Fasting may boost brainpower by giving neurons more energy

A walnut on a spoon

Fasting diets may make you smarter

Gergely Kishonthy / Alamy Stock Photo

Could regular fasting make you smarter? People following regimes like the popular 5:2 diet usually do so for weight loss, but some who try it says it makes them mentally sharper too.

If this is true, experiments in mice may have explained why. In these animals, fasting has been found to cause changes in the brain that likely give neurons more energy, and enable them to grow more connections.

Mark Mattson of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland and his team looked at 40 mice, which were given regimes in which they either ate nothing every other day, or ate normally – but consumed the same total calories as the fasting mice.

The team found that fasting was linked to a 50 per cent increase in a brain chemical called BDNF. Previous studies have shown