I know what you're thinking, how can a diet help become clever? Surely, dieting, and especially fasting will leave me tired, irritable, sluggish and far from leaving me ready to boost my brain power. Well, you'd be wrong. And here is why.
But first, what is the 5:2 diet and intermittent fasting?
The 5:2 diet isn't really a diet in the conventional sense. The 5:2 diet doesn't suggest you cut calories every day in the hope of losing weight over the long term (this doesn't work). What the 5:2 diet suggests is that you eat normally for 5 days of the week and eat less on 2 days of the week (either two days together or not). On the 2 diet days women would eat 500 calories and men 600 calories. This is much less than the recommended 1500 and 200 calories for normal women and men respectively. But as your calories are only restricted for 2 days a week this is a diet most people can tolerant.
On the 5:2 diet you can eat one or two meals - for women this would mean one meal of 500 calories or two meals of 250 calories each.
Intermittent fasting can be coupled with the 5:2 diet or not. Intermittent fasting is an eating philosophy that sees you fast from 8 pm in the evening to 12 o'clock the following day - i.e. 16 hours fasting. This means no breakfast or snacks before lunch time. At which you can eat normally until 8 pm. This is repeated non-stop.
How does the 5:2 diet and intermittent fasting help brain power?
So, how does the 5:2 diet or intermittent fasting boost brain power? Firstly, both diets reduce the amount of eating time during the day. This frees you up to do more outside the kitchen on more meaningful and rewarding tasks; things that stimulate the mind more than kitchen chores. Secondly, most people after eating a meal feel sluggish, especially meal is high in carbohydrates (carbs). Carbs, when digested, breakdown into sugars and are then transported around the body as blood sugar. Over time, when blood sugar levels dip, this causes a sugar crash, resulting in a feeling of tiredness and hunger.
Finally, and here is the best bit, both diets allow your mind to become more alert and have shown to boost brain function. There is a lot of science behind this - read this for more information - but needless to say feeling more alert means you will make better decisions and work smarter as well as harder.
The meat-eating predator
If it helps, think of yourself as a meat eating predator, one who hasn't eaten for some time. How will you feel? Quicker, more agile, more alert and motivated, ready for your next kill. If you can channel with into being more productive at home, work or learning something, rather than hunting for smaller prey, you will find that you will get more done. On the flip side. When a predator has eaten, what happens? They slow down and need to rest. When you fast, there is no need for this rest and a slow down of the body and brain. Hence you stay alert and 'hungry' for longer.
That said, fasting for long periods and the 5:2 diet keeps you surprising satisfied and not hungry at all. This is, in the most part, because these diets promote eating more protein and fats which don't raise blood sugar and cause a sugar crash and also helps you feel fuller for longer.
Fasting, calorie restriction and brain disease
It has been suggested that fasting and restricting calories will have the effect of reducing the onset of Alzheimer's Disease and Huntington's Disease, both diseases which effect the function if the brain. Whilst most people don't need to think about these disease until they exceed retirement, it stands to reason that if fasting and calorie restricting diets help the onset of brain diseases, using fasting and a diet like the 5:2 diet will aid brain function in younger people.
Intermittent fasting and other benefits
Still not sure that intermittent fasting is for you? Listen to the other benefits that not eating for long periods has.
In conclusion, both intermittent fasting and the 5:2 diet is being used not only to lose weight effectively but also to feel more alert, awake and boosts brain power during your day. Don't believe me? Try it and see who it works for you. Let us know by leaving a comment below.