If you’re trying to build a leaner, more muscular, and optimally-functioning body but you’ve never heard of Epicatechin, then you have come to the right place (and not a moment too soon).
Epicatechin is a natural anabolic, and Epicatechin supplements have been skyrocketing in popularity among bodybuilders and average joe gym-goers alike for a while now due to its staggering effects as a muscle growth agent. This Epicatechin review will take a deep dive into the benefits of taking Epicatechin supplements on a daily basis, but first: what is Epitcatechin?
What is Epicatechin?
Epicatechin is a naturally-occurring, plant-based antioxidant found in many of the foods we eat every day. Foods that are high in Epicatechin include fruits (grapes, apples, pears, and berries among others), sweet potatoes, red wine, green tea, and chocolate.
The darker the chocolate, the higher the Epicatechin content--pure cocoa contains more Epicatechin than any other known food source (nearly 3mg per gram of cocoa).
Let’s get scientific for a moment. As we’ve said, Epichatechin is a bioactive plant compound. It’s technically a flavanol, which is a subgroup of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients among the polyphenol family and are responsible (at least partly) for giving fruits and veggies their bright and, frankly, delicious-looking colors. The medicinal use of polyphenols, of which flavonoids are a subgroup, dates back many centuries in Eastern cultures (perhaps most notably in China).
So, basically, Epicatechin is a flavanol, which is a subgroup of flavonoids, which are polyphenols. That’s about as specific a classification of Epicatechin as we’ll need for our purposes.
If you can only remember one thing from this section, just remember that all of the above are naturally-occurring, plant-based chemicals that are not only safe to consume but beneficial to the human body. Now, let’s get to how Epicatechin works and what benefits you can expect if you integrate an Epicatechin supplement into your diet!
How Does Epicatechin Work?
Epicatechin works in the body in many beneficial ways. Firstly, it increases nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide, among other things, promotes angiogenesis--it opens the blood vessels to improve circulation, vascularity, muscle recovery, and endurance. As it stimulates nitric oxide production,
Epicatechin also increases mitochondrial biogenesis. The mitochondrion is known by every fifth grader as the “powerhouse of the cell.” Thus, since Epicatechin is touted for stimulating growth and an increase in density of the skeletal muscle cells, it can give these muscles--and you--more power and greater energy stores!
Epicatechin is thought to have similar effects on heart cells, and the growth and increase in density are directly associated with a dramatic increase in cardiovascular strength and endurance.
Epicatechin Decreases Myostatin
Myostatin is a type of protein (a myokine) that inhibits, or blocks, muscle growth. It actually serves a purpose in the body--it puts limits on muscle growth, such that the body doesn’t build too much muscle too fast.
In other words, myostatin is the body’s muscle-building emergency brake. In myostatin-deficient animals, muscle growth can occur at an unhealthily fast pace and continue past all healthy levels.
So, basically, we don’t want to entirely eliminate myostatin from our bodies--that would be a dangerous game. If the goal is to build muscle, however, we might want to lower our myostatin levels. That’s where Epicatechin comes in: it limits myostatin, indirectly, by increasing levels of follistatin in the body.
Epicatechin Increases Follistatin
Epicatechin increases the body’s levels of Follistatin, an antagonist of myostatin. Follistatin binds to myostatin in the body and thereby inhibits myostatin’s effect. In essence, myostatin limits muscle growth, but follistatin limits the effect of myostatin.
Therefore, follistatin is ultimately responsible for regulating the levels of myostatin and thereby facilitating controlled muscle growth while preventing the excessive production of muscle. As you can see, anyone who is interested in building more muscle faster can use Epicatechin supplements to harness follistatin and it’s all-important myostatin-inhibiting effects.
So far we’ve talked in pretty specific, biological terms about how Epicatechin works in the body--we’ve even used some scientific jargon. Now it’s time to switch gears and focus on the benefits of taking Epicatechin supplements, the optimal dosages, and read some Epicatechin reviews. Let’s dive in!
Benefits of Epicatechin
Increases Nitric Oxide
As is mentioned above, Epicatechin increases levels of nitric oxide in the body, which opens the blood vessels and improves circulation. The angiogenesis (opening of the blood vessels) that results from increased levels of nitric oxide leads to increased vascularity for ridiculous muscle pumps that would be nearly impossible to achieve otherwise.
Increases Muscle Endurance
Epicatechin has an effect at the cellular level, increasing the density of the skeletal muscle cells. It directly affects the mitochondria of those cells, with the result being more power for pumping and greater stores of energy to keep you going, set after set.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can increase the number of reps you can handle when taking an Epicatechin supplement, even when you increase the weight!
Increases Cardiovascular Endurance
Epicatechin is thought to affect the heart much the same way as it affects the skeletal muscles—by acting directly on the mitochondria of heart cells. It can allow you to build cardiovascular endurance and increase your heart health at an unprecedented rate.
It’s equally transformative for those doing heavy training as it is for those who are simply trying to make it to work on a bike without getting drenched in sweat in the process.
Promotes Muscle Gain
One thing’s for sure, Epicatechin can help you build a ton of muscle. By deactivating your body’s muscle-building inhibitors, Epicatechin frees your body to pack on muscle to its full potential. We’ll take a look at some numbers and time frames below when we review different Epicatechin studies.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin plays a key role in what your body does with the carbohydrates you ingest. In ideal circumstances (i.e., in an “insulin-sensitive” body), there is only a small, healthy amount of insulin in the blood—this allows much of the food you eat to eventually be stored in muscle and liver tissue, and it means that insulin stimulates the uptake of glucose into fat cells only once the muscle and liver cells are “topped up.”
Under these conditions, the insulin-signaling machinery is maximally sensitive and a small amount of insulin will have a great effect. Epicatechin improves insulin-sensitivity, which means more of the glucose from your diet as muscle rather than fat.
This one doesn’t need explaining. Some people pay hundreds of dollars a bottle for medication that lowers cholesterol (and it doesn’t have any of the other beneficial effects of Epicatechin).
It’s an Antioxidant
We’re told again and again that antioxidants are invaluable. The reason this one is so life-changing is that it allows you to kill two birds with one stone: it’ll help you build muscle in the gym while keeping you healthy on a more general level. Antioxidants will increase your overall health—and isn’t that much of the reason why we work out in the first place?
Studies of Epicatechin
In one of the first studies of Epicatechin, six people were given a single daily dosage of one milligram for every kilogram of body weight for seven days. At the end of the week, follistatin levels had increased by just short of 50%, and levels of myostatin (the inhibitor of muscle growth) had declined by over 16%. Perhaps most promising of all, the participants gained an average of 7% grip strength, in just one week!
Muscle and Cardiovascular Endurance
This second study was performed on mice. They were given a milligram of Epicatechin for every kilogram of body weight, and it resulted in an increase in nitric oxide (which is associated with both an increase in cardiovascular endurance and muscle endurance) that persisted even when the mice were not exercising.
This is critical for athletes taking a break from endurance training, or those who have been temporarily sidelined due to injury: it appears that Epicatechin can help you maintain your fitness levels even in the absence of exercise!
The final study I’ll mention found that dark chocolate consumption--dark chocolate if you remember, has the highest content of Epicatechin out of any commonly-eaten foods--leads to reduced body fat even when accompanied by significant caloric intake. The conclusion was that Epicatechin has effects on both fat loss and muscle gain.
For General Health
Researchers and users haven’t yet zeroed in on an optimum daily Epicatechin dosage (at least not yet), but they are moving toward consensus. If you aren’t after muscle gain, but are instead looking to consume Epicatechin to increase your general health, then 30-50 grams of dark chocolate per day might just do the trick.
On the higher end, 100-120 milligrams of daily Epicatechin (in the form of supplements) will almost certainly be enough for anyone to experience many of the general benefits listed above.
If you are bodybuilding, you won’t be able to consume enough Epicatechin simply by eating foods in which it’s found (that’d be a lot of wine). For bodybuilding, you’ll need to find a good Epicatechin supplement; we’ll list our favorites below. To see significant muscle gains, an increase in muscle endurance and recovery, and a boost in cardio, the consensus is that you’ll want to take at least 200mg of Epicatechin daily.
However, some bodybuilders have found that they see the greatest benefits at a daily dose of upwards of 300mg, some even closer to 400mg. In the interest of cost-effectiveness, though, it’s probably best to start with 250mg and see how you feel. You can always raise the dosage if necessary.
Here’s what users have to say about Epicatechin:
“Amazing product. I've been taking Epicat[echin] for 3 weeks now and I’m seeing great gains in the gym. My reps and weight are increasing and I’m seeing muscle mass forming in my measurements. I would recommend this product.”
“Excellent recovery help.”
“Took [a] month off and back on again; makes a world of difference just in healing time for me. No issues with upping dose this time around as well. Solid product!”
“Best product out there, recommend it.”
“This is my second order of Epicatechin. A notable difference in strength and also recovery.”
The Best Epicatechin Supplements
Olympus Labs has some of the best branding and packaging, and a great product to boot. With Ep1logue, Olympus Labs promises to boost Epicatechin absorption by between 200-600%. Reviewers of the product, numerous in number, have observed positive effects across a ton of different training regimens and reg ranges.
Epicat is a great product. It is packed with 300mg of Epicatechin per serving, and formulated for maximum bioavailability--you’ll absorb more of the epicatechin and see great benefits.
EpiMuscle is a premium Epicatechin supplement produced by a quality company. Enhanced Athlete uses an FDA-registered facility, and packs a whopping 250mg into each capsule of the highest quality Epicatechin, which makes a single capsule the optimal serving size. The company is also supremely trustworthy, and entirely transparent about their blend. Two thumbs up.
At GymArray, we strive to offer the best products on the market, and in our eyes, EpiMuscle stands out above the rest. We’re so confident that we offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you are looking to try using an Epicatechin supplement, either for bodybuilding or general health maintenance, there’s no reason to wait! Click here to check out EpiMuscle by Enhanced Athlete.