Written by Amy Morton on June 16, 2023
The Dopamine Motive System: A Window into Behavior
Let's kick things off with a captivating study titled "The dopamine motive system: implications for drug and food addiction" by Nora D. Volkow, Roy A. Wise, and Ruben Baler. In this study, we delve into the fundamental aspects of motivation and behavior, uncovering the deep-rooted drive behind our actions, including binge eating. Whether it's the pursuit of delicious food, addictive substances, or even self-defense, our behaviors are heavily influenced by past experiences and the reinforcing stimuli we encounter, such as tempting drugs or energy-rich foods.

At the cellular and circuit level, the concentration of extrasynaptic dopamine in specific brain areas, like the striatum, plays a pivotal role in fueling our motivational drive, including behaviors such as binge eating. And that's not all! Cues that predict the presence of those rewarding stimuli have the power to modulate dopamine concentrations, giving our motivation an extra boost. However, repeated exposure to these reinforcing elements can establish conditioned associations between the stimuli and their predicting cues. This can result in decreased dopaminergic responses to other incentives, hampering our ability to regulate ourselves and paving the way for impulsive and compulsive reactions to food or drug-related cues, such as binge eating. It's no wonder that dopamine plays a significant role in both addiction and obesity, all thanks to its distinct contributions to reinforcement, motivation, and self-regulation, particularly in the context of binge eating. Together, these elements form the fascinating 'dopamine motive system.'

Tyrosine and L-Phenylalanine: Amino Acids for Dopamine Support
Now, let's shift our focus to an enlightening study by John D. Fernstrom and Madelyn H. Fernstrom titled "Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain." This research unveils the profound impact of amino acids on neurotransmitter production and brain function. In particular, the study highlights the importance of two essential amino acids: tyrosine (Tyr) and L-phenylalanine (Phe).

These aromatic amino acids play a crucial role as precursors for neurotransmitters, including our dear friend dopamine. When we elevate the brain concentrations of tyrosine and L-phenylalanine, we stimulate the production of catecholamines, such as dopamine, which are intimately linked to addiction and motivation, including binge eating. By ensuring sufficient levels of these amino acids through smart supplementation, we provide our brains with the necessary building blocks for neurotransmitter synthesis. This promising approach holds tremendous potential in rebalancing the dopamine motive system, reducing impulsive and compulsive responses to addictive substances, and paving the way for healthier choices, addressing binge eating habits.

A Pathway to Solutions:
Now that we've woven together the insights from both studies, we're uncovering an exciting pathway to address addiction and foster healthier relationships with food, specifically targeting binge eating. By harnessing the power of amino acid supplementation, specifically tyrosine and L-phenylalanine, we open a unique opportunity to tackle imbalances within the dopamine motive system. By replenishing our brains with these essential amino acids, we support the synthesis of dopamine and other vital neurotransmitters, promoting healthy brain function and self-regulation, ultimately curbing binge eating tendencies.

Imagine a future where individuals struggling with binge eating have access to targeted amino acid supplementation. By providing the necessary building blocks for dopamine production, we can alleviate the imbalances contributing to these behaviors. This incredible convergence of science and nutrition empowers us to make informed choices and embark on a journey towards improved well-being, specifically in addressing binge eating habits.

The dynamics of the dopamine motive system, along with its impact on addiction and our relationship with food, are truly fascinating. Through the intricate interplay of dopamine, reinforcement, motivation, and self-regulation, we gain valuable insights into binge eating and its ties to dopamine.

Aromatic amino acids like tyrosine and L-phenylalanine play a vital role in neurotransmitter production, including dopamine, which is closely linked to binge eating behaviors. By strategically supplementing with these amino acids, we have the potential to address addiction, including binge eating, and promote healthier food choices, empowering individuals to regain control over their behaviors and establish a harmonious relationship with nourishment.

As our understanding of dopamine deepens, we uncover the complexities of addiction, including binge eating, and our connection with food. By unraveling the underlying mechanisms and leveraging targeted amino acid supplementation, we unlock innovative solutions. Each revelation brings us closer to a future marked by improved well-being and a positive, balanced relationship with the food we enjoy.

So, dear readers, next time you ponder the link between dopamine and binge eating, remember the intricate dance that takes place within your brain. By nurturing your dopamine motive system and making informed choices, you have the power to reshape your relationship with food and embark on a path towards a healthier, more fulfilling life. Let's embrace this journey together, addressing binge eating and embracing overall well-being.

If you are struggling with binge eating, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that help is available at The Binge Eating Recovery Coach. Here, you can find a program that is tailored to your biochemical needs and can provide the support and guidance you need to overcome binge eating. Don't wait any longer, take the first step towards recovery today by watching our case study testimonial videos and learning from those who have successfully overcame these issues. Together, we can break the cycle of food addiction and reclaim our lives. Get the free case study video training here.


Fernstrom, J. D., & Fernstrom, M. H. (2007). Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain. The Journal of Nutrition, 137(6 Suppl 1), 1539S-1547S; discussion 1548S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.6.1539S.

Volkow, N. D., Wise, R. A., & Baler, R. (2017). The dopamine motive system: implications for drug and food addiction. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 18(12), 741-752. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2017.130.

Amy - The Binge Eating Recovery Coach

Amy specializes in supporting women in overcoming binge eating and associated challenges such as food cravings, obsessive thoughts, emotional eating, mood swings, and weight gain. Through her unique holistic and biochemical approach, Amy guides her clients in repairing addictive brain chemistry using natural methods. By addressing the root cause, Amy's methods offer a pathway to attain permanent freedom from binge eating.
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