Now that it's a few months into the school year and the homework has begun to pile up, it's most people's first instinct to reach for a large bag of Doritos to cope—while also incessantly cramming for an upcoming test. However, very few people realize that stress eating junk food can actually lead to reduced concentration and fatigue.
In preparation for a test, ditch the processed foods, and instead use these study food tips if you want to simultaneously maximize brainpower and satisfy your hunger craze without sacrificing your GPA in the process.
What to Eat While Studying
While studying, it's best to eat carbs with a low glycemic index because they have a slower impact on your body's change in blood sugar, which in turn, will provide you with longer lasting energy. Also, try pairing a low GI carb—wholegrain bread and cereal, brown rice, chickpeas, wholewheat pasta, sweet potatoes—with a lean protein, which will supply you with plenty of fuel to power through the next set of flashcards.
For snack ideas think avocado toast on whole grain bread, tuna with crackers, or even a whole grain cereal with milk—all of which are cheap, easy to make, and will be devoured before you are able to finish one math problem.
What to Avoid While Studying
It's definitely in your best interest to avoid sugary foods because they will give you a quick energy boost followed by a crash. Also, this does not just apply to processed sugary foods; sorry to say it but you should also avoid cakes, cookies, and sadly, ice cream.
Additionally, try and stay away from coffee because it will affect the recommended healthy 7-9 hour sleep amount, which is important to meet the night before a big test. However, if you're a coffee addict like me and need a less sizable dose of caffeine opt for green or black tea.
What to Eat the Night Before a Test
Much like the snack you had while studying earlier in the night (or later, if you're a midnight snacker), your dinner should be comprised of a low GI carbohydrate and a lean protein. Because dinner inevitably, or should I say hopefully, will be a bigger portion size, the low GI carb will supply you with brain and body energy to last until you close your textbook, while the lean protein will keep you alert and awake by setting off certain neurotransmitters in your brain.
A few suggestions for an ideal meal are chicken stir-fry with brown rice, salmon with sweet potatoes, or a turkey burger on a whole grain bun.
What to Avoid the Night Before a Test
As you may imagine, it's sadly best to avoid foods that are high in sugar and/or fat. Sugary foods will negatively alter your precious sleep cycle, while fatty foods can adversely affect your memory. And, in reality, neither your sleep nor your memory are worth sacrificing for a slice of pie, even if it is your favorite food.
So, maybe it's a good idea to save the creamy carbonara pasta and ice cream sundae for after the test when you're celebrating your good grade, or at least just being done with the material. However, if you do want something sweet for dessert, don't hold back from grabbing some dark chocolate. The delicious candy bar actually increases blood circulation to the brain, improving your ability to focus. What could be better?
What to Eat the Morning of the Test
Pretty intuitively, you should be eating a balanced breakfast loaded with tons of protein on the morning of your big test. An easy option is eggs with whole grain toast, which is guaranteed to provide you with long lasting energy for the entire test. Feel free to add in an avocado to your breakfast, which contains folate, a vitamin that is critical to your brain functioning. And, don't forget to throw in a banana to help provide you with fuel for the latter half of the day.