SamKnows is now part of Cisco | Learn more

Food to fuel your workday

In recognition of National Wellness month, we had our very own Fatima, who also happens to be a nutrition specialist, share advice on the kinds of food that are helpful to eat during your workday to stay energised and nourished. Here’s what we learnt.

Our brain requires fuel throughout the day

Fatima explains that your brain works hard 24/7. No breaks or holidays. You use it to think or move. Even to breathe. And while you’re asleep. This means your brain needs a constant supply of fuel. In this instance fuel means food, and the type of food you choose to eat can make a big difference.

- - - - - - -

So what should you eat?

Complex carbs are key

What is a complex carb you might ask? Food examples include wholegrains, legumes (e.g. beans, chickpeas etc), and starch and non-starchy vegetables. The reason these are good for keeping your brain working is that they take longer to digest and are a more stable source of energy than simple carbohydrates (e.g. sugar). They also have other benefits such as protecting brain cells and feeding good bacteria to your gut. 

Healthy fats (not all fat is bad)

Some people stay away from fatty foods. But there are some fats that should be included in a healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of our brain for learning and memory. You can find omega-3 in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna or if you’re a vegetarian you can try foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds or chia seeds.

While you should try to limit saturated foods such as butter (how sad) and coconut oil, you should include monounsaturated fats in your diet. These fats can be linked to intelligence (all bosses will want you eating these!) and can be found in things like olive oil, avocados and nuts. Yum!

Proteins aren’t just meat

You can find proteins in legumes and nuts as well as fish, meat and eggs. Proteins are important for neurotransmitters that send messages to the brain. And what does that mean? Well, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that your body can't function without. Their job is to carry chemical signals (“messages”) from one neuron (nerve cell) to the next target cell.

Vitamins & Minerals (not only the ABC kind)

Have you ever heard of choline? Me neither. But it’s really important as it helps your brain and nervous system by regulating memory and muscle control and other things too. Eggs, peanuts and beans are sources of choline.

Do you ever feel anxious, stressed, or lethargic? Then eating foods containing vitamin B12 can help you feel right again. Such foods could be fish, meat, fortified plant milk, soy products and cereals.

Water, water, water!

And don’t forget to drink. Our bodies are made of 60% water, yet the majority of people don’t drink enough. 37% of people mistake thirst for hunger (I think I may be one of those people!) But the good thing is that water can be consumed as tea, sugar free drinks, low fat milk, and of course water.

- - - - - - -

How often should you eat?

Fatima advises three main meals and two snacks throughout the day. As the old saying goes, the recommendation is to eat like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch and a Pauper for dinner. Having snacks between meals. That should keep your brain working and your energy levels up.

- - - - - - -

How to make Fatima’s Protein Energy Balls 

Here’s the ingredients you need to make 18 balls:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of nut butter (e.g peanut or almond)
  • 1/4 cup of honey (Or: Agave or maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds

And why not add one or more of these:

  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon of almond flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of dried fruits (e.g cranberries)
  • A dash of cinnamon

Here are the steps to make them:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine all the main ingredients and your chosen optional (or all) ingredients.
  • Use a wooden spoon or fork to mix well.
  • Scoop the mixture using a spoon, cookie scoop or hands to roll into a smooth ball, then transfer into a tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  • Serve immediately or store the energy balls in the fridge/freezer in an airtight container.


  • Adjust the ingredients to your preference.
  • For more protein, add protein powder.

Once ready, ENJOY! But don’t eat them all at once :)

Thank you Fatima!