Athletes have to pay close attention to their diets to support top physical performance at all times. They say you are what you eat, so it gets pretty hard to dunk a basketball, dribble a football across the pitch or crush home runs if most of your meals consist of cakes and cookies.
Unfortunately, the rest of us tend to believe that what we eat doesn’t matter very much. The complete opposite is true. In fact, no matter what your lifestyle and main activities are, maintaining the right diet can help you achieve your goals by making sure you feel good and prepared every day, exactly the way an athlete needs to be prepared before a game.
For entrepreneurs, nothing is more important than a diet that supports and encourages strong and healthy brain activity. The rest of your body may not need to be in athletic form while you sit at meetings all day, but your brain has to be able to perform effectively and without interruption for long periods of time as you regularly tackle the big challenges of business.
Here are a few things to know about choosing a diet that will properly fuel your entrepreneurial brain:
1. Stay away from sugary treats
While a small amount of sugar is no problem in anyone’s diet, most people are woefully unaware of how much sugar they consume. A suprisingly wide variety of processed foods (including things like peanut butter) contain more than enough added sugar for a healthy diet. If you add any sweets and soft drinks to your normal diet, you may be creating a not-so-sweet problem for yourself.
Overconsumption of sugar has been linked to a number of serious health issues in the long run, including weight gain, acne, heart disease, diabetes and more. As a more immediate concern for entrepreneurs, sugary foods and drinks will actually drain you of energy and increase fatigue after a short-lived sugar rush – not a good equation for an entrepreneur who needs to be good decisions all day every day.
2. Eat fresh and cook at home
Some good eating habits are time-consuming, but your body and brain will thank you for making the effort. When eating out, it’s hard to know what’s gone into your food. Even if you order a salad of fresh vegetables, dressings could be high in sugar and other less-than-desirable ingredients.
By purchasing fresh ingredients and cooking at home, you can be sure that your brain is getting what it needs and nothing more.
3. Don’t forget your protein
Your brain is a muscle, and muscles love protein. In fact, early-human historians believe that the harnessing of fire and cooking of protein-rich meat allowed our brains to grow to the size they are today. Regular exercise is also recommended to support healthy brain activity, and if you’re exercising, protein is needed for recovery and growth.
If you prefer not to eat meat or animal products, there are plenty of alternative, plant-based options to get your protein, like chickpeas and nuts (especially walnuts). Vegan protein powder can also be added to almost whatever you’re eating, or simply mixed with water for a healthy shake.
4. Get your omega-3
Not all fat is bad for you. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy unsaturated fats that are known for being healthy for the brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s. The most effective way to inject omega-3 into your diet is to eat certain fish like salmon or tuna a couple of times per week.
If you prefer to go the vegetarian route, omega-3 supplements are available and can also be sourced from flaxseeds, avacados and walnuts.
5. Nothing beats a salad
Salads are always a healthy option for a light meal (just watch out for the dressing), partly because they can include some many fresh, natural sources of everything that’s good for your brain. Adding green super foods like kale or spinach will help provide your brain with vital nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta carotene.
If you want a heavier salad to keep you satisfied for longer, add in sources of protein like nuts, chicken breast or salmon. You can almost feel the health rushing to your brain!
Eating well isn’t always easy, but entrepreneurship requires a lot of discipline already. Apply the same go-get-em attitude to maintaining a healthy diet and all your efforts toward success will be that much more fruitful.