Tip: The Fat That Makes You Smarter

Studies agree that excess body fat lowers intelligence, but eating a certain kind of fat can increase it. Info here.

Obesity Is Dumb

A few years ago, a study published in the journal Neurology found that very overweight people aren't as intelligent as leaner people. More accurately, the researchers found a link between obesity and cognitive decline.

It was controversial to say the least, not because it wasn't accurate, but because sometimes science isn't politically correct. Other studies came to the same general conclusion: being overweight messes with how your brain works.

But while being fat appears to cause decreased mental function, eating fat – at least the right kind – may have the opposite effect.

What Makes You Think More Gooder?

What you eat affects your cognitive performance, but scientists have had trouble figuring out exactly how that works.

It turns out that general intelligence is associated with the efficiency and organization of your brain's dorsal attention network. That's the part of the brain that takes care of daily problem solving and attention-demanding tasks.

Researchers used a measure called small-world propensity, which describes "how well the neural network is connected within locally clustered regions as well as across globally integrated systems." Translation: The better your small-world propensity, the smarter you are.

Okay, So Where Do Dietary Fats Come Into Play?

In one study of 99 older adults, general intelligence came down to their monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) intake. In short, those who consumed more MUFAs were smarter. Those study participants with higher levels of MUFAs in their blood had greater small-world propensity in their dorsal attention network.

What This Means to You

To avoid cognitive decline and maximize your intelligence, focus, and problem-solving skills:

  1. Don't get fat.
  2. Eat fat.

Olive oil, nuts and nut butters, eggs, and avocadoes are great sources of monounsaturated fatty acids.


  1. Marta K. Zamroziewicz, M. Tanveer Talukdar, Chris E. Zwilling, Aron K. Barbey. Nutritional status, brain network organization, and general intelligence. NeuroImage, 2017
Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram