How Fasting Improved your BDNF

February 22, 2024

In recent years, the practice of fasting has garnered significant attention not only for its potential benefits in weight management and metabolic health but also for its remarkable effects on brain function. One of the key mechanisms behind these cognitive benefits lies in the modulation of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a protein crucial for the growth, survival, and plasticity of neurons in the brain. This article explores the fascinating link between fasting and BDNF, shedding light on how intermittent fasting can serve as a powerful tool for enhancing cognitive function.  

Understanding BDNF 

Before delving into the relationship between fasting and BDNF, it’s essential to grasp the role of BDNF in the brain. BDNF is often called “fertilizer for the brain” because it supports the growth and maintenance of neurons. It plays a pivotal role in neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections, which is crucial for learning, memory, and overall cognitive function. 

The Link Between Fasting and BDNF 

Studies have shown that various forms of fasting, such as intermittent fasting (IF) and periodic fasting, can significantly increase BDNF levels in the brain. Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, while periodic fasting involves extended periods of fasting interspersed with regular eating days. Both approaches have been found to trigger a cascade of physiological changes, including increased BDNF production. 

One of the primary mechanisms through which fasting boosts BDNF levels is by enhancing autophagy, a cellular process that removes damaged cellular components and promotes cellular renewal. Autophagy is upregulated during fasting periods, leading to the elimination of dysfunctional mitochondria and other cellular debris. This cellular rejuvenation not only enhances overall brain health but also stimulates the production of BDNF. 

Furthermore, fasting has been shown to promote ketone production, which serves as an alternative fuel source for the brain during periods of glucose scarcity. Ketones have been found to exert neuroprotective effects and can enhance BDNF expression, further contributing to cognitive function and resilience.  

The Cognitive Benefits of Elevated BDNF 

The increase in BDNF levels induced by fasting translates into a myriad of cognitive benefits. Research suggests that higher BDNF levels are associated with improved learning and memory, enhanced mood, and increased resistance to age-related cognitive decline. By promoting neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity, BDNF helps to optimize brain function and adaptability, enabling individuals to better cope with stressors and cognitive challenges. 

Practical Implications and Considerations 

Incorporating intermittent fasting into one’s lifestyle may hold promise for optimizing brain health and cognitive function. However, it’s essential to approach fasting with caution and tailor it to individual needs and preferences. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help ensure that fasting is safe and suitable, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions or specific dietary requirements. 

Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that fasting alone is not a panacea for cognitive enhancement. A holistic approach to brain health, including regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and cognitive stimulation, is crucial for maximizing cognitive function and well-being. 


The burgeoning body of research highlighting the link between fasting and BDNF underscores the profound impact that dietary interventions can have on brain health and cognitive function. By harnessing the power of fasting to boost BDNF levels, individuals may unlock new avenues for enhancing learning, memory, and overall cognitive performance. As our understanding of this relationship continues to evolve, fasting may emerge as a valuable tool in the quest for optimal brain health and vitality. 

Need more topics related to health and wellness? Check out this section: 

Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube to get your daily dose of wellness, longevity and leadership inspiration! 

Editor’s Note: Lifelong Labs, founded by wellness advocate Greg Lindberg, is a science-based wellness, longevity and leadership brand that helps people live younger longer, healthier and happier. For more information, visit 




Media Inquiry? Contact Public Relations



Lifelong Labs Helps People Live Longer, Healthier and Happier


Subscribe now and unlock the secret to reversing aging!

By clicking “Subscribe” you agree to our Privacy Policy and consent to contact you about our relevant content, products and services.