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February 1, 2020

Is Intermittent Fasting a Good Idea?

by Daniel F. Kelly

Dr. Daniel F. Kelly’s article about intermittent fasting was featured in the Santa Monica Star. See the full article below and find out if intermittent fasting is a good idea. 

Intermittent fasting – restricting food intake over periods of time – has been around for hundreds of years. From a neuroscience perspective, caloric restriction and intermittent fasting can have significant positive effects on both the brain and body.

A recent review article1 in the New England Journal of Medicine states that intermittent fasting can have “broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurologic disorders.”

Three widely studied fasting regimens are:

Alternate day fasting

This indicates fasting every other day, that is, just 500-700 calories worth of food and drink on those days. Eat normal meals on the other days.

5:2 fasting

Fast for 2 different days a week, consuming only 500-700 calories on each of those days. Eat normal meals on the other 5 days.

Time-restricted eating

Limit eating every day to a 6-8-hour period. For example, eat one meal at noon and end the second meal by 8pm. Fast until the next day at noon (16-hour fast).

What Happens When You Practice Intermittent Fasting?

Restrictive fasting allows for metabolic switching in the body, going from glucose burning to fat burning. It gives the body time to go through all the glucose stored in the liver (500-700 calories) and then begin burning stored fatty acids and ketone bodies (ketosis). Ketone bodies are not just fuel for the body, they influence factors of health and aging.

Not only does intermittent fasting help with weight loss, recent research and clinical trials suggest that sustained fasting regimens maintained over months or even years may also improve memory along with executive function, and overall cognition. Calorie restriction has physical benefits as well.

Intermittent fasting can work for many people, but it is not for everyone. We recommend older adults consult with a healthcare professional. While more research needs to be done, adopting such a diet can be a viable option for improving overall brain and body health.

For more information, please check out Pacific Neuroscience Institute or contact us at 310-582-7640.

Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease by Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D. published in the December 26, 2019 issue, at

Original article published in the Santa Monica Star, February 2020.

About the Author

Daniel F. Kelly, MD

Daniel F. Kelly

Daniel F. Kelly, MD, is the Director of the Pacific Brain Tumor and Pituitary Disorders Centers at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. Considered to be one of the top neurosurgeons in the U.S., Dr. Kelly is internationally recognized in the field of minimally invasive keyhole surgery for brain, pituitary and skull base tumors. He continues to focus his efforts on advancing innovative treatments for patients, providing fellowship training in minimally invasive neurosurgery, and patient education and support.

Last updated: March 23rd, 2020