Eating the right way to increase productivity

By FocusMe Team on 22 February 2017


Can food increase productivity?

Staying productive at work can be a real drag. With just few hours into your Monday, your eyes are blurry, your back is sore, and you are longing for the weekend once again. While getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining a healthy exercise routine both play important roles in daytime productivity. Eating habits are crucial as well. By simply avoiding foods that will reduce your level of performance, and cultivating eating habits that move you forward, everyone can stay more productive at work. While this may seem like a difficult task, some of the most efficient means to increase productivity at work are actually incredibly simple changes to make.

Generally, food with lower glycemic index helps to increase productivity during the day. They take longer time to break down and hence will supply the body with glucose for an extensive period of time. Examples of such food include whole grains, sweet potatoes and most fruits and vegetables.
Despite the bustling activities of the day, to increase productivity at work, a few disciplinary practices should be taken into cognizance:

Eat Breakfast

It’s no secret that this is the most important meal of the day. A lot of us know this, but only few of us take it to heart. For many, it is as a result of their busy schedule, while for some others it is as a result of lack of appetite. Despite our busy schedules, a few shortcuts are also applicable.

Coffee consumption

Taking coffee in the morning is not a bad idea. The boost is fairly instantaneous for various reasons. Firstly, the caffeine. Caffeine increases the capacity for mental and physical labor. Though caffeine has its critics, taking it in considerable amounts can help boost energy and hence increase productivity.
Sugar also plays a part in the morning coffee. However, this sugar is part of the simple carbohydrates family which does fuel the brain, but only for a limited period of time. What we want to acquire in the morning is some complex carbohydrates.


Fruit is an excellent source. Instead of a short burst of energy these carbohydrates have long chains of sugar molecules that the body breaks down bit by bit, and in the process releasing glucose to fuel the brain over time. Banana has proven to be the best fruit for maintaining a high level of productivity in a day. Why? Banana contains about 25 grams of glucose which is needed for the brain to work optimally.

Not enough time for breakfast?

If you’re strapped for time in the morning, as we are all liable to be, a bowl of fruit is a much better energy source that will start the brain working and give you a good start to the day. Mental exercise drains glucose, so feeding your glucose level throughout the day, with fruit, is a great way to maintain high energy levels all day. Watery and crunchy fruits are low in calories and can be eaten all day, any time. Citruses and berries are highest in complex carbohydrates and also antioxidants which reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.
Consuming something with more protein like a cereal, will do the same to retain energy in the brain all day.
A cereal with fruit is a very quick and easy breakfast to kick start your day. With productivity in mind, we want to spend not too much time preparing food at the beginning of our day, so we can enter work-mode as soon as possible.

Eat moderate and healthy lunch

As mentioned earlier, breads and fruits are very helpful. Vegetables do much of the same good as fruit. Glucose levels change during cooking so sticking to a salad may be better.
Whilst eating protein is good, eating meat in excess quantity may hinder productivity. Eating less meat for breakfast and lunch can help you be more productive at work. Meat is usually high fat, and is always high-protein, which makes it more strenuous to digest than other foods. Taking in large portions of meat before and during work could hamper your productivity.

Have a snack

Adding snacks in between meals is also very nice. But no Pringles please! Healthy snacks like an apple, a banana or a protein bar are important to maintain a steady level of glucose circulating in the bloodstream. While going to the office, you can pack healthy snacks in your box. Don’t rely on what is in your office to get you through the day.
In order to optimize brainpower, you could make your 3 daily meals a little bit smaller and add then add 2 healthy snacks to it.

Take Omega-3 fatty acids

Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which builds grey matter and cell membranes is also very good for intake. Reportedly, these fats can also help emotional balance and a positive attitude throughout life.
 Ending lunch with a yogurt helps produce neurotransmitters, improving signals amongst neurons. Complementing this with nuts [particularly walnuts] balance omega-3 acids with omega-6’s while neutralizing blood sugar levels. Though eating at lunch is very important, it is also advisable to eat moderately to ensure you stay sharp, light and highly productive.
A healthy meal isn’t just about what you eat. It’s about how much you eat. When you consume a large meal, your body has to put a lot of energy into converting all those nutrients into glucose. This implies that it channels a lot of energy to your small intestine and away from other bodily functions. In addition, when large quantities of glucose start flowing to your brain, it activates a group of functional neurons to produce orexin. This process moderates wakefulness in the brain. Too much of it and you start to feel sleepy.

Keep yourself hydrated

While eating good and healthy food is important, taking the right amount of water is also very important to keep the body hydrated.
The body consists of about 70% of water and it serves as a major mechanism for movement of energy -providing nutrients around the body. Apart from that, as you grow dehydrated your blood thickens, which forces your heart to pump with difficulty, and this in turn makes you feel drained more quickly. At least 8-ounce glasses of water should be taken every day should. This helps to reduce stress hormones.

Keep calm and have a cuppa

Drinking non-caffeinated tea, like green tea, relaxes the brain and impels mental alertness. A juice, such as grapefruit juice, has the same effects for the brain as fruits and vegetables along with the hydration benefits.
While some fruit drinks provide that quick boost of sugar, it won’t last and will lead to a noticeable decline in brain energy later in the day. After drinking (or eating) something of high sugar, your pancreas starts to secrete insulin. This activates cells throughout your body to pull the excess glucose out of your bloodstream and store it. This extracts glucose from the brain and leaves it without energy, a condition known as hypoglycemia. As a result, your ability to focus decreases, leaving you weak and confused, unable to think properly. Such drinks should be taken in little quantity.

Above All

To increase productivity and stay focused all day requires discipline. While there is a push to feed on junk food due to the bustling activities of life, digging deep to find the perfect blend of diet is imperative. Having this does not just improve your efficiency at work, but it also improves your level of success generally.
Successful people are productive and disciplined in many aspects of their lives and this includes the way they eat too. They are very selective about the type of food they dump into their stomachs. Staying fit, strong and sharp is their main goal and hence they feed less on refined sugar and focus mainly on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and food rich in protein and less in fat.
In all, moderation is the key. Like they say; nothing is bad for you if done in moderation, so there isn’t a need for a huge change in your diet. What you may realize is your diet lacks many foods that spur mental growth and productivity. If you’re sluggish in the morning, or deficient in productivity, there is definitely room for improvement.