Often we see this name listed on the top of energy drink cans or various other supplements, but what actually is taurine? To put it simply, taurine is an amino acid, but there is much more to it than a simple definition.
Taurine is actually the second most abundant amino acid in the human body, following only glutamine. However, it is speculated that taurine is the most abundant amino acid in type II muscle fibers (often called fast-twitch muscle fibers). Fast-twitch muscle fibers play a major role in strength and power athletes, so the significance of taurine can easily be related.
The amino acid taurine has been shown to have a host of benefits including:
• Increasing muscle mass
• Improving muscle strength and power
• Reducing exercise-induced muscle damage
• Accelerating recovery in between workouts
• May also possess an insulin-like effect
• Antioxidant benefits
On top of all this, taurine may even have similar characteristics to creatine, expanding cells by increasing the cells’ ability to hold water, thus increasing cell volume. Bigger muscle cells leads to bigger muscles. For performance athletes, these positive benefits of taurine may increase muscle protein synthesis, as well as increase muscle hypertrophy (growth).
Another benefit to athletes and strength trainers is that taurine may improve the contractile strength of muscle fibers, thus increasing the lifters ability to handle heavier weights. To benefit most from this, high muscle concentrations of taurine would be needed.
Supplemental dosages of taurine have generally been anywhere from the 500mg to 3000mg range per day. While many supplements rely on timing of the nutrient, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a case with taurine. A small pre-workout dose followed by a similar dose post-workout seems to be quite effective. There are no reports of taurine toxicity, but dosages above 3000mg per day do not seem to show any greater benefit.