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Boost brainpower with intermittent fasting

Rachel Lett, RNutr

Chief Care Officer


Working from home has become the new norm and everyone is in danger of living at work. We're all seeking that 'life changing' hack or software to transform productivity and spend more time with family. The truth is, you don't need the latest app to blast through your to-do list.

The most powerful productivity tool is right at your finger tips; your brain.

Feeling foggy?

I'm sure you're familiar with that "brain-fog" feeling. It's as though the world is moving 100 miles an hour and you're walking through deep mud. Your head is cloudy, your vision is blurry, and your brain short circuits in mid-conversation. It's incredibly frustrating; you know you can deliver top notch work, but you're constantly battling with your brain 'ignite'.

Do you use medication?

If this sounds familiar then you're likely using coffee and paracetamol to boost brain power and get through the day. However, we all know these substances offer temporary relief with mediocre results and have side effects.

Natural treatment

The good news is that you can permanently get rid of that heavy head, and harness your full potential to focus and think clearly with one simple health hack; intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of fasting and eating over a defined time period

Essentially, you prolong your night time fast 🛌 by delaying your first meal of the day, or stop eating earlier in the day (or both). Most people find a daily 16 hour fast the most effective and sustainable, but there are many types of fasts to suit your needs and lifestyle.

How it works

It's no coincidence that fasting boosts brain power. Let's think about our ancestors. Their survival was completely dependent on their razor sharp focus and heightened senses so they could successfully hunt, gather and eat.

Nowadays, with unlimited, easy access to food, we've effectively made the 'fasting brain' redundant. Although we no longer need to bring down a Mammoth, we still have this extraordinary ability to enhance mental agility by simply fasting.

There are plenty of anecdotal accounts of the power of fasting, but let's take a closer look at the science as to why intermittent fasting improves brain health, focus and cognition.

Increases BNDF

BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is a protein that supercharges brain power. It helps brain cells function, grow and repair, and protects them against cellular stress.

Additionally, it has been known as an effective anti-depressant, improving mood by enhancing the expression of the parasympathetic nervous system (brings the body to a calm state). In other words, fasting could offer similar relief as antidepressant pills, with far less side-effects.

Fasting boost BDNF production by inducing BDNF gene expression and upregulating beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). BHB is the main energy source for brain cells during the fasted state and promotes mental clarity.

Improves neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to our ability to repair, grow and reorganise brain cells or synapses. As we age, our brain plasticity naturally deteriorates, which means, information is processed at a slower rate.

Indeed, age is inevitable, but the regression of our brain health doesn’t have to be.

Fasting is like exercise for the brain. It improves neuroplasticity, which enhances cognition, motor performance and mood while protecting against injury or disease (like Alzheimers or Parkinson’s).

Rejuvenates Brain Cells

Fasting promotes autophagy and neurogenesis. Autophagy is an important process that clears away damaged cells that could lead to diseases like Alzheimers. Neurogenesis is a process that grows brain cells. I'm not kidding you on this one, by simply skipping a meal or two, our brain can actually make NEW brain cells to boost brain power!!

Indeed, research on fasting is limited to animal studies, and we need more human studies to fully evaluate and explore the full potential of fasting on the brain.

However, fasting appears to boost cognitive function with no risk, so why not take advantage of this impressive ability?!

Give it a try and see how easy it is to glide through your morning to-do list!

Head to the app and let us know about your experience of fasting or if you need support. We'd love to chat more with you!

Like what you’re hearing?

Check out the blog for more guides to help you with your health journey.

If you’re interested in joining Span, download our mobile app, contact us at, or book a consultation

Take care, 👋

Fact checked by our Medical Doctor, Adam Bataineh.

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