Students can relate; it’s the middle of the semester, your motivation is running out, and exams are just around the corner. It can seem impossible to round up the motivation you need to spend hours in the library, studying. 

With multiple weeks still left throughout the semester, exams and study sessions are nowhere near their end. You have projects, papers, and assignments to finish, all while trying to balance your social life, sanity, and other commitments. 

So what can you do to keep your motivation up to get you through those long study sessions while sequestered in the library? 

Food. Food is fuel for your brain and provides ample incentive to get through the long, boring chapters of your biology textbook. 

The food we eat fuels our minds and bodies and gives us the nutrients we need to keep going. Sometimes during those long days in the library, it can be hard to spend the extra time making, buying, and eating food. But eating the right foods can do more than just satiate hunger, it can re-energize our minds and bodies to their fullest potential.

So what should you eat to help your brain and motivation before finals? Here are 8 great brain foods that can provide the right fuel for extra hours where you need them.

1. Berries

Berries are a great food to snack on during long study sessions because they can increase blood flow to your brain. They have an ample amount of antioxidants that work as anti-inflammatories to reduce and repair cell damage. 

Additionally, they make a quick and easy snack. If you don’t like eating them on their own, trying mixing in smoothies, yogurt, or on salads. You can also buy frozen berries that are more affordable and still have the same mental and physical benefits to help increase brain function. 

2. Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and others, make for optimal study snacks. They help promote learning because they can protect brain cells. They have a lot of Vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and minerals. 

Citrus fruit is also convenient to snack on. You can quickly eat an orange while you sit and study or cut up a lemon and add it to your water. Citrus fruit is also affordable, which makes snacking a lot easier for college students. 

3. Nuts

Nuts have an abundance of dietary benefits. They include healthy fats, which are needed for brain function. About 70% of your brain is made up of fat, and healthy fats help form and retain memories. Nuts also include healthy protein, fiber, and other nutrients that can help you stay fueled and full. 

Trail mix is a tasty and assorted snack for long study sessions because it includes nuts, chocolates, fruits, and more. It’s also an easy, portable, and convenient snack that can keep you motivated and full during long days of studying.

4. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate, while delicious, can benefit the body if eaten in moderation. Dark chocolate, specifically, can help reduce mental fatigue, boost memory, improve blood flow, and increase reaction times with specific cognitive tasks. 

Dark chocolate-covered berries like these and other chocolate-covered treats are great for studying. Often, this combines two great brain foods (like berries and nuts with chocolate) into one tasty treat. Chocolate can also reward you for getting through a complex chapter, finishing your reading, or writing your paper. 

5. Greens

Greens may not be as fun or delicious as chocolate, but they are equally as important. Greens, specifically leafy greens, like spinach, lettuce, kale, and others, have plenty of Vitamin E, which can help decrease the inflammation in your brain while also preventing plaque from building on brain cells. They also have antioxidants and other vitamins to strengthen your brain cells. 

It can be hard to “snack” on greens because, let’s be honest, no one wants to snack on a bowl of kale. But, eating a side salad for lunch or dinner can help your brain function better and clearer during study sessions. Another easy way to eat greens throughout the day is by adding them to smoothies. Below is a green smoothie recipe that combines the benefits of citrus fruits and greens. 

The Best Green Smoothie recipe

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • ½ Cup Frozen Mangos
  • ½ Cup Frozen Pineapple
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach or kale
  • Splash of Almond Milk or Water
  • Scoop of Protein Powder (optional)

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend on high until combined. To help the greens blend smoother, add them and the orange juice, protein powder, and water first, then blend until the greens are smooth. This will make 2 large glasses. 

6. Avocados

Avocados are another brain food that provides your body with the healthy fats needed to operate efficiently. They contain monounsaturated fats, which work to protect the glial cells in your brain. These cells are essential for relaying messages throughout your brain and your body. Protecting the glial cells can help your brain function better, for longer.

Avocados can be added to many dishes like salads, stir fry, tacos, and other foods. Some people even eat avocados plain with some salt and pepper. You can also add them into a smoothie to get the nutrients without actually eating them. 

7. Caffeine

Caffeine has been proven to be an ergogenic aid. It can help decrease brain fog by keeping your brain alert and active. Sometimes, this is taken too far, and people ingest too much caffeine. Too much caffeine can make it hard to focus and accomplish tasks. Everyone can tolerate different amounts of caffeine, so it may take some trial and error to find how much is helpful to you. 

Caffeine can be found in many sodas and drinks. You can even find it in some foods. Remember, don’t drink too much as it will make you jittery. Try little bits at a time. 

8. Water

Water is essential for every single task and function of your body. It helps rid the body of dead cells and toxins. In the brain, water helps keep the chemicals balanced, decreasing headaches, stress, and anxiety.

It is recommended that females drink about 3L a day, and males drink about 4L a day. Everyone is different, but drinking enough water can increase brain function and help other organs and systems work optimally. When you go to the library for long study sessions, bring your water bottle to stay hydrated and focused.

Additional Study Tips

With finals just around the corner, students will find themselves cramming longer study sessions and even longer nights. Don’t forget to apply these healthy routines to keep yourself alert and prepared before class.

Sleep: Getting enough sleep will help your brain and body function better. When you go to bed, try to limit screen time and create a regular sleep schedule. 

Space Out Your Studying: Although easier said than done, try to study early and don’t cram all at once. This will allow your brain to form repeated pathways and create long-term memories, rather than stressing your brain and body with an overwhelming amount of information.

Reward Yourself: It is okay to give yourself rewards for studying. Get a treat, go out with friends, or take a nap. Taking time for yourself will help you feel more motivated and less anxious. 

Take Breaks: Taking breaks during studying is essential. If you spend every day in the library, it is easy to feel anxious and stressed. Taking breaks can relieve stress while allowing your brain to refocus. When you take a break, don’t just sit on your phone. Get out and move your body, do something fun, spend time with friends, or work on something in another area of your life. Regular breaks will help you stay motivated and manage stress and anxiety. For other ideas on how to manage anxiety, check out this article

Studying and school can be difficult, especially during the middle of the semester when the bulk of your work has hit an all-time high. Hopefully, you can use some of these tips and fuel your body and brain for long days spent working towards your goals!