Dopamine as a Superpower in Your Life

Written By Katherine O

How You Can Use Dopamine as a Superpower in Your Life

An interview between Anna Lembke and Tom Bilyeu  



This resource is wildly different than what typically appears here. This interview fascinating on many levels, but the implications and takeaways for fasting are a big part of it.

Why I found this interview so interesting: 

  • A little background:
    • Anna Lembke is a MD at Stanford Medical school who specializes in addiction.
    • Tom Bilyeu is a serial entrepreneur who is all about understanding the human brain and leveraging a growth mindset to transform your brain and life.
    • Their conversation centers on Lembke’s new book: Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence. 

How I see this pertaining to fasting:

  • The title alone speaks to fasting. The subtitle of the book re-written in our language, “finding balance in the age of food abundance”!?! That’s what led so many of us to fasting. 
  • Something that has become clear to me over the now 300+ hours of fasting support calls we’ve had, is for many of us food is about so much more than nourishment. And, for many, it mirrors, or is perhaps, addiction. 
    • I’ll often describe myself as, “having an extra sharp sweet tooth”, but isn’t that just a nice way of saying “recovering sugar addict”?  And, sugar isn’t the only food addiction out there. I’ve heard many of you share about struggles with chocolate, chips, emotional eating or late night snacking. 
  • In this interview they tease apart (much like Robert Lustig does in his book, The Hacking of The American Mind ) the role our dopamine wiring circuits play in driving any seeking behavior (ex. seeking in the pantry, fridge, drive through) and how to best overcome and fight back when this behavior is not serving your longer-term goals
    • Have you ever tried kneeling to pray instead of breaking a fast? Or dunking your hands in ice water? They explain why this might help break you of your pattern.
  • There’s also a description of the pain-pleasure balance (think see-saw) in how our brains naturally seek equilibrium. We do not like to be out of balance and if we have too much pleasure it leads to feeling badly, too much pain and we try to right ourself with good feelings. 
    • This may be part of the “fasting high” that we experience on and after completing a fast. The accomplishment of doing something that at times can be so challenging leads our brains to produce positive neurotransmitters to counterbalance. 
  • Another piece I found fascinating was discussing the role God, spirituality, or an “owning the fact we’re not totally in control of what is happening here” should play in science and medicine particularly as it pertains to the treatment of addiction. Rather than shy away from this topic (or worse, make it taboo), Dr. Lembke believes we should embrace spirituality in clinical practice. 
  • Even the way they were able to  tease apart their shared beliefs from their differences, while maintaining mutual respect, listening, and good communication — wow. If only our leaders and politicians could have these kind of communication skills. 😂 
  • And, there are so many more interesting parts to this conversation, we’ll have to discuss it further on one of our upcoming calls or if you can’t join, feel free to leave a comment below… 


A bio on Anna Lembke:

Anna Lembke is professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. A clinician scholar, she has published more than a hundred peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and commentaries. She sits on the board of several state and national addiction-focused organizations, has testified before various committees in the United States House of Representatives and Senate, keeps an active speaking calendar, and maintains a thriving clinical practice.

In 2016, she published Drug Dealer, MD – How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), which was highlighted in the New York Times as one of the top five books to read to understand the opioid epidemic (Zuger, 2018). Dr. Lembke recently appeared on the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, an unvarnished look at the impact of social media on our lives.

Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence (Dutton/Penguin Random House, August 2021), an instant New York Times Bestseller, explores how to moderate compulsive overconsumption in a dopamine-overloaded world.

Check out more on her website here!

A bio on Tom Bilyeu:

Tom Bilyeu is the co-founder of billion-dollar brand Quest Nutrition and the co-founder and host of Impact Theory. Personally driven to expand people’s vision of wellness to a 360-degree view that encompasses body and mind, Tom created Impact Theory to help people develop the skills they will need to improve themselves and the world. Through his content and public speaking, he inspires people around the world to unlock their potential and pursue greatness. Tom was named one of Success Magazine’s Top 25 Influential People in 2018 and Entrepreneur of the Year by Secret Entourage in 2016.

Learn more about Tom Bilyeu here!

 You can also find the full text of Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence here!

You can find the audiobook of Dopamine Nation here!


  • Here are a few other fasting resources you may enjoy:
    • The Fasting CureSinclair, author and enthusiastic faster, shared his knowledge on the subject both in Cosmopolitan Magazine (very different than the modern Cosmo magazine) and in this book, The Fasting Cure
    • Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It – What’s making us fat? And how can we change? Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, bestselling author Gary Taubes revisits these urgent questions.
    • Some of Dr. Jason Fung and Dr. Megan Ramos’ other books: The Obesity Code, The Diabetes Code, and The Cancer Code

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