By Dwayne Jackson
Up until recently, support for taurine as an ergogenic aid has not been a hot topic in research journals and bodybuilding forums, but recent developments suggest that is about to change. Indeed, the latest science shows that taurine can significantly enhance performance in many different ways. The following article aims to uncover the latest science behind taurine supplementation and muscle performance.
The name taurine is derived from the Latin word Taurus (meaning OX), because it was first extracted from OX bile; but today it is made synthetically. Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid derivative of the sulfur containing amino acid cysteine and is chemically described as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid. It is considered conditionally essential because it is depleted under conditions of heavy physical stress (e.g., during training). Next to glutamine, taurine is the second most abundant amino acid found in skeletal muscle (especially in fast twitch fibers), which has provided motivation for the numerous scientific studies presented in this article. Although taurine exists in most mammalian cells, it is found in high concentration in bile, in the intestines, and in tissues that have high metabolic rates (e.g., heart, brain, and skeletal muscle).
Taurine helps you focus
Taurine exists in very high concentration in the brain and plays a neuromodulatory role in this area. Taurine alters the actions of inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA , which is suggested to be the mechanism for increased focus noted with taurine supplementation. Of importance to bodybuilders, taurine-based energy drinks have been shown to increase brain performance, focus, and time on task [2, 3].
Taurine increases strength
It is known that decreases in skeletal muscle taurine concentration lead to
decreases in strength. Interestingly, supplementation of taurine augments muscle taurine levels and increases muscular strength. It has been shown that 2 weeks of taurine supplementation increased rat fast-twitch muscle taurine content resulting in increased muscle force production, decreased fatigue and increased muscle function in recovery . Mechanistic studies have shown that, when a muscle is stimulated, taurine enables more calcium to be released (inside muscle cells) leading to more forceful contractions [4, 5].
Taurine increases muscle cell volume
Taurine is a well-researched regulator of cell volume, as it acts as an osmolyte (i.e., it regulates fluid balance) . As such, taurine works to optimize cellular hydration and maximize muscle function. Thus, taurine has been implicated to be a potent cell volumizer. Not only does this make the muscle belly appear more full, but also provides an indirect stimulus for anabolism.
Taurine is anti-catabolic
In a recent study, taurine was shown to exhibit significant reductions in muscle breakdown by decreasing catabolic 3-methylhistidine by 20% after intense treadmill running. In the same study, post-exercise urinary excretion of creatinine and creatine were significantly reduced with taurine supplementation, further illustrating its abililty to blunt muscle breakdown .
Taurine regulates blood sugar
There are several studies that show taurine supplementation can regulate blood sugar levels in the body. A recent study reported that mice fed taurine for 30 days saw increased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity when given high glucose in their diet . As well, in a recent medical review , it was concluded that taurine supplements may help increase insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels.
Taurine extends your workouts
Muscular endurance is important to all athletes, including bodybuilders. After all, the harder your muscles can be pushed without overtraining, the greater the anabolic response. Two weeks of taurine supplementation has been shown to increase run time to exhaustion by up to 50%. This effect on muscle endurance correlates with increased/maintained taurine levels, in contrast to a drop in muscle taurine levels with no supplementation [9-12].
Taurine increases recovery
Science has repeatedly shown that taurine is a powerful antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing agent. Exercise stress destabilizes and damages muscle cells by a number of different mechanisms, including oxidative stress ; the antioxidant properties of taurine can ameliorate these adverse effects. Taurine has also been shown to reduce inflammation associated with cellular damage. Based on taurine’s protective properties, research has shown that this supplement can defend against exercise induced muscle damage and speed recovery .
Counter exercise-based taurine depletion via supplementation
As you can see, taurine supplementation can benefit nearly all aspects of training including workout intensity, performance, and recovery. Since it is proven that exercise depletes skeletal muscle taurine stores, especially in fast twitch fibers, then it makes sense to add this to your pre- and post-workout supplement regimen. Fortunately, taurine is a fairly common component in pre-workout and amino acid supplements.
As always, of course, it pays to seek out supplements that contain this versatile super-amino in sufficiently high-quality, bioavailable form and in dosages consistent with those used in research. Here at *********, we feature a number of products with significant taurine content, including the landmark pre-workout pump complex and cell volumizer SythaTrex Xtreme, the multi-pathway anabolic/anti-catabolic Aminodrol, and the highly regarded amino specialty product Mega Taurine. Each will put you well on your way to experiencing the many physique-enhancing qualities of taurine!
1. Albrecht, J. and A. Schousboe, Taurine interaction with neurotransmitter receptors in the CNS: an update. Neurochem Res, 2005. 30(12): p. 1615-21.
2. Alford, C., H. Cox, and R. Wescott, The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood. Amino Acids, 2001. 21(2): p. 139-50.
3. Seidl, R., et al., A taurine and caffeine-containing drink stimulates cognitive performance and well-being. Amino Acids, 2000. 19(3-4): p. 635-42.
4. Goodman, C.A., et al., Taurine supplementation increases skeletal muscle force production and protects muscle function during and after high-frequency in vitro stimulation. J Appl Physiol, 2009. 107(1): p. 144-54.
5. Bakker, A.J. and H.M. Berg, Effect of taurine on sarcoplasmic reticulum function and force in skinned fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibres of the rat. J Physiol, 2002. 538(Pt 1): p. 185-94.
6. Hoffmann, E.K., I.H. Lambert, and S.F. Pedersen, Physiology of cell volume regulation in vertebrates. Physiol Rev, 2009. 89(1): p. 193-277.
7. Ribeiro, R.A., et al., Taurine supplementation enhances nutrient-induced insulin secretion in pancreatic mice islets. Diabetes Metab Res Rev, 2009. 25(4): p. 370-9.
8. Ito, T., S.W. Schaffer, and J. Azuma, The potential usefulness of taurine on diabetes mellitus and its complications. Amino Acids, 2011.
9. Miyazaki, T., et al., Optimal and effective oral dose of taurine to prolong exercise performance in rat. Amino Acids, 2004. 27(3-4): p. 291-8.
10. Imagawa, T.F., et al., Caffeine and taurine enhance endurance performance. Int J Sports Med, 2009. 30(7): p. 485-8.
11. Yatabe, Y., et al., Effects of taurine administration in rat skeletal muscles on exercise. J Orthop Sci, 2003. 8(3): p. 415-9.
12. Yatabe, Y., et al., Effects of taurine administration on exercise. Adv Exp Med Biol, 2009. 643: p. 245-52.
13. Schuller-Levis, G.B. and E. Park, Taurine: new implications for an old amino acid. FEMS Microbiol Lett, 2003. 226(2): p. 195-202.
14. Dawson, R., Jr., et al., The cytoprotective role of taurine in exercise-induced muscle injury. Amino Acids, 2002. 22(4): p. 309-24.