Taurine is an ingredient often found in energy drinks and pre-workouts. Are you wondering what taurine does? How will it benefit your training, and is it safe to use?
I have been using pre-workouts before each workout for years, so I know exactly what benefits are available. Please read on to discover why taurine is added to pre-workouts.
What Does Taurine Do in a Pre-Workout?
Taurine is an amino acid found in your brain, heart, eyes, and skeletal muscle. It is often used in pre-workout supplements and energy drinks as it offers a range of benefits, including improved physical performance, less fatigue, reduced muscle damage, and improved recovery times.
What Is Taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in your body. It plays a vital role in many of them, including:
- Helping with hydration and balancing electrolytes in your body
- Aids digestion by forming bile salts
- Regulate various minerals within your cells
- Supports your central nervous system
- Regulates your immune system and your antioxidants
Typically your body will contain one gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds, meaning roughly 70 grams of taurine present in someone who weighs 154 pounds.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. However, taurine is different. It is considered a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning it only becomes essential when you are feeling ill or stressed.
You will unlikely become deficient in taurine, as it is found in many foods. It has even been shown to produce by itself in the body. Turkey, chicken, shellfish, and dairy products are all good sources of taurine. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may struggle to consume taurine as plants contain very little of this amino acid.
Even though your body only requires a minimal amount of taurine if you are ill or are suffering from stress, you may need more significant amounts, which is where supplementation may help.
Benefits of Taurine
When it comes to exercise performance, supplementing with taurine will help:
Improve Endurance Performance
It was shown that taking taurine could delay the decline of blood glucose and help subjects utilize more type I muscle fibers during aerobic exercise.
There was a slight increase in speed and a reduction in heart rate.
Reduce Muscle Soreness
Taurine can help reduce oxidative stress, which can help to improve recovery times post-workout.
Research has shown that taurine can act in a similar way as an antioxidant helping to prevent damage and the stress caused by exercise, plus helping to speed up the recovery rate.
Reduced Muscle Fatigue
Taurine helps regulate electrolyte balance, which can help prevent muscle cramps and fatigue during intense exercise sessions. This will allow you to push through the reps with less discomfort.
The oxidative stress caused by intense workouts can lead to cell damage. Taurine acts as an antioxidant, helping to neutralize harmful free radicals and protect your cells from oxidative damage.
Taurine has been linked to improved cardiovascular function. It does this by regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart-related issues.
Taurine has been shown to play a role in the initial phase of the fat-burning process, helping to increase the amount of carnitine produced. Carnitine is the substance that takes the fat into the cell, ready for your body to burn for energy.
Does Taurine Boost Energy?
Unfortunately, taurine has not been shown to increase energy levels. Research suggests it may have the opposite effect.
You may see this as a negative; however, it is often combined with stimulants such as caffeine, giving you a jolt of energy that lasts a short while.
It is claimed that taurine can limit the effect of caffeine, helping avoid the potential side effects of this stimulant and making the pre-workout more enjoyable.
Side Effects of Taurine
Even though research suggests that taurine is entirely safe to use when taken appropriately, some still have experienced side effects while supplementing with this amino acid. These side effects include:
- Liver pain
- Stomach pain
One of the most worrying pieces of research indicates the danger of using caffeine alongside taurine, a common combination in energy drinks and pre-workouts.
Research has suggested that using energy drinks that contain stimulants may cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. However, research suggests taurine may help limit these cardiovascular issues.
How to Supplement With Taurine
When choosing a pre-workout supplement that contains taurine, you should aim for a 1,000-2,000 mg dosage, although dosages as low as 500 mg may be effective. As taurine does not increase energy levels, if used as a pre-workout, it will have to be used in conjunction with another ingredient that does offer this particular benefit.
Caffeine is the common ingredient used, although stimulants like this run a risk of side effects.
Beta-alanine, betaine, or creatine will be good options if you are looking for performance-boosting benefits.
As with all pre-workouts, starting on the lower dosages is best to see your reaction before increasing the dosage accordingly.
When Should I Take Taurine Pre-workout?
Taking taurine one to three hours before your workout would be best. This will give you the best chance of experiencing its benefits during your training.
Can Taurine Build Muscle?
Unfortunately, unlike most amino acids, taurine is not used in muscle-building. Although due to its performance-enhancing abilities, it could indirectly help build muscle.
How Much Taurine Per Day Should You Consume?
You would usually consume between 500-3,000 mg of taurine every day. However, a 2012 EFSA report stated that consuming as much as 6,000 mg daily might be safe.
Taurine is certainly not the most effective ingredient found in pre-workouts. However, it offers some benefits and is safe to use with few side effects. With these thoughts in mind, I would be okay with seeing it in my favorite pre-workout.