Staying focused and awake while studying for exams is important, and consuming food and drinks can be a great way to maintain alertness. Maria Stewart, associate professor for Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at UH Mānoa, explains how to enhance your next study session:
“The brain needs glucose, which is a simple sugar for optimal performance, and snacks will keep blood sugar levels at a place that can provide for more optimal brain function,” Stewart said. “If you’re hungry and trying to study, you aren’t going to focus, especially if students are pulling all nighters.”
The key is to not skip meals and to have snacks while studying. Eat snacks and meals with a mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fat. A moderate amount of sugar will keep your blood sugar at a level that can benefit brain performance.
Carbohydrates absorb quickly into the body, causing one to feel tired and hungry shortly afterwards. Only eating carbohydrates, or eating too many, won’t help you study. However, if you combine them with other foods that include proteins and fats you will have a balanced diet to help get you through exams.
✓ Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Peanut butter has fat and protein to help you stay full and while slowing down digestion, jelly and bread have carbohydrates the brain needs while studying. You can replace peanut butter with almond or another nut butter.
✓ Bagel with cream cheese
Although cream cheese does not as have as much protein as peanut butter, it does have some. The bagel will provide you with fat and carbohydrates.
✓ Egg with toast
Eggs have protein and fat, while bread has carbohydrates.
Water is the best liquid for constant consumption because it doesn’t have any calories. People sometimes forget how much sugar is in fruit juices and smoothies.
Avoid candy like skittles. When you consume too much sugar, you could enter a sugar rush followed by a sugar crash.
X Caffeinated and energy drinks
Caffeine and energy drinks are tempting to drink to stay awake. However, some of these drinks have stimulants, which can elevate heart rate and blood pressure. For those who don’t consume caffeine regularly, these have unwanted side effects such as a faster heart rate and nervousness. For those who cannot go without caffeine, moderate amounts are recommended.