What you eat affects your energy and alertness.

IT’S HALF-PAST 12 ON A WEDNESDAY,month-end, and it feels as though your office walls are about to squash you. You’re overtired and stressed. In a couple of hours you have to present a budget to your company’s financial director and you’re feeling way out of your depth. Don’t pull the plug and hit the road, what you have for lunch can bust your stress, lift your mood and help you ace the presentation.

Here are Men’s Health nutrition editor, Megan Pentz-Kluyts’s, suggestions:

Wholegrain Bread

According to Pentz-Kluyts, it only counts if the coarse grains are visible in the bread.“Wholegrain bread is a low glycaemic index choice and therefore tends to keep you fuller for longer,” she says. It also helps control blood sugar levels as it promotes the slow release of sugar into the blood. Steady blood sugar helps drop cortisol levels, and it’s wise to avoid things that raise this “stress-hormone that stimulates fat storage around your middle”. It can raise your blood pressure and leads to an increased risk of heart disease.”

Lean Beef

“It’s one of the best sources of iron,” says Pentz-Kluyts, “and iron is needed to carry oxygen to the brain cells and to make brain neurotransmitters, especially the ones that regulate the ability to pay attention.” Beef is also rich in vitamin B12, which aids your thinker-functioning and the nervous system. “Studies show that low levels of vitamin B12 in the diet can lead to poor memory and irritability,” she adds.


Cow juice contains an amino acid called tryptophan, but don’t bother remembering the name, just know you need it. According to Pentz-Kluyts it helps your brain produce serotonin. “Milk is also very high in calcium and B-vitamins, which help to build your bones and are needed for normal communication among nerve cells and for muscle contraction. All vital in supporting the body during anxiety and panic.” Some research indicates that dietary calcium may help lower blood pressure, which can be raised during times of anxiety. The added bonus is that it’s also high in protein, and protein also helps blood sugar remain stable. Opt for low fat or fat free


Not only will you make Popeye proud and build enough strength to beat off Bluto (don’t quote us on that), but you get some folate into your body. “Folate may boost concentration and help combat depression, irritability and forgetfulness,” says Pentz-Kluyts.


Yes, another reason to dig into the good stuff. “But eat moderately,” warns Pentz- Kluyts. And stick to the darker varieties. “Not only does it boost serotonin, but chocolate also supplies large amounts of epicatechin, which enhances blood flow to your brain.