• Nick Kropp

Brain Chemistry- My Secret to Success

If I were to ever go back to school, which would never happen in a million years because student loan interest rate is criminal, it would be to study brain neurochemistry. I am FASCINATED by it. For a lot of people this may be the missing link for them. I am going to split this up into two discussions; business related and fitness related. But before we get there we need to introduce the players. You have four main neurotransmitters; DOPAMINE, ACETYLCHOLINE, SERONTONIN, GABA. They all play a vital role in the brain. If you reference the above image, the table explains what each one does. Let's think of Dopamine as your pleasure and motivation molecule. Acetylcholine is for attention, memory and learning. Serotonin is mood and happiness. Last, but not least, GABA is your calming neurotransmitter. Almost everyone I have worked with on brain chemistry, including myself, has a major deficiency in GABA. We will get into that later. If you really want a deep dive into these neurotransmitters then you need to check out Dr. Eric Braverman. I use his test with all of my clients to determine neurotransmitter levels.

Both dopamine and acetylcholine are excitatory neurotransmitters. They create action and movement. Both serotonin and GABA are inhibitory neurotransmitters and help calm you down and balance you out. To keep things simple you want to express more dopamine and acetylcholine in the morning and more serotonin and GABA at night. Let's take a look at Mr. Businessman...when you get to work in the morning you want to be ready to go. Motivated, focused, happy, energized. You don't want to be dragging your ass or you won't get shit done. It all starts with a good night's sleep but I will get to that soon. Let's begin by discussing how to optimize neurotransmitters in the morning. This is where breakfast becomes super important. Many people wake up, rush out the door and just grab a coffee and/or pastry. This is not breakfast!!! What kind of fuel are you giving your body? The pumps of syrup in your coffee and the carbs in the pastry are going to cause you to crash! You need to start your morning with PROTEIN and FAT. The Meat and Nuts Breakfast popularized by late strength coach Charles Poliquin is the best way to start the morning. For more details jump over to this article. https://medium.com/@StrengthSensei/this-uncommon-breakfast-increases-brain-drive-motivation-and-fat-burn-c01818d4fd05#:~:text=The%20meat%20and%20nuts%20breakfast%20raises%20both%20dopamine%20and%20acetyl,an%20extended%20period%20of%20time.

It sounds strange but changing your breakfast can be life altering. If you are not into the meat for breakfast that is fine. Eggs, lox, nuts, avocado, olive oil, butter. Those are all great options to start your day. The tyrosine in the proteins and the choline in the egg yolks and nuts will boost both dopamine and acetylcholine. Combine that with caffeine from black coffee or tea and now we are firing on all cylinders. You will notice a jump in performance, decision making, energy, you name it. If you prefer fasting or you refuse to make time to eat there are two supplements; Tyrosine and Alpha GPC. I have experimented with both and I highly recommend. Whether I want to write an article, learn something new or need a boost, they do the job. Because of how I prioritize sleep, and optimize my neurotransmitters in the morning with food and supplements I am very productive in the morning. If I didn't take care of my brain the way I do then I would be far behind in my business and website compared to where I am. I credit a lot of my creativity to this. Instead of being addicted to Adderall or Ritalin, you can use food and supplements that help the body naturally produce dopamine and acetylcholine.

A quick side note: while coffee is great you have to be careful with how much you take in. Caffeine produces adrenaline, and you need dopamine to make adrenaline. If you abuse stimulants you will be burning through dopamine and making adrenaline. Too much of that and you may not be able to think as clearly or may experience a crash.

All of that is great HOWEVER, recovery and your inhibitory neurotransmitters are the key. Every night you charge your iPhone when you run out of battery, you should be doing the same with your brain and body. If you are losing sleep then you will just be chasing caffeine and motivation. And we all know how poor eating choices and mood are when you don't sleep well. Just ask any parent with a newborn. Due to the nature of the world we live in, many of us have serotonin and GABA deficiencies. When these deficiencies are major it can get as bad as crippling depression and anxiety. Most people who suffer get put on SSRIs by their doctors, which affect your serotonin synapses, but not the actual production of serotonin itself. This is merely a temporary fix and unfortunately plagues the majority of the US. Most people are also on some type of sleeping pill or melatonin. Again just a bandaid and harmful for long term use.

I like to use a quote from a mentor Wolfgang Usoeld to describe GABA. "GABA is like the coolant for a nuclear power plant. If the power plant is running hot you need the water to cool it down so it doesn't explode." It's not exact word for word but it was similar to that. Ever lay awake at night with thoughts racing? Then you need to fix GABA. This can be done by using the product Inositol. It helps provide the raw materials for all neurotransmitters and help balance your brain. This along with Magnesium and you will be calm and sleep like a baby. When it comes to fixing serotonin I prefer to use "screen management." When you fix your circadian rhythm and melatonin then your serotonin will be taken care of. Staring at a screen all day is NO GOOD, you need natural sunlight. I recommend using Blue Light blocking glasses during the day and red Blue Light blocking glasses at night. This will promote sleepiness and naturally improve melatonin. Once you start sleeping then everything else falls into place!

To wrap up Mr. Businessman I am going to touch on brain plasticity for a second. I will give you a little insight into my life. For my fitness business I take care of my clients workouts, nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, soft tissue work, everything. I am responsible for a lot and I needed to learn a lot to get here. With business I had to learn how to start a drop shipping print on demand online website, when I had ZERO training in fashion, marketing, business, etc. Again, responsible for many things. This is where learning and brain plasticity comes into play and we can wrap up all the neurotransmitters. We all know how beneficial it is to learn things like language or a skill at an earlier age because of how plastic the brain is, and it becomes increasingly difficult as we age. Well, part of that is because we don't sleep and don't take care of our bodies, and most of us carry way too much stress. Kids eat, sleep, play and don't worry about anything. Once COVID hit and I didn't have to worry about working 10-12 hours a day then spend my weekends resting and recovering and stressing out if I should have more of a social life, I felt FREE. I was sleeping plenty and had all the time and very little stress. I believe this made my brain more plastic and helped me learn loads about starting an e-commerce store in a short period of time. Each day was spent with intentional and deliberate practice and learning. Not just going through the motions when I normally would do that when busy. Then each night that learning was engrained while sleeping. My brain was able to develop new connections and I caught on pretty quickly. I guarantee if I kept my normal busy schedule I'm not writing this blog right now and I don't have my website up. But when you have that "space" in your brain, you have deliberate learning and you re-enforce those connections through sleep then the sky is the limit. It's possible I saved a year of trial and error, and when it comes to business that can equal a lot of money.

Now when it comes to fitness it's the same story. Do you think people enjoy cutting calories, eliminating tasty foods and putting in hours at the gym? Hell no. The better you eat, supplement and sleep then the better results you will have! I've taken some lazy people (myself included) and turned them into motivated machines through working with brain chemistry. But the main factor here is going to be cravings. When you are stressed, lacking sleep, deficient in GABA and serotonin, that's when the cravings hit. Carbs and alcohol become a staple in your diet and next thing you know you're 20 lbs overweight and can't figure out where your motivation went. It's easy for me to tell someone how many calories to eat and give them a workout plan but it has to be sustainable and possible for them to perform. They may be desperate to lose that weight and I tell them to eat 1200 calories (don't do that I'm just using an example) but because we haven't taken care of their brain they can't handle the diet. They may follow for a couple of days then BOOM, binge and it's worse than when we started. I don't care what plan you follow, if you can fix your brain chemistry you have a leg up on your goals! Plus when you sleep that is when you recover, build muscle and lose fat. If you aren't sleeping there's no way you are going to get the body of your dreams.

If any of this speaks to you I want you to reach out to me so we can schedule a free consultation. www.bravermantest.com will give you information and I will give you the answers.

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