Taurine – 1,000 mg
Next up is one of the industry’s superstar ingredients, and a PricePlow favorite: taurine. This is one of the most versatile and, gram-for-gram, effective ingredients on the nutritional supplement market.
Much like caffeine, it’s an ergogenic aid, nootropic, and fat burner, but without the stimulant effects. In fact, as we’ll see, taurine is a great ingredient to stack with caffeine thanks to its complementary effects.
Osmolyte – cellular hydration and endurance boosting
First and foremost, taurine is an osmolyte, a category of substances that affect the characteristics of biological fluids. More specifically, taurine affects the water balance of your body’s cells by increasing the osmotic pressure around those cells. This naturally forces a higher-than-normal amount of water into them, a state called cellular hyperhydration.
The extra water from cellular hyperhydration confers a number of key benefits. Not only does it help your cells assimilate water soluble nutrients, it also helps them get rid of metabolic waste more efficiently and improves their resistance to heat stress.
Cellular hyperhydration helps your cells work harder for longer, which translates to an improvement in athletic performance – aerobic and anaerobic endurance in particular. According to a 2018 meta-analysis on taurine, a single 1 gram dose taken immediately before exercise can significantly improve athletic endurance.
Taurine is also a potent antioxidant,[55,56] and is especially good at protecting your all-important mitochondria from oxidative stress. As one study puts it, taurine can help protect “against pathologies associated with mitochondrial defects, such as aging, mitochondrial diseases, metabolic syndrome, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders.”
Taurine is also GABAergic, meaning it has the calming, inhibitory effect on neurons as the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABAergic compounds like taurine can have a calming effect on your mood, and taurine in particular can reduce neural inflammation, which is a huge potential benefit.
Returning to the mitochondrial side of things, taurine has been shown to trigger mitochondrial biogenesis – the creation of new mitochondria – in brain tissue.
Taurine is also dopaminergic, helping improve the viability and performance of dopamine-producing neurons.[59,60]
As you can see, taurine is neuroprotective in several important ways, which can help you find the focus and motivation you need to get through your workout, while also helping prevent the drop in cognitive function that typically follows exhaustive exercise.
Mechanistically, its GABAergic and antihypertensive effects make it an awesome ingredient to stack with caffeine, helping you reap the benefits of a large caffeine dose without totally shocking your system.
Body composition – fat burner
As if all that weren’t enough, taurine helps you burn fat and stay lean too! The ingredient has been shown to convert your body’s white adipose tissue (WAT) to brown adipose tissue (BAT).[61,62]
WAT and BAT are your body’s two basic types of adipose (fat) tissue, the difference between them being mitochondrial density – BAT has way more mitochondria compared to WAT, meaning it’s more metabolically active. Unlike WAT, BAT burns significant amounts of calories.
BAT burns calories through a process called non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), in which energy substrates like glucose and fatty acids get burned for heat. NST is one of your body’s primary mechanisms for maintaining its core temperature in the face of significant cold exposure.
The long and short of it is that the more BAT you have, the more calories you’ll burn in a day. Obviously, burning extra calories through BAT upregulation can be very helpful if your goal is to get lean and stay lean.
Because BAT causes your cells to take up more glucose and fatty acids for NST, it can lower the amount of glucose and fatty acids in your blood, which translates to better glycemic control, better cholesterol, and higher insulin sensitivity.
Taurine is a do-it-all ingredient
Can you see why we love taurine so much? Taurine’s ability to improve both physical and mental performance makes it incredibly valuable. Its GABAergic and mitochondrial antioxidant properties not only enhance performance, but also have a positive effect on overall well-being. These mechanisms make it an excellent complement for the stimulating energy of caffeine, which is why taurine is commonly found in energy drinks.
The last reason we love seeing taurine in pre-workouts is that the target market for these supplements is especially likely to benefit from taurine supplementation – taurine is conditionally essential, which means if you’re dieting and training hard (we’re guessing that’s many, if not most of our readers), your metabolic requirements for taurine will go up.[51,52,58]
CognatiQ (as Whole Coffee Fruit Extract (Coffea arabica) (Fruit)) – 150 mg
CognatiQ, previously known as NeuroFactor, is an ingredient that’s been around for a while – seasoned supplement consumers have probably encountered it before. It’s a coffee fruit extract that contains bioactive constituents capable of upregulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophic protein.
BDNF is useful because it increases the rate at which your brain generates new neurons and also because it promotes the growth of new connections between existing neurons.[83,84]
In other words, the protein increases neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s capacity to physically remodel itself in response to learning. In adult brains, neurogenesis occurs primarily in the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for long-term potentiation (LTP) – your brain’s process of memory consolidation, which we touched on in the Alpha-GPC section.
Research consistently finds that cognitive performance directly correlates to serum BDNF concentration.[83-88] Upregulation of BDNF is neuroprotective, and can decrease one’s likelihood of developing neurodegenerative illnesses.[83,84,87,88] By the same token, low BDNF levels can increase one’s risk of these diseases.
Since exercise itself increases BDNF production, putting BDNF-boosting ingredients like CognatiQ into pre-workouts is a good strategy for synergistically enhancing the brain benefits of working out.
The 100 mg dose used in Klout KAIO has been validated as efficacious by peer-reviewed research – in one study it was shown to increase BDNF production by an impressive 150%.