Do you sometimes lack the motivation or energy to go to the gym after a long hard day at work? Maybe you wake up early so you can exercise first thing in the morning, but end up hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock to get an “extra 10 minutes,” and never get round to it.
Perhaps you’re working too hard, not getting enough sleep, have kids, work night shifts, follow a low-carbohydrate diet, or did too much drinking last night. All these things affect your energy levels and your motivation. It doesn’t matter how effective your training programme is. Without the energy to train consistently 3 or 4 times a week, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
Although there are plenty of solutions (such as getting more sleep, or eating a better diet), there’s one nutrient I’m really excited about that will help your body fight back. It’s called tyrosine (pronounced tie-ro-zeen).
Research shows that tyrosine helps your body adapt to and cope with the effects of physical or mental stress. Tyrosine will also help to offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation, leaving you feeling more alert and energetic.
In fact, tyrosine is one of the “secret weapons” used by many of the world’s elite Special Forces in “stressful situations such as military sustained operations.” Soldiers engaged in combat operations often rely on tyrosine to keep them alert and vigilant .
One study, carried out at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, shows that tyrosine combats the effects of sleep deprivation . Other researchers are equally as excited about its powerful effect on the mind and body…
“[Tyrosine] may prove useful in promoting improved performance in situations in which performance is compromised by stress.”
US Department of Military and Emergency Medicine (1999) 
“[Tyrosine] appears to prevent the substantial decline in various aspects of cognitive performance and mood associated with many kinds of acute stress.”
US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (2003) 
As well as giving you a physical and mental boost, tyrosine can also make your workouts seem easier! Tyrosine helps your body to create substances called enkephalins (pronounced en-keff-a-lins), which have potent pain-relieving effects.
Although you can get tyrosine on its own, you’ll find that it works much better when you combine it with a herbal source of caffeine, such as guaran™. The seeds of guaran™ are rich in caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. They’re widely used as a tonic in many South American countries.
Few people realise that caffeine is one of the most effective performance-enhancing ingredients available. Most studies show that caffeine is a quick and easy way to boost your energy levels, gain strength and generate more intensity during your workouts [6, 7]. Although many people like to have a strong cup of coffee in the hope that it will have the same effect, it’s well known that coffee doesn’t work as well as caffeine. While scientists don’t really know why, it appears that one or more of the substances in coffee interferes with the effects of caffeine . This isn’t surprising, especially when you consider there are hundreds of compounds dissolved when coffee beans are roasted, ground and extracted in hot water. In fact, when one of these compounds was injected into rats, it actually slowed heart rate and lowered blood pressure, whereas caffeine has the opposite effect. Although caffeine is a diuretic (which means it can cause more frequent urination, when you use it), the diuretic effect is not offset by the water you drink with it. In other words, as long as you drink enough water, dehydration won’t be a problem.
Although Solgar do a tyrosine-only product, I prefer Viper Extreme bars from Maximuscle, which contain tyrosine as well as guaran™ and a source of rapidly-digested carbohydrate.
1. Neri DF, Wiegmann D, Stanny RR, Shappell SA, McCardie A, McKay DL. (1995). The effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during extended wakefulness. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 66, 313-319
2. Thomas JR, Lockwood PA, Singh A, Deuster PA. (1999). Tyrosine improves working memory in a multitasking environment. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 64, 495-500
3. Lieberman HR. (2003). Nutrition, brain function and cognitive performance. Appetite, 40, 245-254
4. Deijen, J.B., & Orlebeke, J.F. (1994). Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Brain Research Bulletin, 33, 319-323
5. Owasoyo JO, Neri DF, Lamberth JG. (1992). Tyrosine and its potential use as a countermeasure to performance decrement in military sustained operations. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 63, 364-369
6. Spriet, L.L. (1995). Caffeine and performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 5, S84-99
7. Doherty, M. (1998). The effects of caffeine on the maximal accumulated oxygen deficit and short-term running performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 8, 95-104
8. Graham, T.E., Hibbert, E., & Sathasivam, P. (1998). Metabolic and exercise endurance effects of coffee and caffeine ingestion. Journal of Applied Physiology, 85, 883-889