Have you heard about the new trend called dopamine fasting? Devised by a psychologist, it’s simply denying yourself pleasure for an extended period of time to down regulate your dopamine receptors, making then more sensitive when you turn them back on.
It was originally meant to be a way to disconnect from the Internet; but has branched out into many other activities related to dopamine; pleasure and over-stimulation.
As it turns out, the reason our phones have become so addicting is the dopamine hit we get when we scroll through Instagram, or the media. Heaven forbid we get a few likes on something we posted...the dopamine floodgates open and we’re stuck!
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter ruling reward and pleasure in our brains. Too much stimulation makes us less sensitive to it, requiring more of the behavior or drug to get the same effect. Eventually you become addicted.
It’s involved in all addicted behaviors from too much internet browsing all the way to the opioid crisis. To properly try dopamine fasting , it requires taking a break from technology, gourmet or eccentric foods, and even sex for a few days to let your brain slow down and rewire. I think about 3 days should do it. I know you’re probably thinking Holy cow! Sex too?! But in realty, it’s probably harder for most people to not look at their phone.
Food falls into the fasting because of stress eating, so I imagine you’re only allowed actual meals without snacking. Binging on sugar is actually your brains cry for more dopamine, so learning how to tame this animal could affect every aspect of your life. I find this idea fascinating but I have a different take on it.
I think one of the reasons people find stimulating behaviors such as surfing the web highly addictive and rewarding is because of a lack of dopamine. This causes us to seek out activities that speak to our frontal lobe and stimulate us.
Poor diets, especially breakfast, lead to a brain lacking in dopamine. Your brain requires the amino acid L-tyrosine to make dopamine and that only comes from protein or taking L-tyrosine directly.
If your brain is really low on dopamine, high protein food has to be eaten alone in the morning to ensure the L-tyrosine makes its way to the brain and sets the dopamine production in motion. It won’t work if you chew on a bagel or have some cereal instead. I think breakfast cereal may have ruined more brains than any other food in the world.
This is why we use L-tyrosine in TianChi and why we suggest taking it to start your day. If you don’t have an issue with low dopamine you can take it any time. Follow it up with a high protein breakfast and you’re on your way to feeding your dopamine receptors.
This will also cut your cravings for sugar, another issue associated with low dopamine. If sugar cravings are a real issue for you, try eating nothing but protein for breakfast for a week and see how you feel. You can have a little fat like MCT oil or even eggs.
Wait at least two hours before eating anything else to give your brain a chance to set for the day. Your next meal should also be protein and vegetables. I think anyone can benefit from a little dopamine fasting. Try 2-3 days without technology.
You can still use your phone but only for communication. No web surfing! Try a TianChi first thing in the morning, spiked with MCT oil or fat. (I love coconut cream.) Try the protein breakfast. If done right you might even be able to skip the part about fasting from sex!
Related Podcast - Sugar…as Addictive as Cocaine?