Tools and Skills

Could Intermittent Fasting Increase Productivity?

Hunger Games

Would you like to know the secret weapon behind smart-drug startup HVMN’s (formerly known as Nootrobox) success?

Cofounder Geoffrey Woo revealed the company’s unusual method for staying productive in an interview with The Mercury News – much of the team fasts for up to 36 hours every week.

Every Monday night, HVMN (it’s supposed to be pronounced “human”) employees wave good-bye to food, only breaking fast at a communal breakfast on Wednesday mornings. “We’re actually super productive on Tuesdays,” told . “It’s hard at first, but we literally adopted it as part of the company culture.”

It’s a practice known as intermittent fasting. Alongside a bevy of potential health benefits, some studies have revealed that starving yourself can actually bolster your brain activity.

In this TEXx talk from Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University, he explains, “Challenges to your brain – whether it’s intermittent fasting, vigorous exercise or what we’re doing now – are cognitive challenges. When this happens neural circuits are activated, levels of neurotrophic factors such as BDNF increase, that promotes the growth of the neurons, the formation and strengthening of synapses.”

If you’re interested in learning more about intermittent fasting, check out this beginner’s guide from writer James Clear.

And for a dissenting account, check out David Rakoff’s incredibly funny account of his remarkably unproductive fasting experience on This American Life.