Brain Fuel for GMAT Prep

Preparing for the GMAT is like training for competition. Get tips from Olympic gold medalist Garrett Weber-Gale on which food you need to power through your studies.

This is a guest post by Dr. Ajay Amar, Founder and President of Austin GMAT Review

I confess: sometimes I have chomped on chips instead of a meal before teaching a GMAT class. No surprise, those are the days that I am wiped out. Junk food isn’t much sustenance for heavy brainwork, and when I see students stumbling in after work without having fueled up, I know it’s going to be a long class for them as well.

Olympic gold medalist Garrett Weber-Gale – a future MBA and entrepreneur – shared some nutrition tips for powering through GMAT prep in a recent Facebook post. The reality is that when you are preparing for the GMAT, you are in training. GMAT preparation requires discipline along with your will to succeed. Your gold medal is admission to your dream MBA program, so go for it!

Garrett, the founder of AthleticFoodie, seriously practices what he preaches. “Through many years of competing as a world-class athlete, I’ve realized the dramatic difference good nutrition plays in my physical performance and mental focus," he said. "I took the same approach when I began my class with Dr. Amar at Austin GMAT Review. I knew I would need all the help I could get in order to raise my score, so I leaned on my nutrition knowledge to help me gain an edge."

Whether you are taking a GMAT class or studying for GMAT on your own, I think that Garrett’s suggestions for brain fuel will work for you, too (It’s working for me).

1. Don’t try to get through GMAT studies with a big soda, fast food and a candy bar.

Garrett warns: “Spiking your blood sugar with junk food will only provide short-lived energy followed by a dramatic dip in energy – not what you want. Your brain needs long-burning fuels that can help you push through a three-hour class. “

2. Prepare food ahead of time (or pick something up) that mixes carbohydrates, proteins, and veggies with lots of colors.

Garrett’s suggestions:

  • Carbohydrates: Rice, pasta, couscous, bread, bagels, crackers, pita and hummus.
  • Protein: Meats, fish, tofu, beans, tempeh, soy and quinoa.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, red bell peppers, celery, beets, radish, kale, mushroom, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, snap peas and green beans.

“The more colors you eat, the greater variety of nutrients you’re taking in.”

3. Go ahead and snack

"You can’t expect your brain to perform with great clarity when it’s straining for several hours without being properly refueled,” says Garrett. “Definitely snack during the break, but don’t be afraid to nibble on some foods throughout the class, too. Your body and mind are not like a car – you can’t just fill up when you’re on empty and expect the same level of performance.”

Garrett’s suggestions include:

Wheat Thins, tortilla chips, cashews, string cheese, whole-wheat bread with almond butter and blueberry jam, hummus with carrots and snap peas, banana, apple, blueberries, prunes, dark chocolate, orange slices, almonds and lightly salted popcorn.

4. Drink wisely before and during your GMAT studies.

Hydration also plays a role in performance. Garrett recommends: “Try to start the hydration process before arriving at class, so that your body is functioning at a relatively high level before you even begin the learning process. Hydration helps increase blood flow, and you need blood flow to help your brain perform at maximum output!”

Garrett’s suggestions:

Water, tea, lemonade, low-sugar juices and electrolyte waters (avoid sugary drinks).

5. Approach GMAT preparation with athletic discipline

Garrett, who pushed his GMAT score up by 130 points in a single month (don't try that at home, kids), says that lots of little things contribute to achieveing good nutrition and study. "Achieving a goal requires doing a lot of little things right, and the GMAT is no different," he says.

"Showing up to class, doing the homework problems, reviewing the questions you got wrong, getting good sleep and fueling for success will all play a significant role in your ability to reach your desired GMAT score.

"Remember, good nutrition is simple; just take a few minutes to plan out what you’re going to eat. Be confident that the little effort it takes to make the right choices will make a big difference in your score.”

Austin GMAT Review is the premier GMAT preparation company in Texas, offering structured GMAT courses to professionals preparing to enter full-time MBA or executive MBA programs. Austin GMAT Review caters to busy professionals who don't have the time to sort through masses of generic study materials. Meeting with an experienced professor face-to-face in limited-size GMAT classes, students receive the personalized coaching that they need and strategies to excel on the GMAT.

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