If you get to work and have a hard time getting your day started, it may be your breakfast — or lack there of — to blame. What you eat can affect your brain power, so it’s important to eat breakfast foods that can help you focus. Although a donut may be tasty and convenient on your way to work, it’s going to have you feeling more foggy and distracted than if you were to eat a balanced meal instead.
“You already know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but maybe you didn’t know it’s one the key ways to maximize your daily energy and increase concentration for the day,” says Rene Ficek, Registered Dietitian and Lead Dietitian Nutritionist at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating over email. “Overnight is basically a long fast, and therefore it’s important to get fuel in first thing in the morning, ideally between 60 and 90 minutes of waking up. Aim for a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein for fuel.”
A study from the journal Indian Pediatrics found that school children who had irregular breakfast consumption or skipped breakfast altogether scored worse on attention, concentration, memory, and achievement than students who ate breakfast regularly, which shows the importance of food on your brain.
If you want to improve your attention and focus throughout the day, try eating these six foods for breakfast, which have been proven to boost your brain power.
“Carbohydrates are not bad for you,” says Ficek. Science agrees: One study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences And Nutrition found that people who ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast reported feeling more alert than people who ate a breakfast only high in fat. “Oatmeal is full of whole grains for a sustained energy level, making it easier to focus,” she says.
“Nuts are a good source of healthy fats and protein to balance blood sugar levels and keep energy levels up throughout the day,” says Ficek. “Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are also high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy. Nut butters are an easy way to incorporate healthy nuts in the morning.”
“This grain is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein,” says Ficek. “It is a highly nutritious grain that keeps you full, energized, and focused well into your next meal. It makes a great breakfast when substituted for oatmeal.”
A study from Tufts University found that blueberries can enhance motor performance as well as improve working memory. “Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition,” says Ficek.
Eggs are many people’s breakfast go-to — and for good reason. Eggs contain choline, a B vitamin that has been found to improve performance in verbal and visual memory, according to Medical Daily. As a bonus, people who eat eggs report feeling more energetic in the morning, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.
Although it may seem obvious, many people forget to drink a glass of water in the morning, and it can have detrimental effects. One study from the Journal of Nutrition showed that even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue and problems concentrating, so it’s important to stay hydrated to get through the day.