When preparing for an important test or exam, it’s not just the revision you have to worry about. The way we look after our body and mind can also have a significant impact on how well we do at crunch time. For example, not getting enough sleep can seriously hinder our performance – which is why everyone says rest up before a big test. How about the food you eat, however? Did you know that certain foods can help improve our performance during an exam? And some can definitely hinder our brainpower. Here are the foods you definitely want to avoid before your exams.
1. Sugary foods
When you eat sugary foods, you’ll get a sugar spike, which is what leads to you feeling more energized or stimulated. Well, for a little while anyway. As soon as that spike dies down, you can be left feeling tired, sluggish, hungry, and craving more sugar. Don’t fill yourself up with candy or soda before your exam, as you’ll be halfway through the test when that sugar spike hits. Instead, opt for something with naturally occurring sugars, and that can help improve short-term memory. Blueberries, strawberries, and bananas are filled with natural sugars that can actually contribute to improving your performance in a test.
2. Fatty foods
Yet another food group we know isn’t any good for us, but that we just can’t help ourselves around. Food that is high in trans fat can actually lead to brain shrinkage and losing the ability to process certain things (not good when you’ve got to work out what that question actually means). Fatty foods can also make us feel hungry not long after eating, especially fast food which is also filled with salt. Try to avoid binging on takeaway food when you’re revising and just before the exam. Instead, go for lean meats and protein to keep energy levels high.
The staple of most college students diet – caffeine. Energy drinks, coffee, even chocolate, can all have high levels of caffeine in them. We think that drinking that gallon of java before an exam is going to help, but it’s way more likely to have the opposite effect. While one cup of black coffee a day is thought to have certain health benefits, too much of the drink can actually do more harm than good. The burst of energy from caffeine is often short-lived but can lead to things such as heart palpitations and lack of sleep. Trust us, the last thing you want to go with your exam anxiety is heart palpitations. Drinking enough icy cold water can give you the energy boost you need, while keeping your brain alert.
4. Carb-laden foods
Have you ever experienced that after-lunch slump? You’ve eaten an entire sub, complete with fries, and now you could really do with a nap. This is the last thing you’re going to want during your exam, so try to keep away from lots of carbs just before you go in for your test. Instead, opt for lots of vegetables and protein to help keep you wide awake throughout. You can then binge on fries all you like, once the exams are over.
5. Fried food
Finally, fried food. This is another staple for students (we all love a bit of greasy chicken, right?), but could be having long-term effects on your brain power. Saturated fats and cholesterol, which you’ll find a lot of in fried foods, can block blood from entering your brain. Therefore leading to reduced brain power and the inability to remember anything you’ve been revising for months on end. Avoid the fried food and stick to healthy fats such as avocado and eggs.