C3G Benefits: The Complete Guide

A Nutrient Partitioning Powerhouse

C3G (cyanidin 3-glucoside) is a naturally occurring anthocyanin (flavonoid) found in blueberries, blackberries, acai berries, and all kinds of other dark-colored fruits and vegetables under God's sun. This potent nutrient has so many health and physique-enhancing riches it's almost embarrassing, potentially confusing people, or worse yet, causing a certain degree of skepticism. Anyway, here's my best attempt at a shortlist of C3G benefits:

  1. C3G increases insulin sensitivity enhancing glucose uptake by myotubes, causing muscle fibers to preferentially calories instead of being stored as fat.*
  2. C3G, taken before a workout, helps shuttle energy from pre-workout nutrition directly to muscle cells.*
  3. C3G raises levels of adiponectin, which regulates glucose levels and increases fatty acid breakdown.*
  4. C3G compares favorably to a pharmaceutical glucose-disposal agent.*
  5. C3G shrinks fat cells and limits fat gain and abdominal obesity.*
  6. C3G improves endurance by increasing the production of chemical intermediates involved in the production of ATP, the cell's energy source.*
  7. C3G reduces blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol.*
  8. C3G increases mitochondrial number and function.*
  9. C3G increases and enhances the activity of brown adipose tissue, which is metabolically active and calorie-burning).*
  10. C3G reduces systemic inflammation.*
  11. C3G promotes stomach and intestinal-lining health.*
  12. C3G improves night vision and helps prevent eye fatigue.*
  13. C3G promotes heart and liver health.*
  14. C3G mimics the life-extending benefits seen in calorie restriction diets.*

C3G's actual biochemical pathways that allow it to do all these actions are diverse. Here's my briefest outline of the facts. Check them out, and let me know if you're as impressed as me.

First and perhaps foremost, C3G has profound effects on a chemical called adenosine monophosphate kinase, or AMPK. AMPK is 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 humans, ingesting C3G increases the production of AMPK by a factor of 2.88. In turn, these increased levels of AMPK cause a massive 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).

Insulin is the most powerful hormone our bodies 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 instead of fat cells.

The take-home point is – assuming you've got your exercise and lifestyle ducks in order – you could eat more food than maintenance amounts and any weight gain would 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 a powerful pharmaceutical glucose-disposal agent.

C3G also activates adiponectin, causing fat cells to function as another endocrine organ (like the thyroid or adrenals), regulating insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, and inflammation. When the C3G-related increase of adiponectin occurs, insulin sensitivity increases, inflammation decreases, and fat cells disgorge fatty acids into the bloodstream, causing them (and you) to get slimmer.

The increased adiponectin also helps produce more cellular engines known as mitochondria. In theory, if you control mitochondrial health and growth, you could at least double your lifespan without any of the diseases typically associated with aging. And from an athletic perspective, controlling the vitality and number of mitochondria in your muscle cells could lead to huge strength and endurance improvements 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. It also induces palmitate oxidation and citrate synthase activity, both of which are intermediates in the production of ATP, making cells chug along faster and longer.

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 C3G has terrible bioavailability. You'd have to eat bushels of dark berries to get the muscle-building, fat-burning, life-extending, and heart-protective C3G benefits.

Maybe you think you're already eating enough blueberries to be fortified by C3G. Excuse me for being crass; if your morning stool isn't at leaser some shade of purple, you probably didn't eat enough blueberries to benefit from C3G.

Taking supplemental C3G is the way to go, and a daily serving of Biotest's Indigo-3G® supplement provides 600 mg of this powerful anthocyanin. Biotest also added a neat little twist adopted from the pharmaceutical industry: Each Indigo-3G® capsule creates a formulated microemulsion of cyanidin 3-glucoside once ingested. This highly effective process improves the potency, bioavailability, and stability of C3G.

  • Before Dinner: Take 3 Indigo-3G® capsules on an empty stomach 30 minutes before your evening meal.
  • Pre-Workout: On workout days, take 3 Indigo-3G® capsules 30 minutes before ingesting your workout nutrition so that insulin sensitivity is quickly enhanced and the carbs you consume fuel only muscle.

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 the Indigo-3G® supplement a bit pricey, but it's worth it.

  1. Guo H et al. 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. PubMed.
  2. Wei X et al. 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. PubMed.
  3. Guo H et al. 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. PubMed.
  4. Sasaki R et al. 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. PubMed.
  5. Takanori T et al. Anthocyanin enhances adipocytokine secretion and adipocyte-specific gene expression in isolated rat adipocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Mar 26;316(1):149-57. PubMed.
  6. Guo H et al. 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. PubMed.
  7. Tsuda T et al. Microarray profiling of gene expression in human adipocytes in response to anthocyanins. Biochem Pharmacol. Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 Apr 14;71(8):1184-97. PubMed.
  8. Tsuda T et al. Gene expression profile of isolated rat adipocytes treated with anthocyanins. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Apr 15;1733(2-3):137-47. PubMed.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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