High-Energy Pre-Workout with 10g Tyrosine!

Morphogen has long been one of PricePlow’s favorite supplement brands — Ben Hartman and his team serious about supplement science and formulation – and it shows.

You can see why they’re a rising star in the industry – they go all out to cover all their bases.

Today we’re talking about AlphaGen, Morphogen’s pre-workout supplement, and this one is a monster.

Morphogen demonstrates their commitment to science right up top with an enormous 10-gram dose of tyrosine. That’s downright incredible.

But honestly, AlphaGen just gets even better from there. Their ingredient choices are absolutely rock-solid, and nothing is underdosed — as is expected from the brand at this point.

Let’s get into the details of how AlphaGen’s ingredients fit together, from top to bottom. But first, check the PricePlow news and deals:

In a single 1-scoop (22.5 gram) serving of AlphaGen from Morphogen, you get the following:

  • L-Tyrosine (HPLC) – 10,000 mg

    Morphogen AlphaGen Ingredients

    Morphogen kicks off the AlphaGen formula with a bold move – a whopping 10-gram dose of tyrosine.

    Tyrosine is a staple pre-workout ingredient, and we write about it all the time. But we almost never see it dosed at more than 2 or 3 grams per serving, and we certainly haven’t ever seen 10 whole grams of it.

    The dose deserves special discussion, so we’ll get into that, but first, some background:

    L-tyrosine is a great pre-workout ingredient for three reasons. The first is that it can support your thyroid gland, the second is that it helps the body produce neurotransmitters, and finally, during sleep deprivation, it can help restore cognitive performance to baseline.

    1. Neurotransmitter (catecholamine) synthesis

      Tyrosine is a necessary precursor for synthesizing dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline — [1-3] three catecholamine neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in focus, motivation, and energy.

      Tyrosine Derivatives

      It’s easy to see why we like tyrosine so much – its derivatives bring the intensity and focus! Image courtesy Wikimedia

      These catecholamines are needed to initiate and regulate various aspects of the stress response, which is crucial for peak performance in the gym.

      Adrenaline and noradrenaline are also great for body composition, as both can decrease appetite and increase the body’s rate of fat oxidation (burning).[4]

    2. Sleep deprivation

      Militaries around the world have studied tyrosine extensively for its anti-stress and wakefulness-promoting effects. According to one study carried out by the United States military, tyrosine is actually better than caffeine at increasing alertness in sleep-deprived persons.[5,6]

    3. Thyroid

      Your thyroid is arguably the master gland of the metabolism – proper thyroid function is indispensable for athletic and cognitive performance, fat loss, and muscle building.

      It produces two hormones that are active in tissues all over the body – triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). In order to produce these hormones, the gland needs an adequate supply of tyrosine.[7,8]


      Long story short: No iodine or tyrosine, no thyroid hormone synthesis. Get enough iodine and tyrosine in!!

      Thyroid support is a special concern for the pre-workout target market. Gym goers typically work out hard, and they periodically restrict calories to improve body composition. As it turns out, both of these behaviors can significantly downregulate thyroid function by raising cortisol.[9-11]

      The harder you work out and the more you restrict calories, the more you increase the risk of developing thyroid problems.

      So, under these conditions, a little supplemental tyrosine can help.

    The dose – 10,000 mg!

    We discuss the benefits of tyrosine supplementation pretty regularly, but again, what’s special here is the dose.

    High-Dose Tyrosine Environmental Stress

    High-dose tyrosine (100 mg/kg) can greatly reduce environmental stress in humans when exposed to cold.[12]

    There several studies on high-dose tyrosine that we don’t usually get to cite, because most supplement brands simply don’t use doses in this range. So let’s take a look at what the high-dose tyrosine literature has to say about what you can expect from Morphogen AlphaGen.

    • Cold and altitude tolerance

      In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study from 1989, 23 military men between the ages of 18-20 were exposed to cold and simulated altitude during 4.5 hour sessions. The tyrosine group, who got a 100 mg/kg dose of tyrosine, showed huge improvements over the placebo group in every respect. They were less tired, had less severe headaches, felt less cold, had less muscular discomfort, and felt less emotional distress.[12]

      They also did significantly better on cognitive tests – memory performance in particular. In fact, tyrosine reversed memory deficits usually caused by cold exposure.[12]

      Although the doses used in this study varied by body weight, they were, on average, similar to the dose used in Morphogen AlphaGen – a 100 mg/kg dose works out to about 8,000 milligrams of tyrosine for 180 pound man.

    • Blood pressure reduction during stress

      In another randomized controlled study, this one from 1994, researchers used the same tyrosine dose – 100 mg/kg – in a population of 16 healthy young male and female subjects between the ages of 23 and 35.[13]

      The study volunteers were exposed to environmental stress in the form of a 90 decibel track of industrial noise – a stimulus known to increase diastolic blood pressure (5-12%), mean arterial pressure (3-7%) and total peripheral resistance (11-13%) in healthy young subjects.[13]

      This form of stress is also known to cause disorientation and performance reductions on cognitive tests.[13]

      The researchers found that subjects who got tyrosine fared much better overall than those in the placebo group – 5-10% better on various cognitive tasks, and had much lower blood pressure.[13]

      Average diastolic blood pressure in the placebo group was about 76 mmHg; in the tyrosine group it was only 72.[13]

    So what does it mean?

    The fight-or-flight response is mediated by noradrenergic neurons,[12,14] and high-dose tyrosine appears to modulate it. For example, in both studies we cited, the authors observed a decrease in stress-induced vasoconstriction.

    This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your goals. For the average gym-goer, high-dose tyrosine can help tolerate high doses of ergogenic stimulants, enabling better athletic performance without going overboard on unwanted effects. Caffeine, for example, is a notorious peripheral vasoconstrictor, but we think the tyrosine in Morphogen AlphaGen can significantly attenuate this effect.

    Morphogen Alpha Gen

    Using high-dose tyrosine is still uncharted waters for the supplement industry, so we’re very curious to hear the consumer feedback on this one. But since no serious adverse effects were noted in the studies we reviewed,[12,13] we’re very optimistic about the future of this tyrosine use case!

  • L-Citrulline DL-Malate (2:1) (HPLC) – 8,000 mg

    Citrulline malate is citrulline bound to malic acid. Both of these molecules have their own benefits, but the headliner here is citrulline – and citrulline malate yields about 56% pure citrulline by weight. So we have approximately 4.5 grams of citrulline here.

    Benefits of citrulline

    Citrulline is a great nitric oxide (NO) boosting ingredient,[7] and is currently the industry’s standard choice for this purpose thanks to its low cost, high efficacy, and excellent safety profile.

    As a conditionally essential amino acid, citrulline is produced by the body, but only in limited quantities. Meaning supplementation with extra exogenous citrulline can yield benefits you wouldn’t see from normal endogenous citrulline synthesis.

    Arginine Citrulline Cycle

    The Arginine Citrulline Cycle. Image courtesy Wikimedia commons (red edits are ours)

    Citrulline is an important participant in both the NO cycle and the urea cycle. It’s converted into arginine and then into NO by the enzyme argininosuccinate.[15]

    One interesting thing to note about citrulline is that it actually isn’t the most direct precursor to NO – that would be arginine, into which citrulline gets converted by the enzyme argininosuccinate.

    Arginine is then converted into NO.

    Before citrulline, arginine was the industry’s standard NO booster. But, as it turns out, the oral bioavailability of arginine is pretty bad, making citrulline supplementation a more effective strategy for boosting NO.[16,17]

    NO upregulation improves athletic performance

    As most readers probably already know, upregulating NO, i.e. through citrulline supplementation, can trigger a mechanism called vasodilation, in which your arteries expand in diameter. Bigger arteries means that blood flows more easily throughout the body, an effect called decreased cardiovascular resistance.

    As a result, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, leading to drops in blood pressure and heart rate.[18-20] This process has obvious benefits for most people, but there’s another reason NO boosters show up in pre-workouts, and that is increased athletic performance.

    Improved circulation means that the body can deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells more efficiently, and remove cellular waste more efficiently. Aerobic efficiency can also be improved.

    Citrulline Arginine Ornithine Nitric Oxide Ammonia

    Citrulline’s participation in the nitric oxide cycle and the urea cycle. The enzyme argininosuccinate converts citrulline to arginine, and arginine stimulates the production of nitric oxide[15]

    It can also lead to muscle swelling as blood and water are permitted to enter muscle tissue more easily – an effect most bodybuilders are familiar with. It’s known as the pump.

    These two things – decreased cardiovascular resistance, and improved metabolic efficiency – are the basic mechanisms underlying the following benefits of citrulline supplementation:

    • Increased oxygen utilization and power output[21]
    • Increased athletic endurance[22]
    • Reduced muscle soreness after exercise[22]
    • Growth hormone upregulation in response to exercise[23]
    • Reduced muscle catabolism[24]
    • Increased muscle protein synthesis[25,26]

    Citrulline, ornithine and ammonia

    There’s one more reason why citrulline is an excellent choice of NO-boosting ingredient: itsimpact on your body’s ability to detoxify ammonia.

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    Morphogen is out with a new ZING flavor of Adaptogen: Ginger Chai Latte. It’s perfect for a hot cup of coffee!

    The effects of ammonia resemble those of lactic acid (lactate) – it’s a metabolic waste product that creates physical and mental fatigue as it builds up in neural and muscular tissues.[27,28] Improving your body’s ability to remove ammonia is yet another strategy for increasing athletic and mental endurance.

    Citrulline does exactly that, by increasing your body’s levels of ornithine, the amino acid responsible for driving ammonia detox.[29,30]

    Refer to the diagram above – you can see that arginine gets converted into ornithine as part of the urea cycle.[15]

    Ornithine and hormones

    Ornithine has also been shown to decrease the body’s production of cortisol, thus improving cortisol-to-DHEA ratio that’s often used as one measure of overall hormonal health. This can lead to improvements in feelings of stress and fatigue, but more importantly, it seems to improve sleep quality.[30]

    What about the malate?

    Malic acid (malate) has benefits of its own. It’s required for the Krebs cycle, which is a crucial part of your body’s cellular energy production.[31]

    Citrulline malate can also improve aerobic efficiency, making more energy available for your tough workouts.[32]

  • Velvet Bean extract (Mucuna pruriens) (seed) (std. min. 98% L-DOPA) – 750 mg

    Velvet Bean Flower

    Velvet bean extract boosts production of dopamine, giving you a “feel good sensation” and will help with sleep at night.

    Mucuna pruriens, also known as velvet bean, is chock full of powerful antioxidants and a known dopamine booster.[33] Extracts of Mucuna are typically standardized for L-DOPA,[34] which is the direct precursor to dopamine.[35]

    Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most centrally implicated in focus, motivation, and reward, making it an excellent target for pre-workout formulas.

    Besides upregulating dopamine, L-DOPA (also known as levodopa) is a powerful anti-stress compound that has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol production.[36-38] This makes it a great candidate for stacking with stimulants like caffeine (also an ingredient in Morphogen AlphaGen), as it can help take the edge off of your stimulant buzz.

    Cortisol reduction is usually a good thing for gym goers, since too much cortisol can reduce testosterone levels[39,40] and potentially interfere with muscle growth.

    When it comes to muscle growth, Mucuna and L-DOPA have been shown to upregulate the body’s production of growth hormone (GH),[41-43] which is another anabolic hormone.

    L-DOPA can also help control prolactin levels,[44] which is usually a good thing for a pre-workout formula since prolactin tends to be elevated after exercise.[45]

  • AlphaGPC (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline) – 600 mg

    AlphaGPC is a form of choline, the B vitamin most important for helping the body build and maintain the phospholipid bilayer membranes that enclose the contents of all the body’s cells.[46] It’s also required for many of the intercellular signaling functions that those membranes carry out.[47]

    Choline is required for the synthesis of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that facilitates learning and memory.[48] We often call acetylcholine “the learning neurotransmitter” because of how crucial it is for these processes.

    Supplemental choline can upregulate acetylcholine, leading to improved cognitive performance.[49,50]

    Finally, choline is an important methyl donor during the process of methionine metabolism – this is crucial in light of the fact that excess methionine buildup is linked to cardiovascular disease.[51]

    We like alphaGPC because, unlike other forms of choline, it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier[52] and is more bioavailable.

  • Advantra Z Bitter Orange Extract (Citrus aurantium) (fruit) (Std. min. 10% synephrine) – 500 mg

    Bitter orange extract is standardized for an alkaloid called synephrine, which is a great fat burning and performance boosting ingredient.

    Morphogen Nutrition Intra Workout Stack

    Morphogen Nutrition’s Intra Workout Stack brings a total of 3 grams of taurine and tons of other amino acids and electrolytes

    Research has shown that taking synephrine can increase the body’s daily caloric expenditure by as much as 183 calories,[53] which is definitely nothing to sneeze at for a low-effort calorie burn. A 183 calorie deficit translates into about 1.5 pounds of fat loss per month.

    One study found that the combination of synephrine and caffeine (a combination we have in Morphogen AlphaGen) increased college-aged men’s weightlifting volume by 10% in a single session.[54] Synephrine alone also caused an increase.

    Synephrine works because it’s a beta agonist,[55] the same mechanism of action behind the infamous stimulant ephedrine. Don’t worry though – synephrine is much less intense than ephedrine,[55] with little to no effect on heart rate or blood pressure.[56]

  • Caffeine (as Caffeine Anhydrous USP) – 400 mg

    Caffeine is the most widely used legal stimulant in the world. An overwhelming majority of American adults consume caffeine in some form on a daily basis, mostly because of the substance’s ability to ward off fatigue, which helps us get through jam-packed days without missing a step.

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    One thing that makes caffeine stand out is its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This is something most nutritional supplements can’t do, and it’s what gives caffeine such a powerful ability to influence the workings of the central nervous system.[57]

    Similarly to its fellow methylxanthine and close cousin theobromine, which is also present in Morphogen AlphaGen, caffeine blocks the action of adenosine, a nucleotide that builds up in the brain during wakefulness, progressively worsening mental fatigue.[58]

    Fatigue is often a big issue for anyone trying to lose weight, since caloric restriction can put a big dent in energy levels. That’s one reason why dieters often drink liberal amounts of tea or coffee.i It’s also one reason why we like to see caffeine in fat-burning supplements.

    Caffeine burns fat and calories – cAMP and cellular metabolism

    But caffeine can help you burn fat more directly too, by upregulating cellular energy production. This translates into increased daily calorie burn.

    The mechanism of action is inhibition of phosphodiesterase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down the hormone-like messenger molecule, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).

    Since cAMP signals cells to burn more glucose and fatty acids for energy, raising cAMP levels through phosphodiesterase inhibition ultimately means a faster metabolism – more calories burned in a day.[59-61]

    Upregulating cAMP through caffeine use is particularly good at speeding up the body’s rate of fat burning. Animal studies on caffeine have found that supplementation can increase it by as much as 50%.[62]

    Caffeine improves exercise performance – additional calorie burn

    Creatine Adaptogen Stack

    For a beneficial brain boost, stack Morphogen’s Adaptogen with Creatine.

    Of course, burning more fat at rest is a great way to accelerate fat loss – assuming you hold your calorie intake constant, and don’t eat more to cover any deficit.

    Most of us know that exercise is a great way to burn more calories. And, as it turns out, caffeine can help us do that too.

    Due to how it ramps up cellular metabolism, caffeine can improve multiple dimensions of physical performance, including strength, speed, and endurance.[63]

    Cognitive and mental benefits

    Caffeine can also increase attentiveness, alertness, reaction times, and working memory.[64-66]

    Although it might seem counterintuitive, mental and cognitive benefits are a welcome addition to fat-burning supplements. Plenty of research actually indicates that caloric restriction does not significantly impair cognition,[67] or, perhaps, it may improve it.[68] But, anecdotally, a lot of people report feeling low on mental energy when they reduce food intake. Caffeine can potentially help compensate for that.

  • N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate (Eria Jarensis extract) (whole plant) – 300 mg

    N-phenethyl dimethylamine is a more potent version of a molecule called phenethylamine (PEA).

    If you aren’t familiar with PEA, just know that it’s an alkaloid widely considered one of the most powerful stimulants on the nutritional-supplement market.

    Eria Jarensis Extract

    Eria Jarensis Extract is a natural source of N-phenethyldimethylamine – it’s a great energy booster and mood elevator!

    Taking PEA triggers a massive release of catecholamine neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, which can improve mood and give you more energy.[69]

    Sounds great, right? Well, there’s one big issue with PEA’s usefulness as a supplement: its short half-life. Once in your bloodstream, PEA is broken down very fast by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO). even a huge dose of PEA will only give you about 5 minutes of effect.[70,71]

    This is why N-phenethyl dimethylamine is now being used as a replacement for PEA. It contains two alkyl groups that buffer it against MAO, meaning it has a much longer effect than ordinary PEA.[72]

    If you want to learn more about N-phenethyl dimethylamine, read our long-form article, Eria Jarensis Extract / N-phenethyl dimethylamine: The Next Big Thing?

    Please note that 300 milligrams of N-phenethyl dimethylamine is a big dose. If you aren’t sure how you’ll react, ask your doctor, and consider starting with a partial dose of Morphogen AlphaGen.

  • Theobromine (from Cocoa extract) (Theobroma cacao L.) (seed) (std. min. 99%) – 200 mg

    Theobromine belongs to the methylxanthine class, which also includes caffeine.

    It has stimulant, bronchodilatory, and vasodilatory effects.[73]

    Morphogen HydraGen

    HydraGen delivers ultimate hydration with the help of a powerful electrolyte blend with plenty of sodium for athletes who sweat

    Like caffeine, theobromine is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, which, again, has the effect of increasing cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels[74] and increasing the rate of caloric expenditure by upregulating mitochondrial function and increasing cellular energy production.[75,76]

    So what’s the difference between caffeine and theobromine? In a nutshell, caffeine is primarily a central nervous system stimulant, while theobromine is much more focused on relaxing smooth muscle.[77]

    Smooth muscle lines the inside of blood vessels, so theobromine can actually reduce blood pressure, whereas caffeine is known for increasing it.[78]

    In fact, stacking theobromine with caffeine can actually negate caffeine’s effect on blood pressure,[78] which makes this a smart ingredient combination. With both of these methylxanthines in the same formula, you’re getting the upside of caffeine with less downside.

    Theobromine can also benefit cardiovascular health by optimizing nitric oxide production and function.[79]

  • L-Theanine (HPLC) – 100 mg

    L-Theanine Tea

    L-Theanine comes from tea leaves, and pairs very well with caffeine offset any potential anxiety.

    Theanine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in Camellia sinensis, the plant from which we get white, green, oolong, and black teas.

    In the human brain, theanine acts like a neurotransmitter[80] and has relaxing, anti-anxiety effects related to its inhibitory effect on neurotransmission.[81-83]

    What makes theanine such an awesome supplement is that it does all of this without causing sedation, providing the best of both worlds.

    Theanine is also ultra safe and dirt cheap. This combination of efficacy, safety, and inexpensiveness has made theanine a mainstay nootropic ingredient since the biohacking craze of the early 2010s.

    Caffeine + theanine: match made in heaven

    It was back in the good old days when people looking for a competitive edge discovered theanine’s ability to synergize with caffeine (another ingredient in Morphogen AlphaGen).

    The combination of theanine and caffeine has positive effects on mood and cognition that outperform the effects of either ingredient alone.[84]

    In a landmark 2008 study, researchers who tested the effects of caffeine, theanine, and the combination of both discovered that the combination was better than either ingredient alone at improving mental accuracy, reducing feelings of fatigue, speeding up reaction times, and increasing numerical working memory. The combination was also better at improving the ability to judge written texts, and at increasing alertness.[84]

    L-Theanine Attention

    L-Theanine increases attention and reduces reaction time — especially in stressed individuals![85]

    Speaking more anecdotally and subjectively, veteran biohackers can tell you that theanine really takes the edge off caffeine, providing a calm, focused feeling without the dirty, jittery anxiety that usually comes with caffeine use.

    Theanine is also great for improving sleep quality and reducing resting heart rate.[86]

    One of the big mechanisms behind all of these effects is theanine’s ability to upregulate GABA,[87] a calming neurotransmitter that exerts inhibitory effects on neurotransmission.

  • Huperzine A (from Huperzia serrata extract) (leaf and stem) (std. min. 1% Huperzine A) – 300 mcg

    Just like alphaGPC can boost acetylcholine levels by increasing production, huperzine A can boost acetylcholine by slowing the rate at which it’s broken down.

    It does this by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which is responsible for degrading acetylcholine.[88]

    Because of their complementary effects on acetylcholine levels, we often see huperzine A and alphaGPC stacked together, as in Morphogen AlphaGen.

    However, huperzine A is actually a powerful enough acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that can independently have a significant effect on acetylcholine levels.[89]

    Again, we want more acetylcholine, the learning neurotransmitter, because of its ability to facilitate inter-neuronal communication and long-term potentiation (LTP).

    But huperzine A is also a powerful antioxidant, and can protect neuronal mitochondria from oxidative stress damage.[90]

  • Morphogens AlphaGen comes in several awesome flavors. Check them out here:

    Morphogen AlphaGen is the real deal – one of the most powerful formulas we’ve seen in a long time. The 10 gram dose of tyrosine is innovative, and putting it up top lets you know right away that Morphogen isn’t screwing around with this pre-workout.

    At first glance, it may seem stim-heavy, but don’t get scared off by that. We think using theanine and theobromine, thanks to their anxiolytic, vasodilatory and antihypertensive effects, can go a long way toward smoothing out the experience for most users.

    Still though, 400 milligrams of caffeine and 300 milligrams of N-phenethyl dimethylamine are nothing to sneeze at. If you have any doubts about whether you can handle these ingredients, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Also, consider assessing your tolerance by starting with a partial scoop before graduating to a full dose.

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