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When To Eat For Optimal Brain Function with Max Lugavere

Max Lugavere is a filmmaker, health and science journalist who has dedicated his latest book to help us identify ways we can improve our brain health and functionality through what we eat.

Max’s journalism career has seen him work for seven years at Al Gore’s Current TV, and his contributions published by Medscape, Vice, Fast Company, CNN, and the Daily Beast. His work has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and in The Wall Street Journal. Max appears regularly on the Dr. Oz Show, the Rachael Ray Show, and The Doctors.

A New York Times bestselling author, Max is the brains behind the recently released Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life.

Max has become a sought-after speaker, having presented at South by Southwest, TEDx, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Biohacker Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, and many others. He lives between New York City and Los Angeles.

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*** Please note, this episode is educational only and is not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions.Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

"Social interaction is such a major aspect of feeling connected and achieving optimal brain health."

Max Lugavere

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  • Supplements Max gave Jim: phospholipid DHA—your brain uses this to create healthy cell membranes, important because our cell membranes form all the receptors involved in mood, executive functioning, attention and memory.
  • We rely on the proper operation of these membranes to allow neurotransmitters to do their job.
  • Carotenoid astaxanthin compound, unique marine compound (found in wild salmon, lobster, etc.) that activates FOX03 brain pathway, protects eyes, and promotes neuroplasticity.


  • Genius foods Max suggests in his book: foods filled with nutrients, fats, vitamins to increase longevity, combat inflammation, promote detox, and improve brain health.
  • Avocados
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Eggs
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Blueberries
  • Wild salmon
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts


  • Intermittent fasting for performance: getting back to balance between fed and fasted state, catabolic (building strength) and anabolic (breaking down) state, today we’re not able to achieve that balance because chronically eating.
  • Chronic eating prevents the brain from using ketones for fuel (the byproduct of fat metabolism).
  • Max’s suggestion: don’t eat for a few hours after you wake up, and don’t eat for a few hours before you go to sleep — extend the window in which you don’t eat.
  • When you wake up: a spike in cortisol, depleted glycogen, and fat burning.
  • Cortisol is a fat-burning hormone that enables your brain to receive energy from fat.
  • Ketones are a signaling molecule, turn on hormones involved in neuroplasticity.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before sleep: lymphatic system and brain are cleaning while we sleep, and increased insulin levels from food consumption might interfere with this process.
  • Don’t get neurotic about the window Max suggest; it’s a framework, not a strict rule — e.g., if you end up at a social dinner don’t worry too much.
  • Don’t forget social interaction is an essential contributor to optimal brain function and lifespan.


  • Don’t forget other important aspects of health outside of nutrition: connectedness and exercise.
  • Loneliness impacts your genetic expression, use meals as an opportunity to connect.
  • Blue Zone studies investigate not just what was eaten but who, when it was eaten.


  • Researchers mentioned: Valter Longo | Satchin Panda
  • We didn’t evolve with food constantly around.
  • We become more clever when food ceases to be around—stokes a stress response, neurotransmitters, promotes alertness and more advantageous gut-level decisions.
  • Max stacks important meetings and calls in the morning when he’s in a fasted state, so he is more alert.


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