Berberine: Blood Sugar, Body Fat and Other Health Benefits

Berberine belongs to a small group of natural products that have not only been used for thousands of years, but also are supported by significant amounts of research. If you’re not using it to support your health, you could seriously be missing out.

The first mention of a berberine-containing compound for medical use dates back to 200 A.D. Chinese medicine doctors have used it for treating neurological and digestive dysfunction for thousands of years.

You can extract berberine from goldenseal, yellow root, Amur cork tree, Chinese goldthread, prickly poppy, and Californian poppy.

Berberine capsules are bright yellow and taken at usual doses of 500 mg, up to three times per day. It has a strong safety record.

Like curcumin, it acts on the body through multiple pathways, including its effect on AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK regulates metabolism in multiple organs as well as in your muscle tissue.

As an aside, I’ve taken 1000 mg at bedtime consistently for the past couple of years.

Use What I Use

Thorne sets the standard in supplement quality, purity, and efficacy. That’s why it’s been a consistent part of my nutrition plan for the past decade. Register for an account through my dispensary, and get an exclusive discount every time you order, personalized protocols, and loyalty rewards.

Cardiovascular Health

To emphasize the impact berberine has on heart health, check out the following quote:

Berberine has an antiarrhythmic effect, improves ejection fraction and enhances the function of the left ventricle and general physical capacity in congestive heart failure. Berberine decreases blood pressure by reducing cholesterol via several mechanisms, e.g., it stimulates the capture of cholesterol in serum by liver, stimulates the disposal of LDL-C from blood, reduces the absorption of cholesterol in bowels, enhances cholesterol excretion in excrements and stimulates liver exchange of cholesterol and the formation of bile acid.

Och A, et al.

With just this one health benefit alone, you have to wonder why more doctors don’t talk about berberine.

Research shows it improves the heart’s performance while improving cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure and triglycerides. That’s pretty impressive, coming from a natural substance.

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Chronically elevated blood sugar leads to insulin resistance and type II diabetes. It may also cause premature aging, cognitive decline, and cancer.

More than half of our adult population has insulin resistance, so to use a recently overused term, insulin resistance could be considered an epidemic.

Following a good strength training program combined with a high-protein, low-carb or ketogenic diet is the most effective way to restore insulin sensitivity. Using berberine could speed up the process, though.

Research shows berberine is as effective as Metformin in restoring insulin sensitivity and normalizing blood sugar levels. Studies show it provides benefits on its own, as well as when combined with chromium picolinate, inositol, curcumin, and banaba.

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are often insulin resistant as well. At a dose of 500 mg per day, berberine supplementation not only improved insulin sensitivity and reduced elevated androgen levels in women with PCOS, it also improved pregnancy rates.

Body Composition

Berberine suppresses adipogenesis and lipogenesis, or the growth of fat cells.

Combined with its effect in lowering blood sugar, and thereby limiting insulin secretion, berberine may be a good alternative therapy for obesity, or for simply maintaining a healthy body fat level.

Of course, if you’re serious about improving your body composition, you’ll need to follow a good workout program and eat a healthy, high-protein diet as well. You can’t just rely on a supplement like berberine.

Cognitive Function

Most adults know someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or some form of dementia. Seeing someone literally lose their mind is both sad and scary. If you know the feeling, and are serious about avoiding cognitive decline, consider using berberine along with other healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

Berberine also inhibits the brain’s reward center after using drugs like cocaine, morphine, and alcohol, and enhances production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates brain cell production and may reduce symptoms of depression.

Cancer Support

Berberine interacts with cancer through many mechanisms. It induces apoptosis, or programmed cell death, may slow progression of some cancers, and supports normal inflammation levels, which can help enhance cancer therapies. That said, research does not show that berberine alone is a cancer therapy, but that it may augment other existing treatments.

Obviously, it would be crucial to consult with your doctor about berberine if you do have cancer.

Summary

To summarize, I’ll quote another published paper:

Berberine has multiple therapeutic actions, including antioxidant, anti‐inflammatory, antitumour, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, hypolipidemic, and hypoglycemic actions.

Fan J, et al.

If this sounds like something you’d benefit from, talk to your healthcare practitioner about how to weave it into your nutrition plan.

Cicero, Arrigo F. G., et al. “Berberine and Monacolin Effects on the Cardiovascular Risk Profile of Women with Oestroprogestin-Induced Hypercholesterolemia.” High Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Prevention: The Official Journal of the Italian Society of Hypertension, vol. 21, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 221–26. PubMed, doi:10.1007/s40292-014-0052-5.

Li, Chao, et al. “Berberine Mitigates High Glucose-Induced Podocyte Apoptosis by Modulating Autophagy via the MTOR/P70S6K/4EBP1 Pathway.” Life Sciences, vol. 243, Feb. 2020, p. 117277. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117277.

Och, Anna, et al. “Biological Activity of Berberine—A Summary Update.” Toxins, vol. 12, no. 11, Nov. 2020, p. 713. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/toxins12110713.

Rondanelli, M., et al. “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Management: A Review of the Possible Amazing Role of Berberine.” Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, vol. 301, no. 1, 2020, pp. 53–60. PubMed Central, doi:10.1007/s00404-020-05450-4.

Wang, Ye, et al. “The Anti-Cancer Mechanisms of Berberine: A Review.” Cancer Management and Research, vol. 12, Jan. 2020, pp. 695–702. PubMed Central, doi:10.2147/CMAR.S242329.

Xie, Liangzhen, et al. “The Effect of Berberine on Reproduction and Metabolism in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Control Trials.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, vol. 2019, 2019, p. 7918631. PubMed, doi:10.1155/2019/7918631.

Get stronger, leaner, fitter, faster, and healthier, no matter where you're starting from.

With a variety of programs to choose from, I guarantee you'll find one you love. If not, I'll give you your money back.

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

If you don't love my training programs, I'll return your membership fees at any time during your first 30 days.*

*Does not apply to custom programs

I've created a wide variety of fitness programs. Each is unique based on your experience, fitness level, and goals. As a client, you can move from one program to another as your fitness level and goals change. Lumberjacked and Resilient are the two most popular programs.

Every Client Gets...

  • Periodized training program: Annual programming with 4-12 week training blocks based on specific fitness goals (i.e. strength, conditioning, lean mass, speed, power, etc.)
  • Exercise, set, rep prescriptions: Specified training variables to make ensure you get the results expected in each training session
  • Training history record: Sets and reps are saved after recording them for reference during future training sessions to help ensure you push yourself beyond past performances 
  • Video/written exercise demonstrations and instructions
  • Food tracking
  • Group messaging, training technique critiques, support, and encouragement
  • App syncing with Apple, Garmin, MyFitnessPal, and more
  • Ongoing 2-way messaging with me to answer personal fitness questions and provide support

Pick a program to start with. If you're still unsure after reading the descriptions, email me.

Beginner

Start here if you've never followed a structured strength training program or if you feel like you need to rebuild a base of strength and mobility before following something more intense.

Gym Program

Intro to Resistance Training (IRT)

By using primarily machines, you'll build strength and improve body composition while gaining an understanding of how your muscles should feel while training them. Plus, you'll feel more confident about doing the movements correctly as the machines add an extra level of stability while guiding you through the proper range of motion.

Program Summary

  • Program length: 12 weeks
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Goals: Improved strength, mobility, and body composition
  • Workout frequency: 3 days per week
  • Equipment: Resistance machines, bodyweight, and cardio machines.

Tap the button below and fill out the form to get started.

Gym Program

Genesis (Intro to Free Weights)

This program is what you need to get confident and comfortable performing the exercises most important for developing strength, mobility, and physical stamina.

You'll gain strength, increase lean muscle mass, and look and feel younger than most young adults! Most clients who complete Genesis transition to either Lumberjacked or Resilient.

Program Summary

  • Program length: 12 weeks
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Goals: Improved strength, mobility, and body composition, while gaining proficiency in the major free weight exercises used in more advanced programs.
  • Workout frequency: 4 days per week

Tap the button below and fill out the form to get started.

At Home Program

Beginner Bodyweight

Not yet ready for the gym? Need to take things slowly? This 16-week program is just right for you.

Program Summary

  • Program length: 16 weeks
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Goals: Improved strength, mobility, stamina, and strength
  • Workout frequency: 3-5 days per week
  • Equipment: Bodyweight for first 2 months, resistance bands for months 3 and 4.

Tap the button below and fill out the form to get started.

Intermediate / Experienced

When you're confident about doing most movements correctly (squats, lunges, presses, rows, etc.), you're ready for the following programs. You don't have to be in peak physical shape to start them, but they'll help you get to that point if you follow them and your nutrition recommendations.

Gym Program

Lumberjack Icon

Lumberjacked

Most popular program for middle-aged men

Build muscle you can see through a flannel shirt and strength and stamina to get the job done, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. This is not for wimps.

  • 3-5 workouts per week, 50-70 minutes per session
  • Gym membership or full home gym required
  • Focus is on building muscle and strength first, with the secondary benefit of fat loss and improved stamina
  • Programming is ongoing, based on an annual calendar so you don't need to change programs, the program changes over time for you.

Gym Program

Resilient

Most popular program for middle-aged women

Build conditioning and stamina that not only gets you leaner and fitter, it also helps you handle the stress and pressure of everyday life.

  • 4-5 workouts per week, 50-60 minutes per session
  • Gym membership or full home gym required
  • Focus is on building physical endurance and a lean physique first, and strength second, using mostly resistance training with some cardio
  • Programming is ongoing, based on an annual calendar so you don't need to change programs, the program changes over time for you.

At Home Program

Hit It At Home

This intense, intermediate program is intended for those who've exercised in the past and need to do resistance training at home for a while. It's also a great complement to an endurance athlete's program.

During your first two months, you'll do primarily bodyweight exercises three days per week, and Month 3 will require a small amount of equipment: TRX bands or rings, kettlebells or dumbbells, and resistance bands. Month 3 requires four days of resistance training workouts per week.

As with other programs, you can message me directly with questions as you work through your program. Nutrition targets and tracking are also included.

Look at what clients are saying!

Google Reviews
5.0
Based on 20 reviews
I committed to Tom's program because I needed a plan and 50 workouts in I am stronger, more fit, and growing in motivation. Success breads success and the program is challenging, dynamic, and keeps me engaged in my plan. Super appreciate the app and ease of following and tracking the workouts inside the community of other people following the same program.
Hands down best training, your search is over, stop and commit here. Here you will find workouts that give you strength, mental clarity, metabolic efficiency, are balanced for performance in your daily life. An added bonus, Tom shares wisdom behind just workouts sharing ways to master nutrition and lifestyle. Join here. You won’t be disappointed.
Great program that will improve not just your ACFT score but you're overall fitness as well.
I started with Tom's free ACFT program and transitioned to his subscription-based programming. I enjoy the variety and sense of community through his virtual format. I benefit from his military pricing, and it's a great value. Through his program, I have exceeded my fitness goals.
Over the years following Tom's strength and conditioning program, I have never been stronger and healthier than I am now. The workouts are straightforward and easy to follow. And he's always available to give advice and suggestions for form. I highly recommend Tom's program to everyone wanting to improve their strength and life overall.
Tom is a wealth of knowledge and one of a kind! I’ve been following his advice and been a part of his fitness programs for a number of years. He loves what he does and is very passionate about helping others reach their fitness goals.
Recommend without hesitation. Started training with Tom to improve my fitness for the Army Combat Fitness Test. It worked! Now I'm on a women's specific program to augment my triathlon training. The app interface is easy to use and track your progress plus meals if you are so inclined. I like the one-stop ship approach to fitness and health. What I appreciate the most is not having to think about planning my next workout.
The best training program I have ever used. Excellent instruction, a great community and an easy to follow health and fitness routine which has literally changed my body as well as adding vitality and longevity to my life.
Coach Nikkola is responsive and very involved in my training program. He has helped me work through multiple injuries while maintaining progress and physical readiness.The workouts are fantastic and the app is easy to use!
Tom’s training is amazing!! I’ve consistently used his program for 3 years now and absolutely love it.
Training with Tom has been the single best thing I have ever done for my fitness!I have thought about moving on, trying other scenarios, but I haven't because of what Tom has to offer with the training, programming, the connections I've made and have with other people who train with Tom.I am not the leanest I've ever been, but, I am most certainly the strongest I've ever been. And that's a credit to Tom's programming! Absolutely love it!
Tom's program is simple and transforming! He is responsive and always seeks your success.
Hands down the best program I have been exposed to in my life. Tom provides straight forward, highly effective approaches to your health on a personal level. Personally, I am stronger, more mobile, and feel better than I did 20 years ago. Highly recommend Tom’s services!
Great program, especially for AD Army
Love the workouts and love the app. Tom is a great dude and wouldn’t recommend anyone else!
Best program that keeps me consistent and always having a plan at the gym that I don’t have to think about.
Strength training is a non-negotiable for me. Not having to figure out my own strength training program has been huge for simplifying my life and helped me be successful in my fitness goals. Tom is an expert in his field and I have seen gains after gains by following his program for the last 2+ years. Whether you are beginner or expert you will see growth following Tom's programs. I can't recommend Vigor strength+conditioning enough!
I’m a 72 year old semi retired contractor. In my 16th week of training with Tom Nikola . It’s changed my life.I feel 20 years younger, I’m stronger more flexible no more sore joints. It’s not easy or simple but if you do the work It will work for you. Skip
I’ve been working with Tom since 2019. I started with his ACFT prep program and it got me prepared for the ACFT. Shortly after I became a full member and Tom has been my trainer ever since. He is knowledgeable and is a no BS kind of guy. He uses research and years of experience to back his training programs and diet recommendations. He is responsive and truly cares about his clients. 10/10 recommend. It doesn’t matter if your a beginner or a life long lifter, Tom is your man.
Next Reviewsjs_loader
Share to...