What Does Fasting Do to Your Brain?

October 1, 2021


Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It has numerous health benefits, such as reduction of diabetes and heart disease risk, reduction of blood pressure and inflammation.

It also promotes fat “burning” and the production of beneficial ketones, slows down the aging process and can be beneficial for the skin. As good as it sounds already, it doesn’t stop here. Scientific research says that intermittent fasting is also really good for your brain.

To keep it short and simple

While you are on the fasting phase of your diet, your brain gets into a state of cognitive challenge. This physical and psychological challenge stimulates the production of "neurotrophic factors", which helps with the production of new neurons. IF can lead to:

  • Improved cognitive function
  • Increased neurotrophic factors
  • Increased stress resistance
  • Reduced inflammation

People who are doing the IF diet claim to be feeling as if their brain works more clearly, they feel more sharp-minded, focused and get more done at their work. Intermittent fasting eventually also increases the levels of a brain hormone that, when deficient, is directly linked to depression and other mental health issues.

More science

Dietary changes have long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts.

It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. Some children with epilepsy have also benefited from a specific high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function.

Basically, when you take a look at caloric restriction studies, many of them show a prolonged lifespan as well as an increased ability to fight chronic disease. Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases.

Challenges to your brain, whether it’s intermittent fasting or vigorous exercise is cognitive challenges. When this happens neuro-circuits are activated, levels of neurotrophic factors increase, that promotes the growth of neurons and the formation and strengthening of synapses.

Intermittent fasting also enhances the ability of nerve cells to repair DNA.

Bottom Line

Most people decide to change the way they eat with weight loss being their biggest motivation. And after they don’t get quick and instantly visible results, they quit.

A pro tip to avoid quitting would be to think about other health benefits, in this case, intermittent fasting, that a new eating pattern can bring you.

At the end of the day, it’s your health, not our looks that matter the most.


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