Tyrosine is considered to be a non-essential amino acid which is created from phenylalanine within the body.
It’s a very important amino acid that is used in the production of structural proteins and in the creation of certain neurotransmitters.
As a supplement it is sold as a stand-alone or as a blend of assorted compounds. The following foods are also excellent sources of tyrosine:
- Lima beans
- Eggs whites
- Whey protein
- Low fat cottage cheese
- Fatty fish
- Turkey and chicken breast
- Pumpkin & sesame seeds
Tyrosine has been touted and sold as a fat burner, to help relieve fatigue and to aid sleep.
This article will investigate these claims, and will use valid research when discussing its main training benefits.
Tyrosine role as neurotransmitter
Although proteins are made up of various amino acids, tyrosine is considered to be the most important due to its role in the production of neurotransmitters.
Dopamine and the catecholamines (adrenaline & norepinephrine) deliver information from your brain to the rest of your body.
Tyrosine enhances the production of these neurotransmitters and stabilises your stress response to these ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ signals.
Research has indicated that tyrosine at 150 grams per kg of bodyweight can help to reduce stress, fatigue and enhance sleep.
These three factors have a massive impact on your training potential; let’s explain this further!
Sleep is a huge part of the training triangle and a good night’s sleep has the following key benefits:
- It enhances physical health and overall emotional well-being
- It improves mental alertness and sharpness
- It can highly impact athletic performance
Current research has indicated that a poor sleeping pattern can have a negative impact on the body’s basal metabolic rate and glucose metabolism which is decreased by about 35%.
Human growth hormone is also decreased when the individual has suffered with sleep deprivation and this hormone is essential for muscle growth and general recovery.
In addition, cortisol levels can spike during the sleep debt or via poor sleeping patterns. This can have a negative impact on insulin sensitivity and can counteract your recovery process after training.
Increased levels of this stress hormone could be a catalyst for a diminished muscle growth/repair, as it will try to break down your muscle proteins to be used as fuel. Double this lack of sleep with high stress levels, and your cortisol levels would be through the roof.
In addition, high levels of this stress hormone are a catalyst for you to store belly fat; which is a no-goer especially when you are training very hard at the gym!
Tyrosine as a fat burner
In addition to playing a vital role in busting stress and helping you to sleep, tyrosine helps in the regulation of the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter serotonin.
It is well established that regulation of serotonin levels can help to stabilise moods and to prevent overeating.
Serotonin allows you to manage your hunger pangs, to control your appetite and helps you to make the right choices when selecting foods i.e. eating clean versus binge eating junk foods.
Some additional research determined that tyrosine increased the amount of norepinephrine levels when subjects were placed on a calorie restricted diet.
This was loosely related to norepinephrine’s impact on increasing heart rate which in turn directed blood flow to the muscles.
This process increased the utilisation and turnover of blood glucose.
Bear in mind, that norepinephrine also boosts alertness and arousal, as well as controlling serotonin levels.
Therefore, the relationship between tyrosine, norepinephrine and fat loss may be attributed to heightened mood/alertness which may help with you being in control of your eating patterns.
The thyroid hormones that rev up your metabolism and are used as your body’s furnace to burn fat; these are made up from tyrosine and iodine.
Both of these ingredients need to be present if the thyroid gland converts them in the primary thyroid hormones that control your metabolism. In fact tyrosine deficiency is associated with an underactive thyroid and weight gain.
Boosts training potential
As mentioned at the start of this article, tyrosine can help reduce fatigue. Although fatigue is multi-factorial in terms of what is causing it; it is always good practice to have some supplements in your arsenal to help you to train longer and harder at the gym.
Some current research has indicated that tyrosine doesn’t actually enhance performance but reduces the rate of perceived exertion at a given work load.
Speculatively, you might feel that you can work longer and harder at the gym, this in turn maybe deemed as training adaptation as muscle mass and strength improves in connection with supplementing with tyrosine.
Again like many supplements on the market some valid and robust research needs to take place in relation to their ‘real’ training benefits; as some of the claims made by the manufacturers could be a little far-fetched!