Talking productivity – staying productive for work

So you might have seen our infographic for the most productive hours of the day. Although the best times to be productive differs by age, gender and industry, there are ways to counter our less productive hours of the day.

We brought in London nutritionist Alice Mackintosh to give us her top tips on food that will improve memory, help you stay alert, focused and energised.

There are four main points she made:

  1. Keep your blood sugar balanced
  2. Watch what sugars you should take and avoid
  3. 6 types of food that are great for the mind
  4. Stay hydrated

Keeping your blood sugar balanced

It’s so important to keep your energy balanced. This means eating three meals a day – and not skipping breakfast. It’s true what they say, breakfast is the most important part of the day so it’s one not to be missed.

Replacing carbs with protein was a great tip Alice gave. This is a great way to replace those white carbs that we all know and love with protein that we like. This could be meat, fish, hummus, nuts, seeds, eggs, tofu, edamame, cottage cheese etc.

So what do you have for breakfast? Here are some good examples of an ideal breakfast:

  • Porridge with berries and chopped nuts/seeds
  • Overnight oats
  • Almond butter and banana on rye bread
  • Eggs on rye bread
  • Smoked salmon with cream cheese on a wholemeal bagel
  • Lean and unsmoked bacon and avocado sandwich

Oh and coffee. Most of us love having coffee in the morning. Although it spikes blood sugar, it’s not too bad if you’re having water as well (and not using it as a meal replacement!). It is useful for stimulating the mind, but you shouldn’t have more than one or two a day if you want to stay productive as it leads to dips in energy. Replacements could be green tea, matcha (containing a slow release of caffeine that also helps you stay focused) or ginseng.

When it comes to snacking, it’s actually good to eat every 3-4 hours as this will prevent low blood pressure. So what are good snacks? Complex carbs and protein. This would be:

  • Nuts and seeds (raw, unsalted) – almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Almost butter sachets
  • Edamame beans
  • Avocado on oat cakes
  • Miso soup
  • Or if you’re on the go – protein pots form Itsu, Pret, Pod, Vital Ingredient etc


So it turns out that small bag of crisps or sweets is not the way to satisfy the 3pm lull.  All it would do is lead to a spike in blood sugar which will end in dips in energy, concentration and mood. So contrary to what we want to believe, it won’t help you or your productivity when you choose the wrong sugars.

Good replacements are natural products such as:

  • Fruits with less sugar content – apples, pears, Kiwis, and berries
  • Nut butter sachets – almost butter, peanut butter, cashew butter
  • Natural sugars – coconut sugar/nectar, date syrup
  • Fruit purees
  • Berries with Greek yoghurt

Six of the best brain foods

So what’s best for your brain?

  1. Walnuts – contains omega 3, Protein, Magnesium and B6
  2. Salmon (and crab) – contains protein, omega 3 and astaxanthan which has been proven to support memory
  3. Pecans – contains choline and synthesize acetylcholine for concentration
  4. Eggs – contains Vitamin B, D and protein for slow release of energy
  5. Dark red/purple berries – contains antioxidants that improves memory and supports circulation throughout the brain
  6. Beetroot – contains nitric oxide, which aids circulation to the whole body and nervous system


There’s a lot to be learnt from staying hydrated (literally, because it helps with memoir and concentration). If you let your body become dehydrated, there’s a whole list of negative effects that it produces; low energy, mood, bad headaches, poor concentration and memory.

As tough as it may be for some, we need to aim for 2.5-3 litres per day. Although the majority should be water, herbal teas, soups and juices still count. And quite interestingly, you should sip, not gulp your water so it doesn’t flush straight through you.