The understanding of the mind-body relationship has come a long way since the beginning of Cartesian dualism. In fact, we can all pretty much agree that, in order for optimal performance to occur, we must have both the mind and body ticking like a fine Swiss timepiece. Since you are reading this, one thing is most likely certain, you have already made an effort to get your body looking and working perfectly. However, very few active people ever wonder whether their mind is holding them back from achieving their potential. This article will discuss a number of supplements that act to optimize the mind-body relationship and enable you to reach holistic supremacy.
Tyrosine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is the precursor to the endogenous production of many important neurotransmitters (i.e., norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopeamine).
These neurotransmitters play pivotal roles in fat burning and
weight-loss but also conduct a plethora of internal chemical reactions associated with,
mood, attention, alertness, motor activity, and anxiety. Stress (physical, environmental, emotional, etc) can severely impact the turnover of these neurotransmitters in the brain such that transmitter levels decline as stress prevails (supply cannot meet demand). It has been suggested that this decline is due to a limit in neurotransmitter production by the precursor substance tyrosine.
Citidine 5'-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline)
Interestingly, research clearly illustrates the benefits of
L-tyrosine ingestion in combating the adverse effects of stress. In a double-blind placebo controlled study, commissioned by the US Army Research institute, 23 US Army personnel were exposed twice to two levels of environmental stress (cold and hypoxia) for 4.5 hrs per trial. It was concluded that tyrosine ingestion (50mg/kg twice per day) reversed the symptoms of stress (headache, coldness, distress, fatigue, muscular discomfort), were beneficial to all aspects of mood state ( clear thinking, unhappiness, dizziness, hostility, confusion, fatigue, tension), and augmented measures of mental performance, reaction-time, and vigilance performance (Banderet & Lieberman, 1989). It is clear that
L-tyrosine supplementation can help you manage stress while maintaining a serious workout regime, as we all know that mental stress blunts gains in the gym.
Citidine (or cytidine) 5'-diphosphocholine, is a relatively new player in the supplement industry. Its role is as an intermediate in the synthesis of structural phospholipids in cell membranes, particularly phosphatidylcholine. Ingestion results in virtually complete absorption and bioavailability and very soon after ingestion citicoline is distributed throughout the body and reaches the central nervous system (CNS). Citicoline increases brain metabolism, and has been experimentally shown to increase norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the CNS. Based on its unique pharmacological mechanisms, citicoline provides neuroprotection during stress conditions and improves learning and memory performance (Secades & Lorenzo, 2006). The increased levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain enables us to maintain focus under conditions of stress (i.e., mental, physical, environmental) and assists in curbing your appetite. Additionally, with
citicoline supplementation, you can expect
increased focus, motivation, mental performance, reaction-time, and sense of well-being.
Everyone who works out early in the morning or after work knows the benefits of a strong cup of coffee (or a few
caffeine pills) before hitting the gym. In fact, that
caffeine hit can make the difference between going to the gym and not going to the gym. But did you know that the effects of
caffeine on the brain may decrease muscle soreness after a work out? In a recent double blind placebo controlled study from the University of Georgia it was found that caffeine ingestion (approximately 300mg) before maximal voluntary isometric contraction reduced muscular pain intensity by almost 50%. The authors hypothesize that this dramatic decrease in muscular pain is due to caffeine's ability to bind to adenosine receptors that blunt nociception (pain sensation) in the brain (Maridakis et al., 2007). To put this finding in perspective, a previous study concluded that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory Naproxen had only a 30% reduction in post-exercise muscle soreness (Dudley et al., 1997).
Green Tea Extract
Green tea contains high concentrations of pharmacologically bioactive polyphenols including: epigallocatechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (Kao et al., 2000). By now you should know that
green-tea extract is a potent fat-burner and antioxidant. However, many of you may not realize the positive impact that green-tea extract has on the central nervous system and performance. In a recent and detailed study, Vignes et al. concluded that
EGCG supplementation can reverse states of anxiety. In fact, the authors claim that the anxiolytic effects of EGCG supplementation are equipotent to prescription therapies (Vignes et al., 2006).This is a huge benefit for sports athletes, as pre-game anxiety means death to even the most promising careers.
It is clear that we can optimize our performance and gains if we feed our brains as well as our bodies. Once the brain is in-tune with the body (and vice versa) you will be able to run faster, jump higher, lift heavier and feel good while doing it.
Banderet LE & Lieberman HR (1989). Treatment with tyrosine, a neurotransmitter precursor, reduces environmental stress in humans. Brain Res Bull 22, 759-762.
Dudley GA, Czerkawski J, Meinrod A, Gillis G, Baldwin A, & Scarpone M (1997). Efficacy of naproxen sodium for exercise-induced dysfunction muscle injury and soreness. Clin J Sport Med 7, 3-10.
Kao YH, Hiipakka RA, & Liao S (2000). Modulation of endocrine systems and food intake by green tea epigallocatechin gallate. Endocrinology 141, 980-987.
Maridakis V, O'Connor PJ, Dudley GA, & McCully KK (2007). Caffeine attenuates delayed-onset muscle pain and force loss following eccentric exercise. J Pain 8, 237-243.
Secades JJ & Lorenzo JL (2006). Citicoline: pharmacological and clinical review, 2006 update. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 28 Suppl B, 1-56.
Vignes M, Maurice T, Lante F, Nedjar M, Thethi K, Guiramand J, & Recasens M (2006). Anxiolytic properties of green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Brain Res 1110, 102-115.