Garlic, Aged Garlic Extract, and the PAGG stack supplement

Tim Ferriss famously credits a passing vagrant for the reminder as to the powerful effects of garlic on weight loss.  But the credentials of garlic for fat burning do have more scientific roots to draw upon, particularly when it comes to cholesterol production – it’s a natural antioxidant, combating atherosclerosis and reducing low density cholesterol.  Garlic also forms a traditional part of the ‘Mediterranean diet’, often recommended for weight management and a healthy life (despite a very non-slow-carb emphasis on bread with most meals!)

PAGG stack and garlicAs well as in the field of fat loss, garlic has many other recorded health benefits.  Often referred to as ‘natures antibiotic’, garlic shows considerable antiseptic and anti-fungal properties due to its high proportion of sulphurous compounds – these also act as an insect repellent - and potentially a repellent of other humans, if consumed in large quantities!

Interestingly despite centuries of folklore the biochemical pathways with which garlic takes effect are not conclusively documented.  It is important to remember that as a natural substance, garlic comprises thousands of different constituent molecules, some of which have probably never been isolated and tested, and the data we have is empirical. 

Allicin, one of the most potent antioxidant extracts of garlic is at its strongest when the garlic itself is macerated and crushed, and quickly degrades after extraction – yet Tim Ferriss’ army of volunteers obtained their best results from aged garlic extract, which doesn’t contain any bioavailable allicin on delivery.  In fact, unless you eat your garlic raw clove by clove – a pretty harsh way to treat your digestive system – you are unlikely to be ingesting much allicin directly, cooking degrades it fast.  So why is aged garlic extract so effective, if it doesn’t contain any?

Aged garlic extract does contain one vital precursor to allicin, S-Allyl cysteine, so this could explain the results.  We followed the outcomes in the formulation of our PAGG stack, because Ferriss’ research in 10 years was pretty conclusive as to what was the most effective – an aged garlic extract, with high allicin potential, with no constituents removed… because as with the PAGG stack itself, the maximum impact is clearly obtained by a synergistic effect of a range of substances, working together at the same time.

Using an aged garlic extract also means that it’s safe to take it daily in the quantities Ferriss specified – 200mg, 4 x per day – without any risk of digestive upsets, or that sexy garlic breath.  It’s also perfectly safe to include as much additional garlic as you like in your slow carb diet recipes.



Seven PAGG Stack Capsule Facts

We’ve talked before about why we chose capsules for delivery, over tablets – protecting volatile ingredients, as well as ensuring perfectly timed ingestion and delivery, made the choice easy for us.  But there are a few facts you might not know about our iconic red and blue capsules, which make them the perfect choice for delivery of your PAGG stack supplement.

  1. Our capsules are made by Capsugel, the world’s largest supplier of capsules to the health and supplements industry, and manufactured to cGMP standards in controlled conditions for perfectly consistent product delivery.  Every aspect of the composition, assembly, content and distribution process is rigorously and regularly examined to ensure this.
  2. By contrast, capsule delivery of pharmaceuticals was first recorded by the ancient Egyptians, primarily as a means of disguising the unpleasant taste of some of the contents!  As with many areas of knowledge the idea was ahead of it’s time, but execution has been considerably refined since…PAGG stack capsules
  3. To ensure the ‘Four Horsemen of Fat Loss’ can act directly on the meal you are about to eat, our capsules are designed and tested to dissolve and release their contents within one or two minutes of swallowing for perfect metabolic timing
  4. Capsule delivery allows us to use pure liquid ingredients – no binders, fillers, waxes, stabilisers, glazes, solvents, talcs or sugar coatings.  The pure gelatin shell dissolves completely within 30 minutes of eating, and is biologically neutral.  Compare this to the long list of ‘extra ingredients’ in the product leaflet of any tablet-based food supplement, and ask yourself whether you really want to be eating all these different chemicals.
  5. As well as the chemicals themselves, the process of binding supplement ingredients into tablet form has been heavily criticized, because of the negative impact on the integrity of the ingredients – remember, alpha-lipoic acid is sensitive to air, light, heat and pressure – as well as absorption.  The pressure used to construct some supplement products is such that the digestive process has no chance of releasing the active ingredients at the correct point in the digestive cycle (which for PAGG is right there in the stomach) – and any ingredients undigested are quite literally ‘wasted’.
  6. You might be surprised to learn that the dissolution of the capsules happens initially at the ‘shoulder’ of the capsule, that is the rounded end – not the join, where the two halves meet.  This join is perfectly designed to seal absolutely and securely, excluding air and light from the highly reactive contents, and ensuring their potential to act on the carbs you eat is not diminished between manufacture and use.  But it’s the most sharply-curved area that is designed to release the ingredients after swallow.
  7. We chose the vivid red and blue capsules, not just because they look cool (although we appreciate the extensive feedback from our customers around the world on that front).  Color coding of capsules has been used for many years to help with correct dosing and compliance, and we wanted to find a universal, language-independent means of distinguishing the two kinds of capsule that comprise the PAGG stack.  Following this color scheme through to our packaging and product labelling ensures there is no confusion possible: One red AGG caps with each meal, and one blue PAG cap at bedtime.

If after all that, you’re still not convinced that capsules are the best choice for your PAGG stack and are thinking of getting the ingredients through a capsule, here’s what to look for: USP supplement guidelines for disintegration.

USP testing is important for tablets to confirm that they will disintegrate and enter your body when they should. The guidelines (outlined here: were a response to some manufacturers creating tablets so compressed or coated with mystery "pharmaceutical glazes" that it actually passed straight through your body without any of the ingredients having a chance to be digested.

If you are considering a tablet, make sure the company has tested their tablets and that they conform to the guidelines. Look for a “USP Verified” icon on their bottle. USP verified

Why cycle your PAGG stack supplement?

Our PAGG stack supplement was designed from the outset to be taken according to the specific parameters described by Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Body, which specified that the supplement intake should be cycled – in every seven day week, one day should be free from PAGG, and a clear week off should be taken every month.  This is why our product is supplied in the exact required quantities to do this, a month’s supply containing   78 AGG capsules (3 per day), and 26 PAG capsules (1 per day).  Minimum effective dose, no more and no less.

PAGG stack cyclingBut what is the rationale behind supplement cycling?  The oft-quoted phrase that ‘your body gets used to it’ doesn’t have a very scientific ring to it, that’s true – however, when you think about how your body works, it actually makes a lot of sense.  A great part of your liver and other cells are devoted to the role of homeostasis – that is, keeping the body’s temperature, volume, biochemistry, pH and other factors carefully balanced within a narrow range that supports the effective function of life.  Our bodies are bombarded with a wide range of sensory input, environmental conditions and nutritional intake, that all gets leveled out internally… if we go on vacation to a much hotter climate, we feel pretty hot for the first few days, but we don’t actually drop dead from heatstroke (provided we take it easy and give our body the tools to re-balance with like plenty of water), and within a few days that climate feels normal to us – and we shiver when we get home.

It’s the same with what we eat or take as supplements.  Eat refined carbs every day and your insulin balance constantly strives to adjust, in fact it does a remarkable job of this and you are unlikely to suffer from Type II diabetes for many decades.  Steadily increase your alcohol intake, and your tolerance increases with it – so many hardened drinkers with major alcohol problems rarely appear intoxicated, their system has adjusted to cope.  This is one reason that both sugar and ethanol create addictive patterns of behaviour incidentally – you want the effects they bring to continue, you need more and more intake to achieve this.  The effect is even more dramatic with adrenal stimulants like caffeine.

At the cellular level, this is about receptor attenuation.  Receptors in our cells have the ability to bind to and assimilate specific receptor agonists, in our diet or environment.  The more we flood those receptors, the less sensitive they get, and the eventually wholly burnt-out.  The only way to ‘reset’ them is to rest them completely.  Have a detox fortnight without your 3 espressos a day, and see how the first one shakes you up when you start again!

To get the maximum impact from your PAGG stack supplement, we recommend you adhere to Tim Ferriss’ recommended protocols, and abstain one day per week, and one week per month.  If you are following the slow carb diet or any other cyclic program involving a cheat day, we advise you take your ‘PAGG day off’ a different day, ideally 3 days later, to maximize effectiveness in your body recomposition.


The PAGG Stack, Green tea, and the Sleep debate…

Everyone knows that one of the G’s in the PAGG stack stands for Green tea flavanols… but as a natural substance green tea obviously contains a wide range of different substances. 

Some of these are more active than others, and the one that particularly interested Tim Ferriss when he developed and tested the PAGG stack was ECGC – Epigallocatechin gallate.  This is what does the smart stuff in increasing GLUT-4 recruitment to the muscle cell surface, and increasing the apoptosis of mature fat cells, the two main reasons for the inclusion of green tea flavanols in the stack in the first place.  It’s also the ingredient that makes green tea uniquely effective in fat loss, as opposed to black tea – this volatile catechin is largely oxidised when tea leaves are roasted and fermented.

PAGG stack insomniaBut tea, black or green, contains other important substances.  One of these is the amino acid L-theanine, which is sometimes used as a relaxation supplement – it increases brain alpha wave activity, having positive effects on mood and stress.  It also boosts the immune system and has been shown to raise dopamine levels.  This may be one reason that many PAGG users have reported its leading to a deep and restful sleep, and why despite the caffeine levels many people prefer to enjoy the milder and smoother stimulation of green tea instead of a coffee for a daytime drink.

Because in its natural state, green tea does contain significant levels of caffeine.  Some PAGG home-brewers have got into difficulty with this, because to get enough green tea extract for Tim Ferriss’ recommendations you could easily end up with a shocking amount of caffeine into the bargain.  Even if you were going the DIY route using supplements, most green tea extracts on the market don’t list the amount of caffeine contained –they are not required to – so you can’t control it. 

Pareto Nutrition’s PAGG stack even in its first formulation was careful to use only the highest quality decaffeinated ECGC, to avoid this problem. However, it was one of the biggest customer service concerns pre-purchase from our customers (although only one client has ever returned a product for this reason).  Because we know that one of the biggest risk factors for insomnia is actually worrying about insomnia, and because Tim Ferriss himself subsequently advised removing the ECGC from the final dose, we opted to remove it from our reformulated product PAGG 2.0.  This was a finessing, a refinement – the initial design of PAGG should not cause sleep disorders provided a decaffeinated extract is used, and any elevations of anxiety or insomnia in response to green tea supplementation could even indicate an underlying health condition (which should prompt investigation).

 For most users in good health, there is no need to worry about PAGG giving you sleepless nights.

PAGG Stack Absorption and Delivery – Why Choose Capsules not Tablets?

Since we first started developing our PAGG stack supplement at Pareto Nutrition, our priority has been to achieve the best possible effects for you the customer.  We weren’t aiming to produce the cheapest stack out there or the first to market, but to create a product that truly delivered.  There are a number of reasons that made a capsule, rather than a tablet, the obvious choice for us.

1. User Compliance

Even though ours is the only PAGG stack that only requires four separate doses per day, that still takes some remembering and motivation.  Capsules have no odour or taste, unlike many tablets, and their bright colors make it easy to distinguish the night-time, policonsanol-containing dose from the pre-meal dose.  Not everyone likes swallowing medicines of any kind, but capsules are smoother and more comfortable to swallow because of their shape, and leave no after-taste in the mouth

2. Protecting the ingredients

PAGG stack capsules

We use the finest quality ingredients in our PAGG stack, including the bio-identical R-ALA (alpha-lipoic acid).  This is a highly volatile antioxidant, which degrades immediately on exposure to light and air.  By sealing it within our iconic opaque capsules at our GMP-certified facility, we ensure it is delivered to you at optimal potency.

3. Timed delivery

Our capsules are designed to dissolve within minutes as they enter the stomach, and the liquid ingredients are released simultaneously, ready to be immediately digested just before you eat.  This ensures you achieve the intended maximum insulin sensitivity right when you eat the meal – the whole point of the PAGG stack is to spike your blood sugar with these specific ingredients at the exact time they can bring you the most impact on how that meal is digested.

We could not envisage any potential design of a tablet that could achieve our objectives. Tablets take time to dissolve, and cannot do so evenly so the whole dose is rapidly released.  Many tablet ingredients are compacted at extremely high pressure, which often results in a smaller and easier to swallow pill, but slows the release even further (well known brand name multivitamin producers have been exposed for this effect, with much of their product found to be unavailable for digestion until it was past the point of no return, so to speak).  Of course, tablets are great if you WANT a slow-release dose, such as a painkiller intended to be effective over several hours – but that is not what you want from the PAGG stack supplement.  Tablets would have been cheaper, and could have been made smaller… but we knew you deserved a better quality product than that would have lead to.

While tablets are an ideal delivery format in many applications, they aren't the right choice for the PAGG stack. We designed our PAGG stack to deliver maximum results with the minimum effective dose. Beyond the ingredients, which we carefully selected, a properly composed stack will also consider delivery and if you want the best possible PAGG stack supplement, there is no other choice than to use capsules.

Biotin in the PAGG stack supplement

There is no ‘B’ in PAGG.  So, what’s the deal with Biotin, which we have included in our PAGG stack supplement since its first formulation?

Biotin is a water-soluble B-vitamin, also known as Vitamin B7.  It’s sometimes unofficially called Vitamin H, which comes from the German words for hair and skin – a clue as to one market for biotin supplementation. (brittle nails and hair loss).  It was first isolated in the 1930s, and is needed for the formation of fatty acids and glucose metabolism (cell energy production), where it works with pantothenic acid to produce enzymes for the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins. It is part of the citric acid cycle, and assists in other biochemical processes including the transfer of carbon dioxide.

Biotin in the PAGG stackIt’s found in a range of foods including  yeast, liver, bananas, carrots, legumes, sardines, mushrooms, cauliflower, peanuts, salmon, and egg yolks, and because of this broad distribution deficiency is quite unusual in anyone eating a diverse and abundant Western diet.  It is also produced in the stomach, and by intestinal bacteria, which is another reason most people have no trouble getting enough for daily requirements.

But in the event of deficiency symptoms include hair thinning, skin rash, depression, exhaustion and also raised cholesterol and heart problems – all things to be avoided, when you’re looking for optimal wellbeing.  In the extensive research and refinement that developed the PAGG stack supplement it was found that alpha-lipoic acid in the concentrations recommended for PAGG can affect internal production of biotin, because it alters the chemical environment of the stomach.  Tim Ferriss pointed out in the Four Hour Body that it was vital to ensure adequate consumption of B-complex vitamins whilst taking PAGG, and the inclusion of 100 mcg is how we ensure that use of the PAGG stack supplement cannot be detrimental to your wellbeing.

As well as being recommended for skin and hair concerns, biotin supplementation has also shown interesting results in treatment of type 2 diabetes, especially in combination with chromium picolinate – indicating significantly greater improvement in blood sugar levels compared to control groups.  This is all important news for anyone trying to lose weight, and another good reason for ensuring biotin levels are sustained during your slow carb diet. 

One more reason – if you need one – for including biotin with your PAGG stack:  the richest food source of biotin is actually egg yolk, preferably raw (mmm!).  However, egg whites contain avidin, which binds to biotin preventing absorption – and on the slow carb diet program we are advised to add extra whites to egg yolks, for maximum protein intake.  Therefore even if you eat a lot of eggs, as many slow carbers do, you still might not be absorbing sufficient biotin, to ensure you receive all its important benefits. 

Using our PAGG stack therefore not only accelerates your fat loss and body recomposition, it also makes sure you achieve this with no health detriments due to B7 deficiency – helping you to look and feel your best ever.



Alpha-lipoic acid: Molecules in the Mirror

Alpha-lipoic acid – ALA – is an organosulphur compound, and has been in use as a food supplement for decades.  It is a powerful antioxidant, and helps to restore levels of intercellular glutathione, which is another significant antioxidant.  ALA helps the cells in the body metabolise glucose, burning it for energy, to support a range of biochemical functions.  It has significant detoxification effects, supporting liver function, and helping to excrete toxins safely.

ALA in the PAGG StackALA is a potent antioxidant, neutralizing the dangerous free radicals which can damage cells and induce mutations.  Unusually, it is both water and fat soluble, which enables it to act throughout the cell, and also to cross the blood-brain barrier.  It helps to regenerate and recyle other antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E.  It has many health benefits, establishing promising results in the treatment of a range of conditions from peripheral neuropathy to glaucoma, as well as its well-documented use in treating liver disease – however for many years it has been marketed in Japan as a weight loss supplement.

In researching the Four Hour Body, Tim Ferriss explored these findings, and ALA’s impact on glucose uptake and triglyceride production.  Extrapolating from animal studies and testing with human volunteers, he demonstrated that ALA helps you store more of the energy from the carbohydrates you eat as muscle tissue (or in the liver), than laying down fat.

ALA occurs naturally in a wide range of foodstuffs, including vegetables and meats, however concentrations are very low.  As it is also manufactured in human cells there is no recommended daily intake, however research demonstrates that benefits derive from increased ingestion… hence the manufacture of commercial supplements, for several decades.  The supplements contain synthetic ALA manufactured in the lab however, as extraction from food sources is not economically viable, and the manufacturing process has an interesting side effect: it creates two mirror-image molecules, R-ALA and S-ALA in equal quantities.  This is called a ‘racemic’ mixture, and is what you find in most food supplement capsules. 

Alpha-lipoic Acid in the PAGG stackNow these molecules contain the same chemical constituents – but S-ALA is completely new, and does not occur in nature.  The biochemical pathways that involve ALA in the body – those sought-after antioxidant and glucose metabolism properties – only use R-ALA, as that is what the cell membranes receptors are shaped for.  Essentially the S-ALA was thought to be inert, and not interact at all… however recent evidence indicates that S-ALA, due to its similarities molecularly, may block or compete with R-ALA absorption at a cellular level, and as such has a negative impact on the health benefits it brings.

This is why we decided to review the ALA contribution in our PAGG stack.  Using R-ALA is a lot more costly, as it has to be extracted from the racemic mixture – however it means the minimum effective dose can be reduced to 150mg per capsule.  We know you benefit from getting the purest and most effective ALA – pure R-ALA – in any PAGG stack supplement on the market. Optimizing your slow carb diet means taking the minimum effective dose, of the best quality ingredients.  PAGG Stack 2.0 by Pareto Nutrition is the way to go.