Exam Food

I was inspired to write this post per a recent request for “healthy snacks” during test-taking.  People have asked me in the past what they should eat when sitting for an exam.  As my own exam-date approaches, I realized that it’s probably time to get it all down there on the blog.  Here are some exam-food things to know.Study Hard!!!

# 1: We want our brains to function.  The brain functions on glucose—in other words, carbohydrates.  The body CAN use fat and protein for energy; but your brain functions BEST on carbohydrate.  For that reason, the NUMBER 1 source of energy we want to put into our bodies is carbohydrate.  But it’s not just any kind …

# 2: You want your brain to function—for hours and hours.  Tests these days can last anywhere from three-nine hours.  So you need a certain type of carb to make sure your brain is well souped-up for the big day.  COMPLEX CARBS (whole wheat, oats, grains…) are the types to eat.  Why?  High fiber, low in simple sugar.  High fiber foods are not as quickly absorbed by the body.  Simple sugars (candy, soda, HFCS…) create surges and drops in insulin (the hormone that shuttles glucose into the cell).  YOU WANT INSULIN TO RISE WITHIN NORMAL LIMITS.  Ingesting simple sugars will potentially elevate insulin levels too high, and subsequently make them drop—meaning you won’t feel so nice and you’ll likely FAIL.  😦

# 3: You can’t just have carbohydrates.  You knew that was coming…  Carbohydrate spares protein and fat that could be used for energy.  What does that mean?  Fat and protein are also energy sources and can both “act as carbohydrates” to provide the body with fuel.  But we don’t want protein and fat to be our fuel source on test day – we want carb.  Why?  Reminder: carbohydrate is the better fuel source for the brain.   So for carbohydrate to really do its job well, protein and fat are important to consume – all while you’re calculating the tangent of an angle.  Or whatever you’re doing.  Additionally, both fat and protein will increase satiety (feelings of fullness) because they literally SIT in your stomach for longer and are not as quickly digested as carbohydrates.  Therefore, your body will be able to endure a good three hours or more of: PURE. FOCUS.

# 4: Drink whatever you NORMALLY drink for breakfast.  In other words, just because it’s test-day doesn’t mean you’ll need a red-bull, a venti-mocha-whatever-latte and a bottle of that 5-Hour Energy thing.  Having too much caffeine will elevate your heart-rate and cause you to USE THE ENERGY YOU NEED TO FOCUS.  You’ll be too busy tracing the fruit fly’s path around the test-room versus concentrating on your computer screen.  So if you don’t drink tea or coffee, don’t start on test-day.  And if you do, try not to have more than your typical two cups per day (because clearly, that’s all that you have…)

# 5: What is an example of some good breakfasts and snacks on test-day?

BREAKFAST IDEAS (add servings based on your height/weight/sex):

  • EGGS or EGG-WHITES with
  • Cheese with
  • Fruit and
  • 1-2 cups water/coffee/tea
    • OR
  • 1 cup yogurt with
  • 1 cup sliced fruit with
  • ¼- ½ cup granola (lower in sugar varieties)

Eggs on Whole Wheat

SNACK IDEAS (for you, Seth):

  • Trail mix (mixed nuts, kashi cereal, dried fruit)
  • Crackers with 3g+ fiber and a dip (hummus/ almond butter/ guacamole)
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Fruit with yogurt
  • Cliff or Kashi bars (one that does not have more than 12g sugar per serving)
  • NOT left-over Chinese food 😉


Okay, and now back to MY work . . .

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Amelia McKenney on January 8, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Loved your articles. I am forever trying to lose that 10 lbs since I gained 30 during menopause. I love to cook and healthy cooking as well. My problem is picking. It is a life long habit. How can a cook correct seasonings without tasting?


  2. Thanks, Amelia! You bring up a very common dilemma among the gourmet of the world… How do we NOT pick?!? It’s true, how can one cook well without tasting her chef-d’œuvre? Here’s how. A taste is a pinch, a drop, a tsp — not a heaping spoonful, dollop or glob of “X.” Assess HOW you are tasting your meals. Number two, along those same lines, what are your portion sizes? Bring it back to the basics. That means, whip out your measuring cups, spoons and START MEASURING your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack portions. Calories are everything. You can still have your favorite foods – just measure it up!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: