Helen Sanders is my guest blogger today, giving us some useful advice on how hard-working nonprofit techies (and everyone else!) can fuel their daily performance by eating better. Helen is the founder of www.healthambition.com.
Can Different Foods Really Supercharge Your Job Performance?
Let’s be honest. Technology is the future, and our world becomes more and more reliant on hard working coders, administrators and “tech gurus” each day. As we hurtle forward into this increasingly digital world though, should we really cast aside the needs of our “out of date” biological bodies?
Would you try go about your daily tasks on computer with 1GB of RAM? No. So why would you go about your daily life without the vital nutritional components needed to work at peak efficiency
In this article, we consider dietary aspects of maximizing workplace performance and investigate what really does matter when it comes to your eating habits. The following advice can improve performance at work for almost everyone, regardless of your particular role.
Eating a healthy breakfast is one of the most important ways to boost work performance. Research tells us that a healthy breakfast improves focus at work, provides energy for the day, lowers cholesterol levels and helps to control weight. Regardless of the demands of your job, a healthy breakfast is the way forward. Research recommends a healthy morning meal consisting of foods like fruits, yogurt, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate (source).
In terms of general health, the benefits of drinking water are widely known. In fact, we can’t live without it. Water requirement varies between individuals, but the general rule is around six cups per day. Water is key to maintaining normal body temperature, outside of which we cannot function optimally. Water helps maintain the balance of electrolytes in the brain and nervous system, as well as flushing out toxins and waste products which make us feel sluggish and lethargic. Water also maximizes nutrient uptake from other components of our diet, which improves performance (source).
A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet should include all of the food groups to provide your body with everything it needs for optimum metabolic function. If some food groups are missing from our diets, we risk disease, infection, fatigue and poor performance. Current advice on a balanced healthy diet is that we should get most of our energy and nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain foods, legumes, nuts and lean proteins.
Caffeine, a staple for many of us during the working day and the subject of much health speculation. Current guidelines suggest that up to 400mg per day – equivalent to about four cups of coffee – is fine for most people. More than that can have a detrimental effect on cognitive function.
Match Energy Intake to Requirements
Every person is different, and every job is different. Someone who sits in their office from nine to five and goes home to World of Warcraft with no regular exercise uses far fewer calories than someone who is running cables all day, regularly visits the gym and spends evenings and weekends chasing after the kids. Energy requirements are completely individual according to metabolic health and lifestyle. Monitor yourself regularly – including your weight and your mood – and adjust your eating plan accordingly. Pro Tip: There’s a wide variety of apps to help – check out Calorie Counter & Food Diary, or Fitocracy Macros.
Foods That Boost Brain Power
Foods packed with good fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants improve brain cognition, memory and focus. To improve your focus and performance on that big project, increase your intake of:
- Broccoli and green leafy vegetables
- Coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dark chocolate
All of these foods are proven brain power boosters.
Food For Active Lifestyles
If the demands of your job mean you are physically active all day, you need good sources of energy which will gradually release throughout the day. Sources of sustained release energy are whole grains, full-fat yogurt, fruit and nuts, fish and seafood, beans, green-leafy vegetables, dark chocolate and natural unsalted or unsweetened popcorn.
Foods That Slow You Down
One thing that most of us can agree on is that processed foods are bad. They are stripped of all the natural fiber and macronutrients we need for excellent health. They are generally high in refined carbs that cause blood sugar highs, and the type of fats that are seriously bad for you. They carry serious health risks – diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. The sugar highs caused by processed foods are followed by sugar lows, which can drastically affect your energy levels, brain power and focus, leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic as well as leading to weight gain (source).
When considering the right diet to increase your performance at work, there are definitely foods that can help and hinder. While there are some elements of diet which carry huge benefits for everyone, it’s important to consider your particular lifestyle and needs, and construct an eating plan that works for you.