Can Taurine Improve Your Performance in the Gym?

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Taurine: The Ultimate Power Pill?LightFieldStudios

Unlike other amino acids, taurine isn’t involved in protein synthesis (building protein in the body). It’s ‘conditionally essential’, which means your body can usually make enough on its own. But, when we’re stressed or ill, we might need extra. Foods such as beef and shellfish are top sources, but you can also find it in supp form; it’s added to some energy drinks, too.

Health Benefits of Taurine

'Fitness pros who take taurine believe it can be effective as an ergogenic aid – which essentially means it can help their bodies to maximise energy use and improve performance,' explains Claire Hitchen, a BANT Registered Nutritionist. 'It’s also been proposed that taurine could help with muscle soreness and recovery after exercise, as an antioxidant. But these claims are quite controversial.'

Taurine’s antioxidant capabilities suggest that it could benefit brain health, curbing inflammation and potentially reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.

Can Taurine Improve Performance?

Research suggests that taurine supplements have the potential to reduce blood pressure, improve heart function and help people with heart failure to exercise. A study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology suggests that taurine may also reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

'In one trial on type 2 diabetics, taking 3g of taurine a day significantly decreased insulin levels, insulin resistance and inflammation after eight weeks,' says Hitchen. Oh, and your swimmers could benefit, too: taurine is an important amino acid for male reproductive health.

In terms of boosting your performance at the gym, there is 'some' promising research. A 2018 meta-analysis of10 peer-reviewed articles published in Sports Medicine concluded that a dose of 1g to 6g per day taken for up to two weeks ‘improved overall endurance performance’, while a small 2013 study found supplementation could shave a few seconds from runners’ race time.

What's Not so Good about Taurine

It’s not a sub for your pre-workout. ‘It’s not a stimulant and it won’t give you energy,’ says Hitchen. Overall, there’s not yet enough evidence to cement its status as a must-have performance-enhancer. ‘For every study that suggests a benefit, there are several that don’t support these claims,’ she says. And it won’t kill your DOMS. ‘Research done on“untrained” men found that taking taurine for three weeks before intense exercise had no effect on inflammation.’

How Much Taurine Do We Need?

We only need relatively small amounts of taurine. Our bodies produce it, plus it’s found naturally in protein-rich foods including meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. Veggies and vegans generally have lower levels of taurine, but Hitchen confirms that a deficiency is still unlikely.

If you do choose to supplement, opt for an easy-to-consume capsule form and take on an empty stomach for increased bioavailability. Taking up to 3g of taurine daily is considered safe for most people, but if you’re on any meds, do check with your GP.

The amount of taurine you take will also vary based on your age, weight and overall health. If you're unsure, consult your GP or a qualified nutritionist as high doses can lead to gut issues and dizziness.

If you are taking taurine to boost performance, make sure you time it right. 'Researchers have suggested taking between 1-3g of taurine, 1-3 hours before exercise for at least 2-3 weeks to get the potential benefit,' says Hitchen.

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