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November 8, 2019

Healthy snacking for exams: What to eat to boost brain power

Long study sessions are often filled with caffeine and unhealthy sugary snacks. But fueling your body with these types of foods can make it extremely difficult to concentrate and stay alert. What you eat really does have a direct impact on your results, which is why it’s so important to fuel your brain and body with the right nutrients. The typical student diet of energy drinks and vending machine snacks do not set you up for success. 

What not to eat

The key is to eat foods that sustain your energy levels, focus, and keep your brain alert throughout long study sessions. Sugary foods like chocolate, biscuits and soft drinks will give you a temporary high and then make your blood sugar crash and leave you feeling flat and tired. A lot of packaged and processed snacks, like granola bars and cereals, are disguised as being healthy, but if turn them around and read the nutritional info you discover they’re actually packed with sugar.

chocolate in textbooks

Eating a chocolate bar every time you finish a chapter is not the way to do it!

What about coffee?

Caffeine increases alertness and can be a great pick me up – in moderation. People also have different sensitivities to caffeine. Some people may become anxious and jittery if they have too much. Caffeine also affects your sleep, and sleep is a crucial part of the equation for exam success. Getting enough rest is important to wake up feeling alert and write well.  So when it comes to coffee and tea, they may be okay in moderation but don’t drink them too late and don’t use them as a quick fix to keep you awake.

What to snack on when hitting the books

Instead of reaching for sugar and caffeine to keep you alert, stock up with healthy convenient snacks, so when those snack attacks hit you can eat foods that fuel your brain and help your concentration levels and attention span. 

Foods high in fibre, protein and healthy fats will help keep your blood sugar levels steady which help maintain your energy and they reduce sugary cravings. Great choices are fruits, oats, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and legumes, like chickpeas or hummus. It’s also important to include foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, as they can help improve focus and memory. Nuts, especially walnuts and hazelnuts and flaxseeds are good choices, as well as fatty fish like tuna. 

Our SnackPacks are filled with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and pre-portioned out so they’re easy to grab on the go. 

A yummy snack break can also be a good motivator – dont forget that short, frequent breaks are also important to help you retain what you’ve studied.

And dont forget to drink plenty of water – no matter how healthy your snacking is, if you’re dehydrated you will find it difficult to concentrate on your work.

Don’t forget about exam day

Healthy snacking and habits are also important on the actual day of the exam. There’s no use studying hard and staying healthy while learning only to be too tired on the actual exam day. All-nighters are not a good idea – the importance of getting enough sleep the night before the exam should not be underestimated. Make sure you eat breakfast and have your brain boosting snacks to sustain you throughout the exam.

These tips are useful to remember not only when studying for exams but also when working on a big project. Often when there’s a big deadline coming up we’re so focussed on it, that we forget to look after our brains and give them the right fuel to succeed.