We’re all trying to squeeze more productivity out of the work day, a trend toward working “smarter,” rather than just harder. But you can’t work efficiently or at a high performance level without considering how you fuel that productivity. If you’re running a business, your mind is focused on clearing your inbox, making payroll, and monitoring the results of your latest marketing campaign.  For most, the food you eat while you’re in the office is not a primary concern—but just a few simple changes to your workplace diet could have huge effects on your cognition and productivity.  

What you put in your mouth is critical to your day-to-day performance. The right foods provide the energy your body needs to function, and the more thinking we do, the more intellectually complex our tasks, the more energy we use.

Most of what we eat is converted into glucose—a sugar—that provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re low on glucose we have a tough time staying focused (or awake for that matter). Depending on the food, you’ll either get a burst of glucose very quickly, by drinking a soda or eating a lot of French bread, or more slowly, with foods that have more protein and fat. High-fat foods like fried chicken or a cheeseburger, however, require more work to digest. This overexertion reduces the levels of oxygen in the brain which makes us sleepy.

When you start to feel low in energy and irritable, you’re probably not feeling strong in the self-control department. Most people go for the fries or candy bar in that moment, but those foods will only perpetuate a low energy, groggy feeling. As Ron Friedman, author of “The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace” wrote in the Harvard Business Review, we often choose unhealthy foods because they tend to be cheaper and faster than healthy alternatives, and as a result, they feel efficient even if they aren’t. “We save 10 minutes now and pay for it with weaker performance the rest of the day,” writes Friedman.

You can avoid that by thinking through what you’re going to eat throughout the day—leaving as much of the salt, fat and sugar out of it. Every person requires a unique diet for sustainability, but here are a few of the best foods for enhancing focus and decision-making:

  •      Start your day with slow-burning foods like those high in fiber and with a little fat and a little protein. A smoothie, perhaps, made with soy or almond milk, fresh or frozen fruit. An omelet with whole grain toast or low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit.
  •     Nuts, fruit and veggies like carrots are good choices for snacks because they provide a steady stream of energy for your brain, rather than sugary peaks and valleys. In fact, fresh fruit eaten throughout the day has been shown to make people happier, more engaged and more creative. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in motivation and engagement.


productive foods


  •      Blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, and other dark-colored fruits are what neuroscientist James Joseph at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University calls “brain berries.” These fruits, he says, contain deeply pigmented flavonoid phytochemicals known as anthocyanidins. They turn important genes on or off in brain cells, making those cells very responsive to incoming messages from other cells, and promoting the growth of new nerve cells. Dark berries protect against memory lossand act as anti-inflammatory agents to protect your heart and brain.





  •      Leafy green vegetables are good at protecting your brain against memory loss and eroding of higher functions.





  •     Green tea improves memory and focus, and it helps the brain stay relaxed at the same time. Green tea is also known to contain a wealth of antioxidants that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of signaling within the brain.



  •      Salmon is a great choice for a meal because it’s packed with the optimal kind of fatty acid–and more than half of your brain is fatty acids. Salmon is also full of omega-3s, B-vitamins, iron and protein, all of which help with memory retention, build focus and buttress reasoning.



  •      Sunflower seeds are a brain-support snack, boosting your mental processing and lifting your mood. The seeds contain lots of thiamine, a B vitamin that increases cognitive function and memory. Researchers have also found that sunflower seeds release a protein that inhibits the production of an enzyme linked to high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, wears away the inner lining of blood vessels over time and can cause small strokes in the brain. And those with hypertension score lower on memory and concentration tests than those without hypertension.



There are countless diets, fads and “resources” out there instructing you on the next great way to lose weight. But here at Hatchbuck, we stick to the basics. Our snack closet is full of healthy trail mix, granola bars and oatmeal to keep team Hatchbuck fueled and ready to take on the day.

Use food to power your brain and body by planning ahead of time what and when you will eat during the day. Limit sugar and saturated fats and choose more natural options instead. Instead of reaching for a handful of M&Ms, grab some nuts and sunflower seeds and chase it with a glass of pomegranate juice. Your brain and body will reward you with a more productive and energetic day.