Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and occur naturally in protein-rich foods such as meat, dairy and fish. Taurine and arginine are amino acids that may boost your fitness efforts. Taking amino acid supplements can improve energy, muscle-building and fat loss in exercising individuals. Always consult with your doctor before taking an amino acid supplement.
Taurine is the second most-abundant amino acid in human muscle tissue, according to BodyBuilding.com. While not an essential amino acid, taurine exists in high concentrations in tissues with high energy requirements, such as the heart, muscles, liver and lungs, says Jim Stoppani, PhD in "Supplements 101." L-Arginine is an essential amino acid, especially in children, and contributes to the production of the gas nitric oxide, which plays a crucial role in your cardiovascular system. In addition, arginine may have many fitness and weight loss applications because of its role in muscle performance enhancement.
A common ingredient in energy drinks and supplements, taurine has been misconstrued as potentially dangerous. While the caffeine content of energy supplements may cause undesired side effects for some users, taurine may actually improve heart health. At first glance, L-arginine may seem like a hardcore bodybuilding supplement, only for weightlifters and strength-training athletes. However, arginine has many practical applications to general health, endurance and weight loss, in addition to your muscle-building goals, according to "Everything You Need to NO" by Jordana Brown.
Once absorbed into the bloodstream, arginine acts as a precursor to nitric oxide or NO, which vasodilates, or expands, blood vessels. NO relaxes the endothelial cells of the cardiovascular system, allowing more nutrients such as blood, oxygen and amino acids to reach working muscle cells, according to "Natural Anabolics" by Jerry Brainum. In addition, arginine triggers the release of HGH (human growth hormone) from the pituitary gland in the brain. Taurine enhances muscle contraction, acts as an antioxidant, restores intramuscular calcium levels and draws water into muscle cells, giving them more volume, says Stoppani.
The increased NO levels, associated with arginine supplementation, enhance muscle-building, endurance and fat burning, says Brainum. The muscle "pump" experienced while resistance training also increases because of the higher volume of blood delivered to muscle cells. A spike in the production of HGH has a slightly anabolic or muscle-building effect. Moreover, HGH acts as a potent fat-burning substance in the body and it speeds wound healing and recovery. Taurine allows muscles to contract harder and for longer, promoting better workouts. The synergistic effect of taking both taurine and arginine may enhance muscle recovery, glycogen (muscle-stored carbs) replenishment and physical muscle size, says Stoppani.
In his article "Power Pills," Jose Antonio, PhD recommends taking 4 g of A-AKG, or arginine-alphaketoglutarate, up to three times daily. Optimal times to take arginine include upon waking, before or after a workout and before bed. When taken before bed for HGH enhancement, you may need a higher dosage, such as 7 to 10 g, says Stoppani. For taurine, he recommends you take 1 to 3 g before a workout, after training, or both.
- BodyBuilding.com; L-Taurine Information
- "Muscle & Fitness Presents, 2010 Edition": The Ultimate Supplement Handbook; Supplements 101; Jim Stoppani, PhD; January 2010
- "Muscle & Performance": Everything You Need to NO; Jordana Brown; January 2010
- "Natural Anabolics"; Jerry Brainum; 2006
- "Muscle & Fitness Presents, 2010 Edition": The Ultimate Supplement Handbook; Power Pills; Jose Antonio, PhD; January 2010