Ever drink an energy drink for a pre-workout kick?
This isn’t uncommon- there are so many options on the market these days and these products continue to grow in popularity. But lets consider one ingredient in particular: taurine.
First things first, no it is not extracted from bull and ox secretions as many people say- it is made synthetically.
Taurine is an amino sulphonic acid found in most tissues of the body. It participates in cardiovascular function, muscular development, antioxidation, neurotransmitting, etc. It can actually be made by the body, but mostly comes from the diet. Studies have examined its effects in different chronic diseases as well as in endurance and strength performance.
In vitro (outside of the body, in a test tube or otherwise) studies showed a lot of potential of taurine and muscular performance, and this is probably why it is added to so many energy drinks and preworkouts, but the problem is that in vitro studies do not exactly imitate the body’s environment.
For one thing, recent human studies suggest that when taken with caffeine, taurine blunts the stimulatory effects of the caffeine.
Lim et al. (2018) studied the effects of 40mg taurine per kg body weight on caffeine using and non-caffeine using male athletes before a strength workout. No caffeine was taken with the taurine dose. In non-habitual caffeine users, muscular performance was significantly reduced with taurine consumption. The tested aspects of performance showed either no effect or improved performance in habitual caffeine users.
Studies do suggest, however, that when taken post-workout, taurine can improve recovery. Also, taurine intake does show positive effects on endurance training in research thus far.
There are plenty of reasons to be wary of energy drinks and preworkout supplements, and it never hurts to check the ingredients and dosages and to know the purpose of each!
-Katy Hair, RD, LDN, CNSC
Lim, Z.I.X., et al., The Effect of Acute Taurine Ingestion on Human Maximal Voluntary Muscle Contraction. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2018. 50(2): p. 344-352.
Giles, G.E., et al., Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine, and glucose. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 2012. 102(4): p. 569-77.
Peacock, A., F.H. Martin, and A. Carr, Energy drink ingredients. Contribution of caffeine and taurine to performance outcomes. Appetite, 2013. 64: p. 1-4.
McLeay, Y., S. Stannard, and M. Barnes, The Effect of Taurine on the Recovery from Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Males. Antioxidants (Basel), 2017. 6(4).
da Silva, L.A., et al., Effects of taurine supplementation following eccentric exercise in young adults. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 2014. 39(1): p. 101-4.
Helms, E. Taurine: The Ingredient You Ignore in Your Preworkout Drink. Monthly Applications in Strength Sport, 2018. 2 (3): p. 26-35.