Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD
Taurine is an amino acid derivative of the sulfur containing amino acid cysteine and is chemically known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid. Taurine is conditionally essential, which simply means that it may become depleted under conditions of heavy physical stress (e.g., working out) and activity (e.g., during sports performances). Although taurine exists in most of our cells, it is found in high concentration in bile, in the intestines, and especially in areas of “excitable” tissue (e.g., heart, brain, and skeletal muscle). Its name is derived from the Latin word Taurus (meaning OX), because it was first extracted from OX bile; but today it is made synthetically. Taurine is not directly involved in protein synthesis, but plays many vital roles throughout the body.
Of interest to supplement scientists and athletes, next to glutamine, taurine is the second most abundant amino acid found in skeletal muscle (especially in fast twitch muscle fibers)— This fact has provided motivation for numerous scientific studies, including recent work published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. In this randomized, double blinded, placebo controlled study, researchers investigated the effects of taurine supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle damage after completing high-intensity eccentric arm curls (a.k.a. negatives) in fit men.
Subjects received either 2 grams of taurine or a placebo supplement three times a day for 2 weeks prior to commencing training and continued to take the supplement for 3 days after training. The scientists reported that, in those who received taurine, the severity of DOMS was approximately 25% less 2-days post-training (the point when DOMS is generally the greatest) and by greater than 30% less over a 4-day recovery period. Interestingly, there were no remarkable differences in markers of muscle damage with taurine supplementation (vs. placebo). The researchers speculated that decreased severity of DOMS with taurine supplementation might be due to decreased build-up of oxidative stress during exercise bouts.
ACTION POINT: In the past, taurine has been shown to increase muscle force output, muscular endurance, recovery, cell volumization, and mental focus/energy. This latest research adds another reason for you to add this amino acid to your regimen.
Taurine’s focus/energy promoting effects are why most energy drinks include it in their formulations. However, doses for the most popular energy drinks are in the range of about 1-2 g per serving—although this is a decent dose, it’s not enough to reap the full benefits of taurine supplementation. We recommend taking 1-3 grams 30 minutes before and immediately after training. On rest days take 1-3 grams prior to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Volume 803 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 765-772, Sept 2015
Turn up the volume with synephrine!
Synephrine is a compound found in bitter orange that binds to β-3 receptors on fat cells to enhance fat release and fat burning—hence its use in many fat burners. Synephrine also has stimulant effects (similar to caffeine), where it increases energy and focus and suppresses appetite. Although synephrine’s fat burning effects are well documented, little is known of its ergogenic potential when taken preworkout.
A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows us that synephrine may be more than just a potent fat burner. Using a randomized, double-blinded, and placebo controlled design it was found subjects who took 100 mg of synephrine prior to training performed 6 to11% more repetitions compared to control (no supplement) and placebo conditions respectively. Additionally, the ergogenic benefits of synephrine seemed to be amplified when stacked with low dose caffeine (100 mg), as subjects performed all sets with greater velocity and power.
ACTION POINT: We generally recommend taking 60 mg of synephrine per day, split into 3 doses (i.e., 20 mg per dose). However, based on this study, taking 100 mg of synephrine in a single dose, 45 minutes before training, may boost your training volume. If you want to increase volume and power— try stacking synephrine with 100 mg of caffeine. *Note: As with all stimulants, slowly work your way up to the recommended dose and discontinue use if you feel unwell.
Ratamess NA, Bush JA1, Kang J, Kraemer WJ, Stohs SJ, Nocera VG, Leise MD, Diamond KB, Faigenbaum AD. The effects of supplementation with P-Synephrine alone and in combination with caffeine on resistance exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Sep 17;12:35.
Nitrate your game!
Increasing dietary nitrate intake is becoming a popular supplement strategy among strength and endurance athletes. This is generally accomplished by supplementing with high nitrate beetroot extract. Supplementing nitrates are becoming popular because they can be reduced to nitric oxide (NO) in the body and we all know that NO promotes widening of blood vessels and increased blood flow to active muscles. Beyond the purported blood flow boosting effects, high dietary nitrates have also been shown to increase exercise efficiency during endurance training.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology investigated the effects of dietary nitrate on exercise performance and cognitive function using a protocol designed to mimic work patterns observed in team sports. In this double-blind randomised crossover study, 16 male team-sport players received nitrate rich beetroot juice and placebo (nitrate depleted beetroot juice) for 7 days. On day 7 of supplementation, subjects completed intermittent “all out” sprint training on a cycle ergometer while cognitive tasks were simultaneously performed. They found that beetroot juice gave a 3.4% improvement in total work completed and mitigated the decline in reaction time observed in the placebo condition.
ACTION POINT: This study provides great support for the use of beetroot extract in athletes who play intermittent power sports (like hockey, football, tennis, etc) where reaction time is important. There are many products available on the market that aim to boost dietary nitrate, based on differences in potency, we commend choosing a high quality beetroot extract or juice and taking as directed.
Thompson C, Wylie LJ, Fulford J, Kelly J, Black MI, McDonagh ST, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate improves sprint performance and cognitive function during prolonged intermittent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Sep;115(9):1825-34.