Can Taking L-Tyrosine Help You To Lose Weight?
More and more of us are attempting to shed the pounds and swap our excess flesh for some toned, lean muscle; the problem is, many of us want to achieve this without the aching legs from a day at the gym or the constant hunger pangs from low calorie diets. While there is no such thing as a miracle diet pill, and exercise in conjunction with a restricted diet are vital to a weight loss programme, there are some supplements out there that can do a lot more on their own that might just help you to get a head start on the road to the body you desire.
Allegedly in this group of helpful supplements is L-Tyrosine. Body builders swear by it saying that it can help you lose weight and tone up in no time and the best thing, they say, is that because it is a nonessential amino acid, its 100% natural and 100% safe. However, bodybuilders are hardly medical professionals and we wouldn’t recommend you trying the supplement on their word alone, so the aim of this article is to give you all the information you need to know before making the decision to purchase L-Tyrosine.
So What Actually Is L-Tyrosine?
As previously mentioned, L-Tyrosine is a type of amino acid which acts as the basis on which protein can be made in the body. It is a nonessential amino acid meaning that as well as being found in outside sources such as high protein foods (including meat, fish and eggs), it is also made naturally within the body.
The body makes L-Tyrosine from another amino acid called Phenylalanine. Unlike L-Tyrosine, this is an essential amino acid meaning that we must get it from somewhere other than our own bodies. It follows then that to make L-Tyrosine naturally we first need to consume foods that are rich in Phenylalanine and people who do not consume enough of this essential amino acid will often suffer from depression and a lack of energy.
L-Tyrosine is used in the body to make neurotransmitters including dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These are then used to send chemical messages to the brain that control our various functions including how we feel and the urges we have to do things.
It is most commonly used to treat a hereditary disorder called Phenylketonuria (PKU) whereby the sufferer cannot convert Phenylalanine into L-Tyrosine properly and so the L-Tyrosine is taken in the form of a protein supplement. It also used to treat depression, narcolepsy stress and fatigue amongst other things. But what do all of these things have in common? It seems that L-Tyrosine though used for different purposes is used more or less for the same results every time to improve alertness, increase energy and boost mood.
These things in themselves have the potential to help you with your weight loss; a motivated, well balanced person is actually less likely to put on weight, this is because, according to Linda Spangle R.N., M.A., a weight loss coach based in Denver, up to 75% of people overeat because of how they feel.
You maybe wondering what makes L-Tyrosine so effective for weight loss, and why have those on high protein diets rated it so highly?
How Can Taking L-Tyrosine Supplements Help You To Lose Weight?
As you might have already guessed, L-Tyrosine is one of those multi-functional supplements that has many different but useful effects on the body; some of which are claimed to help with weight loss directly and others that although may not be as tailored to reducing weight, will still have an indirect effect due to its mood boosting and motivational benefits. In order to give a logical conclusion as to the effects of L-Tyrosine and how it can help make weight loss easier, it is necessary to look at all of these different effects in order to see how its many purposes work together to achieve what is claimed to be a much quicker and 100% safe weight loss regime.
Firstly, the University of Maryland Medical Centre say that L-Tyrosine supplements are good for relieving symptoms of stress and depression; this is because L-Tyrosine is involved in the production of hormones that deal with stress and help to manage it. When the body is put under stress, it does not make these hormones as efficiently and thus results in conditions such as depression. The medical centre goes on to say that by treating stress with L-Tyrosine, users could experience improved memory and performance. This is obviously important for anyone wanting to lose weight; depression and/or stress is one of the main obstacles that people are likely to come across when trying to implement a new weight loss regime. These conditions drain your motivation and use up all your energy making you less able to do things such as exercise and more likely to overeat for comfort.
Secondly, and most importantly, it has been alleged that L-Tyrosine can have a direct impact on weight loss due to its relationship with catecholamines. Dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine all belong to this group of organic compounds and we already know that L-Tyrosine is used to make these. Catecholamines increase stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the central nervous system, and it is this mechanism that is often used in most other dieting aids to help promote the reduction of weight.
In general, they are known for promoting weight loss by speeding up the metabolic rate and the thermogenic process (the burning of fat due to a production of heat) within the body. This is why L-Tyrosine is claimed to help reduce weight, which would be logical, at least theoretically since it would make sense that the bigger the quantity of catecholamines in the body, the more potential there is to increase the rates at which calories and fat are burnt.
Sadly, as we will see, there is little concrete evidence that can be used to actually support this claim. Even though it would seem reasonable, the reality is that there are so many different scientific processes going on inside our bodies that even if we increase the amount of L-Tyrosine that we consume, this does not necessarily mean that more catecholamines will be produced. Due to this, we cannot say for sure that the body will be able to increase the rate at which it transforms the L-Tyrosine into these substances, so that more becomes available, or whether the body will actually use the increased L-Tyrosine for this function at all.
What Do The Reviews Say About L-Tyrosine?
Despite a lack of concrete evidence, there have been a small number of limited studies as to the effects of L-Tyrosine on weight loss, these mostly involve animal subjects however and so most of the information that will be described below should be critically viewed. Needless to say that just because a supplement produces certain results in one specific trial, this does not mean that its effects can be generalised and our experts would encourage you to bear this in mind when deciding for or against the use of L-Tyrosine supplements.
It will appear from the following data that L-Tyrosine, although having been in the weight loss industry for quite some time is still in its initial stages of research. While this may automatically cause concern to some consumers it must be remembered that clinical research is both costly and time consuming and so the fact that something has not been tested as much as we would like should not mean that you automatically rule it out in terms of results or safety. As has been previously stated, L-Tyrosine has long been used to treat a variety of conditions and can be found naturally in the body and this may be why researches have not felt the need to test it so rigorously.
Having said this, it should not be the case that the length of time that L-Tyrosine has been around and the fact that it is used to treat many conditions should be the sole basis used to make an informed decision concerning the use of it as a weight loss aid. It must be remembered that although no serious issues have been reported from using L-Tyrosine yet, this is not to say that it is safe or effective as a weight loss supplement.
Due to the lack of published scientific research on L-Tyrosine, the main information that we rely on as to the effectiveness of the treatment on weight loss will come from consumers who have used it first hand and have left reviews on various websites and places of purchase. While these are going to be the most helpful reviews, this does not mean to say that they will be the most credible, many of these types of reviews are prone to bias as the authors are sometimes paid to write them; however, this is not the case for every review.
Now that the credibility of each source of information has been assessed, let’s look at the scientific evidence relating to the effects of L-Tyrosine.
The plain truth is that are no clinical trials regarding L-Tyrosine and weight loss in particular. The closest that has been done are studies that show how L-Tyrosine can work with other types of ingredients or different amino acids to have an indirect effect on weight.
The first study demonstrated how L-Tyrosine could help to overcome a tolerance to phenylpropanolamine. Why is this significant you might ask- well, this particular drug has in fact been proved to have appetite-reducing effects and therefore intolerance to it could be disastrous to a weight loss attempt. This however gives us very limited information regarding L-tyrosine and suggests that the supplements would only aid those with this specific tolerance rather than the general population wishing to lose weight.
Aside from this, there has also been a study into the elevation of urinary catecholamines following tyrosine administration in human subjects. In this trial, subjects were given a single oral dose of L-Tyrosine in quantities of either 100 or 150mg/kg. This one dose caused significant increases in the amount of norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine (amongst other compounds) that were found in the subjects’ urine during the first 2 hours after they had been given the Tyrosine treatment. An alternative treatment, water administration, did provide any changes in the amounts of these substances. What this tells us is that L-Tyrosine may increase the rate of catecholamine synthesis in the body and therefore also potentially, the rate of thermogenesis causing weight loss.
It is important to remember however, that the above study only addresses weight loss as a secondary aim and it appears that the test was not done for the purposes of proving or disproving the assumption that increased catecholamines means an increase in thermogenesis as far as L-Tyrosine is concerned.
While it does serve as evidence to suggest that this could be the case, there is really no telling as to whether this is realistically true as there are just no studies concerning that issue. There is also the fact that we are given no information as to the gender, age or any other characteristics of the subjects used in the experiment and so it could still be the case that this proof of increase in catecholamines only applies to a limited group of people.
Since there have been no clinical studies on this matter, it is impossible for us to give information as to the optimal dose of L-Tyrosine to take for the purpose of increasing thermogenesis or whether this can be achieved through this particular supplement at all. However, it is recommended by the University of Maryland Medical Centre that L-tyrosine should be taken at least half an hour prior to a meal and for the best effects should be taken with a mixture of B vitamins, which will help the body to convert it into its various brain affecting chemicals.
Given the fact there is a lack of available scientific research to prove the weight loss claims of L-Tyrosine, we must turn to users’ reviews in order to get a more well rounded view of the treatment and its effect on aiding with the reduction of weight in healthy and varied subjects.
As would be expected, the reviews are quite mixed in their opinions of L-Tyrosine but this could be down to the fact that different people were using the treatment for different purposes. In terms of using it purely for weight loss, one person had this to say: ‘I’m not sure about the appetite control, but I don’t think I’m eating as much as I did before taking the supplements’, a more enthusiastic also said ‘This product worked better than I ever expected. I take 2 a day usually (1000 mg). Not only did I already lose 2 pounds after taking them for 2 weeks, but they decimated the fuzziness in my brain’ while the opposing view was put across as follows: ‘I tried for a few days and then stopped because it didn’t work. I was still very hungry all day long’.
As can be seen, there is no one-majority view to rely on where L-Tyrosine is concerned. It is however likely that it does have a small effect on weight loss either through its own properties or through a ‘placebo effect’ seeing as more users said that they did experience good results. The others, who said that the supplement did not work for them, only used it for a few days and many of them seemed to have underlying medical conditions.
Having said this it must be emphasised that the change in weight reported and the strength of L-Tyrosine’s weight loss properties were extremely small if any was noticed at all. Almost all of the users favouring L-Tyrosine were also on a calorie restricted diet and exercise regime and so it is doubtful as to whether the effects they have reported are down to L-Tyrosine alone.
This would suggest that although the supplement may aid with weight loss via boosting mood and increasing motivation, in terms of reviews and research, in reality it has little indirect effect on weight loss and is likely to have no direct effect on weight loss at all.
Will Using L-Tyrosine Supplements Result In Any Adverse Effects?
If you are still in favour of purchasing and trying L-Tyrosine after considering all of the above information, you may also want to know if there are any side effects that should be expected.
As far as our researchers can tell, there have been no reported dangerous side effects from taking L-Tyrosine over long periods of time. This does not however mean that you will experience no unpleasant effects, as it must be remembered that supplements can affect people very differently should they be more sensitive to the compound used.
There are no known serious side effects associated with L-Tyrosine in people with no underlying medical conditions but having said this, it is always advised that you do not take any kind of weight loss supplement for considerably long periods without a break in between.
If you are taking any form of monoamine oxidase inhibitor, thyroid hormones or levodopa it is strongly recommended that you ask your physician before attempting to use this supplement. This is due to possible drug interactions with these medicines.
L-Tyrosine is also not recommended for those who suffer from an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or Graves’ disease. This is because, as mentioned earlier in this article, L-Tyrosine is used by the body to make a number of other chemicals and hormones, one of these being thyroxine. Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone. For this reason, taking extra L-Tyrosine supplements might (as well as increasing catecholamines) increase the levels of thyroxine too much, which could exacerbate hyperthyroidism and Graves disease to a potentially dangerous level.
Since L-Tyrosine can be found in most foods, it is likely to be safe to be orally consumed. However, since we have no concrete research to tell us about the long terms effects of excessive L-Tyrosine we can only brand it as possibly safe or perhaps reasonably safe when taken by healthy adults over the age of 18 in short term periods.
The supplement can be taken in a variety of forms including ingesting capsules, administering an injection or applying to the skin. As previously stated the consumption of L-Tyrosine via oral capsules is deemed to be the safest of these three treatments while the injection of L-Tyrosine should only be attempted by medical professions and never self-administered.
According to webmd.com L-Tyrosine appears to be safe to use in doses of 150 mg/kg per day, which would coincide with the clinical study referenced earlier. It also said that this dose is likely to be safe in this amount for up to three months but there is no guarantee that it will be safe in the long term.
Although there have been no serious side effects reported from taking L-Tyrosine over prolonged periods, some people ( even when using the supplement in the short term) have experienced non severe but unpleasant effects such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, heartburn or even joint pain. It is unclear though whether these effects result from the taking of L-Tyrosine alone or are secondary effects from the increased exercise or low calorie diets that are usually combined with the supplement.
It is also not suitable for women who are pregnant or breast feeding since there is no research into how the excess L-Tyrosine may affect the unborn baby, so it is recommended that you avoid the use of this supplement in the interests of your baby’s health.
As well as this is it best to avoid the supplement too if you are already subjected to anti-depressant medicines as they too are monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Monoamine oxidase is the enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown and inactivation of catecholamines and so if coupled with the catecholamine increasing properties of L-Tyrosine, could result in an excess of a particular catecholamine called tyramine, which could potentially result in a dangerous increase in blood pressure.
The Bottom Line: Will Using L-Tyrosine Help You To Lose Weight?
Having considered all of the information provided above it is hard to come to a concrete decision as to the effects of L-Tyrosine on weight. It would seem that it is a very common ingredient used mostly in the areas of combined weight loss pills and mental health. In terms of scientific evidence however, there is only solid proof as to the fact that L-Tyrosine can help with stress and thus may indirectly aid weight loss. This is not to say however that it would work in this way for everyone and so the only real way to find out if it works for you would be to try the pills. They are quite reasonably priced and so if you are thinking about giving them try and they don’t work, the financial risk is not particularly high.
Considering that there are no serious side effects associated with taking L-Tyrosine for a short period of time, and it is proven to boost your mood, which in turn will help with your motivation, we recommend that you should buy a diet pill that contains a small amount of L-Tyrosine rather than using a pure L-Tyrosine supplement on its own. This is because its weight loss properties are not sufficiently proven and even if they were, they would not lead to significant weight loss due to their weak nature.
It is therefore, our conclusion that L-Tyrosine is not sufficiently researched and does not possess the ‘amazing results’ that retailers of the supplement claim in terms of being an aid to weight loss. It is far better for you to use a combined diet pill in conjunction with a low calorie diet and exercise regime, as this is much more likely to help you lose weight safely and healthily – much more than L-Tyrosine alone.
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