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This Is Exactly What You Should Be Eating At Exam Time

While you're studying, the night before your exam, and just before you take that test.

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We asked two nutrition experts to tell us the best things to eat in the lead up to exams.

Susie Burrell is a Sydney-based dietician and nutritionist, and Tim Crowe is an associate professor at Deakin University's School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.

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When studying stick to meals and snacks that contain carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.

Low-GI carbs provide long-lasting, sustainable energy. Wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice, chickpeas, sweet potato, and wholemeal pasta all fall under this classification.
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Low-GI carbs provide long-lasting, sustainable energy. Wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice, chickpeas, sweet potato, and wholemeal pasta all fall under this classification.

When making study snacks that will actually help you concentrate, combine one of these low-GI carbs with a lean protein.

"Wholegrain cereal with milk, toast with eggs, and crackers with tuna or cheese are all excellent options," says Burrell.
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"Wholegrain cereal with milk, toast with eggs, and crackers with tuna or cheese are all excellent options," says Burrell.

When it comes to planning your meals, it's a good idea to eat a plate of "rainbow vegetables" every day.

"Studying burns a surprisingly high number of calories, so your diet needs to be based around slowly-digested wholegrain carbs and nutrient rich foods, including brightly coloured vegetables," says Burrell. Adding as many different coloured vegetables to your plate as possible is a pretty easy way to make sure you're getting enough nutrients to fuel your brain and body.
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"Studying burns a surprisingly high number of calories, so your diet needs to be based around slowly-digested wholegrain carbs and nutrient rich foods, including brightly coloured vegetables," says Burrell. Adding as many different coloured vegetables to your plate as possible is a pretty easy way to make sure you're getting enough nutrients to fuel your brain and body.

If you can, try to avoid high-sugar snacks like banana bread, muffins, and chocolate.

While these foods will give you an energy boost, it won't last long and you'll likely crash an hour or two after eating.
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While these foods will give you an energy boost, it won't last long and you'll likely crash an hour or two after eating.

Swap coffee for herbal tea in the afternoon, as too much caffeine can mess with your sleeping patterns.

"While coffee can be a better choice for some people at times, caffeine can affect your sleep, which is when your brain should be recovering from a day of studying," says Crowe. "Black and green tea are both much lower in caffeine than coffee."
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"While coffee can be a better choice for some people at times, caffeine can affect your sleep, which is when your brain should be recovering from a day of studying," says Crowe. "Black and green tea are both much lower in caffeine than coffee."

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The night before your exam, a dinner with carbs and a serving of lean protein will help you wake up with energy.

A chicken stir-fry with brown rice, grilled salmon with sweet potato, spaghetti bolognese, and a homemade burrito are all ideal meals.
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A chicken stir-fry with brown rice, grilled salmon with sweet potato, spaghetti bolognese, and a homemade burrito are all ideal meals.

Before bed, avoid any foods that are high in sugar or fat. Things like pizza, creamy pasta, cakes, and biscuits will all mess with your sleep and leave you feeling lethargic in the morning.

It's sad but it's true.
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It's sad but it's true.

If you do want ~something sweet~ for dessert, opt for a small amount of chocolate, Greek yoghurt, or a warm milk-based drink.

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When it comes to your pre-exam breakfast, look back to that magic combination of low-GI carbs and lean proteins, but feel free to add even more protein this time.

"Protein foods will keep your mind more alert," says Crowe.
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"Protein foods will keep your mind more alert," says Crowe.

And if you have two exams in the one day, make sure you take some bananas along with you.

"Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, so they're great for energy production," says Burrell. They're also super easy to chuck in your bag with your notes.
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"Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, so they're great for energy production," says Burrell. They're also super easy to chuck in your bag with your notes.

Good luck out there, everyone!

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