Dopamine: A Dieter’s Secret Weapon

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released from the hypothalamus that blocks the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary. One of its main functions is to act on the sympathetic nervous system to elicit effects such as: Excitement, high blood pressure, motivational energy, and impulsive behavior. For example, when a male engages in sexual intercourse, he reaches peak dopamine levels while climaxing, then immediately after intense pleasure prolactin floods his system which induces opposite effects.

HIGH dopamine and low prolactin

HIGH dopamine and low prolactin

LOW dopamine and high prolactin

LOW dopamine and high prolactin


When a person is meticulously dieting to achieve extremely low body fat levels, a cascade of effects begin to take place as fat cells begin to shrink. Neurotransmitter's begin to plummet which affects our mood, hunger, and social behavior. One way to keep dopamine levels consistent while in a calorie deficit is to eat smaller meals more frequently. Eating every 2-3 hours will maintain higher dopamine levels as well as keep blood sugar balanced.

Another great way to boost dopamine levels is to incorporate a cheat day or cheat meal once a week. Implementing this technique will not only boost dopamine levels, but increase thyroid output and replenish glycogen stores in muscle tissue. You can also raise dopamine levels through drugs and supplementation. Supplementing with the psycho-active substance known as caffeine will temporarily boost dopamine levels and raise energy and alertness. The non-essential amino acid L-tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine and also contributes to healthy thyroid levels.

Another precursor to dopamine is Levadopa, which is found in the tropical legume known as velvet beanDrugs that increase dopamine levels are often prescribed for Parkinson's disease and hyperprolactinemiaDostinex and Bromocriptine are the two most popular choices for such ailments.

My personal favorite for raising dopamine is nicotine. I prefer chewing nicorette gum in between meals for potent appetite suppression and for anti-aromatase properties. I only ingest nicotine during the final weeks before competing in a Bodybuilding Contest where body fat levels are extremely low. I have no problem ceasing the nicotine usage when my diet is over and have never had any form of withdrawal symptoms.



Supplements that increase dopamine:

Pharmaceuticals that increase dopamine:

- Caffeine

- L-tyrosine


- Nicotine (nicorette gum)

- Dostinex (cabaser)

- Bromocriptine (parlodel)

In summation, it appears that keeping dopamine levels elevated during prolonged periods of calorie deprivation promotes appetite regulation, increased mood, and the ability to endure what it takes to achieve very low body fat levels.




1.) Alfonso Abizaid. Ghrelin and Dopamine: New Insights on the Peripheral Regulation of Appetite. Article first published online: 12 JUN 2009 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2009.01896.x

2.) Joyce JN, Smutzer G, Whitty CJ, Myers A, Bannon MJ. Differential modification of dopamine transporter and tyrosine hydroxylase mRNAs in midbrain of subjects with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's with parkinsonism, and Alzheimer's disease. Mov Disord. 1997 Nov;12(6):885-97.

3.) A. S. Shingo, M. Yonezawa, K. Sakurai and S. Kito, Nicotine inhibits estrogen response element binding in the rat brain. Volume 107, Number 12, 14911495, DOI: 10.1007/s007020070013