Intermittent fasting is a rapidly growing health trend based on skipping meals at regular intervals. It has been practiced around the world for thousands of years, often for religious reasons. Now, modern nutritional science is starting to confirm it’s various health benefits.
This method encompasses eating patterns in which you might go from 12 to as long as 48 hours with little or no energy intake. It is broken up by intervening periods of normal food intake.1Mattson MP, Longo VD, Harvie M. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes, Ageing Res Rev. 2017
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What Is Intermittent Fasting?
The most typical intermittent fasting routines include:
- 16/8: fasting for 16 hours every day, then eating during an 8-hour window in the evening.
- 1-on-1-off: fasting for 24 hours every other day
- 5/2: fasting for 48 hours once every week.
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Regardless of the schedule, many people report a wide variety of physical and mental improvements from fasting at scheduled intervals.
Intermittent Fasting Health Benefits
One of the major reasons people turn to intermittent fasting is for weight loss. People have used calorie restriction since practically forever as a method to shed pounds. Obviously, eating less means less caloric intake, which means (hopefully) losing weight.
However, most of these restricted-calorie methods have mixed results. But, while intermittent fasting can be considered a form of calorie restriction, the time-restricted feeding structure actually leads to more profound results.
Some of the major benefits of intermittent fasting over typical calorie restriction include better insulin and blood sugar control, increased metabolic rate, and more balanced hormone levels (including higher levels of Human Growth Hormone).2Mansell PI, Fellows IW, Macdonald IA. Enhanced thermogenic response to epinephrine after 48-h starvation in humans,Am J Physiol. 19903K Y Ho, et al. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man, J Clin Invest. 1988
This may allow for more sustainable, effective weight loss over the long-term.
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There is clinical evidence that intermittent fasting may also be able to treat:4Mizushima N. Autophagy: process and function, Genes Dev. 2007 5Choi KS. Autophagy and cancer, Exp Mol Med. 2012 6Louiza Belkacemi, et al. Intermittent Fasting Modulation of the Diabetic Syndrome in Streptozotocin-Injected Rats, International Journal of Endocrinology. 2012
- Heart conditions
- Preventing free-radical damage
- Metabolic disorders
Not eating for extended periods of time allows your body to clean up and eliminate intracellular waste. This necessary process can help overall cellular function and prevent disease.7Mehrdad Alirezaei, et al. <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/”
Brain Benefits Of Fasting
Many intermittent fasting enthusiasts report feeling more clear-headed, focused, and mentally sharp while following this schedule.
It’s also possible that intermittent fasting can also help with mental issues like:
Sticking to an intermittent fasting routine is not only helpful for your physical health. It can also have profound effects on cognition and mental function.
Research shows that intermittent fasting can increase Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. These are powerful mechanisms that contribute to brain-plasticity and neurogenesis.8Navin Maswood, et al. Caloric restriction increases neurotrophic factor levels and attenuates neurochemical and behavioral deficits in a primate model of Parkinson’s disease, PNAS. 2004
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to improve memory and prevent memory loss.9Shin BK, et al. Intermittent fasting protects against the deterioration of cognitive function, energy metabolism and dyslipidemia in Alzheimer’s disease-induced estrogen deficient rats, Exp Biol Med. 2018
There is also evidence that this regimen can help treat the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.10Halagappa VK, et al. Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction ameliorate age-related behavioral deficits in the triple-transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, Neurobiol Dis. 2007 11Xiang Bai, et al. Rapamycin improves motor function, reduces 4-hydroxynonenal adducted protein in brain, and attenuates synaptic injury in a mouse model of synucleinopathy, Pathobiology of Aging & Age-related Diseases. 2015 12Bruce-Keller AJ, Umberger G, McFall R, Mattson MP. Food restriction reduces brain damage and improves behavioral outcome following excitotoxic and metabolic insults, Ann Neurol. 1999
Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Brain Fog?
Many people claim that this routine can lift brain fog and give them more overall mental clarity.
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According to some research, longer fasts can be associated with higher cognitive abilities.13Rima Solianik, et al. Effect of 48 h Fasting on Autonomic Function, Brain Activity, Cognition, and Mood in Amateur Weight Lifters, Biomed Res Int. 2016
However, other people find that going long stretches without food makes them foggy-headed and irritable. For many, this will clear up after a few days or weeks of intermittent fasting, after their body adjusts to the new routine.
For others, it will continue causing issues, and so they may need to quit the fasting schedule. Everybody is different, and the most important thing is to listen to yours.
If you have problems thinking clearly that does not relent after your initial couple of intermittent fasting, it simply might not be for you.
So, while it does seem like sticking to a fasting routine can lift brain fog for many people, it all ultimately comes down to the individual.
When To Take Nootropics While Fasting
In general, we don’t recommend taking these nootropics while actively fasting, as most of these are better absorbed with food.
Best Nootropics For Intermittent Fasting
If you are currently on or considering an intermittent fasting schedule, some nootropics may have some specific benefits for you.
Best Nootropics for Intermittent Fasting
The Nootropic Multivitamin
- Mind Lab Pro's comprehensive yet simplistic formula is excellent for intermittent fasting.
- Ingredients like Lion's Mane and CDP-Choline work synergistically with your body as it shifts into fat-burning mode.
- The adaptogens and L-theanine will also help control the cortisol response that comes from any fasting stress.
- You also get B-vitamin co-factors to enhance absorbability.
- The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.
- I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.
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- Qualia Mind's comprehensive formula is an excellent complement for anyone looking to optimize intermittent fasting's many mental benefits.
- Feeding your brain the 28 neuro-compounds included in Qualia's formula help boost your mind as it begins burning fat for fuel.
- You'll experience more motivation, more energy, fewer cravings, and better metabolism.
- This stack is great for more experienced biohackers or anyone who needs a significant boost in brainpower.