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The Best Brain Food Before a Test

By Jennifer Andrews

The food you eat can affect how well you do on your next test. Just like physical performances, mental tasks are also dependent on a healthy mind and body. Good nutritional habits are important to keep your body and brain sharp, well rested and focused. Eating the wrong foods, particularly prior to test taking, can affect your performance negatively and result in low scores or failed attempts. Improve your test-taking performances by eating healthy foods that fuel your brain and mind.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day as it breaks the fast of not having eaten overnight, and revs up the metabolism. According the the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, eating breakfast increases your attention span, which is linked to increased academic success. A balanced breakfast meal should include complex carbohydrates with protein such as whole-grain cereal with milk or a hard-boiled egg with whole-wheat toast.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs are the body's and brain's main source of fuel. Inadequate carbohydrate intake may decrease mental acuity, memory and the ability to think logically. It also leads to feelings of overall lethargy and fatigue. Complex carbs should be selected over simple carbs, which provide less nutrients and are often higher in sugar. Rather, whole-grain foods retain their nutrients, including the B vitamins needed for energy metabolism and dietary fiber. Fiber helps fill you up and decreases the risk of hunger cravings during the middle of your test. Eat whole-grain toast with peanut butter or oatmeal with berries prior to test taking.


Foods high in protein are good to eat before a test. Protein is an essential nutrient needed in the body for the growth, maintenance and repair of muscle. It helps satiate the appetite by keeping blood sugar levels steady, preventing sudden cravings for high-sugar foods and dips in energy. This will aid in keeping your brain stimulated during your test. Healthy protein sources include eggs, peanut butter, cheese or chicken on whole-wheat bread prior to an evening test.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, in particular omega-3 fatty acids, are essential to a balanced diet for the performance of normal body functions including those of the brain. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics cites research that suggests omega-3s help nourish important brain cell membranes, which improve learning and memory abilities. Fats also help fill you up to keep your appetite satisfied, increasing focus on the test-taking task at hand. Healthy foods to eat throughout the day of a test include fatty fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel; nuts; seeds; and olive or canola oil drizzled over roasted vegetables or a salad.

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