Brain Boosting Foods
A calorie is a calorie, that may be true when it comes to body composition… but what about quality of life and cognitive function?
If you’re replacing all of your high quality complex carbohydrates with simple sugary carbohydrates found in lollies and the like you’re going to be feeling terrible and performing worse both in the gym and mentally.
Yes, when bulking or getting shredded I have a certain caloric intake I aim for which is comprised of protein, carbohydrates and fats… most guys call it there and grab the easiest foods they can to meet these nutrient numbers.
Yep, that works.
But if you want to be as sharp as possible when it comes to decision making, cognitive function, memory and overall well-being you’re going to want to include brain boosting foods in your diet, not just the cheapest, easiest or most convenient foods possible.
Below are the 5 brain boosting foods I highly recommend you add to your diet – I am to consume at least 3 of these
Fish such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA), which are essential for brain function.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet
The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers.
Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Evidence suggests that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss.
staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital say that in animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.
Blueberries are without a doubt the most accessible, inexpensive option to add some flavour and powerful antioxidants to your diet.
Add them to your shakes, to your proats or snack of them by themselves – you can’t go wrong.
Studies suggest that vitamin E may help to prevent cognitive decline, it just so happens that nuts are a fantastic source of vitamin E.
Researchers believe that higher levels of vitamin E correspond with slower cognitive decline with age.
Almonds aren’t the only nut that provides a solid source of vitamin E, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, peanuts and a variety of seeds (sunflower, sesame and flax) are a great source of vitamin E too.
The biggest issue here however is to note we’re talking about plain almonds, not salted or lathered in other calorie dense sauces and seasonings.
If you’re consuming nuts of this description don’t be surprised when you’re going above and beyond your caloric intake due to the additional cardohydrates and fats that go with them.
Scientists at Wake Forest University determined that natural nitrates in beets can increase blood flow to the brain, thereby improving mental performance.
As beetroot acts as a vasodilator (increases blood flow and expands your blood vessels) this also lifts the importance of beetroot juice consumption pre-workout for a better pump, better endurance and increased blood flow not only in the gym, but the bedroom too!
Beetroot is great when roasted and added to a salad, but if like me you’re not a huge fan of making salads the beetroot also goes extremely well when juiced.
When by itself in a juice the taste of beetroot is extremely earthy, this can easily be balanced out by adding an apple and a couple of carrots to your juicer at the same time.
Don’t neglect your leafy greens!
Spinach is loaded with more vitamins and minerals than you could ever count.
Research performed by the Harvard Medical School found that those who consumed the most leafy green vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce as well as brocolli) found cognitive decline to be at a far slower rate than those who did not regularly consume leafy green vegetables.
Implementing Brain Boosting Foods Into Your Diet
There’s no special secret or trick to implement these brain boosting foods into your diet, simply work a portion of a few of the above foods into your diet each day – ensure you’re still able to hit your caloric intake goal.
Instead of just throwing a couple of scoops of whey protein into your shaker after your workout why not blend up some whey protein, blueberries and baby spinach? This combination tastes fantastic when using vanilla protein powder (the spinach really does not have much of a taste at all!).
Almonds are a fantastic snack between meals, however they’re relatively high in (good) fats and are therefore more suited to a bulking style diet, as 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories as opposed to the 4 calories per gram found in both protein and carbohydrates.
Beetroot is ideal when consumed pre-workout as the nitrates in beetroot juice acts as a vasodilator – expanding your veins in turn allowing for increased blood flow. The result of this increased circulation is a better pump when lifting weights and increased cardiovascular endurance on both sets of weights as well as conventional cardio.