As a medical weight loss doctor, I try to keep aware of the new diets that are getting attention in the media. Today I’m going to briefly discuss the Dopamine Diet. This diet is discussed in the book “Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet: My low-carb, stay-happy way to lose weight” which was recently published.
I’ve discussed fad diets before, and with over 60,000 diet books currently listed on Amazon.com, there are certainly lots of approaches to weight loss out there. A few are useful, or have useful components. Some are dangerous.
The Dopamine Diet Overview
Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet seems to fall into the “useful components” category. What I like about it is that Tom is a chef, and suggests healthy, home-prepared food over pre-packaged junk. His emphasis is on foods that boost dopamine, which is a “feel-good” brain neurotransmitter that is part of your brain’s reward system, and plays a role in sleep, mood, and other functions. It’s worked for him – he’s lost 140 pounds. The book includes recipes, too.
People are attracted to the diet because of the promise that they don’t have to suffer to lose weight, and that’s a message I try to get across with medical weight loss as well. Healthy weight loss doesn’t mean you have to suffer hunger, feel weak, or exercise manically.
What Foods Does The Diet Encourage?
The Dopamine Diet encourages consumption of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as a wide variety of other protein sources. Meats like beef, chicken, and turkey are consumed, as are omega-3 rich fish such as salmon and mackerel. Vegetables and fruits (especially bananas) are eaten, and even dark chocolate is part of this diet. All alcohol, caffeine, processed sugar and starchy carbs are avoided. This sounds like clean eating to me, and a good way to structure your eating habits.
“A study in Nutrition Journal looked at the theory and found that eating a high protein breakfast such as eggs, lean red meats and dairy foods was best for reducing mid-morning cravings and boosting dopamine levels. High protein foods contain amino acids which can be used to make dopamine in the body.”
– Dr. Carrie Ruxton, Dietician
In fact, whether you choose dopamine-rich foods or not, simply eating healthy foods with rich nutritional profiles, while cutting the junk, will often make you feel better and more energized, once the initial sugar detox period passes.
You’re Not Eating Dopamine, However
Food doesn’t actually contain dopamine, but it can contain an important precursor nutrient that your body can use to manufacture dopamine: tyrosine. The foods mentioned above all contain good quantities of tyrosine. So do:
- green tea
- fava beans
- mustard greens
- wheat germ
Too Little Dopamine?
Too little dopamine in our bodies could lead to behaviors such as:
- late night eating
- eating when already full
- being irritable when trying to eat less
In general, I think the foods suggested in this diet are healthy. I would also like to see an emphasis on fiber, but if this diet (or any other) encourages changing a fast food, processed food lifestyle for real foods focused on protein and reduced starchy carbs, I think it’s a step in the right direction.
Other Ways To Increase Dopamine Levels
Exercise, meditation, creativity, and supplements can all help increase dopamine levels. Consult your physician before considering supplements, as they can be particularly dangerous if they interact with other medications.
It’s important to feel good while dieting, and that’s one of the issues my medical weight loss program addresses. Whether you need an appetite suppressant to help with hunger and cravings, or regular B vitamin shots to help fuel your body with essential feel-good nutrients, we have a program that works with room to personalize it for your specific health requirements. Sure, a healthy diet is one component, but it’s not enough alone – many people need more support than that to lose weight and keep it off.
If you’re in Hawaii and want to talk about weight loss that works, we have a free complimentary consultation. Sign up and come chat, and I’ll show you how our program goes beyond the Dopamine Diet and works so well for our clients.