Thursday Thought: Is Fasting the Secret to Productivity?

There's a weird trend happening in Silicon Valley that has employees of various companies fasting for extended periods of time in order to boost productivity levels. 

Facebook executive Dan Zigmond swears by intermittent fasting. The director of analytics fasts for 15 hours a day, between 6pm and 9am, which he says helped him lose weight and gain more control of his eating habits -- since he often has to eat on-the-go, he tries to control when he eats, removing the stress and adding a sense of routine.

Nootrobox's 8-person startup team does a 36-hour weekly fast. They stop eating from Monday night to Wednesday morning each week. CEO Geoffrey Woo likens the experience to that of monks. "Your mind is disconnected from the body, less constrained," he told Fortune. "There's clarity, calmness, and productivity."

Nootrobox employees break their fast together, and has even begun inviting others to join them. While this must do wonders for team building, what happens when one team member decides not to participate in the fast? That might make things a little awkward.  

There is some science that supports the benefits of fasting. When the body goes without food for an extended period of time, it stops using glucose for energy and uses ketones instead, which are produced by the liver. That energy can actually improve brain metabolism. 

Different productivity tactics work for different people, but fasting seems a bit extreme. Zigmond's intermittent fasting approach isn't unheard of and many do the same in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle -- a personal choice that works for some but not for others. But a weekly 36-hour team fasting session doesn't sound very enticing, no matter what the benefits might be.