Does Adderall Increase Your Metabolism?

In this article, we will take a close look at the effects of Adderall, a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, on metabolism. We will delve into its impact on glucose metabolism, brain metabolism, and body weight and discuss the implications of these effects for individuals with ADHD and narcolepsy.
Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the
University of Oxford.

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Does Adderall Increase Your Metabolism

Yes, Adderall can increase your metabolism. This is because it stimulates the central nervous system, which can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, both of which can boost your metabolism. However, it's important to note that this is not a healthy or sustainable way to increase your metabolic rate.

Adderall: Indications and Mechanisms

Adderall is a combination of two stimulants, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is used to treat ADHD by stimulating the central nervous system and increasing the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, two critical hormones regulating cognitive functions, arousal and movement [1, 2].

Dopamine is also responsible for developing addictions because it increases wanting for items, making Adderall a tightly controlled prescription medication with high abuse potential.

In individuals with ADHD, Adderall helps to improve focus, concentration, and manage hyperactivity. It is often prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment program that may also include psychological or behavioural therapy, for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

In people with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and falling asleep throughout the day, Adderall helps by increase wakefulness and alertness during the day [1, 3]. This is thanks to the effects of Adderall on norepinephrine, which works by increasing excitation in the pre-frontal part of the brain. Increasing excitation in the prefrontal brain increases one’s executive function and control.

Adderall comes in two forms: Adderall and Adderall XR. The former can be used in adults and in children ages 3 years and older, while the latter is used in adults and in children ages 6 years and older. However, it's important to mention that Adderall XR is not used to treat narcolepsy [1].

How Can You Measure Metabolism?

Before diving into whether Adderall increases metabolism, it is critical to understand what metabolism is and how it is measured.

Metabolism can be measured in two main ways:

  • The Respiratory Quotient (RQ): the amount of oxygen you take in vs the amount of carbon dioxide you release
  • Metabolic Rate: The total calories expended, as measured by calorimetry [4]

It’s important to note that both of these methods have their limitations. It is highly unnatural to have people in calorimeters for long periods of time. Hence metabolic rate is only measured at specific intervals of the day, which may not produce accurate results.

Adderall and Metabolic Rate

Adderall is known to have an impact on the body's metabolic processes, but the exact nature of this impact is complex and can vary among individuals. For example, the effect on people with ADHD will be different than the effect on people without ADHD.

In healthy individuals, Adderall increased metabolic rate and RQ when taken in the morning, but not when taken in the evening [5]. This indicates that Adderall increases activity levels which can consequently increase metabolism throughout the day, but this effect would not be as strong in the night.

Adderall and Brain Metabolism

Metabolism in the brain is distinct to metabolism in the body. It can be measured through the uptake of oxygen by brain tissue, for example in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) or Position Emission Tomograph (PET).

Studies in individuals with hyperactivity have shown that Adderall does indeed alter metabolism in specific regions of the brain. In a study using PET, researchers found that although global glucose metabolism remained consistant on and off the drug, different regions of the brain were hyperactivated. Specifically, when taking methyphenidate vs dextroamphetamine, different areas of the brain had higher and lower activity [6].

In another study where adults with ADHD were injected with dextroamphetamine, a component of Adderall, different patients responded differently. Four patients had increased global brain metabolism, two individuals had unchanged metabolism, whereas two patients had reduced metabolism [7]. Based on the evidence above, it is difficult to conclude whether Adderall increases or decreases brain metabolism.

Adderall and Glucose Metabolism

Adderall does influence the body's glucose metabolism. It increases the amount of glucose released into your system due to its effect on noradrenalin, the fight-or-flight hormone. Stimulating this system can increase your blood sugar [8]. This could potentially lead to an increase in metabolic rate as your body works to process the extra glucose. This activity of Adderall is distinct to peptides for weight loss, such as semaglutide, that stabilise blood sugar by releasing insulin.

Adderall and Body Weight

Adderall can impact weight, which is closely tied to metabolism. Some people experience weight loss while taking Adderall, due to side effects like decreased appetite and increased energy expenditure [9, 10]. This is because your body will be aroused into the fight-or-flight mode, which reduces the activity of the rest and digestion system. As a result, you may have tendencies to eat less and move more. However, this is not a universal effect and can vary greatly among individuals, as Adderall can counteract hyperactivity in individuals with ADHD.

Summary: Does Adderall Increase Metabolism?

In conclusion, while Adderall does not appear to significantly alter brain metabolism, it does affect glucose metabolism and can potentially impact weight and energy expenditure. However, the effects can vary greatly among individuals, and more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between Adderall and metabolism.

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Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is a postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. She has worked across a spectrum of hot topics in neuroscience, including her current project measuring reinforcement learning strategies in Parkinson’s disease. Previously, she studied the efficacy of psilocybin as a therapy for critical mental health conditions and examined molecular circadian rhythms of migraine disorders. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and participated in a year abroad at the University of California, where she worked on a clinical trial for spinal cord injury.