The Colorful Side of Supplements: Cyanidin 3-Glucoside and Its Rainbow of Benefits

The Colorful Side of Supplements: Cyanidin 3-Glucoside and Its Rainbow of Benefits

Purple Power

On this blog, we’ll be exploring the fascinating world of a very special purple pigment called cyanidin 3-glucoside, which also bears the much catchier name, C3G. C3G is a compound all of us have likely consumed already at some point in our lives. It is one of the primary purple pigments in berries such as blueberries and blackberries. It is also abundantly present in red wine and by extension, in red grapes. Even red onions contain C3G! Another very rich source of C3G, is a very interesting and fairly rare cultivar of rice which is commonly referred to as black rice, or forbidden rice. Black rice is difficult to cultivate, and produces fairly low yields when compared to other rice cultivars.

Due to this, black rice is quite rare, and this was especially the case in ancient China. Our C3G is extracted from black rice, which was highly valued by ancient Chinese emperors for its health benefits. Chemically, C3G is a cyanidin glycoside, with cyanidin linked to a sugar molecule called glucose. When consumed, enzymes in our bodies break down C3G into cyanidin, which has various health effects.

Historical Significance:

Ancient Chinese emperors discovered the health benefits of black rice swiftly, reserving it for themselves due to its scarcity. The ban on black rice for common people led to its nickname “forbidden rice” due to its exclusivity and unavailability to them. Ancient Chinese botanical knowledge suggests long-standing awareness of C3G’s health benefits, reflecting historical understanding of its positive effects.

Bodybuilding Breakthrough:

In the modern world, C3G rose to fame in the bodybuilding world. Consuming high levels of C3G was found to efficiently direct nutrients towards muscles and away from fat stores, optimizing body composition. Essentially, C3G aids in optimizing food utilization, facilitating muscle gain and minimizing fat accumulation for improved body composition. Better yet, C3G even seems to burn fat!

Cutting Phase Enhancement:

C3G aids bodybuilders in maximizing cutting phase results, enabling leaner physique without sacrificing hard-earned muscle mass. Of course, this effects profile is pretty much every bodybuilders dream! C3G’s impact on bodybuilding has been remarkable, earning its reputation as one of the top natural body recomposition supplements.

Emergence of C3G in Bodybuilding:

That brings us to present day C3G, which led to an interesting discovery. When we first started beta-testing C3G, we all immediately noticed a prominent acute nootropic effect. C3G’s unexpected nootropic effects surprised us; initially, we anticipated it solely as a body recomposition tool, not a cognitive enhancer. Digging into the research a bit, we quickly realized that C3G hits lots of unique nootropic targets.

Modern Nootropic Insights:

C3G inhibits monoamine oxidase enzymes, elevating dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. It also synergizes with BDNF to enhance neuroplasticity. Combine this with the cerebral blood flow enhancement effects of C3G, and you are looking at a very serious nootropic! Overall, it is clear that C3G is a purple force to be reckoned with!

What Is An Anthocyanin?

C3G belongs to a class of compounds called the anthocyanins. These are a class of purple and red pigments, which exist in a wide variety of foods and beverages. Anthocyanins, being glycosides, feature a core structure linked to specific types of sugars, characterizing their chemical composition. For example, with cyanidin 3-glucoside, as the name already reveals, cyanidin is bound to glucose. Another example would be the primary anthocyanin present in our tart cherry extract, which is cyanidin 3-rutinoside. There are also anthocyanins which have a different core compound to which sugar groups are bound. For example, malvidin glycosides are also a common group of anthocyanins.

Color-changing Anthocyanins: pH Sensitivity

Anthocyanins’ intriguing trait is their pH-responsive color change, resembling eco-friendly pH meters, showcasing their versatile applications. This property finds utility in various applications. Upon receiving tart cherry extract, its purple hue puzzled us, contrasting with the expected bright red from fresh cherries. This color alteration stems from the loss of tart cherry acidity during extraction. Adjusting pH levels unveils vibrant red hues.

C3G Transformation: Vinegar Experiment

Adding vinegar to C3G-infused water shifts its color from deep purple to brilliant amethyst, highlighting the pH-dependent color transformation. When consumed, enzymes like beta-glucosidase detach sugar groups from anthocyanins, converting them into anthocyanidins. Despite this, anthocyanins boast superior bioavailability due to diverse absorption processes. In natural sources, anthocyanins dominate, enhancing bioavailability. Our bodies efficiently convert them into active anthocyanidins, aligning with the rich nutritional profile of anthocyanin-rich foods. Speaking of nutrients, this is the main attraction with C3G, so let’s dive into the nutrient partitioning effects!

Nutrient Partitioning Effect For Body Recomposition

The main attraction with C3G is its ability to act as a nutrient partitioning agent. This is a concept that became very popular in the bodybuilding world more than a decade ago. Bodybuilders are constantly tweaking their diets and exercise regiments in order to optimize muscle gain, while minimizing fat gain. Before competitions, bodybuilders enter a precise caloric restriction phase, known as the ‘cutting phase,’ for optimal performance. During a cutting phase, the main goal is to preserve as much muscle mass as possible, while minimizing fat mass.

Nutrient Partitioning Effects of C3G

During a cutting phase, one of the primary concerns is not to lose too much muscle mass. In a caloric deficit, some muscle loss is inevitable due to their high nutrient demand, challenging muscle preservation efforts. An ideal cutting phase companion would deliver maximal nutrients to muscles while minimizing storage in fat stores. C3G effectively channels nutrients to muscles, making it a favored choice among bodybuilders for its performance-enhancing benefits.

Mechanisms of Action

C3G channels nutrients to muscles, limiting fat storage, optimizing nutrient utilization for body composition goals. C3G activates pathways that burn fat and convert white adipose tissue into metabolically active brown adipose tissue. Two of the main pathways that C3G interacts with to pull off these effects are the PPAR-α and PGC-1α, pathways.

Thermogenic Effects

By activating these two pathways, glucose uptake into our muscles, and glycogen storage is enhanced. This helps fuel our muscles, and shuttles energy away from fat storage. Activating these pathways increases fat utilization, converting fat into usable energy, enhancing metabolic efficiency for fueling activities. C3G also upregulates the activity of UCP1 which is also referred to by the name thermogenin. UCP1 allows us to burn fat in brown adipose tissue by turning it into heat. This is primarily what drives the concept commonly referred to as “thermogenesis”. Combining C3G’s conversion of white adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue creates a potent thermogenic effect, enhancing metabolism.

Mitochondrial Biogenesis

Another very interesting aspect of C3G, is that by activating the PGC-1α pathway, it can significantly upregulate mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondrial biogenesis generates new mitochondria, crucial as they’re the “powerhouse of the cell,” essential for energy production. Our mitochondria house the machinery necessary for turning the food we eat into usable energy in the form of ATP. Enhancing mitochondrial generation with C3G helps convert more food into energy, optimizing metabolic efficiency and fuel utilization.

Overall Metabolic Remodeling

Zooming out, C3G effectively remodels metabolic function, optimizing nutrient utilization and energy production for overall metabolic enhancement. With prolonged C3G supplementation, the body becomes more efficient at directing consumed calories to muscles rather than fat stores. Positive anecdotal reports abound from individuals who struggled to lose weight until supplementing with C3G, highlighting its effectiveness.

Versatility of C3G

During a cutting phase, nutrient partitioning effects of C3G aid in preserving muscle mass despite reduced caloric intake, facilitating fat loss. However, this does not mean C3G is only useful during a cutting phase. Even during bulking phases with increased caloric intake, C3G remains useful for optimizing nutrient partitioning and body composition goals. Of course, when we eat an excessive amount of calories, it will be inevitable to gain fat mass.

Incorporating C3G into the regimen alongside intense workouts enhances muscle growth while minimizing fat gain during bulking phases. For non-hardcore bodybuilders, daily C3G intake promotes leanness and physical energy, contributing to overall vitality and well-being. Pairing C3G’s physical energizing effects with its mental benefits, let’s explore its untapped potential as a nootropic compound.

A Nootropic Heavy Hitter

When we first started beta-testing C3G, we were not at all prepared for the nootropic benefits. I (Emiel, author of this blog) first took C3G before going on a bike ride to test its physical performance enhancing effects. When I got on my bike, the first thing I noticed was that my field of vision was significantly enhanced. This effect, reminiscent of nootropic experiences, stood out to me, despite not encountering it for some time. The field of vision expanding effect then transitioned into a gradual sharpening of my vision and mind. About 45 minutes into dosing C3G, I started noticing a prominent mental energizing and mood lifting effect.

Combined with the physically energizing effect of C3G, this really optimized my bike ride. Feeling faster and more coordinated, I took on challenging turns, pushing myself to achieve higher speeds during the ride. At the end of the bike ride, I felt mentally charged with my mood significantly boosted. Subsequent dosing experiments yielded similar results. In fact, I’m now three weeks into dosing C3G on a daily basis, and the acute mood and focus enhancing effects are still there, and overtime it appears to have a more palpable mood and memory enhancing effect.

Neurological Mechanisms of C3G

Digging into the neurological effects of C3G, we immediately figured out why it had this very unique nootropic effect. First of all, cyanidin, which C3G turns into, mildly inhibits both MAO-A & B. These enzymes normally degrade neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, and thus inhibiting them, allows for dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels to be enhanced.

Cerebral Blood Flow Enhancement

This is likely what forms the main basis for the acute energizing and mood boosting effects. The field of vision expanding effect is normally an effect I get from nootropics that can boost cerebral blood flow. Doing some research into C3G, it quickly became apparent that C3G can enhance cerebral blood flow, likely by upregulating the eNOS enzyme, which produces nitric oxide in our blood vessels and leads to a vasodilating effect.

Synergistic Effects with PGC-1α Pathway and BDNF

After doing some more digging into the PGC-1α pathway, we discovered something very surprising! One of the main drivers of C3G’s effect on nutrient partitioning, is its ability to activate the PGC-1α pathway, with one of the main outcomes of PGC-1α activation being significantly enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis. It turns out that BDNF also activates the PGC-1α pathway, and the resulting increase in mitochondrial biogenesis is essential for driving the process of neuroplasticity!

Neuroprotective Effects

This means that by enhancing PGC-1α activity with C3G, it should have a highly synergistic effect with BDNF to enhance neuroplasticity. This is likely why over time, we have noticed the nootropic and mood boosting effects of C3G getting more pronounced. This makes C3G an ideal candidate for stacking with BDNF focused nootropics such as 7,8-DHF and Polygala tenuifolia!

Mitigation of Neuro-oxidation and Neuroinflammation

While not as exciting of a topic as enhancing neuroplasticity, the ability of C3G to mitigate both neuro-oxidation and neuroinflammation, will also have a nootropic and neuroprotective effect. In fact, elevated levels of neuroinflammation are often linked to the experience of “brain fog”, and thus being able to mitigate this to an extent with C3G, could help enhance mental clarity. Overall, given C3G and cyanidins ability to readily pass the blood brain barrier, it appears to be an excellent natural nootropic!

A Surprising Ally For Pain Management

One of the main appeals of tart cherry, which also sports a hefty cyanidin content via the anthocyanin, cyanidin 3-rutinoside, was its effects on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). C3G will have a very similar effect on DOMS and thus is a great supplement to include in a recovery stack. That being said, C3G also has something else going for it, which makes it an ideal candidate for general pain management. It acts on the same PPAR-α pathway which palmitoylethanolamide acts on! Tart cherry will also produce this effect, however, due to the much higher dose of anthocyanin with our C3G, the effect on PPAR-α will be much more pronounced, and thus closer to the magnitude of effect palmitoylethanolamide has at this target.

When I first started taking C3G, I had been struggling with a sore neck for a couple of days which was stiff and uncomfortable. This had been going on with no signs of improvement, but after taking C3G for two days, my neck was completely limber and not sore anymore. I didn’t put two and two together, until I was doing research for the C3G podcast, and realized that it hits one of the same primary targets of palmitoylethanolamide.

Considering the other effects C3G has, it would make an ideal candidate for a daily pain management supplement, and it would stack well with palmitoylethanolamide in order to bolster its pain management effects even further!

When To Dose For Best Effects?

One question we have been getting a lot since releasing C3G, is what the best time to take it is. When C3G first became popular, it was recommended to take C3G 30 minutes prior to your biggest meal of the day. This makes a lot of sense, because having C3G floating around in serum at the moment calories start hitting our system, should lead to the most pronounced nutrient partitioning effects. After all, we need nutrients, in order to partition them! However, as we have discussed in the blog, part of the effects profile of C3G also relies on less acute, and more long term remodeling of our metabolic function. With this in mind, regular daily dosing of C3G is likely a lot more critical than taking C3G prior to a meal. Thus, we can perhaps be more flexible with dosing.

Meal Timing and C3G Effects

That all being said, C3G does appear to have an acute effect on blood glucose levels, and with this in mind, we do still believe that to get the absolute most out of C3G, it would be best to take it before a meal. We have also noticed that C3G can make us feel more hungry when taken away from a meal, but that this effect is not as pronounced when C3G is taken 30 minutes prior to a meal, or right before eating. The energizing effects of C3G also appear to be more pronounced when it is taken prior to a meal. With all of this in mind, the early adopters of C3G really seemed to be onto something, and we would also recommend taking C3G close to a meal!

Considerations for Time of Day

Now in terms of time of day, this gets a little tricky. Since C3G is a little bit stimulating, taking it later in the day can negatively impact sleep for some people. So even though dinner is the biggest meal of the day for most of us, it is perhaps smarter not to take C3G with dinner as it may keep us up. If you eat breakfast, we have found that taking C3G with a carbohydrate heavy breakfast and some caffeine really supercharges the energizing effects, and gets the day off to a great start. Similarly, when C3G is taken before lunch it can help mitigate that “afternoon slump” many of us experience after eating a large lunch. Overall, the time of day is clearly quite flexible, but again, be careful with taking it too late in the day as it may keep you up at night!

Exercise Timing and C3G

Another thing to keep in mind with C3G, is that it has significant oxidation regulating effects. In theory, this could then get in the way of exercise adaptation, as this process is fairly dependent on oxidative stress. Thus, the general advice is to take oxidation regulating compounds away from exercise in order not to interfere with the process of exercise adaptation. It may seem like taking C3G as a pre-workout is ideal due to its energizing effects, but due to the prominent oxidation regulating effects this may in fact not be totally optimal. That being said, knocking down oxidation can significantly help enhance physical endurance. Thus, if you are gearing up for a high endurance type of activity, where you need to squeeze out every last drop of performance, then it would be good to take C3G prior to this endurance event.

A Stackers Dream

Synergistic Stacking with C3G for Bodybuilding

One aspect of C3G that we are particularly fond of, is its ability to synergize with a wide variety of other supplements. This is due to the fact that C3G has both unique cognitive, metabolic and pain management effects that allow us to go in lots of different directions with stacks! Since one of the highlight effects of C3G is its nutrient partitioning and bodybuilding effects profile, let’s focus on some physical performance stacks first.

Nutrient Partitioning Stack

Two other nutrient partitioning agents that are popular in the bodybuilding world are alpha lipoic acid and agmatine. These all have overlapping effects on nutrient partitioning, however, they also have unique effects that should synergize quite nicely with each other. With this in mind, if you wish to enhance the nutrient partitioning effects of C3G even more, you could consider stacking it with alpha lipoic acid and/or agmatine for the most comprehensive effect.

Recovery Stack

Another aspect of C3G that is very beneficial to physical performance, is C3G’s ability to speed up recovery. Another famous compound for this purpose is epicatechin which has a potent effect on reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Epicatechin also acts as a myostatin inhibitor which can enhance muscle growth. Stacked together, C3G and epicatechin make for a powerful combination to enhance lean muscle mass! C3G can also be stacked together with our tart cherry extract, in order to take advantage of some of the other anthocyanins and bioactive in tart cherry which are beneficial for recovery.

We also find that C3G stacks nicely with rephyll for DOMS and overall recovery. Of course, C3G would also make for a fantastic stack with creatine monohydrate for recovery and strength. Another supplement that would synergize well with C3G for its DOMS reducing and strength promoting effects, would be beta-ecdysterone. C3G would also go well with testosterone boosters like tongkat ali, Cistanche tubulosa and pregnenolone to help enhance lean muscle mass gain. Clearly, C3G has a lot of stacking potential in the bodybuilding realm! To sum it all up, here would be our ultimate C3G bodybuilding stack

Also read our blog on Bacopa Monnieri

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