When most of us think alcohol, we think of the alcohol we've consumed for thousands of years to believe we can dance -- ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol.
But there are hundreds of less common alcohols that occur in nature. One in particular has serious benefits for strength, endurance, and body composition.
Sugar cane and spinach produce microscopic quantities of a waxy blend of alcohols, known collectively as policosanol. Policosanol can be subdivided into a spectrum of different alcohol structures, each numbered according to the length of their carbon chains.
If you’re looking to increase power, muscle mass, endurance, and reduce body fat, Octacosanol (the 8-carbon chain extract of policosanol), is the one you want.
This tasteless, powder extract is a novel, highly potent and heavily researched muscle oxygenation accelerator – and it does much, much more.
It's well-established that muscle grows faster when intra-muscular oxygen levels are elevated; under these circumstances, muscles are also able to reduce acidity during training.
“Participants in the Octacosanol Group gained 25% more muscle mass.”
In a 6-week study comparing an experimental group receiving octacosanol vs. placebo control, participants in the Octacosanol Group gained 25% more muscle mass.
Studies of octacosanol in humans have found increased pectoral strength, increased grip strength, and significantly improved reaction time.
Research has suggested that this unique extract (of an already extracted and concentrated base policosanol) improves the oxidative capacity of muscle tissue.
Even more astounding, with a very small dosage requirement, Octacosanol has shown the ability to spare muscle glycogen stores. This leaves a battery-like reserve of readily available energy for high-intensity bursts of power when required. What does this mean for athletes?
Extensive research showed extreme resistance to exhaustion in the Octacosanol Group vs. the Placebo Control Group that did not receive octacosanol supplementation. The results were astounding – the octacosanol group was able to maintain peak power over 180% longer than the control group.
“The Octacosanol Group was able to maintain peak power over 180% longer than the control group.”
The ability to increase performance through improved muscle tissue utilization of oxygen is a huge leap forward in supplementation. Other cited human studies confirm increased muscle endurance; athletes were able to train 45% longer before reaching exhaustion.
An army study looked on the effect of octacosanol supplementation on the performance of mountain warfare soldiers in high elevation (thin air) environments.
As anyone who’s ever trained above 5,000 ft. elevation can tell you, it takes time for the body to adjust to performing in a reduced oxygen, high elevation environment. During the first week at elevation, even simple physical tasks are incredibly draining -- unless you have access to octacosanol.
Military researchers found that soldiers supplementing with octacosanol were immediately able to perform at the same physical level as the thin-air-adapted soldiers who had been living and training at elevation.
“Soldiers supplementing with octacosanol were immediately able to perform at the same physical level as the thin-air adapted soldiers...”
The ability to crush more reps, with heavier weights, at a higher intensity allows athletes to deeply stimulate individual muscle fibers on a mass scale -- it's the perfect storm for spurring new muscle growth.
While the idea of a compound that can boost the body’s ability to breakdown fat for fuel is not new, the mechanism by which octacosanol does so is radically different. Because octacosanol increases fat burning without disrupting muscle-building, it is extremely interesting for strength athletes.
To appreciate just how interesting octacosanol’s effect on body composition is, indulge a quick review of how normal fat burning compounds work.
Most compounds that signal the body to breakdown fat are of a stimulant-nature (synephrine, ephedrine, yohimbe, etc). These ingredients trip a cellular switch called AMPk.
AMPk tells cells to burn fat, and AMPk activation can even promote endurance. The problem is AMPk works like a switch. The other position for that switch is called mTOR – and it tells muscle to grow.
It’s the "catch 22" of fat-burners: When fat burning ingredients switch on AMPk, they turn off mTOR (muscle-building).
Here’s where it gets really interesting: Octacosanol allows muscles to better utilize carbs and burn more fat without AMPk activation – enabling athletes to reduce body fat while keeping mTOR activated for muscle growth.
“Because octacosanol increases fat burning without disrupting muscle-building, it is extremely interesting for strength athletes.”
Instead of activating AMPk, octacosanol supplementation appears to reduce fat by increasing muscle glycogen storage and boosting the function of the Citric Cycle (also known as the Krebs Cycle, one of the major metabolic process by which the body converts fats into chemical energy).
Octacosanol may also aid recovery by improving sleep quality and reducing the negative effects of stress.
While human studies on the subject are in the early stages, animal research has shown promising indicators. Scientists in Japan studied the effect of octacosanol on mice placed in special cages designed to cause stress and disrupt sleep.
It was demonstrated that octacosanol significantly lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improved sleep quality. Summing up their findings, the Japanese researchers wrote:
Cortisol, a stress hormone that breaks down muscle, is also present in humans and rises after intense workouts. Keeping cortisol levels in check greatly improves post-workout recovery. If octacosanol has a similar effect in humans, it would certainly be something worth getting excited about.
So get excited.
In the lead up to the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government poured funding into human studies of competition-approved compounds that could provide its athletes with a competitive edge in the Games.
"Octacosanol reduced cortisol levels in athletes; researchers also found a small but significant increase in testosterone levels..."
At Beijing Sport University, researchers studied the effect of octacosanol on cortisol levels in Olympic athletes over a five-week period of observation and blood tests. They found octacosanol reduced cortisol levels in athletes.
While studying the blood-work, the Chinese researchers also found a small but significant increase in testosterone levels in the octacosanol-athlete group that likely further enhanced their athletes’ post-workout recovery.
While it should be noted the human study has not yet been replicated, there may be additional real-world evidence supporting its validity: both the Chinese and Japanese Olympic teams began providing their athletes with octacosanol.
The countries subsequently recorded their highest medal counts to date.
Octacosanol is very safe and has been studied in humans for over 60 years without issue. It does not have any side effects.
While it has the chemical structure of an alcohol, octacosanol does not cause intoxication.
Octacosanol is highly bio-available and is extremely well tolerated in the body.
Octacosanol is approved for all drug-tested competition.
Octacosanol occurs in trace amounts in policosanols; policosanols are found in tiny amounts in sugar cane, spinach, and wheat germ.
While nutrition sourced from whole foods is generally ideal, it is not possible to get adequate octacosanol dietarily.
It must be isolated, extracted from the broader spectrum of policosanols, and concentrated to an effective clinical dose.
That’s why we included the maximum effective 30mg dosage of isolated octacosanol from the most bio-available source in our pre-training product, UntappedTM.
In addition to the maximum effective dose of octacosanol, each serving of UntappedTM contains a broad matrix of the most researched and effective pre-workout ingredients available.
The expense and difficulty involved in extracting octacosanol makes it a risky ingredient for companies to work with, and these costs long kept octacosanol out of the supplements found in large retail shops.
As the mountain of research (and word of mouth) supporting its effectiveness grows, the industry has taken notice. More companies have recently begun adding octacosanol to their products.
However, the under-dosing of octacosanol is epidemic – when choosing an octacosanol product, check the label and be sure to use a supplement that provides at least 15mg per serving.
For those looking to obtain the best possible results: UntappedTM contains the strongest dose of octacosanol available – 30mg – two times more per serving than its closest competitor.