Eating For Productivity: Home Office Nutrition - Amandean

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March 16, 2021 10 min read

In this article:

  • Nutrition and brain function
  • 10 eating habits for optimal productivity
  • Easy recipes for optimizing your productivity at home
  • Blueberry Collagen-Infused Smoothie
  • Collagen Chocolate Mug Cake
  • Energizing Glutathione Green Smoothie

While some people really enjoy working from home in ‘comfy town’, sometimes even in pajamas with a pet on their lap, others find it hard to focus or get anything done. If you’re not too thrilled about having to work from home day in and day out, and can’t seem to figure out the balance between home and work - just know you’re not the only one. Being productive from your involuntary home office is challenging for many. There are psychological, ergonomic, and physical barriers to consider, not to mention the uncertainty of knowing when we might get back to the office, if ever.

One of the many things you could incorporate into your daily routine, in order to stay healthy and productive while working from home, is proper nutrition. In fact, we feel it should be at the top of your list. By eating healthy everyday, you’re not just fueling your body. You are also sharpening your mind, boosting brain power, and promoting cognitive functions such as memory and focus. Today we’re sharing 10 ways that diet can make a difference in productivity when working from home.

Nutrition and brain function

Nutritionists and fitness experts always say we should think of food primarily as fuel. But food also meets other needs. Emotions, cravings and even cognition can be benefitted by what we eat. In addition, food should also provide the necessary nutrients for optimal brain functioning. Our food choices not only affect our mood (and consequently our emotions), but also the structure of the brain. [1] Diets that contain too much low-quality foods, such as processed foods and refined sugars, have been found to cause inflammation, promote oxidative stress, and worsen mood disorders. [1]

Does poor nutrition contribute to brain fog and worsen depressive episodes? It does indeed. [1] Low-quality foods have also been found to increase the number of inflammatory cells and damaging, free radicals in the body, thus increasing the chance of brain tissue damage. [1]

We already know that nutrition has a large impact on our gut health, but are you familiar with the unbreakable bond between the gut and the brain? This connection is so significant in fact that ~95% of serotonin, a powerful hormone affecting our sleep, mood, appetite, and even pain levels, is produced entirely in the gut. [1] The gut-brain axis consists of a hundred million nerve cells and pathways. Further, the bacteria found in the gut influence the quality of the relationship between our digestive system and the brain.

So, how do we make sure that the bacteria content in the gut is optimal? The answer is simple - eating right. [1] By prioritizing fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, fermented foods, and lean meats above processed and refined foods, we’re promoting gut health and enhancing the gut-brain axis, as well as improving brain functions and structure. [1]

It is also important to take your own experience with food into consideration. What works for others may make you bloated, sleepy or lethargic. So take some time to observe how different types of food make you feel (keeping a food diary can be a game-changer!).

10 eating habits for optimal productivity

Being stuck at home may have pushed you down the path of binge eating, stress eating, late-night snacking, and an overall lack of structure in your nutrition. This is not uncommon, especially with the world being flipped upside down. However, the following tips will help you to re-adjust your relationship with food and the way you fuel yourself for your work day.

1. Adequate protein intake

Protein intake directly affects our energy and alertness, by promoting healthy amino acid levels of tyrosine in both the body and the brain. [2] Once tyrosine is converted into the hormones noradrenaline and dopamine, we get that energizing effect that can promote productivity. [2] What’s more, protein has been found to foster the feeling of satiety, keeping you feeling fuller, longer. [3] This means that after a protein-packed meal, you’ll be less likely to gravitate towards unhealthy snacking options.

In case you’re struggling with meeting your daily protein requirements, try adding a scoop of Collagen Peptides to your daily nutrition or even your morning coffee. You won’t even know it’s there.

2. Hydration

We all know how important drinking water is for our body and skin. But did you know that dehydration may play a crucial role in cognitive impairment? [4] When hydration needs are neglected, the natural detoxifying process is jeopardized, potentially leading to brain dysfunction.

In order to stay hydrated during the day, you obviously need to drink enough water. While the amount of water we each need can vary, the average recommendation is 8 to 11 cups a day for women, and 10 to 15 cups for men. [4] And if you’re not too fond of water but you want to avoid adding in artificial ingredients, give this DIY collagen water a shot! You’ll get a kick of protein and hydrate at the same time. Also, you could try replacing your tea with lemon water, which is a refreshing way to stay hydrated throughout the day!

If you’re having trouble interpreting the body’s signals, and you simply forget to drink your water, a hydration app such as Daily Water Tracker Reminder or Hydro Coach will help you stay on top of your intake.

3. Timing

The secret of perfect timing lies primarily in your preferences. Do you feel that larger meals make you tired and negatively affect your productivity? If so, plan your largest meal of the day for after you’re done working. Simple as that. This way you’ll avoid the “lethargy phase”, and food may even come as a reward!

However, if you’re looking to reap the benefits of a particular eating pattern, you may want to try Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF is a widely recognized eating pattern consisting of fasting periods and eating periods of different durations. Some of the popular IF methods include 5:2 (eating normally for 5 days and consuming 500-600 calories for 2 days) and 16:8 (fasting for 16 hours and having an 8-hour-long eating window). Besides weight loss, some of the potential benefits of this regime include hormone regulation, cellular repair, and improved brain health. [5

Many entrepreneurs who need to sustain focus and concentration for long periods of time, swear by intermittent fasting. They claim it allows them to have razor sharp focus and spend much less time on food prep during busy or deadline driven days.

4. Glucose levels

Glucose, the naturally occuring sugar from foods such as bread, pasta, fruits, and even table sugar, is released once the body breaks down carbohydrates. As a result of this process, glucose is transported to the brain through the bloodstream, and then used as energy. [6] Optimal blood sugar levels are necessary for normal brain functioning, but make sure you’re not over-doing it. Too much could leave you feeling tired or in a productivity slump, especially when it comes to more demanding, cognitive tasks. [6]

The best natural glucose-regulators include broccoli, seafood, pumpkin seeds, nuts, okra, kimchi, beans, and lentils. [12]

5. High-antioxidant foods

Antioxidants are essentially molecules that protect the body and the brain from damage caused by free radicals. [7] Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, dark chocolate, goji berries, kale, and blueberries can aid in enhancing brain functions like memory. If you really want to detox your body of free radicals, try the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione.

6. Minimize junk food

We all love that favorite chocolate bar or bag of chips, but junk food can create a false sense of comfort that usually doesn’t last for long. Be cautious about consuming junk food frequently during your work day, Low-quality foods that are high in sugar, refined carbs, and unhealthy fats can actually cause damage to your brain and compromise how it functions. [8] It is okay to indulge once in a while, but try and aim for healthier alternatives. High protein bars, flavored almonds, pumpkin seeds and dry roasted edamame are just a few suggestions that are packed with power and taste yummy too!

7. Food prep and consistency

If you’re not thrilled about preparing meals every single day, how about you dedicate just one afternoon each week to cooking? This way you can have everything ready for the remainder of the week. Try doing all your grocery shopping and cooking in one day. Prepare all your weekday meals and store them in your fridge or freezer. This way, you’ll be less likely to reach for that bag of frozen french fries when your stomach starts to grumble. This technique can also help you save money and give back time for yourself.

Prepping ahead ensures you remain consistent with your nutrition, and we all know that consistency is key, both with developing healthy habits and seeing results!

8. Caffeine

Some consider coffee consumption a bad habit, and it can be if it starts to affect your sleep or gives you the jitters. However, for many of us, coffee is our lifeblood for getting out of bed in the morning. Studies show that caffeine is a beneficial stimulant for our brains if consumed in a reasonable amount (read all about its powerful effectshere). Caffeine has been found to promote energy levels, as well as alertness, mood, mental clarity, and focus. [9] And if you’re looking to get the most out of your coffee, you should definitely try these benefit-packed alternatives such as CBD & collagen bulletproof coffee, or collagen coffee to kick off your day. Let the biohacking begin.

9. Portion control

In a perfect world, we’d all be able to master self-control free from nagging cravings and guilt from “bad” choices. In reality, we’re only human, and it is okay to enjoy your favorite foods in excess from time to time. By focusing on the quality of your foods and ensuring they are nutrient dense, there is no need to make distinctions of “bad” and “good” foods. Instead, focus on creating a healthy relationship with food and be mindful at mealtimes. Try to get away from your computer screen and consider a short walk once you’ve finished eating.

Yes, we’ve already discussed how processed and sugary foods can affect the brain and productivity, but if your plate is filled with whole foods, and you have a bar of chocolate afterwards- no biggie! It is necessary to listen to your body while sticking to the healthy nutrition principles.

10. Supplements

At certain times of the year especially, it is sometimes difficult to get all the nutrients our bodies need from whole foods alone. As we age, this is even more challenging since our bodies are able to produce less of certain nutrients. While supplements can never make up for poor nutrition, they can optimize your diet by helping you meet daily requirements. This can go far in combating deficiencies in energy, focus, skin, hair, and overall health.

Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain development and functioning - even before we’re born. During maternity, omega-3s have been linked to brain development in the infant, as well as higher scores on IQ tests later in life. [10] When it comes to adults, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with faster cellular communication in the brain, improved learning and memory capability, as well as enhanced mood. [10]

Master antioxidant, glutathione is also an important nutrient for brain health and cognitive functions. Glutathione’s main activity in the brain is to detoxify cells and protect them from damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage is one of the main reasons for neurological impairment. [11] Optimal blood glutathione levels equal a healthy brain, and a healthy brain means optimal cognitive performance and productivity at work.

What to eat for productivity?

Here are a few examples of healthy meals you can incorporate into your daily routine to maximize your productivity!

Blueberry collagen-infused smoothie

Servings: 1; Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients:

-1 cup blueberries
-½ ripe avocado
-½ frozen banana
-1 tbsp chia seeds
-1 tbsp almond butter
-1 and ½ cups milk of choice or water
-1 scoop Grass-Fed Collagen Powder

Directions:

Add all ingredients into your blender and blend until you reach a smooth, creamy consistency. Serve immediately.


Collagen Chocolate Mug Cake

Servings: 1; Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients:

-2 tbsp baking flour (preferably gluten-free)
-2 tbsp natural sweetener (we recommend Stevia)
-¼ tsp baking powder
-1 tbsp cocoa powder
-2 tbsp milk of your choice
-1 tbsp egg white
-⅛ tsp vanilla extract
-1 tbsp cashew butter
-1 tbsp dark chocolate chips (for the topping)
-1 scoop Non-GMO Collagen Powder Peptides 

Directions:

Prepare the mug by evenly coating it with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sweetener, baking powder, and collagen protein. Add milk, butter, egg white, and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the mixture into the mug and top with dark chocolate chips. Microwave for 1 minute at 1000W.

Energizing glutathione green smoothie

Servings: 1; Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients:

-8 oz water
-1 handful baby spinach/1 cup frozen spinach
-½ cup frozen blueberries
-1 cup fresh/frozen strawberries
-¼ avocado
-1 tbsp chia seeds
-1 cup ice
-1 tbsp Reduced Liposomal Glutathione

Directions:

Add all the ingredients EXCEPT glutathione into your blender and mix until smooth. Stir in liquid glutathione. Adding it to a blender can damage the liposomes. Pour into a glass and top with chia seeds. Enjoy!

Summary Points

  • Our food choices not only affect our mood (and consequently our emotions), but also the structure of the brain
  • Protein intake directly affects our energy and alertness, by promoting healthy amino acid levels of tyrosine in both the body and the brain
  • It is crucial to stay hydrated throughout the day
  • If you’re looking to reap the benefits of a particular eating pattern, you may want to try Intermittent Fasting (IF)
  • Optimal blood sugar levels are necessary for normal brain functioning, but make sure you’re not over-doing it
  • Include high-antioxidant foods and caffeine (in recommended doses), limit junk food, control your portions, and stay consistent (meal prep can help)
  • High-quality supplements such as omega-3 and glutathione optimize brain health and functions, boosting the productivity

Article References:

  1. Eva Selhub MD. (2018, April 5). Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food - Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from Harvard Health Blog website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
  2. Eating for Energy: Food That Boosts Your Productivity. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2021, from www.intheblack.com website: https://www.intheblack.com/articles/2017/06/01/food-boosts-productivity
  3. Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein, Weight Management, and Satiety. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(5), 1558S1561S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1558s
  4. Can Dehydration Impair Cognitive Function? | Cognitive Vitality | Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.alzdiscovery.org website: https://www.alzdiscovery.org/cognitive-vitality/blog/can-dehydration-impair-cognitive-function
  5. Gunnars, K. (2018). Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide
  6. Glucose and The Brain: Improving Mental Performance: (EUFIC). (n.d.). Retrieved from www.eufic.org website: https://www.eufic.org/en/whats-in-food/article/glucose-and-mental-performance
  7. Arnarson, A. (2019, July 29). Antioxidants Explained in Simple Terms. Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained
  8. The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain. (2018). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/worst-foods-for-your-brain
  9. Nehlig, A. (2015). Effects of Coffee/Caffeine on Brain Health and Disease: What Should I Tell My Patients? Practical Neurology, 16(2), 89–95. https://doi.org/10.1136/practneurol-2015-001162
  10. How Omega-3 Fish Oil Affects Your Brain and Mental Health. (2017). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-fish-oil-for-brain-health
  11. Dringen, R., & Hirrlinger, J. (2003). Glutathione Pathways in the Brain. Biological chemistry, 384(4), 505–516. https://doi.org/10.1515/BC.2003.059 
  12. The 17 Best Foods to Lower (or Regulate) Your Blood Sugar. (2020, August 10). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-to-lower-blood-sugar 



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