There are basically two chemicals that affect the brain’s ability to stimulate alertness, norepinephrine and dopamine. By eating foods that contain the amino acid tyrosine, you can effectively stimulate these chemicals. Foods containing tyrosine are rich in protein as well, foods such as meats, fish, and poultry as well as dairy products, eggs and beans. Beans can give you another type of energy boost, of course, but that’s a different story entirely.
Power eating works in conjunction with your body’s biological clock in order to metabolize certain foods at certain times of the day. As you might expect, low-fat foods are the primary source of energy and can also positively enhance your mood as well. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say. The reason they say that is because what you eat for breakfast may very well determine your alertness level for the rest of the day. Maintaining high energy levels is best accomplished by eating energizing foods when your biological rhythms are just about to shift into low drive.
Herewith, some guides for power eating by meal.
Breakfast: The best breakfast is going to be one that is high in protein-rich foods, high in those great old standbys minerals and vitamins and, especially, foods that are low in fat. By the way, you don’t necessarily have to eat as soon as you wake up in order to maximize the benefits of breakfast. Just make sure you intake some food within three hours of waking.
Suggested diet: Some fresh fruit mixed with yogurt. Bran muffins or cereal. Topping with some jelly or jam is okay but stay away from the butter or margarine. Believe it or not, you can keep the coffee as long as it’s sans sugar. Also, (sorry Starbucks), but make it a simple cup and not one of those six gallons jugs of fancy cappuccino mocha frappe mocha frappacino things. A little coffee is fine, but a lot of caffeine isn’t going to do you as much good as you think.
Lunch: High protein, low-fat and, sorry, alcohol-free! Lunch in some ways is just as important as breakfast, depending upon what kind of breakfast you had. If you cheated and got yourself a donut or a bear claw, then a bad lunch is going to send your energy level dipping down even further. On the other hand, if you eat a good breakfast and then make it up with a great lunch, you will sustain that high energy level on through the day.
Suggested diet: Five ounces of some kind of meat, whether it’s red, white or fish doesn’t really matter. Less than ten ounces of cheese or a cheese-related item such as cottage cheese or yogurt. A couple of eggs will do you good, too. For dessert, bypass the slice of cake and go for the fresh fruit. A coupe of slices of whole grain bread and you’re good to go. By the way, you be wondering where the pasta is. After all, don’t Olympic-caliber athletes carbo load on pasta in order to boost energy before a race? True, but you want to boost your mental level and the pasta fuels muscles, not your brain.
Dinner: By the time dinner comes around you’re usually not wanting to stimulate yourself too much. Unless you eat an early dinner, of course. Or unless it’s a power dinner in which case power eating is incredibly important. To increase evening alertness you want to order foods high in protein and low in carbs.
Suggested diet: Broiled skinless chicken, stir-fried veggie mix, and rice. Fresh fruit for dessert and eat the bread the last.
A few more tips on power eating for productivity:
If you are going to be giving a presentation or otherwise performing before an audience, make sure to always have something on your stomach before you go in.
Eat a few hours before the event in order to give you body time to metabolize the energy-producing stimulants. (And to make sure you don’t get sick).
Drink some coffee or tea in order to maintain your body’s regular level of caffeine, unless don’t normally drink either. If that’s the case avoid them because the caffeine boost may only serve to increase jitteriness.