Don’t fool yourself, fuel yourself!

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.” Orson Welles.

Many people perform at work despite what they eat and drink. You don’t need a masters degree in nutrition, but you do need some basic knowledge and a plan.

Reading time: 5 minutes

What goes on

If there’s one area where people choose to underperform it’s in what they eat and drink. Common sense it not commonly applied.

Research consistently tells us that energy and blood sugar levels impact things like concentration, decision making and mood. And we’re pretty sure your own experience reinforces those research findings.

Yet lots of people fuel themselves with unhelpful things, at the wrong times, or not at all.

Five performance truths

The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know

  1. What you eat and drink affects how you perform. So if you want to be as good as you can be, you’ll be taking this part of your preparation pretty seriously.
  2. You don’t need to be an expert. Too much information is not helpful, and there is too much information.
  3. Eat regularly. Not too much. Not too late. Little and often keeps good quality energy readily available for your brain and body.
  4. Restrictive diets are not the answer. The high performance diet works back from when energy is needed. It fuels you with what you need to think well and perform at your best.
  5. What works for you works for you. You’re unique. We all have different tastes, needs and responses to food and drink. What’s right for your friend or colleague may not be right for you.

Three things to do

  1. Be sensible! Find simple rules that work for you. Seriously, that’s it.
  2. High performance diets match energy intake to performance needs. Think about the energy you need when and work back from there. Plan what you need to eat and when you’ll need to eat it. Choose to relax your rules at the right times.
  3. Watch what you eat and drink. Observe your response. Take notice of what works well for you and what doesn’t. Learn to regulate yourself. Above all choose mindfully.


Alistair’s story

Alistair is pretty typical. When he was younger he could eat and drink pretty much anything he wanted. He found that with the energy of youth he could operate just fine at the level he needed to. He never made the link between what he eats and drinks, and his performance. As he got busier, at work and in his life away from work, he found himself increasingly skipping breakfast or lunch. He found he got hungry, so would snack from a vending machine. Generally he got into poor habits and made poor choices. He started to put on weight and work and home life seemed more of an effort. In the evenings this made him sluggish and more inclined to sit watching TV where he watched adverts for more food and often dozed off before bedtime!

Alistair’s trigger to eating better was activity. Encouraged by other’s stories he started walking more and re-started Jujitsu, which he got back into having given up when he left university. He started thinking more about what he was eating. He realised he’d got into some very bad habits. Despite being bombarded by sometimes conflicting information he changed his diet. He started eating less, snacking more healthily and cutting down on large, late evening meals. He took control. He not only felt healthier but more alert, more energetic and actually more alive! Small changes, gradually, made a big difference!