Benefits of Taurine: Why I Supplement Daily!
When I was deep into contest prep for my show back in April, I began supplementing with taurine, especially on training days, and have continued to use it regularly even now into my offseason. As with any supplement, taurine has been extensively studied as to how beneficial it actually is in the realm of bodybuilding and health in general.
Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally occurring in our bodies and generally speaking our bodies can generate a sufficient amount, but a deficiency can occur if nutrition isn’t up to par and the body isn’t cared for properly. Much like the amino acid glutamine, taurine is very versatile and provides many benefits, especially in the world of bodybuilding. Nutrition-wise, taurine can be found in food sources like fish and other meat, but you might also find it on the label of your favorite sport or energy drink for good reason!
Although taurine doesn’t help with protein synthesis in the body to help build muscle, it does act as an antioxidant in the body and has been shown to improve mental focus and performance in athletics. As we age, taurine levels in the brain decrease, which leads experts to believe that higher levels of taurine are related to higher mental function and better memory. Researchers have found that a mixture of caffeine and taurine also have positive effects on mood and cognitive function, one reason it is often found in energy drinks today. Within the body, it has an effect similar to insulin in that it stimulated glucose absorption into cells at about half the rate that insulin does. It also stimulates the formation of glycogen itself within the cardiac muscle, which helps to fuel training and keep muscle bellies full.
Personally, I was having problems with cramping even when I wasn’t training, even though I was staying hydrated and still incorporating sea salt into each of my meals. I began to pair the powdered supplement form of taurine with my pre-workout supplement (which includes caffeine!) to improve my athletic performance and keep higher levels of taurine in my body. A study published in 2003 found that after a week-long regiment of taurine pre-workout, taurine had aided in significant increases in the body’s transportation and use of oxygen through its antioxidant effects and ability to protect cells. Not all researchers agree that taurine is “essential”, but it has consistently shown to improve abilities in the realm of fitness and bodybuilding.
It is possible to have “too much of a good thing”, especially when it comes to supplementation so before incorporating new supplements into your regimen, be sure to do your own research from reliable sources. Taurine is fairly common, but we don’t want to overload our bodies and intake more than is needed. If you are already supplementing regularly, be sure to check labels on your current supplements to see if you are, in fact, already taking in what you need – for example, many brands of whey protein on the market include amino acids, digestive enzymes, and other beneficial supplements to further aid muscle recovery.