Do you always feel drowsy whenever you sit down to study?
Do you get bored easily while studying?
Do you often feel restless during your exams?
Well, the culprit isn’t what you’re studying, it’s what you have just eaten.
Don’t look surprised! What you eat has a tremendous impact on how you perform every day.
If you are the average student, chances are good nutrition often isn’t on the to-do list when you’re studying for your tests. It’s common to see students gulping in copious amounts of coffee and gorging on countless slices of pizza, because they obviously don’t want to waste precious test prep time on food prep.
But, actually, good nutrition should always be part of your plan, because then you’ll be healthier and more focused, which will help you ace those tests.
Think of your brain as a car, and the food you eat as the fuel. The better the quality of the fuel, the better the car runs. So, the better the brain food you eat, the better you’ll study.
We’ll now discuss some awesome foods that you should eat, especially during your tests, so you can study better, remember better, and perform better.
Think of these foods as natural, home-made drugs that you can use to boost your brain power.
These foods are to your brain, what steroids are to bodybuilders; only difference is you are taking the natural route. Best believe when we tell you that these brain foods can do everything from sharpening focus to enhancing memory power, from increasing attention span, to supercharging brain function.
How to eat smart?
The brain accounts for 2 percent of our body weight, but actually needs more than 20 percent of our daily calorie intake.
So, it is quite obvious that what you eat affects not only your body, but also your brain.
How we eat and what we eat, has a major effect on our minds at a more fundamental level. The brain needs a constant supply of glucose, a fuel which keeps our human CPU healthy, and functioning.
That is why, it is very important to know how to eat smart, in order to get smarter.
Along with proper sleep and exercise, diet is most essential part of keeping the brain healthy and sharp. Just as how bodybuilders and endurance athletes take care of their daily nutrition intake, you as a test taker should keep an eye on what you are eating.
After all, you are all athletes; only that you run after scores and tests, instead of medals and prizes.
Here is a detailed guide on how you can eat smart, and what exactly you should eat if you want to improve your performance on your tests.
7 tips for eating right during exams:
1. Meet your daily requirement
Meeting daily caloric requirement should be an essential part of your lifestyle.
If you do not observe what you are eating, you will end up eating more/less than your daily requirement, either of which is a bad thing.
Plus, it is not just the calories that count.
One must also make it a point to meet daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Iron and B vitamins are especially important to maintaining the physical and mental energy necessary to study well.
2. Eat natural
Even though there are dietary supplements and over-the-counter pills that can help you meet your daily vitamin requirement, it is important that you take the natural route as much as you can.
Dietary supplements are good, but real food is better. For example, if you want Vitamin C, you can opt to chewing tablets, or you can also eat an orange, which contains not only Vitamin C, but also fiber, beta carotene and other minerals, which you don’t find in a Vitamin C tablet.
3. Eat multiple times a day
Three meal days are so last decade. New research proves that eating the standard three-big-meals-a-day slows you down mentally and physically. Of course, that’s obvious. Because you only eat thrice a day, you end up eating too much, and hence become too tired to study.
What you should do instead, is eat at regular intervals. The best approach is, to eat 5-6 meals a day, with a gap of 2 hours between each meal. Eating regular meals keeps your nutrient and energy levels more stable throughout the day, and there won’t be too many ups and downs in your blood sugar, which is most often the culprit behind tiresomeness.
4. Balance your macros
If you remember what you learnt in school, there are three main nutrients that you come across every day: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats. Make sure you have a balanced diet every time you eat.
What’s a balanced diet, you may ask.
For a normal healthy student, it is required to consume at least 1800 – 2000 calories per day in order to work or study without feeling sleepy or starved. Now, of these 2000 calories, you must make sure to split your macronutrients in a proper ratio.
The most popular split is 40-40-20, which means 40% each of proteins and carbs (800 calories each), while 20% of fats (400 calories) must be how to eat your food every day.
5. Eat raw
The best way to eat healthy is to eat like our forefathers: raw food. Fruits and vegetables rank high among the best foods you can eat for your brain.
The natural sugars in fruit are not only good for your brain, but also offer clean energy, which means you don’t experience the crash (sleepiness) that follows consumption of refined sugar.
Also, you must eat some nice, powerful vegetables. Powerful in the sense, the ones with the maximum nutrients.
How do you know which ones are the best? Easy.
The darker the color of the vegetable, the higher the concentration of nutrients. For example, spinach has more to offer the mind and body than lettuce or cabbage.
6. Go low on the GI
The glycemic index (GI) was originally designed for diabetic people, in order to help them keep their blood sugar levels under control.
But, it turns out that the glycemic index, or the GI, is a useful tool for non-diabetic people as well! The GI ranks foods based on how fast they are broken down into glucose, which is the fuel your brains wants.
Now, like most things in life, too much of glucose in the bloodstream can be bad for you, since it also increases insulin in your body, the hormone responsible to bring blood sugar levels back into the normal range.
And this insulin is a really bad guy, because it is what makes you diabetic. So, if you do the math, consuming foods with a high-GI leads to high levels of circulating insulin levels, which we want to avoid.
Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods such as white rice, white bread, pasta, potatoes and also in sugary foods such as refined sugar, soft drinks, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, and honey. Yes, all your favorite foods.
All these foods have a high GI score, which means they trigger insulin in your body, making you feel tired within a few hours. On the other hand, the slower the carbohydrates are digested, the lower its GI score, meaning there won’t be any need for insulin to come into play.
So, eating low-GI carbohydrate foods, or the slow carbs, as they are popularly known, causes a steady rise in the level of glucose in the blood, leading to constant energy supply, and minimal release of insulin.
Hence, you always feel full and energized for hours after eating. Slow carbs can be found in all the foods that your mom keeps telling you to eat – oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread, raw fruit, milk, yogurt, etc.
7. Stay hydrated
Water is super essential, as it helps remove toxins, keeps cells and tissues healthy, and keeps you energetic throughout the day. Though you must always stay well hydrated, it is all the more important that you do, during your tests. But then, don’t start glugging down whatever liquids you find in the fridge.
Choose your beverages wisely, for some of them can make you even more lethargic.
For example, drinks containing refined sugar should be kept to a minimum, or avoided altogether if possible. Though caffeine is a very important part of your study time, drinking too much caffeine can make you jittery, so try to drink moderate amounts: 400 to 450 mg, or 500 ml, or 2 big cups per day.
Instead, you can drink the immune boosting, fat burning, and anti-oxidant-rich equivalent of coffee – green tea.
So, that is how you can improve your chances of maintaining a healthy brain.
Now, if you are looking for brain foods that you should eat, we’ve got you covered. Below are some foods that you should eat, along with what you should definitely avoid at all costs.
List of natural foods you should definitely include:
- Leafy Greens
- Whole Grains
- Brown Rice
- Green Tea
- Low Fat Milk
- Egg Whites
- Whole Grain Bread
- Multigrain Biscuits
- Pumpkin Seeds
What foods to avoid
- White Rice
- Fried Food
- Fast Foods
- Refined Oils
- White Bread
- Cakes and Cookies
Don’t be sad. You don’t have to avoid them all the time. These are the foods you need to avoid only when you sit down to study. You can have them during other time.
So, those are the some of the things that you need to take care of while studying for the GRE.
And yes, we know it is weird for us as GRE experts to talk about food and nutrition, but we don’t care, as long as it is helpful to you guys. We believe in giving you as much information as we can, that will eventually help you score higher on the GRE.