in a statement that they plan to create “a probiotic supplement that people can take that will increase their ability to do meaningful exercise and protect them against chronic diseases including diabetes.”

It would not be a legend: the marathoners have a little something more than the others do not have!


SCHEIMAN J, LUBER JM, CHAVKIN TA, MACDONALD T, TUNG A, PHAM LC, WIBOWO MC, WORTH RC, PUNTHAMBAKER S, TIERNEY BT, YANG Z, HATTAB MW, AVILA-PACHECO J, CLASH CB, LESSARD S, CHURCH GM, KOSTIC AD. Meta-omics analysis of elite athletes identifies a performance-enhancing microbe that functions via lactate metabolism. Nature Metabolism. 2019