Overly-caffeinated pre-workout “energy” powders are all the rage among weight-training athletes today. But what if we told you there may be a better alternative that fuels clean energy and focus without the “crashes”?
An alternative that has been extensively studied by the U.S. military and proven effective at increasing strength and muscle? And, an alternative that you can pick up at your local supermarket for literally pennies per day?
Well, we’re here to tell you there is such an alternative–the commonly-available amino acid tyrosine, and as far as “focus supplements” go, it may be king of the hill.
Tyrosine is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. It has been estimated that nearly 90 percent of these brain neurotransmitters are synthesized directly from naturally occurring tyrosine. (4)
Studies have shown that a combination of physical and mental stress can lead to significant decreases in norepinephrine levels in the brain,7 and norepinephrine is an extremely important neurotransmitter in muscular contraction, mental focus, motivation, etc.
Studies have demonstrated that when norepinephrine levels are “running low,” secondary to stressful events, there is a direct correlation between that depletion and a decrease in performance.1 Because supplementing with tyrosine can restore norepinephrine levels, researchers believe it may be particularly effective at boosting performance. (2)
One study, which addressed this issue back in 1989, strongly demonstrated that supplementing with a few grams of tyrosine significantly reduced stress-related decreases in both mood and performance. (2)
The military has also studied tyrosine extensively. Their main interest is in how tyrosine can boost performance under stressful conditions. Scientific papers, published by the military, assessing the effects of tyrosine as an aid to stress resistance and increased performance among troops, strongly support the idea that supplemental tyrosine can delay fatigue and increase both mental and physical performance. (5,6 )
One of the leading scientists from NATO, J.R. Wurtman, summarized their findings by explaining, “If tyrosine can amplify catecholamine release when such an amplification is desirable, for example, to sustain performance and the ability to cope when the locus ceruleous has been depleted of its norepinephrine in prolonged stress situations, it may have considerable utility.” In English, that means, “If you take this stuff when you’re burned out, it may really pick you up and enhance performance.”
To see how well tyrosine would work in weight-training athletes, Dr. Jeff Stout and colleagues conducted a pilot study. The researchers recruited 14 male and female subjects. Half of them received 3 grams of tyrosine, and the other half received 3 grams of a cornstarch placebo (neither group knew if they were taking a placebo or the “real thing”), one hour before being put through a series of muscular endurance and strength tests. Dr. Stout notes that he really didn’t expect to see much of an effect, but to his surprise, the differences were incredibly pronounced and statistically significant.
Every subject in the tyrosine group showed substantial increases in strength and endurance after only one 3-gram dose, while the placebo group showed no statistically significant change.
The charts you see in this article show the astounding differences between the placebo group and the tyrosine group. Notice the 283 percent greater muscular power generated by the tyrosine group, as well as the 103 percent greater change in endurance strength. Of course, additional studies are needed to confirm these findings, but these preliminary results offer evidence that tyrosine may significantly boost training performance. Numerous scientific studies have shown that tyrosine indeed acts as a precursor to the catecholamine series of neurotransmitters and can increase brain norepinephrine concentration and activity. (3)
HOW TO TAKE TYROSINE:
For a pre-workout boost, try taking 500 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams, 30 minutes prior to your workout. You can find quality tyrosine supplements at most supermarkets and health-food stores today.
- References Cited: H. Anisman, et al., “Coping With Stress, Norepinephrine Depletion and Escape Performance,” Brain Res. 191 (1980) : 583-588.
- L.E. Banderet, “Treatment With Tyrosine, A Neurotransmitter Precursor, Reduces Environmental Stress in Humans,” Brain Res. Bull. 22 (1989) : 759-762.
- C.J. Gibson and R.J. Wurtman, “Physiological Control of Brain Norepinephrine Synthesis by Brain Tyrosine Concentration,” Life Sci. 22 (1978) : 1399-1406.
- J. Hoelzl, “Saint-Johns-Wort. An Alternative to Synthetic Antidepressants?” Pharm. Ztg. 139.46 (1994) : 9-29.
- J.O. Owasoyo, et al., “Tyrosine and its Potential Use as a Countermeasure to Performance Decrement in Military Sustained Operations,” Aviat. Space Environ. Med. May (1992) : 364.
- Maj. C.A. Salter, “Dietary Tyrosine as an Aid to Stress Resistance Among Troops,” Military Medicine 154.3 (1989) : 144.
- E.A. Stone, “Hypothalamic Norepinephrine After Acute Stress,” Brain Res. 35 (1971) : 260-263.