You should never go into an exam hungry — you probably know that much, at least. When you were in grade school, your mom probably made sure you had a loaded breakfast plate before a big test day. Maybe she made you waffles; maybe she fried up a few eggs. Even if she didn’t know it, mom was acting on a completely logical reason you needed that extra food before your big day.
Thinking burns calories. And while sitting down and reading a book isn’t the same as sweating through a workout, it does use some very real brain fuel.
You’ve probably seen ads boasting “brain-boosting foods” or snacks marketed with the promise of making you smarter. These claims aren’t necessarily so far off base — there are foods out there than can improve your brain function and, as a result, help you to perform better on tests.[related]
The secret? Fat.
According to Developing Human Brain, an organization dedicated to providing information about the biology of brains, “The brain uses 20 percent of all glucose, 35 percent of all vitamins and minerals, 40 percent of all water, and a staggering 50 percent of fats in our bodies.”
50 percent of all fats. That’s incredible.
Your brain needs fats to function, and is actually composed mainly of fats and cholesterol. Depriving your brain of fats or eating a low-fat diet sabotages your brain’s ability to think, react quickly, and store memory. And when you skimp on the fat at breakfast, you’re setting yourself up for a blood glucose crash and a major sugar hangover.
Alternatively, diets with a higher fat content have been linked in studies to better memory retention and brain function — exactly what you need on test day.
So before sitting for that exam, load up. Some excellent sources of fats for breakfast include:
Sprinkle, cook, or pour these ingredients over your breakfast bowl in the morning. Of course, you don’t need to be shoveling down a trough of peanut butter. But the added brain power from an extra tablespoon or two could be just what you needed to bump your grade up to an A.