The brain requires lots of energy to function well. The right foods – at meals and in between – help to fuel cognitive capacity and memory, which become especially important when exams or busy work periods are looming!
Ideally, study snacks to boost your brain power will feature a combination of dietary fibre, protein and healthy fats to support mental clarity, focus and energy balance. Antioxidant-rich foods (especially fruits and vegetables) further support healthy brain function. A nourishing study snack needn’t take long to prepare, coming together in a matter of minutes!
Although easy enough to eat alongside your laptop, a quick snack is also a nice opportunity to step away from your desk to refresh and reset.
Power on with our top 10 study snacks to boost your brain power (plus one bonus addition!), below.
10 study snacks to boost your brain power
- Protein balls. Although there are some great ready-made options available, protein balls are really easy to make yourself! They can be prepared ahead of time and stored safely in the fridge for a week or so.
Our never-fail, go-to recipe features nuts and seeds, medjool dates, peanut butter (ideally a version containing 99-100% peanuts), and raw cacao powder. Although not necessary, a few scoops of whey or plant-based protein powder can also be added to boost the protein content further.
Simply blitz everything together in a food processor, adding some cold water to help the mixture blend, if needed. To finish, roll your protein balls in crushed peanuts or shredded coconut and keep them in the fridge for a fudge-like texture reminiscent of dessert (without the associated sugar-crash).
Tip: If you don’t have access to a food processor, simply substitute already-processed nut and seed butters in place of whole nuts and seeds, finely dice your dates and add some LSA (linseed, sunflower seed and almond) mix and/or chia seeds to help thicken the mixture, if needed.
- Edamame. A source of complete protein and dietary fibre, edamame certainly packs a punch, nutritionally speaking! Simply pat dry unshelled edamame (found in the frozen section of the supermarket), toss in extra virgin olive oil and your preferred spices – or just S+P, to keep it simple – and roast in the oven until golden brown and crisp.
- Roasted chickpeas or fava beans. A great option when you’re particularly time-poor, most supermarkets have a great range of ready-made roasted chickpeas and fava beans available. Not only are they (most often) suitable for those of us needing to avoid gluten, nuts and dairy, but they’re also a more satiating alternative to highly-processed foods like potato chips.
- Hummus or tzatziki with crudites. Sliced crunchy vegetables like carrot, celery and capsicum are a great source of dietary fibre – which helps us feel full and satisfied, but not weighed down – and polyphenols to support brain health. Dip them into a nourishing hummus or tzatziki for extra nutrients!
- Wholegrain crackers with sliced cheese or avocado, and tomato. Try topping seeded crackers with cottage, cheddar or goat’s cheese, tomato and S+P for a tasty savoury snack. Keep an eye out for crackers with a relatively short ingredients list, with – ideally – a variety of seeds listed among the first few.
- Apple or banana with nut butter. This one is super-easy to prepare – simply slice up your fruit and spread with your preferred nut or seed butter.
- Trail mix. Try making your own by combining air-popped popcorn, along with a variety of nuts and seeds, and some dried fruit for sweetness (try cranberries, raisins or dried mango for a tropical twist). Add flavour with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or even a sprinkle of cayenne pepper!
- Fruit + nut chocolate. Perhaps not what you’re thinking! Put a more nutrient-dense spin on this classic combination by enjoying half a cup of blueberries with a handful of raw, unsalted almonds and a few squares of dark chocolate.
- Natural yoghurt with granola and berries. Enjoy this breakfast favourite at any time! Simply spoon natural yoghurt – opt for a high-protein option (like those by Chobani or YoPro) for an extra protein boost – and top with a crunchy low-sugar granola and fresh berries.
- Hardboiled eggs. Eggs are an incredibly nutrient-dense food, containing a good amount of protein, alongside essential micronutrients like B vitamins, vitamins A and E, choline and iron, to name just a few! Include them in a quick ‘picnic plate’ alongside some wholegrain crackers, cheddar cheese, olives, pickled vegetables and fresh cherry tomatoes.
- Green tea. Although not a snack per se, green tea is great to sip as you study (perhaps instead of an extra coffee). Antioxidant-rich green tea also contains theanine – an amino acid that supports focus and helps calm the nervous system, which is especially beneficial during a demanding assessment period. Ensure you drink plenty of water, too, to prevent dehydration-associated fatigue, sluggishness and brain fog.
Tell us, what are your go-to study snacks?
For expert dietary support on your personal health journey, book your first appointment with one of our wonderful Accredited Practising Dietitians today.
Written by Caitlin Branch, Student Nutritionist, and Amanda Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian.