Improving Cognition with Calorie Restriction and BrainTraining

The CR Way Brain booster membership

Many people think of calorie restriction as a low-calorie diet for weight loss or better overall health, but rarely as a tool for improving brainpower. Yet scientific studies abound with proven cognitive benefits for following a CR Way (Calorie Restriction Optimal Nutrition — CRON) diet. For example:

Caloric Restriction and Brain Function.

Gillette-Guyonnet S, Vellas B.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2008 Nov;11(6):686-92.

RECENT FINDINGS: Hypotheses linking caloric restriction to cognitive capability include anti-inflammatory mechanisms, reduction of neural oxidative stress, promotion of synaptic plasticity, induction of various stress and neurotrophic/neuroprotective factors. Caloric restriction may also prevent beta-amyloid neuropathology in Alzheimer transgenic models. Finally, both exercise and caloric restriction enhance neurogenesis via different mechanisms, suggesting that their combination may decrease the risk of neurodegenerative disease.


PMID: 18827571

Forums on the CR Way website,,  include many discussions about the benefits of fasting for improved cognition and prevention of neurological diseases. Many were inspired by the work of Dr. Mark Mattson:

Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: two potential diets for successful brain aging.

Martin B, Mattson MP, Maudsley S.

Ageing Research Reviews. 2006 Aug;5(3):332-53.

ABSTRACT: The vulnerability of the nervous system to advancing age is all too often manifest in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

In this review article, we describe evidence suggesting that two dietary interventions, caloric restriction (CR) and intermittent fasting (IF), can prolong the health-span of the nervous system by impinging upon fundamental metabolic and cellular signaling pathways that regulate life-span. CR and IF affect energy and oxygen radical metabolism, and cellular stress response systems, in ways that protect neurons against genetic and environmental factors to which they would otherwise succumb during aging.

There are multiple interactive pathways and molecular mechanisms by which CR and IF benefit neurons including those involving insulin-like signaling, FoxO transcription factors, sirtuins and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. These pathways stimulate the production of protein chaperones, neurotrophic factors and antioxidant enzymes, all of which help cells cope with stress and resist disease.

A better understanding of the impact of CR and IF on the aging nervous system will likely lead to novel approaches for preventing and treating neurodegenerative disorders.

PMID: 16899414

In sync with suggestions from Dr. Mattson and his colleagues, “The CR Way Brain Booster membership” recommends a delicious, nutrient-dense, low calorie diet for preservation of the nervous system. For the CR Way, though, that is only part of the story. While the diet sets the stage for better learning, a challenging, scientifically proven brain-training program was necessary before we had an approach that could truly boost brain power.

So imagine how thrilled we were when we learned of the brilliant work of Dr. Susan Jaeggi and her research team who developed Dual-N-back, a program that through training could actually increase I.Q. What’s more: the study showed that the more one trains the better the results:

Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory.

Jaeggi SM, Buschkuehl M, Jonides J, Perrig WJ.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the  U.S.A. 2008 May 13;105(19):6829-33

Fluid intelligence (Gf) refers to the ability to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge. Gf is critical for a wide variety of cognitive tasks, and it is considered one of the most important factors in learning. Moreover, Gf is closely related to professional and educational success, especially in complex and demanding environments. Although performance on tests of Gf can be improved through direct practice on the tests themselves, there is no evidence that training on any other regimen yields increased Gf in adults.

Furthermore, there is a long history of research into cognitive training showing that, although performance on trained tasks can increase dramatically, transfer of this learning to other tasks remains poor. Here, we present evidence for transfer from training on a demanding working memory task to measures of Gf. This transfer results even though the trained task is entirely different from the intelligence test itself. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent of gain in intelligence critically depends on the amount of training: the more training, the more improvement in Gf. That is, the training effect is dosage-dependent. Thus, in contrast to many previous studies, we conclude that it is possible to improve Gf without practicing the testing tasks themselves, opening a wide range of applications.

PMID: 18443283

After a few weeks of training with Dual N-back, combined with the CR Way diet, we were amazed at how many aspects of our thinking power improved – better memory, increased reasoning capability, multiple tasking – so many things that you lose as you get older were definitely improved. We now use the brain-training software every day.

Think of  the possibilities this offers: For the first time in history, human beings may be able to grow smarter as they get older. Usually we see people getting more mature socially and psychologically while their brain power declines. But the new “CR Way Brain Booster” program offers the possibility of increasing brainpower at the same time that a person gains maturity from experience – a powerful combination, indeed! And it is not just for people who are getting up in years. The brain-training program has been used by college students who experienced benefits that could help them prepare for exams, qualify for a scholarship, even get a job. They actually saw increases in their IQs. And who wouldn’t like a brain boost?! – doctors, lawyers, actors, the list is endless.

Here is more about the CR Way Brain Booster program. May it contribute to your improved health and brain power!

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