Preparing for exams involves a lot of hard work and dedication, including not just studying but also ensuring that your body is fuelled and energised for the challenge ahead. Eating the right foods before an exam can help boost your concentration, memory, and overall performance. In this article, we’ll explore what foods to eat before an exam, as well as some tips on how to maximise their benefits. So here are the best brain foods for studying…

Why is it important to eat before an exam?

brain food for studying

The food you eat before an exam can have a significant impact on your cognitive function, memory, and overall performance. Skipping meals or eating unhealthy foods can leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic, making it harder to concentrate and retain information. On the other hand, eating a balanced meal or snack with the right nutrients can help you stay alert, focused, and energised throughout the exam.

Here are the best things to eat before an exam

what to eat before an exam - here are the best foods for brain cognition and function

1. Whole grains

Whole grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which are essential for providing long-lasting energy to the brain. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and quinoa. These foods can help keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer periods, which can help reduce distracting hunger pangs during the exam.

2. Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that can help keep your brain sharp and focused. They are also high in fibre, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent sudden drops in energy. Some great options include berries, oranges, apples, bananas, carrots, bell peppers, and leafy greens.

3. Nuts and seeds

nuts and seeds to eat before an exam

Snacking is one of the most popular things students do when studying. So choosing the right snack that’s easy to reach for and gives you brain food for studying is optimal. Nuts and seeds are rich in a whole range of good stuff. They have healthy fats, protein, and fibre, all of which can help provide sustained energy to the brain. They are also great sources of vitamins and minerals like vitamin E and magnesium, which are known to improve brain function. Some good options include almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds (which are widely available at Aldi)!

4. Lean protein

When thinking about what to eat before an exam, think lean protein. Sources of lean protein, like chicken, turkey, fish, and tofu, can help keep you feeling full and satisfied while providing essential amino acids that the body needs to function properly. Protein is also important for the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which are key for focus and attention.

5. Water

drink water

Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining brain function and preventing fatigue. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before an exam. While we tend to opt for coffee, red bull, wine…anything to give us energy and get us through, it’s best not to do this. Try to avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine, as they can cause dehydration and lead to energy crashes.

6. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, which is important for maintaining focus and concentration. They also contain choline, a nutrient that has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function. When cooking eggs, make sure you don’t skip the yolk as that’s where most of the brain-boosting nutrients are! Also, when thinking what to eat before an exam, consider eggs to be a day or two before food. Eggs just before an exam doesn’t feel like a good idea!

7. Dark chocolate

what to eat before an exam

If you do need a hit of chocolate, opt for dark. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which can help improve blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive function. It also contains caffeine (in a healthier dose than coffee) which can help improve alertness and focus.

8. Blueberries

High in antioxidants, blueberries can protect the brain from oxidative stress and improve cognitive function. They also contain anthocyanins, which have been shown to enhance memory and learning. So if you’re wondering what to eat before an exam to help retain all the information, go for blueberries!

9. Guacamole

eat avocados before an exam

Avocados is a good source of healthy fats and vitamin E, which are important for maintaining brain function. It’s also filling without making you feel OVER full, so you won’t be bloated going into the exam.

10. Green tea

Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts brain function, energy levels and stress reduction. It contains caffeine, which can help improve alertness and focus, but won’t leave you feeling all jittery and wired.

11. Salmon

With a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, Salmon is a great food to eat to get that brain to work! It also contains vitamin D, which has been shown to improve mood, so you’re more likely to feel confident and ready for the exam the next day. Why not pair salmon, avocados and eggs for the perfect meal to eat before an exam.

12. Turmeric

Whatever you eat before the exam, spice it up with turmeric. A super-spice, Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But beyond overall health, Turmeric has also been shown to improve memory and cognitive function.

Tips for maximising the benefits of pre-exam meals

healthy food to eat before an exam

Plan ahead

Planning ahead is key to ensuring that you have healthy, balanced meals and snacks available before the exam. Make a list of the foods you want to eat and ensure that you have them on hand or can easily obtain them.

Avoid heavy, fatty foods

Heavy, fatty foods can be difficult to digest and can leave you feeling sluggish and drowsy. Stick to lighter, more easily digestible meals and snacks to avoid feeling weighed down during the exam.

Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals can lead to drops in blood sugar levels, causing fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Eat regularly scheduled meals and snacks to keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day.

Keep it balanced

Make sure to eat a balanced meal or snack with a variety of nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. This will help ensure sustained energy and optimal brain function.

Knowing what to eat before an exam can have a significant impact on your cognitive function, memory, and overall performance. It might sound boring, when all you want is a greasy cheeseburger or triple shot of coffee. But to maximise your chances of success, try to eat a balanced meal or snack with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean protein, and water. Plan ahead, avoid heavy foods, and soldier on. Then treat yourself to a big fat burger after the exam is done!

Now check out the 10 crazy thoughts all students have the night before an exam to lighten the mood.