Study: Taurine Boosts 3K Performance
Friday, 17 August 2012
Accomplished middle-distance runners participate in study
By Scott Douglas
Taurine is found in popular energy drinks such as Red Bull.
Accomplished middle-distance runners completed a 3K time trial an average of 12 seconds faster when they ingested taurine before, according to a study published in the journal Amino Acids.
Taurine is one of the most prevalent amino acids in the human body. It’s especially found in Type II muscle fibres, also known as fast-twitch muscle fibres. It’s added to many energy drinks, including Red Bull.
In the study, Scottish researchers tested eight runners, with an average 800-metre best of 2:01. They all did two 3K time trials, spaced a week apart. Two hours before one they took a placebo pill; two hours before the other, they took a pill containing 1000 milligrams of taurine (roughly the same amount as in a can of Red Bull). After taking the placebo pill, their average time was 10:58; after taking the taurine pill, their average time was 10:46.
Before you run out and buy a case of Red Bull, a few of many caveats: the sample size for this study was small; the runners took pills rather than consuming a drink; and the time trial distance was shorter than most of us race.
Concerning the last point, claims for taurine’s performance-enhancing benefits are largely made in relation to short activities involving power; there’s no evidence that taurine would help with long-distance events. At this point, there’s no scientific consensus on how taurine is beneficial, assuming it is. As the Scottish researchers note:
“The mechanism responsible for this improved performance is unclear. [Taurine]’s potential influence on exercise metabolism may involve interaction with the muscle membrane, the coordination or the force production capability of involved muscles.”
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