When to take Berberine for Bodybuilding and Exercise?

Table of Contents

What is the relationship between Berberine and exercise?

The relationship between Berberine and exercise is a beneficial one. Studies show that taking berberine increases the effectiveness of exercise. The study was performed on sedentary and obese people, implying berberine increases adaptation to exercise.  Another study in rats shows that berberine increased the levels of antioxidant enzymes in the pancreas, suggesting increased effectiveness of aerobic exercise. 

A study performed in rats shows that berberine supplementation can decrease the harmful effects of exhaustion-induced free radicals, suggesting that berberine can also protect the heart from free radicals produced during the exhaustion stage of exercise.

However, a study conducted on mice demonstrated that berberine slowed down protein synthesis resulting in decreased muscle mass. 

More studies and clinical trials are required to establish a clear relationship between berberine and exercise. 

When to take Berberine for bodybuilding?

Berberine can be taken along with meals for bodybuilding. Given berberine lowers blood glucose levels, taking berberine on an empty stomach can result in low energy,  hypoglycemia, and weakness. It is suggested to take berberine just before meals or with meals to avoid such effects.

Since berberine has a short half-life of about 5 hours, it is recommended to take 2-3 doses of berberine throughout the day to maintain effective blood levels. 

What is the dose of Berberine for bodybuilding?

The usual dose of berberine for bodybuilding is 500 mg three times a day making it about 1.5 grams of berberine per day. It is suggested to take berberine in a cycle of 3-4 months because its antibiotic effects can affect the gut flora and cause diarrhea. 

After the initial phase of 3-4 months, the dosage can be decreased to twice a day. Again, to counter the short half-life of berberine, the dosage must be taken within 5 hours of each other to maintain consistent levels. 

Berberine is available in different forms such as tincture and capsules, so follow the directions suggested by the manufacturer to determine the required dose.

In the video below, Dave Palumbo answers if Berberine is a must-take for bodybuilding:

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Berberine vs. Metformin, which is better for bodybuilding?

Overall, when comparing berberine vs. Metformin for bodybuilding, Berberine shows better effects. The following needs to be considered while choosing between berberine and metformin for bodybuilding:

  • Results: The studies show that metformin diminishes the effects of exercise, on the other hand, studies show berberine in sedentary and obese people increased the effectiveness of exercise. Metformin showed negative results with regards to exercise while berberine showed mixed results. 
  • Ability to lower blood glucose levels: Both berberine and metformin have the same mechanism of action, and are capable of significantly reducing the blood sugar level, by either increasing insulin sensitivity or by increasing the glucose absorption by the intestine. 
  • Carcinogen: Metformin is a synthetic compound while berberine can be obtained from plant sources. The FDA recently recalled metformin because it may have unacceptable levels of the carcinogen. 
  • Effect on gut flora: when consumed metformin causes disturbances in gut flora, and in the case of berberine, it too disturbs the flora but only when taken for a longer time.

Does Berberine cause muscle loss?

Berberine can cause muscle loss because studies show that administration of berberine inhibited protein synthesis resulting in loss of muscles.

A study was carried out on mice, where mice were supplemented with berberine for 21 days. After analysis, the researchers found a decrease in muscle mass as a result of berberine administration. However, it should be noted that the mice were diabetic models, meaning the mice had impaired insulin function, as well the mice were not subjected to exercise. 

Other studies suggest that berberine inhibits the function of mitochondria, affects insulin sensitivity of the body, and decreases the effect of exercise. 

More clinical trials and studies are required to confirm the ability of berberine to cause muscle loss. 

Want to know more?

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This article makes use of information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

  1. David Morales-Alamo, Jose A.L. Calbet, AMPK signaling in skeletal muscle during exercise: Role of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 98, 2016, Pages 68-77,ISSN 
  2. Wang H, Liu D, Cao P, Lecker S, Hu Z. Atrogin-1 affects muscle protein synthesis and degradation when energy metabolism is impaired by the antidiabetes drug berberine. Diabetes. 2010 Aug;59(8):1879-89. doi: 10.2337/db10-0207. Epub 2010 Jun 3. PMID: 20522589; PMCID: PMC2911075.
  3. Wang YW, Li XD, Sun MJ, Liu ZP, Liu SW. [Protective effects of berberine against exhaustion exercise induced myocardial injury in rats]. Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan Bing Za Zhi. 2019 Aug 24;47(8):647-652. Chinese. doi: 10.3760/cma.j.issn.0253-3758.2019.08.010. PMID: 31434437.
When to take Berberine for Bodybuilding and Exercise?
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