The Unwinder is reader-supported, meaning we may earn an affiliate commission if you buy through a link from our site.


Berberine Bodybuilding Benefits: What Are They And How Should Bodybuilders Use Berberine For Peak Performance?

Berberine is a bioactive alkaloid that’s often extracted from barberries. Berberine has risen in popularity within the last decade as studies have demonstrated its effects in restoring normal metabolic function. What’s more impressive, recent studies have indicated berberine’s potential for reversing metabolic syndrome as effectively as some forms of medication.

Berberine acts on the enzyme AMPK (adenosine monophosphate kinase) to increase glucose and fat metabolism and essentially boost the action of the hormone insulin. This effect, in turn, reduces glucose and fatty acid levels in the blood which encourages fat loss and improves energy storage in the muscles. In addition to its effects on metabolism, berberine possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for enhancing recovery following intense training sessions.

Even though the use of berberine for bodybuilding specifically hasn’t been explored thus far in research, we can translate its effects for boosting bodybuilding performance based upon studies related to metabolism, glucose intake, and recovery.

Berberine Bodybuilding Benefits, Dosage, And Recommendations For Use

Why Do Bodybuilders Use Berberine?

Bodybuilders strive to reduce their levels of body fat as low as possible for competitions. By utilizing the effects of berberine on metabolism, bodybuilders are able to exploit these fat loss benefits.

A review of human and animal studies found that berberine downregulates genes that are responsible for cholesterol absorption in the intestine to prevent fat accumulation

Berberine also activates brown fat thermogenesis which can improve energy levels. Unlike white fat (an endocrine organ), brown fat keeps us warm and controls energy expenditure. A study concluded that berberine increases brown fat accumulation, but limits weight gain, reflecting an ideal balance between white and brown fat.

Aside from altered fat metabolism, berberine has a similar action to insulin and improves glucose uptake into cells. For bodybuilders, this is great news as increasing glucose uptake boosts energy production. In other words, berberine is able to prevent cell breakdown and increase energy storage, and both processes are central to building muscle mass.

In addition to berberine’s effects on metabolism and enhancing muscle mass, it also combats the damage associated with oxidative stress that follows intense training. Oxidative stress build-up damages vital proteins which slows down muscle healing and affects heart health. As a protective measure, taking berberine may reduce oxidative stress markers, though this has only been shown in a small cohort of non-athletes.

What Dosage Of Berberine Do Bodybuilders Use?

Most bodybuilders take between 1-1.5g of berberine a day, divided into 2-3 servings. Generally, bodybuilders use berberine in the form of capsules as it’s easier to digest and can be taken more easily with meals.

Our preferred brand, Thorne Research, offers Berberine-500. This supplement provides 1g of berberine a day, divided into two capsules. If you’re looking for a slightly stronger dose, Dr. Whitaker’s Berberine GlucoGold contains 1,500 mg of berberine HCl, cinnamon, and chromium which work together to promote insulin sensitivity and optimal absorption.

When Should Bodybuilders Use Berberine?

As berberine acts on metabolism, it’s best to take berberine before or with meals. Due to berberine’s effect on blood glucose, you shouldn’t take berberine on an empty stomach, otherwise, you may risk experiencing hypoglycemia.

Berberine has a half-life of around 5 hours, so it’s best to take berberine with breakfast and your evening meal to maintain consistent levels of berberine.

How Long Do Bodybuilders Use Berberine?

Most participants in studies conducted on berberine have taken it for a duration of 3-months in order to experience significant results. However, long-term use can increase your risk of experiencing gastrointestinal issues as berberine is a mild antibiotic.

Thus, it may be best to use berberine in 3-4 month cycles or take probiotics alongside berberine if taking it for longer amounts of time to protect your gut.

Take-Home Message

Bodybuilding relies on efficient metabolic processes to translate intense training into one’s desired physique. Through its action on a key enzyme involved in both glucose and fat metabolism, berberine encourages energy storage in muscle cells and promotes fat loss. Moreover, berberine alters the ratio of white fat to brown fat to increase energy levels. 

Berberine is also essential for fighting oxidative stress and improving muscle healing following a heavy session at the gym. As a bodybuilder, it’s recommended to take between 1-1.5g of berberine a day, divided into 2-3 servings, and taken with meals. After 3-4 months, take a break to protect your gut from berberine’s antibiotic effect.

Looking To Buy Berberine? Read Our Review Of The Best Berberine Supplements.

Studies You Can Read About Berberine

Editor’s note: we are regularly updating this review. If you see any problems, weird interpretations of the data, or just want to say hi, please reach out to

Photo by Pikx By Panther from Pexels

About the author

Lucy is a UK-based freelance writer focusing on biological content, whether it may involve animal biology or health and well being. Having achieved a First Class Zoology degree at the University of Bristol, Lucy has a diverse knowledge base and enjoys writing for others. Lucy is also a medical student in London who enjoys, in her free time, weight lifting at the gym or hiking along precarious routes in the great outdoors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *