Epicatechin is one several bioactive compounds known as a flavonol, which has been shown to have a unique ability to improve overall health and performance.
Despite having multiple flavanols found in coca extract, only epicatechin has been shown to be “in a league of its own” above the rest due to its health and performance boosting properties.
Known to the scientific community as (-)- epicatechin, or “minus epicatechin“, its most predominant natural source comes from cocoa extract in the range of 1.5-2.5 mg per gram.
For you chocolate lovers out there:
You’ll find higher, and more pure, concentrations of flavanols (like epicatechin) in the darker (and less processed) chocolate.
Aside from cocoa extract, which is the most common and easily obtained source, epicatechin can also be ingested through common healthy foods like:
Epicatechin ChocolateApples (6.1 mg/100 g)
Blackberries (4.7 mg/100 g)
Black grapes (8.7 mg/100 g)
Brewed green tea (2.1 mg/100 g)
Brewed black tea (8.3 mg/100 g)
Cherries (7.0 mg/100 g)
Fava beans (7.8 mg/100 g)
Pears (3.8 mg/100 g)
Raspberries (4.1 mg/100 g)
Red table wine (3.3 mg/100 g)
Just to provide some context, chocolate sources contain the following amounts of epicatechin:
Cocoa (26.2 mg/100 g)
Dark chocolate (41.5 mg/100 g)
Milk chocolate (6.3 mg/100 g)
*All amounts are based on 100 grams of the specified food.
When supplementing in proper dosages (see below), epicatechin has been shown to:
Increase muscle growth and strength
Improve muscle endurance
Increase blood flow and nitric oxide
Improve insulin sensitivity
Lower cholesterol; and
Improve blood pressure
Epicatechin for Muscle Growth and Strength
As described above, acts as a regulator for muscle growth.
Essentially, this prevents your muscles from growing too large, too quickly.
Known as a substance that works as a myostatin inhibitor, follistatin helps to prevent myostatin levels from rising too high.
This, in essence, allows for a more controlled rate of muscle growth.
Below, is an excerpt on research highly relevant to the relationship between myostatin and follistatin, entitled, “Inhibition of Myostatin with Emphasis on Follistatin as Therapy for Muscle Disease”:
Strategies to increase muscle size and strength through inhibition of the myostatin pathway show promise for clinical application. Inhibition of the myostatin pathway represents an alternative strategy to improve functional outcomes. Preclinical data that support this approach clearly demonstrate the potential for blocking the myostatin pathway. Follistatin has emerged as a powerful antagonist of myostatin that can increase muscle mass and strength.
Epicatechin Myostatin InhibitorThis data shows that all of the hoopla surrounding the concept of myostatin inhibiting supplements to be grounded with scientific research, which we love to see.
Epicatechin Study #1
One of the more exciting pilot studies conducted on the relationship between myostatin and follistatin shows significant promise for the application of epicatechin supplementation:
The study, “Effects of (-) epicatechin on Molecular Modulators of Skeletal Muscle Growth and Differentiation” was performed in human subjects (n=6, average age 41± 5 years, and weight 77.4 ± 7.7 kg).
The goal was to assess the effects of epicatechin treatment on muscle strength and plasma levels of myostatin and follistatin. The 6 human subjects were treated for 7 days with a dosage of 1mg/kg/day.
The results were nothing short of exciting:
Within 7 days, follistatin levels increased by 49.2%, while myostatin levels decreased by 16.6%. Additionally, the subjects experienced a 7% increase in grip strength.
Unfortunately, there were no control (placebo) groups during the study, so the scientific community takes this research with a grain of salt.
It’s a shame this original study wasn’t executed with all the necessary variables, but we’re pleased to see a 2nd study as well.