Albert Szent-Györgyi, the Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, said that hydrogen, rather than oxygen, was the fuel of life. Everyone knows we need oxygen to live, but oxygen’s counterpart (hydrogen) is the real fuel. Oxygen burns hydrogen releasing the energy (in the form of ATP) that runs our bodies. Water supplies both the fuel (hydrogen) and the fire (oxygen); it is hydrogen that is often the limiting factor. The word hydrogen comes from the Greek, meaning “water-former.” Water is formed when hydrogen is burned by oxygen. It is created every day in our bodies as we burn hydrogen to create ATP. Hydrogen and oxygen participate in a continuous cycle that generates both water and energy.
Hydrogen may also supply energy for our bodies outside the normal ATP pathway. Australian decathlon champion John O’Neill spent years documenting a regimen that led to a phase he referred to as the Hydrogen Efficiency Zone (HEZ) – a state where continued workout required minimal exertion. During periods in HEZ, O’Neill was able to achieve greater output with less effort and little, if any, lactic acid build-up. The only way O’Neill could explain the energy and power he repeatedly experienced was to suggest a shift from the use of glycogen to the use of hydrogen as a source of clean fuel. Studies with hydrogen-rich water reveal a similar reduction in muscle fatigue and lactate build-up for endurance athletes.