What is more frustrating than mentally wishing you were back in bed instead of completing tasks that need to get done or training your body to be an unstoppable machine?
Brain fog can happen to just about anyone. It can be caused by the lack of sleep, dehydration, stress, overtraining your body, or even poor eating habits.
The brain requires the use of 20% of the body’s energy, which makes the demands for proper fuel crucial. Carbohydrates and fats are a fuel source for the brain, but specifically “good” carbs and fats. So, before you think about that bucket of fried chicken with a side of melted butter as a good food source for that brain, let’s talk about why the brain needs carbs and fat.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (aka a type of sugar essential for energy) that the brain and muscles utilize for fuel. Consuming the right amount of carbohydrate, or simple sugar, can help delays muscle fatigue in high-intensity activity. For athletes training for long periods of time, it’s essential to keep the body and brain sharp. After exercise, the body also needs carbohydrate to replenish its stores. Without adequate post-workout carbohydrates, athletes can feel tired and lethargic, and oftentimes even struggle with focus. Immediately post-workout, look for simple sugars like that you find in fruit, milk, yogurt, honey, and ready-to drink shakes. Then look to fill your plate with more complex carbohydrates at your next meal; this will continue to help with recovery as well as sustain your energy levels. Fill one-third of your plate with carbs like:
- Grains (rice, whole grain breads and pastas, cereal)
- Fruits (blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe)
Did you know the brain is made of about 60% of fat? Therefore, it requires healthy fats to use for long-term energy. Omega-3 fatty acids are known as the essential building blocks for our brain by helping enhance learning and long-term memory. Some recommended sources of healthy fat are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Liquid cooking oils like olive, avocado, and grapeseed
To keep your mind focused, you have to keep your plate balanced! This means filling it with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, dairy foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Each of these foods provide a unique nutrient package that gives your body something it needs. Skip out on one and you might be skipping out an essential brain nutrient to help you stay focused and sharp. So, if you want to keep your brain fog-free, focus on how you shape your plate!