Your brain has A LOT to do. It works overtime making sure your body and mind are functioning at every conceivable level, so naturally, its cells require twice the amount of energy as any other organ. To give your brain the energy it needs to crush it at work and make it to that late night workout class, you’ve got to feed it well throughout the day. Mental grinds drain glucose from the blood, so it’s important to consistently keep your levels in supply. We’re sharing a model daily menu to support your productivity and keep your brain humming along.
The first food you eat should be fruit. Fruit is a complex carbohydrate with long chains of sugar molecules that are gradually broken down by the body, slowly releasing glucose (brain food) and extending the energy you gain from them. Coffee is great to give yourself a short-lived zing, but if you really want to jump-start your energy for the day, fruit is the way to go. A grapefruit or a bowl of berries are high in complex carbohydrates, and a bright way to wake up your palette.
We’re calling this brunch, but really, it’s second breakfast. Grazing throughout the day consistently keeps your brain humming without overloading on big meals. Second breakfast should include a good bit of protein to get your muscles ready for the day. Eggs, cereal or a sandwich will start working on your memory and attention immediately. Egg yolks in particular contain large amounts of choline, the nutrient that’s been proven to boost brain power by speeding up signals between nerve cells.
Try to make lunch your biggest meal of the day. It’s better to keep your body fed throughout the day, when you need the brain fuel to get work done, and to eat lighter for dinner, so your body can rest. Just like fruits, vegetables break down slowly in the body and can effectively sustain your brain fuel. Mixing up raw and cooked veggies ensures you’re getting a variety of nutrients, and the addition of protein will help keep you full.
The stretch between lunch and dinner can feel long without a snack. When that midday slump creeps up on you, fight back with a handful of nuts. Nuts, especially walnuts, balance omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and neutralize your blood sugar levels, so you feel energized and productive instead of famished and weak.
Keep it light to allow your body the rest it needs after digesting all day. Taper off the energy you’re feeding your brain so it can wind down and regenerate, causing an easier and deeper sleep. Fish is a good choice because it’s high in Omega-3’s, which build brain cell membranes for protection and aid in emotional balance, resulting in a positive, easy-going temperament.
Keeping hydrated throughout the day reduces stress hormones, allowing you to complete tasks with ease. At least 80 ounces of water or non-caffeinated tea relaxes the brain and induces a calm focus. If you’re in the mood for something fruity, have grapefruit juice as a snack to release glucose slowly while also keeping up your fluids. Keep sugary drinks off the menu — they make your pancreas secrete insulin, which triggers your body’s cells to leach glucose from your bloodstream and your brain, causing you to lose concentration and think poorly.
And it’s totally fine to have a cocktail after work. Moderate alcohol consumption enhances blood and oxygen flow to the brain and can ease you into the winding-down period of the day. See you at happy hour!
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