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Eat Your Way To Higher Productivity

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Eat Your Way To Higher Productivity

Postby dcrosby » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:10 pm

Full Disclosure: I am a author and I am sharing ideas worth spreading. I believe people can benefit from this, so I wanted to share it here. I apologize if this is not welcomed

This is a commonly overlooked problem by many productive people. It sounds basic, but you would be surprised at how often people mistake low energy at work for mental fatigue. According to the World Health Organization, adequate nutrition can raise your productivity levels by 20 percent on average.

That is enough to make me pay attention.

In the past, I was a big offender of this. I would go through the whole workday without eating a proper meal. Most of the time, I would just snack on small items and then wonder why I was having such a hard time concentrating on my work. I decided to start experimenting with my diet and quickly noticed that my typical mid-day fatigue was no longer present. As I thought back to what my eating habits were before the change, it became obvious that I was not providing myself with all of the nutrients that I needed to maintain the level of productivity that I wanted.

This is not a diet or weight loss book, so the focus of this chapter will be on what to eat to increase your brain’s productivity.

The four pillars

A large amount of what we eat and drink interacts with our brains, but there are four ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have a positive effect.


This is where your brain and body draws practically all of its energy from. Glucose is created from your body converting fats and sugars into the fuel it needs to run.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 help strengthen the synapses in your brain. This is directly related to memory.

Amino Acids

These come from protein and are linked to helping your neurotransmitters which keep your mind sharp.


These can be found in vegetables, fruits and tea. They help regulate the process of oxidative stress, which destroys brain cells. Oxidative stress is caused by the extra oxygen created while your body is converting fat and sugar into glucose. Antioxidants help protect your brain from this process.

For a short term boost of productivity

Whenever I get tired or feel fatigue, the first thing I do is go have something to eat. Most of the time, this solves the problem or at the very least gives me a boost of energy. This is because of the fact that the food I am ingesting is being converted into glucose.

Although it may not seem like it, the act of sitting alone burns 1.39 calories per minute. Office workers burn 1.8 calories per minute and labor intense jobs like farming can burn up to 10 calories per minute. This number increases dramatically if you exercise in the morning. Working out in the morning causes your body to burn additional calories throughout the day. This means that you will have to eat more to maintain the high energy level necessary to stay productive.

All it takes is 25 grams of glucose to be present in your bloodstream for your brain to operate at its best. Twenty-five grams is the amount found in a banana. For a short term productivity boost, it makes virtually zero difference where the 25 grams comes from. A donut and a granola bar will boost your productivity the exact same way in the short term.

For a long term boost of productivity

If you were to eat a donut to boost your productivity, after 30 minutes you would begin to crash. This will leave you unfocused and easy to distract. For a long term productivity boost, you will need to focus on eating foods that will release glucose at a slower rate. These foods are what we refer to as low on the glycemic index.
Soy, beans, yogurt, nuts and berries all have low glycemic index.

In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, a study was done on the effect that eating breakfast has on classroom performance:

“All the children in a class were told to skip breakfast one morning, and then, by random assignment, half of the children were given a good breakfast at school. The others got nothing. During the first part of the morning, the children who got breakfast learned more and misbehaved less (as judged by monitors who didn’t know which children had eaten). Then, after all the students were given a healthy snack in the middle of the morning, the differences disappeared as if by magic.”

What does your eating schedule look like? Are you providing yourself with everything you need to stay full and focused throughout the day? That sounds like a slogan for a breakfast cereal…

Staying hydrated

The other half of the equation is to make sure you are also well-hydrated throughout the day. Most of the country is guilty of poor hydration. It’s a shame because proper hydration can decrease problems such as headaches, back pains, muscle weakness, fatigue and dizziness. We do not drink anywhere close to enough water each day. The effect that water has on the body can be subtle, which is one of the reasons why it is so commonly overlooked, but the benefits shouldn’t be.

Here are just a few of the positive affects you will experience from staying hydrated throughout the day:

• Improved ability to fight illnesses
• Improved body temperature regulation
• Increased body lubrication
• Improved weight maintenance

There are even some doctors out there who believe that any ailment can be cured just by drinking more water. I have not subscribed to that belief personally, but to me it speaks volumes as to how important water is to our performance.

If you are wondering how much water you should drink, I have developed a simple guide that has worked perfectly for me. If your urine is yellow, drink more water. If it is clear, you are properly hydrated.

Side note: If you take a lot of vitamins during the day, then your urine is almost guaranteed to be bright yellow after you take them no matter how many cups of water you drink.

Try it for yourself

Make a journal of everything you eat and how much water you drink over the next 3 days. Afterwards, look at your diet and look for any gaps of over 3 hours you go without eating. For water, look at any gap where you go over an hour without a glass. Now, for the rest of the week, make a point to fill in those gaps. At the end of the week, reflect on any differences it made to your productivity.

Hope you guys enjoy this! Would enjoy hearing your feedback.

If you are interested in more ways to boost your productivity, my book Burst Productivity: How To Get It Done Now is free on Amazon until 02/05
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