A little Background: The protocol I am taking about is 16-20 hours of fasting and a 4-8 hour eating window (e.g. fasting between 6 PM and 10 AM). I have been doing IF (intermittent fasting) for 7 months. I think the key hormones relevant to this question are ghrelin and testosterone.

Is it possible for intermittent fasting to make you smarter?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi John, just wanted to give you some feedback on why I think your question wasn't feel received here. The main problem is you don't present your rational for thinking why I.F. might have an effect on intelligence. You should try and ground your question in the existing literature if want the community here to be of much help. $\endgroup$
    – zergylord
    Aug 13, 2013 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm long term changes might be tricky even though I'd be intrested in that. I'm not familiar enough with the hormone to know if when he eats it goes right back to homeostasis or what. I am interested in the acute affects as well. I know in the mornings before I eat anything I always feel smartre and more motivated. $\endgroup$
    – user3433
    Aug 26, 2013 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


There is some scientific evidence that it does. And a physiological explanation as well.

During fasting, there are several things happening in the body, among other things hypoglycemia (low glucose level in the blood). All those changes that occur actually stress the brain. That stress has been shown to be compensated by the brain by creating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

"BDNF acts on certain neurons of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons, and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses" - Acheson et al 1995

"BDNF itself is important for long-term memory" - Bekinschtein et al 2008

BDNF is also one of the most potent chemicals in the body to stimulate neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons), even in adults.

However, as far as I know, there have not been any experiments directly testing whether or not cognitive capacity increases with IF. I.e. only increased levels of BDNF have been found, and IQ and other direct measures are yet to be tested.

  • $\begingroup$ I would also like to add an additional research I've come across. There was a study done on the effect of eating breakfast on cognitive performance. The experimental group, which did not eat breakfast performed less well than the control group that ate breakfast. This is postulated to be because of the lower level of glucose in the blood, which is the brain's primary source of energy. In light of this research, i suggest you plan so that you break your fasting at breakfast. I.e. eat breakfast at 8am and then have your last meal at 4pm. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2013 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ Also, this article has some good points: marksdailyapple.com/fasting-brain-function $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2014 at 16:02

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