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Monday, March 4, 2024
HomeBody Building SupplementsBerberine: Natural Ozempic or Poseur? - Supplements and Nutrition - COMMUNITY

Berberine: Natural Ozempic or Poseur? – Supplements and Nutrition – COMMUNITY


Something Else Works Far Better

Does a so-called natural Ozempic exist? Probably not, but something else comes far closer to earning that label than berberine.


The short attention-span TikTokers have recently anointed berberine as “Nature’s Ozempic” (semaglutide). They say that the polyphenol dupes the effects of the popular appetite-suppressing, weight-loss-inducing prescription drug that all the cool, rich, previously portly people are taking.

Let’s get this straight: there is no natural version of Ozempic. Berberine is a poseur.

I’m puzzled that the TikTok world didn’t instead latch onto a much more effective fat-loss polyphenol: cyanidin 3-glucoside or C3G (sold as Indigo-3G). Choosing berberine over C3G is like casting for “The Terminator” and instead of signing Arnold Schwarzenegger, choosing his cousin Felix who only does Pilates on weekends.

No, C3G doesn’t work the same way as Ozempic works. It is, however, way better than berberine in facilitating a host of physique-enhancing riches, some of which are beyond even Ozempic’s abilities. But let’s first look at berberine and see if there’s any “there” there.

Berberine: The Rise of a Poseur

A few clinical trials found that berberine can indeed reduce blood glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance. Most of the buzz, however, arose from a 2020 meta-analysis that found that taking 500 mg. of berberine every day for several months caused an average weight loss of about 4 pounds.

That’s nothing to make fun of, but Ozempic often works astronomically better, causing users to lose between 12 and 15% of their fat mass in around 6 months. It works by imitating a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is manufactured in the gut after eating and prompts insulin production. The drug also induces fullness, which is a surefire method to induce fat loss.

Berberine doesn’t do that. But it does, as stated, favorably impact blood glucose and insulin resistance, which can slowly coax some fat loss. It also causes fat loss in another understandably unadvertised way: it tends to cause diarrhea, which makes people feel too uncomfortable to eat.

And another study, this one largely ignored, revealed that berberine-eating rats actually gained weight and experienced an increase in appetite.

Despite my naysaying, I don’t want to dismiss berberine entirely. Like most plant polyphenols, it has valuable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but let’s not put an “S” on its chest and give it a cape just yet. Now let’s compare berberine’s effects to those of C3G.

C3G and Insulin

C3G, derived from blackberries, blueberries, and black rice, has insulin-like properties that activate insulin receptor substrates, activating insulin-signaling proteins. These signaling proteins stimulate glucose uptake by skeletal muscle cells instead of fat cells.

Provided you were lifting at the same time, that means any surplus food you ate (more than maintenance) would be shuttled off to muscle instead of fat.

Furthermore, one of several laboratory experiments involving C3G showed two dosage-related drops in blood sugar (33% and 51%), prompting researchers to remark on how favorably it compared with a pharmaceutical glucose-disposal agent.

C3G and AMPK

Adenosine monophosphate kinase (AMPK) is often called the biochemical “master switch.” It’s found in every cell in the body and plays a huge role in determining how lean you are, how muscular you are, and even how long you’ll live.

Control AMPK and you literally become the master of your domain. C3G increases production of AMPK by a factor of 2.88 (in one study), which increases a massive up-regulation of a “transcriptional activator” known as PGC-1 alpha, which then ramps up exercise capacity, fatigue resistance, and oxygen uptake. Collectively, this leads to a decrease in body fat and an increase in muscle mass (assuming all other contributing factors are optimal).

C3G and Adiponectin

Adiponectin is a protein hormone. Activating it causes fat cells to act as if they were another endocrine hormone, and they start to regulate glucose levels and fatty acid breakdown. When C3G is introduced, it induces the release of adiponectin, causing insulin sensitivity to increase (a good thing), inflammation to decrease, and, most impressively, it tells fat cells to disgorge fatty acids into the bloodstream. The result is slimmer fat cells and, accordingly, a slimmer you.

As a bonus, increases in adiponectin influence mitochondria to multiply, in some cases turning metabolically sluggish white fat into the more metabolically active brown fat.

Having more brown fat is good because it burns more calories. It normally kicks in right before you go out into a winter wonderland without your coat, prompting the brown fat to break down blood sugar and molecules of fat, creating a sort of metabolic campfire to keep you warm.

C3G, however, courtesy of adiponectin, causes a breakdown of blood sugar and fat without having to sit naked on a bank of snow. (No, you don’t start to shiver after taking C3G, but increases in adiponectin simply cause these brown cells to start burning up more calories.)

C3G Mimics the Life-Extending Benefits Seen in Calorie-Restriction Diets

While people don’t generally take fat-loss supplements to increase their lifespan, it might just be a bonus when it comes to taking C3G.

You know how I wrote that C3G can increase levels of AMPK? Well, increased levels of this master switch also mimic the effects of calorie restriction, and calorie restriction is thought to be the most effective way known to increase health and lifespan.

When turned on, AMPK triggers the use of stored energy from fat, enhances the removal of sugar and fats from the blood, reduces cellular inflammation, cleans up cellular junk (preventing errors in transcription of mRNA), and even leads to the formation of new mitochondria, which is a big deal.

More mitochondria mean you could theoretically double your lifespan without experiencing any of the diseases typically associated with old age. That may be overly ambitious, but increases in AMPK are associated with 20 to 30% increases in the lifespan of laboratory animals.

Too bad calorie restriction, at least the type associated with life extension, is often anathema to weightlifters and bodybuilders whose credo is “Me want food!”

Well, C3G, it seems, allows you to not only have your cake but to eat it too. In other words, you could theoretically continue to eat a surplus of calories and still reap the life-extension benefits of a calorie-restriction diet.

Let’s see berberine do that, or even half of the things C3G/Indigo-3G can do.

Biotest

References

References

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  10. Grace MH et al. Hypoglycemic activity of a novel anthocyanin-rich formulation from lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton. Phytomedicine. 2009 May;16(5):406-15. PubMed.
  11. Tsuda T et al. Dietary cyanidin 3-O-beta-D-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice. J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7):2125-30. PubMed.
  12. You Y et al. Cyanidin 3-glucoside attenuates high-fat and high-fructose diet-induced obesity by promoting the thermogenic capacity of brown adipose tissue.Journal of Functional Foods. 2018 Feb;41;62-71.
  13. Shi M et al. The effect of cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside and peptides extracted from yoghurt on glucose uptake and gene expression in human primary skeletal muscle myotubes from obese and obese diabetic participants. Journal of Functional Foods. 2018 Dec 51:55-64.
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