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Foods that'll boost your productivity

25th July 2019

Salad on a work desk

Is it possible to eat your way to success? When you’re working in a professional job, such as an in house legal job in London, you should take every opportunity to boost your productivity and focus, including changing your diet. In this guide, we reveal the foods you should be eating that’ll help your career.

Breakfast

Avocado on toast

Breakfast isn’t called the most important meal of the day for nothing, as it’s an essential part of starting your working day right. It can be tempting to quickly make a couple of slices of toast or grab a cereal bar to eat on your commute to work, but neither will fuel your brain for a focused morning of work.

Taylor Wolfram, a private practice dietitian based in Chicago, tells us her advice for what you can eat to boost your productivity: “Coming to work having already eaten a balanced breakfast is a great way to start the day. A balanced breakfast includes, at a minimum, carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Resist having just coffee for breakfast as you'll experience a crash whereas a balanced breakfast with your coffee will provide sustainable energy throughout the morning.”

Amy from The Bath Blogger, a fitness and lifestyle blog reveals her top breakfast foods: “I always start my day with a punchy breakfast. Overnight oats, poached eggs on toast or yoghurt and berries. Simple but effective.”

Breakfast foods for a productive day:

  • Eggs: Not only are they one of the best sources of choline, a nutrient for the brain which is great for cognitive health, but they are also rich in iron and protein.
  • Avocados: With high levels of potassium and antioxidants, avocados can boost your mood and the natural fats help you have a more productive morning.
  • Blueberries: If you’re opting for oatmeal or granola for breakfast, add a few blueberries into the mix as they’re linked to improving memory.

Lunch

Salmon salad

To avoid having low energy in the afternoon, it’s crucial to eat the right lunch. Unless you have lunch meetings, try and prepare a packed lunch each day that contains foods that’ll reset your brain for an afternoon at work. It’s tempting to venture to the nearest cafés and tuck into a large lunch, especially when working in London, though this is likely to leave you feeling lethargic for the rest of the day.

Taylor Wolfram adds: “Whether you pack your lunch or dine out, try to make half of your meal vegetables and/or fruit, and the other half split between protein foods and grains or starches. Be sure to include a source of healthy fat (such as avocado, nuts, or olive oil) and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

“In the warmer months, I love a sandwich on wholegrain bread loaded with crunchy romaine lettuce and my favourite plant-based meat slices or mashed chickpea salad. I pair this with some raw veggies, hummus and fruit for a refreshing and filling midday meal.  And then in the winter, I love pairing avocado on whole-grain toast with lentil or split pea soup. It's warming, filling and loaded with nutrients.”

Lunch ideas for work:

  • Dark leafy greens: There are so many options for what you can include in a salad, but to boost productivity make sure to add some dark leafy greens such as kale, lettuce and broccoli, all of which are great at enhancing your cognitive ability.
  • Tomatoes: Include these into your lunch to decrease inflammation and boost your immunity, leaving you feeling healthier.
  • Salmon: Add some salmon on top of a salad, or enjoy it as part of a separate meal, as salmon is suggested to decrease fatigue because it contains high amounts of Omega-3 and protein.

Snacks

Chunks of dark chocolate

No matter what you eat for your meals, you’re likely to feel hungry during working hours, which is when you may be tempted to tuck into a bag of crisps or chocolate bar. Instead, choose snacks that’ll fill your stomach and keep you focused.

Taylor Wolfram continues: “Consider keeping nourishing and tasty snacks at your desk to curb hunger between meals. Nuts, nut butter, roasted chickpeas and fruit are a handful of options. Instead of reaching for more coffee in the afternoon, opt for herbal tea which doesn't have caffeine and won't keep you up at night. If you still feel your energy levels dipping, get up and stretch or go for a quick walk around the office.”

Amy from The Bath Blogger adds: “My favourite energy-boosting foods are banana, eggs, nuts, apples (and coffee!) I’m a big fan of snacks as this keeps my energy levels high.”

Snack ideas for work:

  • Bananas: A healthy way to get carbohydrates into your day is enjoying a banana, which is great for keeping you full until your next meal.
  • Nuts: Have a portion of fruit and nut mix on your desk to pick at throughout the day, which are a great source of protein and natural fats. The antioxidants are great at increasing memory and brain performance.
  • Dark chocolate: Sometimes fruit won’t cut the sugar cravings, which is when having a bar of dark chocolate in the drawer is perfect. A couple of chunks is enough to boost your concentration and give you a slight caffeine fix.

Prep your meals

Meal prep

Preparing your meals will mean you’re more likely to stick to foods that’ll keep you working at full capacity. If you leave the preparation until the morning or even your lunch hour, you may feel inclined to quickly buy a pasty or hearty sandwich instead, only leaving you in a mental fog for the rest of the day.

Buy five containers for each day and prepare as much as you can on the weekend, this could involve roasting vegetables or portioning out the salad. Amy from The Bath Blogger continues to tell us her top tips for meal prep: “Prepare the night before but, make sure to add your salad or greens in the morning. No-one likes soggy spinach!”

Taylor Wolfram adds: “Keep food safety in mind and transport your food with a cold pack. When you get to work, immediately store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat it. Consider packing more than you think you'll want so you have extra food for an afternoon snack should you get hungry. I often will be full after 3/4 of my lunch and save my fruit to have later in the day along with some nuts or peanut butter.”

Although sticking to a nutritious diet is easier said than done, it can make a huge difference to your performance at work. Try to let yourself indulge in different foods on the weekend, making it more achievable to stick to a healthy lifestyle during the week.