How to Leverage Your Nutrition for Increased Brain Performance
Energy is our number one asset when it comes to getting things done. While we can’t increase the time we have every day, we can increase our energy. And more energy brings us faster results in less time.
For getting things done fast, not only our body needs energy. Our brain - as our primary instrument for getting things done - also needs sustained energy. Without energy we won’t to be able to concentrate. And without high concentration, we get poor results.
The body’s and the brains primary resource of energy of course is food. Knowing that, the question is: how do we get the most out of our foods to keep our brain productive?
How our foods give us energy
There are three different macronutrients in our foods: fats, protein and carbohydrates. Our body primarily gets its energy from carbohydrates. And so does our brain.
While our brain is a relatively light weighing organ, it uses up to 20% percent of our body’s energy. That’s also why we feel drained at the end of a day full of focused work.
The brain is fueled by glucose, the simplest form of a carbohydrate. So, when our glucose levels are low, our brain function is also low – and we’re less concentrated and productive.
Thus, we ideally should sustain appropriate glucose levels throughout the day in order to get things done. Therefore, let’s take a closer look to how carbs work and how to make best use of them.
How carbs work in our body and fuel our brain
When a carbohydrate enters our body, it’s broken down (and/or converted) into its simplest form: glucose. After that, the glucose enters the blood, from where it enters the brain and other tissues.
But that does not work for all kinds of foods equally. Some food’s glucose enters the blood rapidly - giving our blood sugar a spike – just to fall down shortly after that. That results in high energy quickly, but shortly after that we fall in a hole with low energy.
That means, foods that raise our blood glucose rapidly, make it fall again quickly and provide us only with a short period of time where we’re focused. After that time our brain’s and body’s energy crashes and we can’t get things done anymore.
On the other hand, there are also foods that take some time to raise blood sugar. Their glucose gets absorbed slowly and steadily, so our blood glucose level is sustained for a long time. That makes sure that our brains and bodies are constantly provided with energy and concentration.
Accordingly, it should be our goal to get in carbs that raise our blood sugar slowly and steadily, so we can concentrate and be productive for the longest possible time before having to get in carbs again.
Foods and meals that have those effects have some special characteristics. Those characteristics make it also possible for us which foods and combinations to choose in everyday life.
The best way to eat for sustained productivity
First, our blood glucose levels rise less slowly when we eat our carbs with some good fats and some proteins. Thus, always try to get a healthy mix of carbs, fats and protein in your meals.
Additionally, fiber also slows down the rise of blood glucose. Fiber is especially found in vegetables and fruits, as well as other unprocessed foods. The less processed a food is, the more fiber it contains: so make sure all your foods are as unprocessed as possible. And to eat a lot of vegetables with your meals.
The best foods that contain an amount of carbs worth mentioning are:
- Potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Brown rice (brown because it still contains peel and therefore fiber)
- Whole grains
- Legumes & seeds
- Quinoa & amaranth
If you want to stay highly productive all day, make sure to include some of those in every meal. Those are the ones that help you sustain your energy and focus for long time.
On the other hand, all kinds of highly processed foods give our blood sugar levels a bump. They contain a minimum of fiber and enter our blood fast. Plus, all kinds of foods containing processed sugar have the same effects.
Therefore, avoid any kind of sweetened and processed foods. They will only drain your energy and focus – and destroy your productivity. Rather choose the high-quality ones and maybe take some extra time preparing them – the results your energized brain will deliver will pay off.
About the Author
Maurice Leibinn is the creator of Productive Energy Management – a method that helps people get a maximum amount of results in a minimum of time while sustaining their energy and avoiding any kind of overwhelm.
He is a productivity Coach serving serving overworked entrepreneurs and professionals. Read more...