In today’s workplace, productivity is King.
This isn’t news to any of you. The way we work has changed irreversibly over the past few decades. We are now expected to achieve more in less time, to fulfill more than one role at once, and to remain ‘on the clock’ 24 hours a day.
Unlike our parents or their parents before them, there is now no such thing as finishing your work. There is always more to do; more emails to send, more clients to debrief, more copy to write, more Tweets to be tweeted.
Dealing with this can be difficult. For a growing number of us, the stress of dealing with this never-ending workload can be downright ruinous.
Thankfully, there are safe, natural, sustainable ways to increase your productivity for the long haul.
By adjusting your diet in small but precise ways, you can make a profound difference to your focus, short-term memory function, and mental stamina.
For those of us who can never say they’ve done enough, this is a serious lifeline. Being able to get more done in less time wont let us ‘clock off’ necessarily, but it will let us stay well ahead of our deadlines, freeing up more time for the things that matter most.
Here are 4 very simple ways you can change your breakfast to supercharge your brain function for the day ahead. They all work in slightly different ways, but together they contribute to better concentration, enhanced focus, and more mental energy when you need it most!
1. Coconut Oil
You would need to be trying very hard these days to avoid seeing coconut oil on sale. I can say with confidence that this stuff is in fashion at the moment. But its popularity is not unwarranted.
Few people discuss the brain-boosting power of coconut oil, but this stuff really can make a big difference to your cognitive function.
Coconut oil is almost entirely saturated fat. But the saturated fat in coconut oil is not like the saturated fat you find in red meat or butter, for example. The fat in coconut oil is largely made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
These special saturated fats have a unique structure that allows them to be used almost directly for energy release; there is no energy expenditure in absorption or processing.
Once absorbed, MCTs transported straight to the liver, where they are converted into ketones. These ketones are then shuttled to your cells for immediate energy release.
Put simply, MCTs represent an incredibly efficient fuel source for your brain.
Using coconut oil to fry your morning eggs will give you a significant boost in mental energy to keep you energized and focused right through to the afternoon. Speaking of eggs…
If you have a mentally demanding job and you aren’t eating eggs for breakfast, then you should be.
Eggs are an absolutely essential weapon in the arsenal of anyone looking to increase their productivity on a daily basis.
For starters, eggs are incredibly nutrient-rich. A single egg will give you a nice dose of Vitamin D, B6, B12, Potassium and Iron. Assuming you have more than one with breakfast, your day is off to a fantastic start.
Vitamin D is essential for proper brain function, while B vitamins are necessary for you to properly derive energy from the food that you eat. Both of these nutrients should be consumed if more mental energy is what you’re looking for.
But that isn’t the main reason why eggs are good for improving productivity.
The main reason I turn to eggs when I need improved focus and mental stamina is because they are incredibly rich in choline.
Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is ubiquitous in the brain. It is involved in everything from muscle contraction to internal organ function.
Most interestingly of all however, is the fact that it is heavily involved in focus, attention, and learning.
A single egg yolk contains 115mg of choline; enough to keep your acetylcholine levels high, your mind focused, and your short-term memory firing on all cylinders.
3. Green Coffee
You have no doubt come across numerous health and fitness blogs talking about the miracle properties of drinking green coffee.
The majority of these bloggers focus on the fact that green, un-roasted coffee beans are very high in chlorogenic acid. This stuff is thought to have some incredibly potent fat reducing properties, hence the interest from fitness bloggers.
But that’s not what interests us. We’re more interested in the fact that green coffee seems to be far superior to regular brown roasted coffee in terms of enhancing mental performance.
Chlorogenic acid has proven to be incredibly effective at keeping blood pressure low.
You will all know that an unfortunate side effect of caffeine consumption is rising blood pressure, hypertension, and the feelings of stress or anxiety that come with it.
Consuming green coffee counter-acts these effects to a significant degree, while still delivering the focus enhancing effects of caffeine.
Green coffee beans also contain more antioxidants than their brown cousins, as they have not been exposed to the high temperatures involved in the roasting process.
If you opt for specially-grown, organic green coffee beans, you’ll get the added benefit of fewer pollutants in your morning brew.
This isn’t a major concern for most people, but if your priority is long-term brain function, then it is something to consider.
4. Avoid The Bread
I’m not about to tell you to “go keto”.
As popular as this diet seems to be today, I’m personally unconvinced that it is really achievable for most people. If you’re a professional athlete, then perhaps you can, but most of us will inevitably fail to properly “go keto”.
In any case, the benefits don’t seem significant enough to warrant such a drastic diet change.
After all, carbs are an integral part of a health human diet. You will have heard some horror stories about gluten and carbs in general, but unless you have Celiac disease or a digestive condition like Crohn’s, there’s no evidence that gluten, or wheat or grains, can hurt you.
However, there is some evidence to suggest that reducing your carb intake periodically can have a positive influence on productivity, not to mention on cognitive performance more generally.
One major benefit associated with a ketogenic diet is that it seems to stimulate mitochondrial proliferation. To put it as simply as possible, mitochondria are your cellular engines. They are found in every cell in your body, including your brain cells.
As is clear from the study cited above, a ketogenic diet seems to make mitochondria multiply. That means more little engines, more power output, and more mental energy!
Does that mean you have to cut out carbs completely? Thankfully, the answer seems to be no.
Going full keto may not be necessary to stimulate some degree of mitochondrial proliferation. Simply avoiding carbs for a period of time each day (say, from dinner until lunch the next day) may be sufficient to get those little cellular powerhouses multiplying!
Small Changes, Big Results
By introducing these small changes to your morning routine, you can start gradually improving your concentration, focus, and cognitive stamina. That in turn will lead to increased productivity.
Of course, implementing these changes to just your breakfast are not going to have an immediate and dramatic impact. You certainly won’t feel as different as when using powerful (and dangerous) brain drugs like Modafinil.
But these changes will be both sustainable and cumulative. Start with breakfast, and then slowly optimize other aspects of your diet. Before you know it, all the small improvements will add up to one enormous difference in your cognitive function.
You don’t need to start with breakfast, but you do need to start somewhere.