By Shelby Santin, Dietetics student at the University of Maryland
It’s midterm time at UMD! This means long nights at McKeldin cramming for exams and writing papers. If you are anything like me, it can be challenging to think about eating healthy when your brain is working on overdrive trying to balance school, work and studying.
However, good nutrition is worth thinking about because it can help boost concentration, reduce stress and increase energy and help you ace that upcoming exam.
And I have good news – it’s not hard to make small changes that can add up to big results.
- Stay hydrated. Some signs of dehydration are fatigue, headaches and brain fog. When you start feeling thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Drinking water while studying and also throughout the day can help you stay hydrated and prevent tiredness.
- Eat Breakfast. Eating breakfast even if you aren’t studying in the morning, will keep your energy levels up throughout the day. It helps kick start your day and keeps your blood sugar levels stable so you don’t feel fatigued later in the day. It really is the most important meal of the day.
- Avoid emotional eating. Many college students react to stress by either eating too much or too little, both of which can affect energy levels. It is common to crave fast food, candy and other high calorie low nutrient foods while studying. These foods provide quick energy but won’t sustain you through a tediously long study session. Managing stress by practicing yoga, meditating, exercising or doing any other healthy activity that works for you will help keep emotional eating and stress during studying in check. Free meditation sessions are offered through the University Health Center and the Center for Health and Wellbeing.
- Choose whole grain carbs. Whole grains will help keep up energy levels for extended periods of time because the body absorbs it more slowly. On the other hand, sweets, candy and other simple carbohydrates will cause a spike in blood sugar and then a drastic drop leaving you feeling tired and moody. Carbohydrates are important because glucose from carbs is the source of fuel your brain uses to give you energy.
- Pick lean protein. Protein increases alertness and concentration. Lean protein sources can promote brain function while studying. Some examples of protein sources are nuts, beans, eggs and meats.
- Fill up on fiber. Fiber will give you energy you need throughout the day. Getting an adequate amount of fiber throughout the day will keep blood sugar levels stable and keep you from feeling hungry.
Some Study Snack Ideas
- Whole wheat bread with peanut butter and an apple
- Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds
- Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
- An apple or banana with peanut butter
The Truth About Caffeine and Energy Drinks
It is not an uncommon sight at McKeldin to see tables scattered with empty 5-hour ENERGY®, and Red Bull® bottles. Many college students rely on these drinks to stay awake during studying, but there are some things you should know.
The truth is too much caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, irritability, and muscle tremors – hardly anything that would help students who are trying to stay calm while they are studying.
Energy Drinks contain large amounts of caffeine, sugar, B vitamins, amino acids and taurine. These types of drinks provide a temporary energy boost but is short lived and will often leave you feeling more tired after hours of studying when the effects wear off.
Our bodies get long-term sustainable energy from the food we eat and sleep. Getting enough sleep and eating healthy is what will keep you energized throughout the day.
Good luck with midterms Terps !
What are some of your favorite nutritious study snacks?