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Is L-Tyrosine Effective for Weight Loss? (Secondary Benefits & More)

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 7 February 2022

Even though l-tyrosine was discovered in 1846, taking l-tyrosine for weight loss has only recently been studied (for this article, tyrosine and l-tyrosine are used interchangeably). 

A quick google search shows people touting it as a miracle supplement and treatment for everything from schizophrenia to Parkinson’s. But what is true and what is hype? A lot of the information is based on older studies published in the 60s-90s, and the long-term effects on health haven’t been studied at all. 

More recent study results have been mixed on it’s effectiveness, but one thing is clear; l-tyrosine’s effects are widespread and vital for a healthy body. 

What Is L-Tyrosine?

L-tyrosine naturally occurs in the human body and is a non-essential amino acid that helps in the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals that send messages around the brain) such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. 

These three neurotransmitters may also be referred to as catecholamines and are known to regulate many different functions in the body. 

Dopamine can also affect your sleep patterns, stress levels, mood, focus, and ability to multitask. 

Epinephrine and norepinephrine both help your body respond to stress. Epinephrine helps your body by pumping blood faster, taking in more oxygen, and converting fat into energy so that you can respond to stressful situations. 

Norepinephrine and epinephrine work together when your “fight or flight” response is triggered, but without enough norepinephrine, you wouldn’t have enough energy to get through the day. Norepinephrine is also partially responsible for telling your body when it needs to wake up in the morning and giving you the energy to focus. 

Supplementing with tyrosine can cause increased catecholamine synthesis – especially in people who have lower levels of dopamine or whose levels are depleted by extreme stress. 

That means that when your levels of dopamine are depleted, supplementing with tyrosine may be helpful to boost focus, energy levels, and help respond to fight or flight. But should one take l-tyrosine for weight loss and how do you get enough naturally? 

How to Get Enough L-Tyrosine & Phenylalanine Naturally  

Although our bodies can produce l-tyrosine, we need an essential amino acid called phenylalanine to do so. Luckily, phenylalanine can be found in food such as chicken, nuts, beans, milk, and cheese so supplementation is usually not necessary but in rare cases, some people can’t process phenylalanine so additional l-tyrosine supplementation may be recommended. 

L-tyrosine itself can also be found in many of the same protein heavy foods like cheddar cheese, which can be good for weight loss if used in moderation. Tyrosine’s name comes from the Greek “tyros” meaning “cheese”. Because of this, many people refer to it as the cheese protein. Due to the l-tyrosine and not wanting to give it up, people also wonder whether or not cheese is good for weight loss. 

With its health benefits clear, it’s no wonder that tyrosine has sparked the imagination of the diet and weight loss industry. 

L-Tyrosine for Weight Loss

Oddly enough, l-tyrosine alone does not burn fat, suppress appetite, or have many direct benefits, but combining it with other supplements has yielded fair results. 

Some studies show that to get maximum fat-burning efficacy, you should look for ones that have other ingredients such as capsaicin, caffeine, or green tea extract.

Another study found that a combination of capsaicin (found in peppers), catechins (compounds found in tea that help weight loss), caffeine, and tyrosine helped people lose more weight and keep it off

You may also consider taking folic acid, vitamin B6, and copper to improve the absorption of l-tyrosine. 

Secondary Weight Loss Effects of L-Tyrosine

Since l-tyrosine is vital to produce several neurotransmitters, many secondary effects can carry over into a weight loss regimen. 

  • Mood

For example, decreased levels of the “feel-good hormone” dopamine cause lower mood, less motivation, and lower energy. People with a lack of dopamine are prone to depression, schizophrenia, and psychosis. 

That means you’ll be fighting an uphill battle to even get dressed and go outside for a healthy walk. And generally if someone isn’t depressed or has never dealt with psychosis, they’re more likely to have healthier weight management habits. 

  • Stress

Where tyrosine shines is in extreme levels of physical stress (you’re too cold or too hot), and taking tyrosine before such events will give you more energy and endurance to complete physical tasks. 

However, for some people, everyday stress may be reduced by taking tyrosine. Again, this is because of decreased levels of neurotransmitters which can also make you feel sluggish and unable to focus. 

Some encouraging studies have been conducted on mice. They were subjected to chronic stress and showed that supplementation with tyrosine helps improve attention and brain function and reduces the effects of stress. While this is promising, it’s clear that more tests on a large number of humans is needed. 

  • Focus & Performance 

Supplementing l-tyrosine can be helpful to keep you focused during physically demanding tasks and has shown to benefit some performance metrics too. 

In one study, soccer players were given l-tyrosine supplements. The goal was to determine if providing athletes with tyrosine would help them cope better with the physical challenges of exercising under warm conditions. As a result, l-tyrosine significantly increased their focus and response time. These outcomes are encouraging because they show that tyrosine supplementation can increase the effectiveness of sports, among other activities. 

In another study of military cadets on an obstacle course, cadets given a tyrosine supplement performed better on memory and tracking tasks than their peers in the control group. Their systolic blood pressure was also lowered. 

This suggests that tyrosine gained through proper nutrition and supplements could lead to better performance in sports.

So tyrosine may not directly drop those pounds of fat, but it is vital in body functions that support mood, motivation, stress, response times, and focus which can all contribute towards more effective performance.

L-Tyrosine’s Other Health Benefits

Besides tyrosine’s effect on brain chemicals such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, it’s also vital for the production of melanin (skin pigment), protein building within the body, and serves as a precursor to some thyroid hormones (T3 & T4). 

Proper levels of T3 (also called triiodothyronine) have been linked to weight loss. Since the synthesis of T3 is impossible without l-tyrosine, it has been indirectly credited as a treatment that helps weight loss caused by a malfunction in the thyroid. 

However, more clinical research is needed, and trying to correct a thyroid imbalance without the supervision of a doctor can be dangerous. 

Claims have also been made that l-tyrosine is an effective treatment for:

  • ADHD
  • PMS
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Recovery symptoms in alcohol and heroin addicts
  • Depression
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Dementia
  • Addiction & Withdrawal

But the truth is that most of these claims are not supported by scientific evidence. Studies into the effects of supplementing with l-tyrosine have been small and limited in scope. 

So it’s debated what l-tyrosine can and can not do for us. Still, we do know that tyrosine is crucial for healthy doses of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, melanin, and thyroid hormones. 

When to Supplement L-Tyrosine & Dosages

Whether you’re hoping l-tyrosine can help with a mental disorder, thyroid issue, energy levels, focus, stress, sleep, or anything else, it’s recommended to speak with a healthcare professional before supplementing tyrosine. This is especially true if you’re considering taking l-tyrosine for weight loss

With adequate protein consumption, most people produce enough, and in the wrong dosage, it can cause more harm than good. 

Nonetheless, experts recommend that you take l-tyrosine supplements without food and avoid taking it before bed since it may enhance energy levels. For best results, you may want to take it 30 minutes before you expect to be in a highly stressful situation.

Dosage recommendations vary, but it may take some experimentation to find out what’s best for you. Some say that adding as little as 150 mg is enough to improve your health, but typical dosages on manufactured bottles can go up to 400 mg per day.

FAQ

Q: I want to take l-tyrosine, but I have a problem with my thyroid. Is it safe? 

A: ALWAYS talk to your doctor first if you have an underlying condition before you start any new supplement routines. Even if the supplements may help you, they may interfere with the medications you’re already taking. 

 

Q: This sounds like a dream solution. My depression and anxiety keep my motivation so low that just going outside is a challenge. Can I take this with my other medications? 

A: We understand that depression can completely take over your life and destroy your motivation, but please ask your doctor about supplementing with l-tyrosine first. It could interfere with other medications. 

 

Q: L-Tyrosine sounds like what I’ve been looking for, can I start taking it right away?

A: It’s always better to talk to your doctor first. As with most supplements, the long-term effects of supplementing with l-tyrosine have not been determined. Since everyone’s reactions will be different, it’s important to understand your goals with the supplement so you can better assess its effectiveness for your body. 

 

Q: I want to see if this works for me. What are the side effects? 

A: In high doses, l-tyrosine supplements can cause headaches, nausea, heartburn, lethargy, and joint pain. If you do decide to try the supplement, it’s safer to start with a lower dosage to see if that is enough to help you. 

Conclusion

While this amino acid is very important for your overall health and has an array of potential benefits, studies have not shown that tyrosine alone directly helps weight loss

Instead, using l-tyrosine for weight loss is beyond it’s proven benefit since it only has secondary effects and needs more research to assess its benefits to treat certain medical conditions. Plus, most people have healthy l-tyrosine from a typical diet alone. 

If you’re not sure about whether or not you should supplement with l-tyrosine, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first. 

Related Reading: Does chlorophyll work for weight loss?

References 

Belza, A., Frandsen , E., & Kondrup, J. (2006, April 25). Body fat loss achieved by stimulation of thermogenesis by a combination of bioactive food ingredients: A placebo-controlled, double-blind 8-week intervention in obese subjects. International journal of obesity (2005). Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16652130/ 

Westerterp K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism1(1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-1-5

Coull, N. A., Watkins, S. L., Aldous, J. W., Warren, L. K., Chrismas, B. C., Dascombe, B., Mauger, A. R., Abt, G., & Taylor, L. (2015). Effect of tyrosine ingestion on cognitive and physical performance utilising an intermittent soccer performance test (iSPT) in a warm environment. European journal of applied physiology115(2), 373–386. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-3022-7

Deijen, J. B., Wientjes, C. J., Vullinghs, H. F., Cloin, P. A., & Langefeld, J. J. (1999). Tyrosine improves cognitive performance and reduces blood pressure in cadets after one week of a combat training course. Brain research bulletin48(2), 203–209. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0361-9230(98)00163-4

Tyrosine. Mount Sinai Health System. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/tyrosine 

Belza, A., Toubro, S., & Astrup, A. (2009). The effect of caffeine, green tea and tyrosine on thermogenesis and energy intake. European journal of clinical nutrition63(1), 57–64. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602901

Wilson, J. H., & Lamberts, S. W. (1981). The effect of triiodothyronine on weight loss and nitrogen balance of obese patients on a very-low-calorie liquid-formula diet. International journal of obesity5(3), 279–282.

Chen, D., Liu, Y., He, W., Wang, H., & Wang, Z. (2012). Neurotransmitter-precursor-supplement intervention for detoxified heroin addicts. Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Medical sciences = Hua zhong ke ji da xue xue bao. Yi xue Ying De wen ban = Huazhong keji daxue xuebao. Yixue Yingdewen ban, 32(3), 422–427. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11596-012-0073-z

Jongkees, B. J., Hommel, B., Kühn, S., & Colzato, L. S. (2015). Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands–A review. Journal of psychiatric research70, 50–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.08.014

Health topics A-Z. PeaceHealth. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2021, from https://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/hn-3927007

Tumilty, L., Davison, G., Beckmann, M., & Thatcher, R. (2011). Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. European journal of applied physiology111(12), 2941–2950. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1921-4

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.