If you type in the words “how to be more productive” into Google you’ll find 36,400,000 results. Much of what comes up will talk about the latest hacks, tricks, and techniques for making you more productive.
However, only a small percentage of these articles talk about one of the biggest productivity “hacks” of all: eating in a way that optimizes your energy and mental focus throughout the day. In other words: eating for productivity.
And while there is a growing body of research that talks about the food-productivity connection, most of the articles you’ll find on this topic will simply tell you that a “healthy diet” will make you more productive. Very few give you a step-by-step framework for using your diet to fuel your productivity.
Below are 7 simple ways you can “eat your way” to being more productive:
1. Contrary To How It Sounds, Some of Nature’s Most Tasty Foods Will Make You Slim AND Productive
The days of thinking a healthy diet should be a low-fat diet are over. In fact, some of the most high-fat foods available will also make you more productive. At the top of the list are fatty fishes like Salmon and cod.
There is a reason why fish has been called “brain food” for quite a while now: it’s scientifically proven to be the case. Fatty fishes are high in Omega-3s as well vitamin B12, which will keep you sharp throughout the day.
Two more high-fat foods that should be a staple of a productive diet are avocados and nuts like almonds and walnuts. Avocados are also high in Omega-3s and they are quite yummy if I do say so myself! Almonds and walnuts are high in vitamin E and also have a high dose of antioxidants (more on those below).
But a word of warning when it comes to these high-fat foods: they are quite high in calories. For example, one medium-sized avocado has over 200 calories. And one cup of walnuts has over 500. So while it’s great to eat these foods and they can help with weight loss when eaten in moderation, don’t go crazy.
2. The Perfect Antidote for Laziness And Low Energy
Have you noticed that much of the literature about what foods are healthy and what foods aren’t is contradictory? For example, I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read that talk about how we should avoid eating white rice like they it’s some sort of infectious disease.
However, recently two nutrition experts who I respect told me that white rice is actually good for you. So confusing. This is just one example among many.
But one thing that everyone agrees on is that green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach should be stables of a healthy diet. They also agree that broccoli is among the the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
Why? One of the main reasons is because these foods are an amazing source of antioxidants. Antioxidants have the ability to protect our brain cells from damage, making increased memory, focus and mental clarity among their primary benefits.
Another great source of antioxidants are berries, especially blueberries. Blueberries are among the most antioxidant-rich fruits and are also relatively low in calories, making them maybe the healthiest fruit you can eat.
But I do need to point out here that how much fruit you should eat is one debate that experts still don’t agree on because of the sugar content contained in fruits. This is especially true in light of the growing trend of high fat, low (or no) sugar diets like the Atkins and ketogenic diets.
Personally, I find eating some fruit in moderation to work well for me. And I consume most of my daily fruits (blueberries of course!) during the green shake I have for breakfast every morning after I work out. Experiment and see what works for you.
3. The One Thing All Experts Agree Kills Productivity
If I told you there was one thing you could ingest into your system that not only will kill your energy levels and your ability to focus, but can also literally take years off your life, would you take it?
I hope not.
That thing I’m talking about is processed sugar. There is no two ways about it: if you want to maximize your productivity you need to severely limit (or even eliminate) processed sugar from your diet completely.
This means anything that has “fructose” on the label needs to go. Some of the worst things you can ingest are sugary drinks like sodas, fruit juices and sports drinks like Gatorade and Vitamin Water. High sugar drinks like those morning Frappuccinos many people love are not doing anyone any good either.
Also, stay away from anything sweet that comes in a wrapper: candies and cookies should be saved for special occasions only. Processed sugars do the most harm when ingested earlier in the day because of the “sugar crash” that will come soon after. Bottom line: stay away from processed sugar.
4. The Drink Of Life Will Also Help You Focus
Your brain is made up of around 75% water. Accordingly, you need to keep hydrated throughout the day if you want to stay productive. But the big question is how much water should you drink per day?
Answer: the experts are still not quite sure.
The popular rule that we should drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day comes from a 1945 recommendation by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board. Some experts say we should drink a certain amount of water based on our body weight (such as one ounce or half an ounce for each pound of body weight).
Personally, I’ve found that during times when I tried to really increase my water intake it hampered my productivity because I had to get up and pee every 10 minutes! And if you drink a lot of water in the evening this could also cause you to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom which is not ideal either.
So what to do?
I recommend make you get in the habit of drinking water throughout the day and use your thirst as a guide. As long as you’re feeling like you’re properly hydrated you should be fine.
5. A Vital Brain Nutrient You Might Be Missing Out On
In order to maximize your productivity, you need to make sure that your brain gets the vital nutrients it needs to survive. One of the most important of these nutrients that you might be missing out on is choline.
Due to it’s effect on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, choline helps with memory, learning, focus and even helps us sleep better. Unfortunately, a survey by the National Health and Nutrition Examination revealed that only 10% of Americans get an adequate amount of choline every day.
So how do we get more choline into our diet? The best sources of choline include proteins like eggs, shrimp, chicken, turkey and beef (especially liver). Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and our friend broccoli also have healthy doses of choline.
6. The World’s Most Popular Drug Of Choice Can Also Boost Your Productivity
There’s a reason why millions of people around the world begin their days with their morning cup of coffee: caffeine has been scientifically proven to give us an energy boost. There is even a growing body of research that has linked caffeine to increased learning speeds and creativity.
But caffeine also has its critics. While the above research is not really in dispute. The arguments against supplementing your diet with caffeine are that it is in fact a drug that and we can become dependent on that caffeine boost (as millions of people are).
Also, it can lead to energy crashes later in the day and can make getting a good night of sleep difficult. So what should we do about these conflicting opinions?
Answer: experiment with what works best for you. Personally, I’m not much of a coffee drinker and I find that following the 5 elements above gives me more than enough energy and focus to be productive throughout the day.
Foods themselves should be the foundations of a productive diet and the boost caffeine gives you should be just that: a boost.
However, many of the most productive people in the world use caffeine and if it works for you I find nothing wrong with that. Two things that most experts seem to agree on are that 1) caffeine should used in moderate doses and 2) it should not be consumed after around 3 p.m. so as not to have negative effects on sleep.
7. Albert Einstein’s Secret That Makes Eating For Productivity A Breeze
Albert Einstein wore the same clothes every single day. Why? Because of the phenomenon known as “decision fatigue.” Essentially, by not having to worry about the small decision every day about what to wear, this made made it easier for him to have the mental capacity to focus on bigger, more important things throughout the day.
US Presidents and visionary entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have also adopted Einstein’s “daily uniform” philosophy.
I’ve found, doing this same thing with my diet does wonders for my productivity. This means I eat the same things every single day. Yes, I know this might sound a bit boring. But if you stop and think about how much mental energy you spend every day thinking about what your next meal will be, you’ll realize it’s quite a bit. And that mental energy is better spent working productively on your most important goals.
So there you have it. Those are the 7 ways to eat your way to becoming a more productive, focused individual.
Attention Pick The Brain Readers:
The information in this article will definitely take your productivity to another level. But if you want to leap into the top 1% of achievers in the world you’ll need more than a productive diet. Maximum productivity also requires mastering other foundational habits such as meditation, proper sleep, and exercise.
Check out my Master Day Checklist for complete details on how to master these habits to become more productive than you ever imagined.
Ron Reich is a former lawyer turned entrepreneur whose mission is to help people master the game of life and accomplish their most deeply important goals. Download his Master Day Checklist today to find out exactly how to do this.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.