"You are what you eat" is a saying that has stood the test of time. After all, what we consume become our fuel to function daily, contributing to how much energy we can use up for our many tasks. But how much does that chocolate cake really help in increasing the chances of you finishing the task at hand? Before you head to the pantry to munch on that afternoon snack, join us as we uncover the truth on how your eating habits really affect your productivity.
Cliché as it may be, eat your breakfast
We've all learned about this in primary school: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, as adults, it can be easy to pass this one up as we have to deal with the morning rush. But did you know that what you eat (or not eat) in the morning affects how you significantly perform for the day?
Just a refresher from our school days: our body breaks down food to release sugar or glucose, which gives us energy and helps us stay alert. But not all foods are broken down at the same rate. Some that are quick to be processed are types of bread, cereal, vegetables, fruits, milk and caffeine. One thing these have in common: they're all typical breakfast foods. The body easily chops 'em up and converts them to energy boosters that help you be productive even so early in the morning.
Still, not every food can be consumed during breakfast as heavier, high-fat meals like cheeseburgers or subway sandwiches are broken down into 'stored fuel' rather than 'immediate fuel' by the body. These food items also require more energy from our digestive system to process, which is why you would often feel drowsy instead of energetic after eating them.
In Asia, rice is a carbohydrate-rich staple in all households and all meals, including snacks and desserts. Now, in the process of producing glucose, carbs have tons of sugar in them. However, instead of it being converted to energy, it only causes major waves in our insulin level. This then fuels up our serotonin and tryptophan (a.k.a. nap-time hormones), which decreases our productivity to its lowest state.
That's why eating it strategically, ideally balanced with protein and veggies, is a great way to find the middle ground between consuming 'energising glucose' and 'zen-inducing glucose'. So the next time you have a deadline to beat, fill up that empty stomach but lay low on the carbs if you don't want to think about hitting the hay every five seconds.
A note for coffee addicts
Ah, the BFF of all busy bees. Did you really think we'll talk about eating habits and productivity without a segment on coffee? Well, here it is. Ideally, coffee is in the category of easy-to-break-down glucose, making it a great source for that instantaneous wave of energy. However, for those who love their coffee sweet, don't mistake your regular kitchen sugar as equivalent to what the body churns out as glucose — this is a much more complex type of 'sugar' than what we see in our pantries.
As is with other things, too much of something — including coffee — can drive your senses to go hazy and in a state of sugar-high, leaving you unfocused and even more counter-productive. One to two reasonable cups a day? Check. Five cups in one sitting? Sorry, but you have to keep it easy, champ.
Looking for snacks? Try potassium
Now that we've put sugar and complex carbs out of the way (we're talking cakes and fries here people), let's talk about what you can actually munch on the next time you need to 'stress-eat'. Set aside the mindset that only pure sweets can help you bring some amazing ideas to the table. It might've worked with L Lawliet from Death Note, but it ain't gonna work in real life. Good thing we have just the alternative.
One of the most commonly overlooked superfood components out there is potassium. Not only does it help strengthen your mental functions, but it also gives holistic support to your nerves, heart, and muscles that relate to overall — brain or braun — productivity. Prime examples of food that are rich in potassium are bananas, raisins, apples, and more. They are quick and easy to squeeze into your snack time. Plus, they're delicious on their own or can be incorporated into other bite-sized meals to satisfy your sweet cravings.
Something to note, though, is that you wouldn't want to reach for these foods when you wish to sleep within the next three to four hours. Because of their energising capabilities, potassium-rich foods will power up your brain like crazy, leaving effects similar to caffeine that may affect your sleeping habits. And we all know that sleep is also essential for increased productivity — but let's save an elaboration for a different conversation.
Next, find out the health benefits of travelling here.