Tired. Stressed. Nervous. You’ve spent hours upon hours of preparation for tomorrow’s MCAT. You’ve got your pencils sharpened, test ticket printed out, and your stack of flashcards ready for review. In the midst of all the preparation for tomorrow, you’ve forgotten one thing: food! The phrase “you are what you eat” is ever so important, especially for the MCAT, since you want to be in the best shape for the seven and a half hours of intense mental concentration. Here are four tips to satisfy your grumbling stomach for the MCAT.
Think low-refined carbs and high protein
On test day, eat a healthy, balanced breakfast that is full of wholesome grains and proteins that will keep you energized and alert throughout the exam. Even if you don’t eat breakfast normally, this is the day to have something to eat because as your MCAT studies have reminded you, your body needs glucose and protein to function! Consider eating oatmeal with fresh fruit, nuts, and milk. Try out scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast and fruit. You don’t want everyone else in the testing room to hear your stomach growl.
Don’t load up on caffeine and sugar before the exam
Yes, it’s a seven-and-a-half-hour exam and you need the extra brain power, but stocking up on tons of caffeine or high-sugar foods might make you too unfocused and might lead to a mental crash later in the test. If you usually drink caffeinated or sugary beverages in the morning, then continue with your regular routine; if not, don’t introduce new foods or drinks into your body if you don’t know how your body responds to them.
Bring snacks that will keep you sustained throughout the test
Again, foods high in protein and low in refined carbs are crucial to reenergizing your brain, so pack light, nutritious snacks and drinks such as nuts and granola, grapes, yogurt, veggies, crackers with hummus, and bottles of water. Avoid eating lots of sugary treats like chocolate that could follow up with an energy crash in the middle of your exam.
For the 30-minute break, you can use the time to eat lunch. Avoid eating greasy, energy-rich foods that take longer to digest and absorb its nutrients. With a heavy meal, you can act sluggish and will struggle to focus a.k.a. the food coma. You want the energy now instead of two hours later.