Key words: taurine, glucose, insulin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, fatty acids, adipose tissue, cysteine dioxygenase, CDO, PPAR, UCP, thermogenesis
Japanese scientists have just discovered an unknown face of taurine. This amino acid is well-known to bodybuilders as it acts as an anabolic and anticatabolic agent; but now it has occurred that it also intensively stimulates fat burning processes in subcutaneous adipose tissue and facilitates its reduction. It is worth mentioning that Japanese have particularly took a fancy of taurine as most of the information on this amino acid comes from the Cherry-Blossom Land.
Taurine and your muscles
I have been writing articles on taurine many times. I believe I do not have to puff it because every athlete knows this supplement rather well. It is widely known for its anabolic and anticatabolic properties; what is more, it improves creatine delivery. However, it could be beneficial to mention a few basic facts on taurine…
Taurine is a very important component of our body and it plays a vital role in many biological processes. It is partially synthesized by our body while the deficiency is corrected by food intake. Athletes know it as a supplement that helps to maintain an excellent psychomotor efficiency and build muscles.
The psychoenergetic activity of taurine, widely exploited in energy drinks where taurine is combined with caffeine, is linked to its properties that regulate the functions of gabaergetic system. In this system all the signals are transmitted by glutamic acid, itself or as a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Thanks to that property taurine increases stress resistance as well as prolongs a waking state, thus extends caffeine activity (which also helps in burning excessive fat).
Positive influence of taurine on muscles is rather complex and still has not been fully explained. It is muscle tissue that stores the greatest amount of this amino acid among any other tissues in a body. It is known that taurine is involved in calcium ions and organic nitrogen turnover as well as certain hormone activity. Besides, it eliminates free radicals and prevents from protein breakdown, what in turn facilitates regeneration and muscle development.
A proper calcium ions turnover has a vital part in generating strength impulse, muscle mass development and physical brawn. These aspects are profoundly explained in “Taurine – rattling bull therapy” so please do not hesitate and read it if you are interested in more details on this topic.
Apart from glutamine, taurine is a basic transporter of non-protein nitrogen. Because muscle tissue is the same nitrogen storage place as adipose tissue for energy compounds, therefore our body decomposes muscle protein as soon as it finds out that other tissues (i.e. internal organs) lack nitrogen. In this process called catabolism, your body obtains nitrogen that is next bonded to taurine or glutamine particles and transported in the bloodstream to tissues avid for nitrogen. It is not hard to understand that our body destroys our hardly gained muscle mass. Nevertheless, the solution is very simple – taurine (or glutamine) supplements provide starving tissues with nitrogen and help us protect our muscle mass.
What is more, taurine stimulates hormone secretion, especially insulin. Insulin transports carbohydrates and amino acids (creatine among other) to muscle cells; that resulted in calling it a creatine delivery enhancer.
However, let us focus on the most important aspect of this article that is the influence of taurine on fat loss rather than on deliberating about how taurine regulates muscle mass development… Although there were some reports on taurine facilitating fat burning, this information was not well proved. Japanese made an important discovery – not only did they prove that taurine had slimming properties, but also they explained its action mechanism. So what did Japanese discover?
Taurine vs. fat
If any of you had a smattering of biochemistry or endocrinology, you should know that insulin has a dual nature. On one hand, it intensifies muscle protein synthesis, but on the other hand, it prevents from fat breakdown and facilitates its storage. Therefore, if taurine stimulates insulin secretion – and thus muscle mass development and creatine transport – so how can it facilitate fat loss at the same time? I have explained this issue in SdW (Sport dla Wszystkich – Sport for Everybody). Insulin makes people fat only if its secretion is stimulated by significant amount of glucose (carbohydrates). A certain level of sugar is always present in our bloodstream; thus, when a significant amount of glucose (for example from white sugar) stimulates pancreas to secrete insulin, the hormone facilitates the uptake of glucose from the blood into the tissues. It is worth noticing that less is transported to muscles and more to adipose tissue. This is due to the fact that muscles have limited capability of sugar storage (in the form of glycogen), whereas subcutaneous adipose tissue capability of storage has no limits. In fat cells, glucose is stored in the form of glycerol and fatty acids. However, when taurine (or for example leucine) stimulates insulin secretion, insulin causes that tissues take up glucose from the bloodstream, making the blood sugar level drop down. The sugar level drop has to be compensated, so our body releases hormones (mainly glucagon, adrenaline, and noradrenaline) that break adipose tissue down and regain stored glucose in the form of glycerol. In this way, not only does insulin stimulation with nutrients different to easy digestible carbohydrates not bring the risk of gaining fat, but also it can induce fat loss.
This mechanism was used to explain a well-known paradox; supplements stimulating insulin secretion facilitated fat loss and adipose tissue reduction. Recent researches show that this may be only an additional effect because insulin stimulators work in a different way. To make it clear, it has been already mentioned in my previous article that leucine stimulates the mTOR kinase, which in turn elicits production and activity of PPAR-delta. PPAR-delta binds certain fatty acids (especially omega-3) what induces gene expression and synthesis of protein involved in fat burning. It appears that Japanese scientists have discovered that taurine activity is very similar. However, let us start from the beginning.
Taurine and adipose tissue
I have been writing on PPAR receptors a lot lately, because many scientists put a lot of interest on them. PPARs (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors) are a group of intracellular receptors that bind certain nutrients (mainly fatty acids) and thus activate genes. They are similar to androgen receptors that bind testosterone and other anabolic steroids. There are three types of PPARs in adipose tissue – gamma, alpha and delta. PPARs-gamma play a crucial role in adipogenesis and affect adipocytes proliferation, whereas PPARs-alpha and (especially) delta proliferate ALL proteins responsible for lipolysis, particularly increasing expression of their downstream target, uncoupling proteins (UCP). Uncoupling proteins are thought to be involved in mediation of cellular thermogenesis. There is no doubt that all nutrients that activate PPARs-alpha and delta will facilitate fat loss, what has already been discussed in the previous articles on omega-3 and leucine. Last but not least, the activation of PPARs-alpha and delta also stimulates protein synthesis in muscle tissue…
Japanese scientists have proved that taurine strongly stimulates the synthesis of PPARs, especially type alpha. It also stimulates ALL transport and enzymatic proteins that are involved in fatty acid utilization; that includes vital for fat loss UCP. What is more, this taurine activity is only present in white (subcutaneous) adipose tissue. Neither PPAR level and functions nor fat loss supplements activity are influenced by this amino acid. In other words, no changes have been observed in muscle tissue, brown adipose tissue or other tissues and glands.
Unfortunately, scientists have not answered all questions. We do not know the relationship between taurine and PPARs-delta and the way taurine stimulates PPAR-alpha. Also, it seems to be still unexplained whether the increase of other (inner) fat burners such as UCP or CPT is a consequence of the activity of already existing receptors or whether taurine induces their production via its own signaling pathway. Japanese scientists say that taurine behaves like a hormone. What is more, it has its own signaling pathway, at least in subcutaneous adipose tissue. This could be yet unknown kinase (similar to mTOR) or an unidentified intracellular receptor that binds amino acids. This receptor may be similar to a serum response factor (SRF) that is sensitive to arginine (see: “Arginine is a hormone”).
There is one more aspect that loomed up from the research presented – taurine deficiency. A high-caloric diet diminishes the activity of taurine producing enzyme – cysteine dioxygenase (CDO). The more you eat, the less taurine your liver and white adipose tissue produce. These are the places where CDO acts and where taurine is produced the most efficiently. When we are overfed, our body lacks taurine as well as protein that burn unwanted fatty acids. This favours subcutaneous adipose tissue storage. Japanese have shown how to break of this vicious circle. The only thing you have to do is supplement taurine. Only 3 grams daily were enough to prevent from adipose tissue development that was stimulated for 7 weeks with a high-caloric diet.
Unfortunately, based on these researches it cannot be concluded what dosage and for how long should be taken to burn the excessive adipose tissue. However, half a loaf is better than none!
I believe it is not worth waiting for another research, you can start using taurine as a fat loss supplement now.
Personally, if I wanted to get a good fat loss stack, I would add taurine to a good thermogenic supplement (i.e. ThermoStim).
If I could spend more money, I would add omega-3, CLA, leucine, carnitine and lecithin.
All these supplements work synergistically that is they cooperate for an enhanced effect. The synergism between taurine and other ingredients of thermogenic supplements – for example caffeine – seems to be the most promising. Taurine and caffeine are base components of energy drinks; therefore, not only can we treat these drinks as psychostimulants, but also as fat burners. The mechanisms of their activity are very interesting, yet very complex and require a long lecture. Hence, I will come back to this issue in one of my next articles…