The importance of protein is pretty well known in the world of athletics. Even the average Jack and Jill driving around have started to understand that protein plays a critical role in daily health and function. Not only that, but if you’re keen to keep your waistline in check and build muscle, then pounding protein is an absolute must.
No time is more critical to consuming protein than around your workout window, as your body is best suited to put it to use for muscle recovery, repair, and growth. But what if there was a way the enhance the muscle-building potential of your peri-workout protein, improving the way your body uses that protein and boosts muscle protein synthesis even more, for bigger, better gains?
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It just so happens there is, with a revolutionary ingredient called Velositol.
We’ve got all the info ahead on this protein-potentiating powerhouse ahead, and why it should be included with every post-workout whey protein shake you drink going forward.
What is Velositol?
Velositol® is a patented amylopectin chromium complex clinically shown to double the anabolic effects of whey protein. In other words, adding Velositol to your post workout shake can significantly increase muscle protein synthesis, the key factor in muscle growth (i.e. gains) and recovery.
Developed by Nutrition 21, makers of the “super Arginine” pump-enhancer Nitrosigine, Velositol is a unique combination of:
- 1000 mcg patented, modified-release, trivalent chromium
- 1800 mg specialized, highly soluble, non-GMO amylopectin
Amylopectin is a water-soluble polysaccharide and highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants. It is one of the two components of starch, the other being amylose. If you’re familiar with highly branched cyclic dextrin (Cluster Dextrin®), you’ve got some experience with amylopectin as Cluster Dextrin is made from the breakdown of amylopectin.
Hydrolyzing the starch molecules in amylopectin gives Cluster Dextrin® its rapid-digesting qualities, allowing it to quickly pass through the stomach into the intestine and onto your muscles for use an energy during training. But Cluster Dextrin isn’t our focus here, so let’s get back to Velositol!
Aside from Velositol improving muscle protein synthesis rates when paired with whey protein, additional preclinical has also shown positive effects on increasing muscle protein synthesis when the novel ingredient is combined with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and pea protein.
So, how does some magical combination of chromium and amylopectin boost the power of protein?
Let’s find out!
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How Does Velositol Work?
Understanding how Velositol works requires a bit of understanding of how muscle protein synthesis works in the body, and how protein intake affects that process. Research has pretty clearly established that muscle protein synthesis is the process responsible for muscle building, and that consuming protein can enhance or “potentiates” the process of muscle protein synthesis. 
FYI, mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) is the cellular protein that plays a key role in building lean body mass and when activated (“turned on”), it stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis starts immediately after you begin exercising, and remains active for up to 48 hours after you’ve finished training. 
Now, exercise enhances the insulin sensitivity of your muscles, meaning they’re more receptive to the amino acids (and other nutrients) you feed them following training, increasing your body’s chance of using those post-workout nutrients for muscle building rather than fat storage. You probably know this post-exercise timeframe by it’s more catchy market-savvy name -- the “anabolic window.”
Food + Exercise = Greater MPS
Consuming food or supplements that increase essential amino acid levels and insulin levels during and after exercise is critical to boosting muscle protein synthesis, and therefore, muscle growth. This is why you see coaches, trainers, and supplement companies advocating consuming products packed with amino acids. Yes, exercise alone will increase muscle protein synthesis, and food alone will as well, but combined the two form a dynamic duo more powerful than Maverick and Goose, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of the enhanced muscle building potential?
That’s where Velositol comes in. It takes the rolling fire started by the combination of exercise and protein and throws lighter fluid on it, making protein synthesis that much higher, as much as 50% higher!
It All Starts with Chromium
Velositol was created to enhance the increase in muscle protein synthesis from protein intake and exercise. It all begins with chromium, an essential trace mineral that has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, and due to this, it also may improve the molecular mechanism of muscle protein synthesis. 
Additionally, Velositol may also work by enhancing the function of myokines.
What are Myokines?
Myokines are a muscle-fiber derived peptides (small proteins) generated and secreted by the body in response to muscular contractions. They may act as signaling molecules to various organs, thereby impacting metabolic changes induced by exercise as well as reshaping skeletal muscle. 
The potential role of exercise-induced myokines. Skeletal muscle expresses and releases myokines into the circulation. 
Two of the more important myokines are musclin and fractalkine. Why are these two tiny proteins important?
Well, disrupted activity of musclin has been documented to reduce aerobic capacity, mitochondrial count, and muscle oxidative capacity.  Fractalkine plays a role in muscle regeneration and recovery following injury and is believed to significantly impact hypertrophy. 
Basically, these two proteins are really, really important for performance and muscle growth.
One Last Possible Mechanism of Action
The other component of Velositol we haven’t really addressed yet, as far as its ability to enhance the anabolic effects of protein is amylopectin. This polysaccharide (complex sugar) rapidly stimulates insulin release, and could potentially lead to insulin resistance if all you ate was a diet high in amylopectin. 
However, when combining the fast insulin release of amylopectin with the heightened insulin sensitivity of muscle cells induced by chromium, Velositol can safely raise insulin levels to improve amino acid uptake into muscle cells and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Interestingly enough, the research on Velositol conducted so far demonstrates it significantly increases muscle protein synthesis with a non-significant increase in insulin. And on top of that, blood glucose (blood sugar) levels remained in a healthy, normal range.
Speaking of research, let’s dig a little deeper into the assorted preclinical and clinical studies conducted and published thus far on Velositol.
To date, three preclinical studies and one published study have been completed on Velositol. Let’s start with the preliminary preclinical studies to see the early findings on this protein-enhancing compound.
The purpose of the three additional preclinical studies presented at ISSN was to evaluate and examine further effects of Velositol when added to a different protein source (other than whey protein); such as BCAAs, pea protein, and increasing doses of whey protein. The study results were also used to determine if the Velositol benefits seen in the clinical study could also apply to higher doses of whey protein and potentially raise the “ceiling effect” seen in MPS with increasing doses of protein.
Study #1: Velositol + BCAA
The first preliminary study conducted with Velositol used it in combination with a dose of everyone’s favorite pre and intra-workout supplement, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). Researchers observed that when BCAA were combined with Velositol, exercise-induced muscle protein synthesis was 25% higher than that of BCAA alone. 
The results of this early study planted the idea in researchers’ minds that Velositol may potentially enhance the effects of whey protein, given its high BCAA content.
Study #2: Velositol + Pea Protein
The second preclinical study to a left turn down veg alley and paired Velositol alongside pea protein, one of the few plant proteins that contain a full essential amino acid profile and has been shown to be just as effective as whey protein for building muscle. 
Following the addition of Velositol to pea protein, researchers noted the combination enhanced muscle protein synthesis by 43% over consuming just pea protein alone.  This study highlights the possibility that Velositol’s protein-boosting benefits extend beyond that of only whey proteins and can potentially be paired with different kinds of proteins, including plant-based ones.
Study #3: Velositol + Various Doses of Whey Protein
The third preclinical study involved 8-week old male Wistar rats, weighing approximately 250 – 300g, were randomized into three groups:
- Exercise control
- Exercise + whey protein
- Exercise + whey protein + Velositol
Note: Doses of whey protein increased from 6–40g equivalents.
Treatment group breakdown. 
All subjects (rats) performed a 10-day treadmill acclimation schedule that gradually increased in speed and duration ultimately ending up at a speed of 26 m/min for a length of 15 minutes. 
On the day of the actual testing, rats exercised at 26 m/min for 2 hours (that’s a really long run!) and then tube-fed their particular treatment (water, whey, or whey + velositol) immediately following exercise.
Researchers noted that both whey and whey + Velositol groups increased serum musclin levels compared to the exercise control group; however, the rats receiving Velositol + whey protein had significantly higher musclin levels than the whey protein-only group. Additionally, increases in musclin levels were highly correlated with the increases seen in muscle protein synthesis of the rats.
Figure 3. Increases in MPS (measured as FSR) and musclin levels seen in the active treatment group were highly correlated with each other (r2=0.921, p<0.0001), suggesting that Velositol’s ability to increase FSR may be due to the increase in the release of the muscle myokine, musclin. 
Published Clinical Study
A randomized, double-blind, single-dose, active-controlled crossover study, published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, recruited 10 men and women ages 22-34 to determine the potential benefit of pairing Velositol with a 6g dose of whey protein isolate. 
On two separate occasions, test subjects consumed a single dose of Velositol (2 grams) along with 6 grams of whey protein isolate (containing 2.7g essential amino acids) or 6 grams of the same whey protein isolate alone. Subjects performed eight sets of bilateral isotonic leg extensions at a load equivalent to 80% of each person’s estimated one rep maximum (1RM). Note that subjects were asked to avoid exercising for 72 hours prior to each testing session.
The study took over an eight-hour time frame in which three muscle biopsies were taken at hours 2, 4 and 8 to measure muscle protein synthesis. FYI, biopsies are where the researchers go in and remove a chunk of actual muscle tissue, doesn’t that sound fun?
In between testing dates, a washout period of 5-7 days was used prior to subjects crossing over to the opposite condition and scheduling their second testing session.
At the conclusion of the trial, researchers determined that muscle protein synthesis increased in both groups, but the fractional rate of protein synthesis (FSR) of the Velositol group increased by 48% from baseline compared to only a 24% increase in whey-only group. 
Read that again - Velositol DOUBLED the muscle-building potential of whey protein!
In case you were wondering, the fractional synthesis rate to determine muscle protein synthesis was measured with a radiolabeled phenylalanine tracer, and researchers also monitored glucose and insulin levels. Subjects consuming Velositol had a non-significant increase in insulin, and blood glucose levels stayed in the normal, healthy range.
Velositol BenefitsAll of that science, technical, nerdy stuff is all well and good, but you’re probably wondering what real-life benefits this translates to. Well, in simpler terms Velositol can offer four key benefits:
Increases Muscle Protein SynthesisThe most obvious benefit comes from the droves of studies we just finished discussing. Velositol, when combined with protein, increases muscle protein synthesis in the body, which means better muscle growth and recovery.
Promotes Lean Body MassAs we age, our bodies begin to break down more and more, and beginning around age 30, individuals can start losing muscle mass at a rate of about 1% per year. This age-related loss of muscle is known as sarcopenia. With less muscle, you’re more prone to injury, have a slower metabolism, and increased chance of getting fat. But, through the anabolic potentiating effects of Velositol, it could prove a way for even the elderly to combat the deleterious effects of age-related muscle wasting.
Enhances RecoveryCatabolism (muscle breakdown) occurs when muscle protein breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis. During times of injury and recovery, the body’s need for protein and amino acids is considerably increased. Aside from feeding your body more protein to provide the raw materials it needs to repair and rebuild, adding Velositol could enhance the recovery process even further by upregulating muscle protein synthesis, making you heal faster and get back in the gym or on the field that much sooner.
Improves Insulinogenic FunctionVelositol includes chromium which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue, thereby increasing amino acid uptake during and after your workout, helping you get more gains from your workout. Velositol also induces a non-significant rise in insulin levels, which bodes well for long-term health. Dosage Studies have determined the effective dose of Velositol to be 2 grams per day. It can be taken anytime during the day -- before, during, or after training to enhance muscle protein synthesis.
Any Side Effects?As it currently stands, no serious adverse side effects have been reported from consuming Velositol. Numerous safety studies have been done with Velositol and it is currently submitted for GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) review. Furthermore, the ingredients in Velositol (chromium and amylopectin) are certified GRAS and/or approved as a food additive, meaning they can be used in foods and sports supplements.
Will it Affect Flavor of My Protein Shake?As much muscle-building potential Velositol offers, it doesn’t really mean a whole lot if adding it to your protein shake turns it into a batch of putrid, sour-tasting dribble. Lucky for you, Velositol is flavorless, meaning it won’t affect the flavor or taste of whatever product it’s mixed.
Other ApplicationsVelositol is ideal in whey protein shakes, but it’s also being used in protein drinks (including ready-to-drink -- RTDs), meal replacement bars, protein bars, and energy bars, with the consideration that these foods can be consumed up to three times a day.
TakeawayVelositol may seem like a simple combination of two common compounds, but its long-term benefits for muscle growth and recovery could be profound. If you’re serious about getting the most from training and protein, adding Velositol into your daily diet is a must. Keep an eye out for the wave of sports supplements soon to hit the shelf including this powerful protein booster!
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