D-Ribose in detail


I’ve created this blogpost because I noticed that there were a lot of ambiguities around our sweetener combination. I suggest that label legislation conditioned people into thinking that the “net carbs” nutritional value is directly correlated with glucose.

For sure, technically, it’s a good reference point, but clearly not practical for other sugar molecules. D-ribose is one of them.

With a negative glycemic index that needs to be categorized under net carbs and needs to share the same category as e.g. glucose with a glycemic index of 100. It’s clear that legislation starts to reach their expiration date and needs an update.

What are mitochondria ?

Mitochondria are highly dynamic double membrane-bound organelles (cellular components) found in the cytoplasm of most eukaryotic cells, those cells that contain a nucleus (1– 3). These organelles have their own DNA. The primary function of mitochondria is to provide chemical energy required for cellular biosynthesis through their vibrant abilities to convert energy from nutrient molecules and store this energy in phosphate bonds within a molecule known as ATP. Mitochondria are among the most
important organelles in cells. They function as the cells’ powerhouse because 99% of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is produced within mitochondria, and ATP is the main energy source for intracellular metabolic pathways. (4 – 7)

What is ATP ?

Synthesis of ATP (also known as bioenergetics) within mitochondria is essential for producing the energy needed for normal cellular processes. D-ribose is a naturally occurring monosaccharide( simple sugar) within the pentose pathway that assists with ATP production for cellular respiration.
Cellular respiration is a series of biochemical reactions within mitochondria that results in ATP production (8). Adenosine triphosphate is generated through a highly organized system embedded within the inner membrane. Cellular respiration involves three processes:

  • Glycolysis
  • The citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle)
  • The electron transport chain

What is D-ribose ?

D-ribose is an energy producing substrate of the ATP molecule and is often called the “molecular currency” because of its role in intracellular energy transfer. The ATP molecule is able to store and transport chemical energy within cells and is essential for synthesis of nucleus acids such as DNA and RNA. Adenosine triphosphate consists of phosphate, ribose, and adenosine groups that are connected through two high-energy phosphoanhydride bonds within the molecule. Therefor D-ribose can been seen as the precursor of ATP.
The energy carrying molecule generated by cellular respiration and by pentose  phosphate pathway, an alternative pathway of glucose metabolism. D-ribose is a naturally occurring monosaccharide found in the cells and particularly in the mitochondria is essential in energy production. Without sufficient energy, cells cannot maintain integrity and function.

What does D-ribose do ?

It is a 5-carbon chain (also called aldopentose) and is a key component of DNA, ribonucleic acid (RNA), acetyl coenzyme A, and ATP (8). Cells produce D-ribose through the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) that is essential for ATP production.
It is a molecule involved in storing and releasing energy, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse propagation—and ribonucleic acid (RNA), a molecule involved in protein synthesis and other cell activities.

What’s the difference between D-ribose and other simple carbohydrates ?

D-ribose is a pentose sugar (5-carbon carbohydrate) instead of a regular hexose sugar as glucose(6-carbon carbohydrate). It has 4kcal/g like other carbohydrates but it’s a very poor fuel. The cells have set up enzymatic pathways that keep D-Ribose from being used as a fuel like glucose. The cell understands a tremendous difference between D-Ribose and other carbohydrates. Therefore the cells have setup protective pathway’s to prevent it from being burned as fuel.

Properties of D-ribose on the blood level ?

Scientists have studies the effects of ribose since the late 1950s. When injected into diabetics (T2) and non-diabetics, D-ribose causes no increased in blood sugar levels. In healthy subjects there was a swift release of insulin and a dramatic reduction in blood sugar levels. Therefor D-ribose can be seen as a sugar with a negative glycemic index in healthy individuals. For the Insulin resistant group, as their glucose intolerance increased in severity, the subjects were significantly less responsive to the blood glucose lowering effect of d-ribose. But still did not seen an increase in blood sugar levels (9)

Benefits of D-ribose

In certain pathologic conditions such as heart failure, cellular energy deficiency exists in myocardial mitochondria. The reduction in ATP production is directly correlated with the decreased supply of D-ribose in the mitochondria. D-ribose has been used both orally and intravenously in patients for many different pathologic conditions such as:

  • chronic fatigue syndrome (10)
  • fibromyalgia (11)
  • myocardial dysfunction (12)
  • Used to improve athletic performance and reduce symptoms of cramping, pain, and stiffness following exercise (10)
  • Enhance recovery of ATP levels and reduce cellular injury in humans and animals (13 – 14)

Personal Note

Because D-ribose supports the creation of ATP from scratch, it has a lot of potential in Inca’cao’s contribution towards daily metabolical support of our clients. Beside the fact that Inca’cao falls victim under the limitations of outdated labeling legislation. We’ve been attacked numerous times through this poor updated structure that conditions some individuals.
Because of in this expired ‘net carbs’ labeling structure even people on ketogenic diets find this confusing. I personally consume up to 10g a day of pure D-ribose.
The biggest paradox on this topic: Theoretically, based on the labeling of this expired legislation, Inca’cao should be the worst for ketogenic diets. Practically, few ketogenic brands comes close to the food technology of Inca’cao.

Therefore, we invite people to snap out of the conditioning and start testing their own blood sugar levels. We deviate from the acceptance of what is normal. We inspire people with inspirational design, ingredient awareness and fulfillment.


Our body can manufacture its own ribose from glucose, this requires energy and is a very slow process.
Exogenous D-ribose as little as 3-5grams per day has shown to return cellular levels of ATP to normal within 6-22 hours of exhaustive exercise. Instead of relying on our own endogenous D-ribose this is likely to take between 26 and 93 hours and demands a lot of energy in the process. A large number of modern society’s diseases are caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. By consuming smaller quantities of D-ribose in our daily routines in a pleasant way, we can contribute to support the ATP production and put less stress on the mitochondria. D-ribose not only improved diastolic performance but also improved the individuals physical activity function and quality of life.

Scientific references