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Scientists have long touted the health benefits of taurine when it comes to improving cardiovascular health, reducing stress, and preventing diabetes. What’s more surprising is the ways in which taurine can help improve fitness, making it one supplement to consider if you would like to lose weight and increase athletic performance.
Taurine is an amino acid largely found in the human heart and brain. Taurine is also a constituent of bile, and is therefore present in the large intestine. It is widely available in food sources such as meat and fish, and may also be prescribed in pill or tablet form to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, liver disease, and other chronic conditions. Research on animals shows that taurine reduces mortality due to heart failure by up to 80%. Approximately 0.1% of your total body weight consists of taurine.
Japanese researchers studied 11 men between the ages of 18 and 20. After being given taurine supplements just before their workout for a period of seven days, participants showed a significant increase in the amount of VO2max, which is a person’s maximum capacity for transporting and using oxygen. The fact that it increases energy and provides greater physical stamina could be why taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks such as Red Bull. That doesn’t mean energy drinks are an acceptable substitute, as many of them contain other ingredients that should nonetheless be avoided.
One of the biggest ways in which taurine improves fitness is by helping people maintain a healthy weight. A study showed that taking three grams per day for a period of seven weeks helped participants reduce their body weight significantly. Furthermore, scientists have discovered through animal research that obesity causes a decline in plasma taurine levels, which in turn promotes further obesity. As such, taking supplemental taurine could be especially beneficial for individuals who are significantly overweight or obese, but are not considered diabetic.
Another way taurine can improve fitness is by reducing stress. When the body over-responds to stress, it raises cortisol levels in the body. Persistently high levels of cortisol have been linked to an increase in body fat. Those who are stressed are also more likely to skip their workouts or decrease the intensity of their exercise sessions. Eliminating stress by taking a taurine supplement could help these individuals work out harder and longer in order to achieve greater results. Taurine may also improve mental clarity, making it easier for people to focus on their form when lifting weights.
The term “pump” refers to a feeling people get whenever there is an excessive amount of blood flow to the muscles during a workout. For some bodybuilders, this is a euphoric sensation, but for others, the pump can be painful. This is especially true for some steroid users. Calf pumps are often experienced during cardio workouts, and have the ability to stop people dead in their tracks. Back pumps are common during weightlifting, and can result in painful cramping. Taking 3 grams of taurine just before a workout can allow people to enjoy the pump without any of the painful side effects they produce.
There does seem to be some disagreement as to whether or not taurine is an essential amino acid. What scientists do agree on is the fact that taking taurine supplements can help people better meet their fitness goals, while also improving a number of other serious health conditions.