Episode 120

Intermittent Fasting: A Counterintuitive Brain Fuel

We’ve all heard the striking statistic that your humble brain, weighing in at just 2-3% of your total body weight, consumes almost a quarter of your energy expenditures.

For an organ that’s such an energy hog, it’s surprising to learn that cutting off your incoming energy supply — in the form of food — can offer significant benefits.  But the brain is full of surprises and counterintuitive or not, the cognitive benefits of Intermittent Fasting seem to be real.  (Animal studies certainly lend evidence in this direction.)

In Episode #120, I speak with Dr. Mark Mattson, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Health (NIH) about his decades of work in the fields of nutrition and brain health, and the complex interplay between diet, exercise, “feeding windows” (we’re not talking McDonald’s drive-thru), and macronutrient ratios.

Studies are still ongoing — more aggressively than ever — in all of these fields.  And while much remains unresolved, there is also a lot that we do know.  Listen in to learn Dr. Mattson’s take-aways that he has used to form his own health and lifestyle choices, his thoughts on when animal models may be reasonable to act on, and when more research is still needed.

PS:  Want to learn more about Intermittent Fasting?
Click here to download a primer document to get you started.  We think you’ll find the basics are surprisingly straightforward.  (Note that we said “straightforward,” not “easy.”)

Episode Highlights

0:36Caloric restriction and cognition
1:20This Week in Neuroscience: The woman who looked at faces and saw dragons
4:58The audience interaction section
7:32STEMtalk by The Florida Institution For Human & Machine Cognition
8:23Introduction to Dr. Mark Mattson
9:08How exercise and fasting affect cognition
12:21Regular glucose metabolism and how this changes while in ketosis
14:23Relative effects on cognition of fasting, intermittent fasting, and high fat diets
16:14Dr. Mattson’s own dietary choices
18:14Caloric restriction and longevity in animals and humans
20:58Strength, survival rates, and caloric restriction
23:12The importance of the intermittent nature of stimuli
26:53Protecting the brain against Alzheimer’s disease
29:42General upsides of intermittent behaviour
30:43Rhythms of the body
31:55Is anyone lobbying the National Institutes of Health?
34:39Obesity as a disease
36:19Phytochemical hormesis
37:20Water Fast Week 2016
37:46Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: Photographing the glow of the human body
41:14The ethics of cognitive enhancement
Written by Jesse Lawler
Jesse Lawler is a technologist, health nut, entrepreneur, and "one whose power switch defaults to On."  He created Smart Drug Smarts to learn how to make his brain do even more, and is greatly pleased to now see his little baby Frankenstein toddling around and helping others.  Jesse tweets about personal optimization, tech, and other stuff he finds interesting at @Lawlerpalooza.
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