ACT Nutrition Support Service » Eat to beat exams

Eat to beat exams

ACT Nutrition Support Service » Eat to beat exams

Eat to beat exams

1. Hydration

Hydration is the key to concentration. The brain is around 70-80% water, and even the slightest bit of dehydrated, it starts to lose concentration and focus. You may not even feel thirsty at this point, so it's best to keep a drink bottle nearby to keep you hydrated. 

2. Balance your meals

Eating well doesn't need to be about specific nutrients, it's about a whole meal and the balance of that meal. Try plate your meals like this:

  • Half a plate of colourful vegetables
    Different coloured vegetables contain different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A rainbow of veg is best!

  • A quarter of a plate of lean protein
    Protein provides the essential building blocks for a healthy brain. Choose lean meats, legumes, nuts, eggs or tofu.

  • A quarter of a plate of quality carbohydrates
    Quality carbohydrates are absorbed slowly providing you long lasting energy and fullness. This can help improve concentration and alertness for longer (think those long study days or 3 hour exams!). Choose wholegrain options such as grainy bread, wraps, sweet potato, pasta or rice.

  • A small drizzle of healthy fats
    To support and protect brain cells, include a small amount of healthy fats. Choose extra virgin olive oil, avocado, oily fish or nuts!  

3. Go easy on the sugar

Sugary snacks provide a burst of energy for a 'pick-me-up', however, the energy is short-lived.​ Afterwards, you may feel burnt out, lethargic, fatigued, irritable, sleepy - not ideal for an exam! If you are looking for a sweeter option, go for fruit, yoghurt or breakfast cereals for a healthier choice that will fuel you well.

4. Eat regularly

We know there will be long days studying with little time to prepare a healthy meal or snack. However, it is important to eat regularly to support increased cognitive activity. Start your day with breakfast, and pack nutritious snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, plain popcorn or veg sticks paired with hommus. 

5. Look after your wellbeing

Looking after yourself during this stressful time should be your number one priority.  Eat well, get some fresh air or call a friend. You can do this!