Healthy You: Brain Chemistry and Weight Loss – How What We Eat Impacts Our Weight Loss Motivation

Losing weight is one of the toughest battles we face as women. Between the junk food cravings and the stress eating, it sometimes feels impossible to win.

Did you know that your brain chemistry affects your appetite and your feeling of fullness? It’s true – dopamine and serotonin are two important hormones that your body produces. Both brain chemicals have different functions, including modulating your feeling of enjoyment.

Adequate levels of dopamine and serotonin can give you the motivation you need to lose weight! So in the battle of the bulge, consider these hormones your best allies.

How Hormones Affect your Weight Loss Motivation and Metabolism

Motivation, the determination to avoid junk food and embrace physical activity is closely related to dopamine. When your dopamine levels are balanced, you experience great energy. Your brain ‘works’ well, you prefer anaerobic activities and weights and you enjoy sex. Even food tastes better when your dopamine is balanced.

Low dopamine levels leave you feeling tired. Your concentration levels are lower and you seek out energy fixers like caffeine. People with lower dopamine like stimulants like caffeine and even cocaine. Indeed, people who enjoy high adrenaline activities like bungee jumping and sky diving generally have reduced levels of dopamine.

Dopamine affects your metabolism. People who naturally have higher dopamine levels have a faster metabolism. Dopamine affects your ‘drive’. When you get low, you no longer enjoy the things you usually do.

There is a correlation between IBS and tummy distress/ GERD (reflux) and lower levels of dopamine. To prevent this, eat chicken, cottage cheese, duck or eggs because these foods contain Phenylalanine and tyrosine – amino acids that your body will use to make dopamine.

When serotonin is optimal, you like excitement and changing things; however, when low, you get depression, insomnia, and low sex drive. You tend to eat more and your food doesn’t taste as good as before.

Serotonin gives you satiety, that full feeling. Serotonin also makes melatonin, the hormone that helps you get to sleep. Eating foods rich in serotonin such as wild game, pork, avocado, cheese and turkey will help raise the levels of serotonin in your body if you are low.

Balancing your brain chemicals help you think clearly, experience greater enjoyment and interest, and regulate your weight by affecting your metabolic hormones and mood. High stress depletes brain chemicals too.

Remember the basics: proper digestion, consuming quality nutrients, and managing stress is the key to maintaining the proper brain chemistry to support your weight loss.

Want more tips on how to maintain healthy brain chemistry? Visit Dr. Iyer online at!

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