Intermittent Fasting, Nerves, and Health

Read time: 60 seconds

We know that intermittent fasting can help us get lean, but it may also improve our nerve cells.

The health of the body depends heavily on the communication between billions of cells, and this interdependence is based on the hormonal cascade that has a close relationship with the nervous system. Our health relies on our nerves.

Studies show that, in a wide span of animal models, intermittent fasting helps to prevent degeneration of nerve fibers, as well as regenerate them. This may help protect against conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, and even against the potentially damaging effects of stroke.

Intermittent fasting also enhances synaptic structure, which may improve communication between nerve fibers. A large contributor to age-related loss of physical and mental function is diminishing communication between nerve fibers; healthy communication between nerve fibers is, thus, the ultimate fountain of youth.

Intermittent fasting also introduces low-level stress to cells, causing an adaptive response that leads to beneficial resistance against injury and disease. In mice, this also has a protective effect for the brain.

Another benefit of intermittent fasting is improved mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are organelle structures (within the cells of the body) that provide energy and regulate cellular metabolism through aerobic respiration — a process which requires glucose, protein and fatty acids, along with oxygen.

Excessive calorie intake over time can promote heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, and weight gain. Intermittent fasting, by which calories are comfortably restricted for short periods, can prevent or reverse these conditions.

Intermittent fasting, it’s not just for a flat stomach.

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8 Responses to Intermittent Fasting, Nerves, and Health

  1. TH says:

    Which studies shows these results ?

    • Johnny says:

      Hi TH,

      See the link provided in the post. It’s a good place to start; that study will link to other similar published studies. Also, you can peruse the archives, as I’ve provided other links. Remember, many of these studies are done on animals. But there are also increasing studies done on IF in human.


  2. Mark says:

    Hey Johnny,
    After reading a recent comment of yours (the typical food you eat) and knowing your general stance on things, I have a question. In your experience when looking at fat loss, do you think it’s it is natural occurrence of eating less calories through IF or is there something about IF that you think makes fat loss easier that is unrelated to calorie intake? I ask in this way because I count calories. It’s easier for me than just guessing whether or not I’m eating enough or too much. I eat all Paleo foods and I’m working on not caring whether I eat high protein one day or high carb another, more so just eating to what I feel like (ex: last night I was tired after working out and playing softball so I put down a good amount of sweet potatoes with dinner). Keeping Paleo is not a problem at all as there is so much to choose from especially when not trying to hit x protein or stay under x carbs. I remember you saying that you only leaned out when you added IF as you were already eating Paleo. If it helps, I eat around 11-12 times my bodyweight of 205 (probably about 20 pounds to get to your level of leanness which is my goal). I have already seen some progress in just 2 weeks of eating this way and indulging a little bit here and there. Thank you for your input and advice, it is really helpful.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Mark,

      Intermittent fasting burns a little more fat than compared to frequent feeding at isocaloric intake. IF is like exercising — it enhances fat burning. But this doesn’t necessarily produce fat loss, as the increased fat burning during IF (or exercise) can easily be replaced with food.

      So, yes, IF increases fat burning over the same caloric intake with frequent feeding. But how much? No one knows, and I doubt there will ever be a study that can effectively measure this.

      I believe there is definitely a fat-burning advantage to IF.

      But, IF offers so many other weight-control benefits, too, like the decrease in hunger frequency and hunger magnitude, as well as the ability to focus on the taste of food rather than the act of eating.


  3. Mark says:

    Sorry for the bad grammar, I didn’t proofread.

    “do you think it’s the natural occurrence”

  4. Mark says:

    Hello again,
    Just thinking some more after listening to Robb’s recent podcast and if you could talk about your training (frequency and intensity) as you transitioned from ~15% body fat to your current state, that would be helpful as I think you did it with non-excessive amounts. I would like to mirror your efforts because I have been doing a lot of CrossFit in the past couple of weeks and while I love doing them and feel great while doing them, I’m usually pretty tired the rest of the day and into the next day (very tough to focus at work). It doesn’t help that I usually get 5-6 hours of sleep a night, a little more on the weekend, but I can’t improve that area unfortunately. Please let me know if I can clarify but essentially what it comes down to is finding a level of training that gives one the lean look without leaving them weak and tired most of the time. I’d be willing to cut my calories some more if I had to support the lowered amount of training. Thanks again, sorry for the double-post.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Mark,

      I too get only about 6 hours each night. Hasn’t bothered me. People are different with sleep requirement.

      As far as how many calories you should eat — pick a weight you want to be at, and then look for the amount of caloric intake estimated for that weight. Then start AVERAGING closer and closer to that. It’s the simplest way.

      The rate of fat loss depends on whether you impose a deficit, and how much of a deficit. Although you definitely need to average a deficit (in reference to your daily caloric expenditure), try not to go too crazy. It’s important to concentrate on creating a sustainable lifestyle first and foremost — the rest will come.


  5. Mark says:

    Sorry, I just saw your old post on how you exercise (typically one heavy day, one metabolic day, one bodyweight day, general activity on most days). I think you have cut that down some as you were trying to maintain less muscle this year. Thanks

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