The Weekly Thread: avoid burnout by replenishing the dopamine well, a science backed antioxidant stack for male fertility, and life is a single player game.

As I balance a very demanding schedule, everything you are about to read is all research and principles I’ve made a concerted effort to apply in my life over the last year. 

At a time where I’m usually working 7 days a week most weeks (and loving every minute of it), as an entrepreneur running a business that has entered a high growth phase, I’ve learned more about dopamine, and how a hard-charging life and schedule has a definite tendency to deplete the proverbial "dopamine well". 

It is this continual depletion of the dopamine well that leads to burnout, which is definitely not my goal, and I’m sure the last thing many of you reading this want either. 

So how do you live a busy, hard-charging life, but continually ensure that your “well of dopamine” continues to refill so that it doesn’t lead to burnout?

That’s exactly what I’ve been working so hard at understanding and applying in the last year, which I’ve been able to do with growing success, and I’m going to share my research and thoughts with you on this. 

Ultimately, take it for what it’s worth to you, however, the following which you are about to read is based on research, and I am writing to you from a place of personal experience, and application. 

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter made in the brain. It plays a role as a “rewards center” and in many bodily functions, including memory, movement, motivation, mood, attention, and more. 

I’m going to to explain how dopamine works in the brain, how it can affect motivation positively and/or negatively, and how you, through better understanding of this endogenous neurotransmitter, can harness it to achieve healthier, longer-term goals, and maintain more motivation and drive on a day to day basis. 

Think of dopamine pulses like a wave pool...

Dopamine is released in the brain in anticipation of a reward. It comes in peaks, and also in troughs. 

Dr. Kyle Gillett, a board certified physician in family and obesity medicine, describes dopamine pulses like a wave pool.

If you get a moderate pulse, or wave, of dopamine, the wave will crash in the “wave pool”, and the pool level will return to normal, or baseline in the case of your dopamine reserves. 

Now, if the waves keep coming and coming, some of them being very large, water will spill and splash out of the pool, and when the pool returns to normal, it’s water levels will be lower than baseline. 

This would be a trough, and this is what we ultimately want to avoid. 

When and Why do We Pulse Dopamine 

As mentioned above, we pulse dopamine in anticipation of a reward. 

Let’s say you’re going to eat at one of your favorite restaurants, and you’re hungry. After you place your order for a dish you’ve had before, and know you like, (and remember, you’re hungry!) the anticipation builds, and dopamine is released. 

Let’s say you get the dish, and it doesn’t absolutely blow you away, but it’s as good as you remember it, there’s then another pulse of dopamine, and thus, your anticipation is essentially rewarded. Most likely, this isn’t such an intense set of waves in the dopamine wave pool that when your dopamine comes back down, it will return to baseline. 

Important to note, is that there is a gap between the initial pulse of dopamine in anticipation, and the dopamine pulse in response to the reward. We’ll call this the duration between desire and effect. More on this later. 

Let’s now use an example of someone using and abusing cocaine. Upon first use, it pulses a release of dopamine that skyrockets the user’s dopamine levels, which then causes a very sharp crash in the wave pool. 

So the individual takes another hit of cocaine, once again skyrocketing their dopamine, only to have yet another sharp crash in the dopamine wave pool. You can see how this repeated use can very quickly deplete your dopamine reserves, leaving the individual well below baseline. 

If these analogies are making some sense to you, you have a solid enough understanding of how dopamine works in the body, and it will make sense how this can be applied to understanding and maintaining motivation, and achieving healthier, longer-term goals.

Dopamine and Motivation 

Let’s now apply what we’ve learned about dopamine, and when and why your body pulses it, to our everyday lives, so we can better leverage dopamine to help us maintain drive and motivation, resulting in us being better versions of ourselves, and to those around us. 

If you think about what burnout feels like, it’s an overall sense of exhaustion, a feeling of being depleted, and definitely lacking any motivation. 

Picture yourself getting excited about setting a goal. Let’s choose something that requires some dedication to health and fitness, like losing 10-20lbs, or running a marathon in the next year after barely running more than a mile in the last year, or competing in a CrossFit competition.

And of course, this is on top of an already inundated, “busy” life. 

Upon the most initial of inspiration, and commitment to your goal, you get a “wave” of dopamine. 

But, unlike that quick reward you got when you went out to dinner and your meal was as good as you had hoped and expected, your big reward at the end is far off. 

Now, let’s also say that on a day-to-day basis, you’re working long hours on your career or business, maybe also balancing a busier and busier family life, maybe some other factors, all while also trying to achieve your aforementioned long-term health & fitness goal.

There are two issues here with respect to drive and motivation, and their relationship to dopamine. 

  1. Your long-term health & fitness goal has a big gap in the duration of desire and effect, meaning, there is no immediate reward after the initial wave of dopamine, making it easy to lose motivation.
  2. Your daily life is very demanding of your dopamine reserves, making it difficult to keep them higher, and replenished day after day. 

Dopamine is your “rewards center”, and the release of it keeps you moving, and keeps you motivated. So, the key to motivation is to ensure you’re getting wins (rewards) along the way with your long-term goal, to keep yourself motivated, and to ensure you’re doing the necessary things to keep your reserves high and replenished on a day-to-day basis. 

Ensuring You are Replenishing the Dopamine Well

Here are some tips and things to be cognizant of, to keep replenishing those dopamine reserves:

  • Quality sleep. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to be cognizant of the fact that like so many other things in our body, we replenish our dopamine reserves while sleeping. As I’ve mentioned before, quality sleep matters, meaning as much time in Deep and REM cycles is key to restorative sleep. 


  • Be cognizant of over-stimulation. This can include stacking multiple stimulants on top of each other, combining with lots of stimulating (dopamine inducing) activity, and so on. This is where self awareness comes into play. The ability to recognize that you may be taxing your dopamine reserves more than usual, or more than you should, is critical in keeping them high. If you recognize this, you can take extra measures to do what you can to replenish them (like utilizing these tactics). Furthermore, it’s also important to know that a natural byproduct of dipping deeper into the dopamine reserves is that you may not have enough for a day or two, and may lack some “get up and go” in your step, and that’s normal. The key to these days is to recognize this, and not try to force motivation through continued overstimulation. This will only compound the lack of motivation over time, and is what leads to “burnout”. 


  • Natural light exposure in the AM. Dopamine is an endogenous neurotransmitter, and all endogenous (produced within the body) chemicals and hormones work on a Circadian Rhythm. Your Circadian Rhythm is a 24 hour internal clock that your microbiome, organs (including your brain), I mean, pretty much everything, runs on. After a quality night’s sleep, the most important thing you can do to properly set your Circadian Rhythm, is to get your butt outside and get as much natural light exposure. Go for a walk ideally. Make a habit of this, as soon as possible after you wake. However, a good goal is 30 total minutes of natural light exposure before noon. On super sunny days, it does require a bit less time, if it’s sunny, and you are short on time. 


  • Exercise regularly. As mentioned above, exercise is a positive reward system, as it’s healthy for you and you feel good after you do it, even if you don’t want to prior to doing it. Consistent exercise induces a positive, healthy, signal/cue cycle in your brain, and over time, will actually help increase your baseline levels of dopamine. 


  • Non Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) or Yoga Nidra. This is probably your best “hack” for dopamine from a biohacking perspective, if you want to take control and actively replenish dopamine reserves in relatively short order. NSDR is a practice that isn’t quite meditation, and isn’t quite breathwork, and is unique to itself. In an NSDR session, you will enter an Alpha brain wave state. This is a state where your conscious and subconscious connect, and is a state in between awake and sleeping. In this state, serotonin is released, and dopamine levels are actively replenished. 30-60 minutes of NSDR is ideal for a demanding lifestyle, however, along with a demanding lifestyle, is less and less free time. Research has shown that as little as 10 minutes of NSDR can have dramatic effects on replenishing dopamine. Making a habit of carving out 10 minutes a day for NSDR can have profound long-term benefits in avoiding burnout, and keeping drive and motivation high on a daily basis. Here’s a 10 minute NADR script I use from Dr. Andrew Huberman. Any YouTube search of NADR, or search of “Yoga Nidra” in your App Store, will yield plenty of results.


If you are trying to conceive, or plan to in the future, you’re going to want to keep reading this segment. 

I came across a paper published a little under a year ago titled, “Antioxidant Supplementation on Male Fertility—A Systematic Review”, that performed a review of the current literature regarding the effects of antioxidant supplementation on male fertility parameters. 

Results were analyzed regarding the following aspects: (a) ingredient and dose; (b) potential mechanism of action and rationale for use; and (c) effect on various reported outcomes.

In total, 29 studies “found a substantial positive effect” of antioxidant supplementation on male fertility. Furthermore, the two overarching conclusions of this meta-analysis are that antioxidant supplementation appears to have a positive effect on male fertility, and environmental factors appear to play a role in fertility, oftentimes, reducing fertility, or negatively affecting it. 

The findings of this study are pretty solid, as it’s a review of all the current literature, and the best part about it is they provided an antioxidant supplementation protocol for male fertility based on the actual research, which I will list for you below.

And guys, listen up, cause your fertility typically plays a larger role in conceiving than your female counterpart, so if there are issues conceiving, or if you really want to increase your chances of conceiving more quickly, focusing on doing what you can to improve your fertility is important.

Anecdotally, I can say this about the following stack…

My first child is on the way in less than 5 months, and in the month prior to trying to conceive, I was taking this stack (aside from lycopene) and we conceived right off the bat. 

As a whole, I’m a healthy individual who takes good care of himself, so there’s no way to know exactly how much of a role this antioxidant stack played in successfully conceiving right away, but I’m sure it helped, and I consider it a small investment to help avoid the headaches of issues in conceiving, further fertility testing, etc. 

Okay, here’s the stack, along with the researched daily dose:

  • Full-spectrum natural Vitamin E (400mg)
  • Carnitines (500-1000mg)
  • Vitamin C (500-1000mg)
  • CoQ10 (100-300mg)
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC) (600mg)
  • Selenium (200mg)
  • Methylfolate (500mcg)
  • Zinc (25-400mg)
  • Lycopene (6-8mg)

All of these micronutrients and antioxidants don’t show toxicity at slightly higher doses, so if you find a supplement that doses a little bit higher, you should be fine, unless you have an unknown genetic factor. I would, however, try to keep the zinc supplementation below 100mg/day.

Life is a single-player game.

Let’s do a quick thought experiment together…

Think of something about yourself that you hold dear. 

I’ll use being a parent as our example, but if you’re not a parent, insert something else that’s personal about yourself that you hold dear. 

Would you rather be known as the best parent in the world inside your own household, but for whatever reason, the rest of the world knew you as the worst parent in the world?


Would you rather be known to the rest of the world as the best parent, but inside your own household, were actually the worst parent?

Your answer to this will tell you if you’re playing a single or a multiplayer game in life. 

The rub is, life is a single player game. 

When playing a single player game, your scorecard for life is internal. 

When playing a multiplayer game, your scorecard is social. 

The internal scorecard is the one that matters, and playing along with that scorecard will lead to more happiness. 

As long as your children and spouse know you as the best parent in the world, even if the rest of the world thinks the opposite, it doesn’t matter. 

Comparing yourself to others, envy, even jealousy, are all part of the multiplayer game, and score is kept there on the social scorecard. 

Strive to be a happier, healthier, better version of you, however, only because you’re keeping track on that internal scorecard.