C3G (cyanidin 3-glucoside), the main ingredient in Biotest’s Indigo-3G®, is both a marketer’s dream and a marketer’s nightmare.
It’s a dream in that it’s a naturally-occurring substance (an anthocyanin) found in blueberries, blackberries, acai berries and all kinds of other dark-colored fruits and vegetables under God’s sun.
There’s absolutely nothing scary about it. You can’t take too much of it, it doesn’t have any negative side effects, it won’t cause anyone to fail a drug test, and mothers won’t panic when they see it in a medicine cabinet or gym bag.
But like I said, it’s also a marketer’s nightmare. That’s because C3G represents an embarrassment of nutritional and physique-enhancing riches. It has so many beneficial effects on the human condition that it’s hard to know which one(s) to focus on. You risk confusing people, or worse yet, causing a certain degree of skepticism.
Take a look at the following list of research-backed C3G benefits. Which ones would you choose to highlight if you had to choose?
- C3G enhances the uptake of glucose by myotubes, causing calories to be preferentially used by muscle fibers instead of being stored as fat.
- C3G raises levels of adiponectin, which regulates glucose levels and increases fatty acid breakdown.
- C3G decreases levels of leptin, a hormone directly connected to body fat and obesity.
- C3G improves endurance by increasing the production of chemical intermediates involved in the production of ATP, the cell’s energy currency.
- C3G increases insulin sensitivity.
- C3G limits fat gain.
- C3G, taken before a workout, helps shuttle energy from pre-workout nutrition directly to muscle cells.
- C3G enhances the activity of brown adipose tissue (which is metabolically active and calorie-burning).
- C3G induces the transformation of white adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue.
- C3G increases mitochondrial number and function.
- C3G prevents mitochondrial dysfunction.
- C3G limits abdominal obesity.
- C3G reduces systemic inflammation.
- C3G reduces triglycerides.
- C3G lowers blood sugar.
- C3G reduces cholesterol.
- C3G reduces chances of developing cancer.
- C3G improves survival rates of cancer.
- C3G improves skeletal muscle endurance by increasing levels of ATP.
- C3G improves night vision and helps prevent eye fatigue.
- C3G promotes liver health and fortifies it against damage from alcohol.
- C3G reduces risk of heart attack.
- C3G mimics the life-extending benefits seen in calorie restriction diets.
- C3G reduces inflammation in fat cells, causing them to shrink.
- C3G compares favorably in laboratory experiments with acarbose, a prescription glucose-disposal drug.
- C3G sews and makes all its own clothes, speaks fluent Latvian, and took second prize in the tango division of the ballroom dancing championships.
Okay, not so much with the last one, but see what I mean by an embarrassment of riches? The list of C3G’s actual biochemical pathways that allow it to do all the things that it does is also diverse, but each has broad health implications – hence the long list of benefits.
C3G and the Cellular Master Switch
First and perhaps foremost, C3G has profound effects on a chemical called adenosine monophosphate kinase, or AMPK. It’s found in every cell in the body and serves as the body’s master regulating switch, determining in large part how fat you are, how muscular you are, and even how long you’ll live.
According to at least one study involving human types, ingesting C3G increases the production of AMPK by a factor of 2.88. In turn, these increased levels of AMPK cause a huge up-regulation of a “transcriptional activator” known as PGC-1 alpha, which then increases exercise capacity, fatigue resistance, and oxygen uptake, which all contribute to additional muscle mass (assuming all other factors are copacetic).
Oh yeah, in addition to being a metabolic switch, AMPK can make cancer cells stop sucking on the energy teat. Once it’s activated, cancer cells end up starving themselves because the energy lifeline’s been cut.
C3G Mimics the Actions of the Most Powerful Hormone
Insulin is the most powerful hormone we make. C3G has insulin-like properties in that it activates insulin receptor substrates, which in turn activate insulin-signaling proteins. These signaling proteins then stimulate glucose uptake by skeletal muscle tissue.
The take-home point here is that you could – assuming you’ve got your exercise and lifestyle ducks in order – actually eat more food than what’s required for maintenance and have any weight gain go to muscle instead of fat.
But C3G’s insulin-like properties don’t stop there. One of several laboratory experiments involving C3G showed two dosage-related drops in blood sugar of 33% and 51%, prompting the authors of the study to remark how favorably it compared with Acarbose, a powerful pharmaceutical glucose-disposal agent.
C3G Sends Fat Cells to Fat Camp
As mentioned above in the list of C3G’s effects, it also activates adiponectin, which acts directly on fat cells. These fat cells actually function as another endocrine organ (like the thyroid or adrenals, etc.) and they play a big part in regulating insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, and inflammation.
When this C3G-related increase of adiponectin occurs, insulin sensitivity increases, inflammation decreases, and fat cells literally disgorge fatty acids into the blood, causing them (and you) to get slimmer.
These increased levels of adiponectin also help manufacture more of the cellular engines known as mitochondria. If you control the number, health, and growth of your mitochondria, you could theoretically, at least, double your lifespan without any of the diseases typically associated with old age.
And, from an athletic perspective, controlling the vitality and number of mitochondria in your muscle cells could lead to huge improvements in strength and endurance that don’t decline with the passing of years.
This increase in mitochondria, in some cases, causes the metabolically sluggish white fat to turn into the more metabolically active, calorie-burning brown fat, while also inducing the production of palmitate oxidation and citrate synthase activity, both of which are intermediates in the production of ATP, which makes cells chug along faster and longer.
So Why Can’t I Just Eat a Mess of Blueberries?
All of this makes it seem logical to increase your intake of C3G by just adding more blueberries to your diet. It’s a nice thought, but Nature is cruel in this regard.
For one thing, C3G has terrible bioavailability. You’d have to eat bushels full of blue or dark berries in general to get the muscle building, fat burning, cancer fighting, life extending, and heart protective effects of a C3G supplement.
Maybe you think you’re eating enough blueberries and are already fortified by C3G, thank you very much. Fine, and excuse me for being crass, but if your morning stool isn’t at least remotely the color of Batman’s cape, you probably didn’t eat enough blueberries to benefit from the C3G they contain.
Taking supplemental C3G is the way to go, and a daily serving of Biotest’s Indigo-3G® contains 600 mg. of this powerful anthocyanin, and rather than just encapsulate the refined ingredient, Biotest added a neat little twist adopted from the pharmaceutical industry:
Each capsule of Indigo-3G® is an emulsion of cycadin 3-glucoside and gelucire, a mixture of mono, di, and triglycerides that’s widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. This highly effective compound improves the potency, bioavailability, and stability of C3G.
How to Take It
Just take the Indigo-3G® capsules on an empty stomach 30 minutes prior to dinner. That’s so you can enhance your insulin sensitivity before eating and make those nutrients veer preferentially to muscle as opposed to fat.
On workout days, take Indigo-3G® 30 minutes prior to ingesting your pre-workout nutrition so that your insulin sensitivity is quickly enhanced and the carbs you ingest are conscripted to work for you in fueling muscle.
The Ultimate Supplement?
There are several great supplements out there. Some work by manipulating your anabolic/androgenic hormones. Some address a specific muscle-building pathway, while others are powerful anti-inflammatories, but there’s no other substance that appears to do as many things, from so many biochemical angles, as cyanidin 3-glucoside.
The difficulty in extracting the substance from natural sources makes Indigo-3G® a bit pricey, but it’s worth it.
- 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, Volume 41, February 2018, pages 62-71.
- 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 Food, Volume 51, December 2018, pages 55-64.
- Cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside regulates fatty acid metabolism via an AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent signaling pathway in human HepG2 cells. Lipids Health Dis. 2012 Jan 13;11:10. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-11-10. Guo H1, Liu G, Zhong R, Wang Y, Wang D, Xia M.
- Cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside improves obesity and triglyceride metabolism in KK-Ay mice by regulating lipoprotein lipase activity. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Apr;91(6):1006-13. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4275. Epub 2011 Feb 24. Wei X1, Wang D, Yang Y, Xia M, Li D, Li G, Zhu Y, Xiao Y, Ling W.
- Cyanidin 3-glucoside attenuates obesity-associated insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis in high-fat diet-fed and db/db mice via the transcription factor FoxO1.J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Apr;23(4):349-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.12.013. Epub 2011 May 2. Guo H1, Xia M, Zou T, Ling W, Zhong R, Zhang W.
- Cyanidin 3-glucoside ameliorates hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity due to downregulation of retinol binding protein 4 expression in diabetic mice. Biochem Pharmacol. 2007 Dec 3;74(11):1619-27. Epub 2007 Aug 10.
- Anthocyanin enhances adipocytokine secretion and adipocyte-specific gene expression in isolated rat adipocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Mar 26;316(1):149-57.
- Cyanidin 3-glucoside protects 3T3-L1 adipocytes against H2O2- or TNF-alpha-induced insulin resistance by inhibiting c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase activation. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Mar 15;75(6):1393-401. Epub 2007 Dec 3.
- Microarray profiling of gene expression in human adipocytes in response to anthocyanins. Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 Apr 14;71(8):1184-97. Epub 2006 Feb 17.
- Gene expression profile of isolated rat adipocytes treated with anthocyanins. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Apr 15;1733(2-3):137-47. Epub 2005 Jan 12.
- Hypoglycemic activity of a novel anthocyanin-rich formulation from lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton. Phytomedicine. 2009 May;16(5):406-15. Epub 2009 Mar 20.
- Dietary cyanidin 3-O-β-D-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice. J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7):2125-30.