Your 9:00 – 5:00 PM is the sacrifice you make to pursue your passion! And this requires greasing the midnight oil, working on an idea you believe will change the lives of many.
Of course, this means neglecting quite a few areas in your own existence which many others would consider priorities – such as your family and friends.
But as odd as it may seem, even though you’re constantly working for you and taking care of your business, you’re not taking care of yourself. Think about it: when was the last time you exercised? And when was the last time you had something green? And no, the green in Mountain Dew doesn’t count.
Pursuing your passion while getting your side hustle on shouldn’t come at the expense of your health and well-being. If you’re neglecting your nutrition, you’re doing yourself a disservice by working at a sub-optimal efficiency. You wouldn’t hire someone to work for you who was sub-par and possessed below-average efficiency, so why let yourself operate in that manner?
Fortunately, a few simple tweaks that can take nutrition for entrepreneurs to the next level, helping you make the most of your creative flashes and allowing you to give your best to your various endeavours.
Drink more Water
Your brain is composed of your ambitious goals and innovative ideas. It’s also composed of nearly 80 percent water.
And even the slightest bit of dehydration can wreak havoc on your cognitive function.
Consequences of dehydration include impaired short-term memory and recall, frequent headaches, fatigue, and dizziness, and an inability to think critically. Good luck writing a successful pitch to land your next big client with those variables working against you.
To combat the undesirable consequences of dehydration, it’s imperative that you ensure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day (and your work night).
To assess your hydration status, monitor the color of your urine each time you use the restroom. Your urine color should resemble “light like lemonade.”
If it’s “dark like apple juice,” then that’s a sign that you need fluids stat. And on the other end of the spectrum, if it’s “clear like water,” that’s a sign you’ve flushed out too many electrolytes—nutrients responsible for retaining water in your body—and will benefit from a salty snack (think pretzels, bread, dairy, or any canned good), or a zero or low-calorie sports drink.
Women should aim for a minimum of 96 ounces of fluids per day, or roughly three-quarters of a gallon. Men should aim for 125 ounces per day, or, roughly one gallon. This goal encompasses all fluids, so yes, your copious amount of coffee does count towards this total.
You’ll be happy to know that as long as you’re drinking enough fluid – which you probably aren’t as of reading this – coffee doesn’t have a dehydrating effect. Of course, you still need to watch your intake for reasons I discuss in more detail below.
- Drink 8 – 12 ounces of water at the start of each meal.
- Carry a water bottle everywhere you go, e.g., in the car, at your desk, at the gym, etc.
- Invest in a bottle that holds at least 24 ounces to reduce the number of times you must fill it up.
Choose Premium Fuel
Your brain is like any muscle in your body. To perform at its best, it requires a constant supply of premium fuel. Once fuel stores dip too low, or when you choose sub-optimal, regular fuel, you (your brain) begins to perform sub-optimally due to fatigue.
And in this case, this means impaired concentration and creativity, headaches, and possibly lightheadedness. But once you choose the correct type of fuel, however, you’d be able to set your creativity and efficiency in cruise control for the hours to come.
Carbohydrates are your brain’s primary fuel source. They can be found in foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes, wraps, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. They can also be found in soda, chips, cookies, candies, and other processed foods.
The type of carbohydrate you choose at each meal or snack, however, can have a drastically different impact on your health, appetite, and energy levels in the hours to come.
Premium carbohydrates are high in fiber. Fiber slows down digestion, which promotes long-lasting energy and keeps your appetite in check. Examples of premium carbohydrates include oats, brown and wild rice, whole-grain bread, pastas, and wraps, fruits, and vegetables.
Regular carbohydrates, on the other hand, are low in fiber, which means they digest quickly, causing a sudden spike and dip in your energy levels, and ultimately a ravenous appetite soon after. Examples include white rice, bread, and wraps, cookies, cakes, candy, soda, and most processed snacks.
By choosing premium fuel every three to four hours you place yourself in a position to have laser-like focus and ample energy to tackle your never-ending to-do list. And even when it’s after dinner and you’re just sitting down to focus on your passion, you’ll have what you need to tackle the next few hours with vigor and excitement, rather than exhaustion.
- Keep premium carbohydrates on hand at home, e.g., oats, brown and wild rice, quinoa, fruits, and vegetables.
- Snack on premium carbohydrates, e.g., oats, high-fiber cereal bars (5+ grams of fiber), fruit, vegetables.
- Start each day with a premium carbohydrate, e.g., oats, whole grain bread or bagel, fruit.
Cut Caffeine 6 hours before Bed
Caffeine makes the world go around and can often be the reason many successful entrepreneurs were finally able to kick their day job in pursing their passion full-time. However, it can also be a double-edged sword. That’s because caffeine remains in your body roughly six hours.
So, when you start another pot of coffee at 10:00 PM, that means your veins are coursing with caffeine well into the middle of the night. And although you may be able to fall asleep fine shortly after a cup of coffee, the elevated caffeine levels have a negative impact on your deep (“REM”) sleep levels, which means you never achieve full restoration.
As you can imagine, this can take quite a toll on energy levels and cognitive function in just a few days, ultimately limiting your ability to work effectively and efficiently.
Am I telling you to kick the caffeine?
No. But if you want to approach entrepreneurship for the years to come, it’s in your best interest to cut it out six hours before you plan to go to sleep. And to be frank, if you follow the recommendations above and begin hydrating well and choosing the appropriate carbohydrates, these two behaviors, alongside a burning passion to change the world, should be enough to fuel the night.
- Cut off your coffee intake six hours before your anticipated bed time.
- Focus on hydrating throughout the day and choosing premium carbohydrates to maintain steady energy levels.
Is this all? Of course not. But the three nutrition changes discussed here will be easy to make and offer immediate benefits. Instant gratification – after all that’s what all entrepreneurs really want. Right?
About the Author:
Paul Salter, also known as The Nutrition Tactician, is a Registered Dietitian and founder of TNT University. The past few years Salter has worked 1:1 with over 600 people, helping them to lose thousands of pounds of body fat and build hundreds of pounds of muscle. He also specialises in nutrition for entrepreneurs. Connect with him on Facebook and YouTube.