27 Easy Brain Food Snacks to Boost Your Concentration and MemoryNov 15, 2022
Eating the right foods can support your concentration, memory, focus, creativity, and productivity. But we all know how challenging it can be to make healthy choices when we're trying to keep up with the never-ending demands of daily life.
Finding that balance can make all the difference between staying sharp and productive or exhausting all your mental energy and placing more stress on your mind and body.
The good news is your food has the power to help you stay fed and focused. Let’s explore 27 brain food snacks to help you fuel clear thinking throughout your day and how to make them a no-brainer when you’re tired and hungry.
Choosing brain food snacks over processed snacks
When you opt for healthy brain food snacks over donuts, you’re choosing to preserve your energy. Low-nutrient options such as potato chips, cookies, pastries, and energy drinks may be appealing when you’re hungry, antsy, and need something quickly.
But that easy-to-grab option will drain your energy before your next meal arrives, leaving you reaching for more.
Not to mention regularly consuming processed foods and snacks can hinder your focus, weaken your immune system, and increase anxiety levels making your day even harder.
To combat the urge to reach for the easy-to-grab-but-highly-processed “foods” we must be smart about setting ourselves up for success with a list of go-to options that prove just as easy and even more satisfying than their energy-draining counterparts.
Preparing brain food snacks ahead of time can increase your success in choosing them when you’re tired and hungry.
Set yourself up for success with the best snacks for energy and focus
Nourishing your body with adequate brain foods means you must have healthy options on hand. Here are some tips to make brain-healthy snacking a breeze:
- Prioritize fruits and veggies
- Plan for prep time
- Find your favorites
- Stock up on nuts
- Balance your snacks
- Stay ahead of your hunger
Prioritize fruits and vegetables
Fresh produce should not only appear in your meals. Fruits and vegetables create the best brain food snacks, especially when you know exactly how to pair them to stay fed and focused.
Plan for prep time
Spending 30 minutes to an hour per week washing, chopping, and prepping fresh food options can save you so much time throughout the week while making brain food snacks more accessible.
Find your favorites
You don’t have to constantly reinvent the snacking wheel to be successful with incorporating more brain food snacks. Find your favorites, try variations of them and keep them on hand as an easy go-to when you need some fuel.
Stock up on nuts
Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts provide you with a satiating healthy fat option to pair with ready-to-go fresh fruits and vegetables for a smart and satisfying snack.
Balance your snacks
Choosing high-carbohydrate snacks won’t lead to sustainable energy. Balance your brain food snacks with the proper macronutrients to keep you fed and focused.
Macronutrients or “macros” are the building blocks of your diet aka protein, carbs, and fats. Macros give you the energy to work, stay focused, exercise, and for your body to function properly to keep you going. They also keep your blood sugar in check and help you sustain your energy.
Balancing your snacks means being mindful that you’re pairing foods together that meet your energy needs.
Stay ahead of your hunger
Waiting until you’re already ravenous may lead to more impulsivity when you reach the pantry, the café, or at the vending machines. Stay ahead of your hunger and plan wisely. If you know you’re always antsy for a snack at 11 AM, have something packed or ready to grab and avoid the hangry urge to grab for the first thing in sight.
27 Brain Food Snacks to Fuel Energy and Focus
To provide you with the most valuable list of brain food snacks, I’ve divided snacks recommendations into categories:
- Lighter brain food snacks
- Make ahead brain food snacks
- Convenience brain food snacks
- Heartier brain food snacks
Let’s dive in!
Lighter Brain Food Snacks
Easy to whip up in 5-minutes or less, these lighter brain food snacks will deliver energy and focus without bogging you down.
- Fresh berries and nuts
Blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries have been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of neurological disease. Pair fresh berries with the healthy fats from almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds for a supercharged snack.
- Apple and nut butter
One of my favs – an apple and nut butter can squash hunger and give you the energy boost you need. Adding in creamy, all-natural almond butter will also give you some protein and vitamin E.
Aim to find nut butter that is minimally processed and doesn't contain palm oil. Once Again Creamy Almond Butter is a great option.
- Veggie sticks and hummus
Veggie sticks are easy to prep or to find already prepared options. Hummus is nutrient-dense and fiber-rich, which can help keep you fuller for longer while aiding in your gut health and regularity.
- Raw nuts
Nuts of all kinds are rich in vitamin E, which may help protect your brain against age-related decline. They’re also a good source of hunger-crushing healthy fats. Be mindful of your intake, as nuts are high in calories, and about a quarter cup or a small handful makes a great snack.
- Fresh veggies and salsa
Ditch the chips, or at least lessen the number of chips by subbing in veggies. Tomato-rich salsa is a great source of lycopene, which plays a role in keeping your brain focused. Add carrots or pepper strips for crunch and an extra dose of vitamins.
- Whole grain crackers and veggies
Top whole grain crackers with sliced veggies, avocados, and seeds for a balanced brain food snack. Pepitas, hemp, sunflower, and chia seeds all provide great texture while satisfying hunger and packing in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Try these Back to Nature crackers:
- Modernized Ants on a Log
Not only will you get the nostalgia of old-school ants on a log, but you’ll reap the brain health benefits of pairing celery, which is good for hydration and a little fiber, with filling nut butter.
Get creative with your toppings. Raisins, goji berries, flax, chia, and sunflower seeds all add great texture and have brain-boosting benefits.
- Guacamole and veggie dippers
Avocados are loaded with brain-healthy fats to keep you fueled and focused. Prep some guacamole for easy grabbing or try a premade store-bought option. Many brands have mini-guac cups that offer single-sized servings that are perfect for snacking.
- Avocado toast
Keep it simple and delicious. Top a slice of toast with sliced or mashed avocado then add sea salt or everything but the bagel seasoning and enjoy.
Brain Food Snacks to Make Ahead of Time
- Hard-boiled eggs
Make a habit of keeping easy-to-grab hard-boiled eggs prepped and ready in your fridge. Eggs provide you with a hunger-crushing protein, a healthy dose of fats, and cognitive-boosting choline that can improve memory and learning.
- Muffin pan egg bites
A fun twist on a classic food that is as easy as it is delicious. Muffin pan egg bites offer you protein and another chance for adding in more filling and nutritious veggies.
Check out these muffin egg bite recipes.
- Roasted and seasoned nuts
For a twist on raw nuts, try roasting your nuts with seasonings for a deeper flavor and irresistible crunch. You can find recipes in these brain food cookbooks, featuring garlic and curry-snacking almonds – yum.
- Chia seed pudding
Chia seeds are loaded with nutrients and fiber to support your gut health and your brain. They’re easy to make, fun to eat, and highly customizable for different flavors and variations that crush your cravings.
Check out this easy Chia Pudding recipe.
Convenience Brain Food Snacks
When time is tight, these convenient but better-for-you store-bought snack options will give you what you need to keep going.
These super seed crackers are hearty and pack in the benefits of pumpkin, sunflower, and poppy seeds for added protein and delicious flavor. They also come in several variations including:
- Everything crackers
- Classic crackers
- Basil garlic crackers
- Rosemary crackers – these are my personal favorite!
Goji berries are rich in antioxidant benefits for your brain. They are also an easy and delicious snack.
Don’t knock them until you try them. Seaweed is a great source of plant-based omega-3s and serves as a natural source of iodine. These wafer-like seaweed snacks are fun to eat and easy to find in stores.
These crunchy roasted chickpeas are irresistibly good. They are gluten-free, boast 6g of protein and provide natural fiber. My favorite flavors are the Honey Roasted and Rockin’ Ranch, but they also come in Habanero, BBQ, Sea Salt, and Everything.
- This Saves Lives Wild Blueberry Pistachio Bars
Granola bars typically pack in a lot of sugar with some hidden ingredients that make their health claims questionable. But occasionally, a granola bar is easy to grab on the go. This option is nut-filled for nutrients and satiety with less sugar.
These individual trail mix packs are easy to keep in your bag for a boost of energy with omega-3-rich cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
Dehydrated carrot sticks offer all the crunch of a potato chip with less saturated fat.
- Mindright Nootropic Infused Vegan Superfood bars
Mindright bars contain a ‘brain-blend’ of antioxidants and adaptogens to support a happy and healthy mind. They call themselves "good mood, good food" bars. *Be warned, these may make you feel more focused and/or relaxed!
Heartier Brain Food Snacks
Sometimes you need a snack that acts as a mini meal to keep you fed and focused. These heartier snack options will give you the fuel you need to bust hunger and stay in the game.
- Brain-Boosting Smoothie
Check out this list of brain-boosting smoothies full of nutrients you need, without added sugar.
- Veggie Loaded Toast
Sometimes when you’re hungry, your snack needs to be a mini meal to tide you over. Loaded toast is a great option and another powerful vehicle for packing in more veggies, seeds, and brain-healthy spreads like salsa or hummus.
To make a loaded toast:
- Toast a piece of bread, preferably sourdough or whole grain, (I prefer Dave’s Killer Organic)
- Add a spread, hummus, salsa, or guacamole
- Top with sliced veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, or onions
- Sprinkle with seeds, hemp, sunflower, chia, and flax – be creative
- Loaded Toast with Salmon
Take the loaded toast option from above and top with salmon. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been known to optimize brain function, boost memory and preserve cognition. Aim for wild-caught sustainable options.
- Salmon and whole grain crackers
If you enjoy the salmon and whole grain toast combo, switch it up for some whole crackers or a whole grain tortilla for the same brain-boosting and hunger-crushing benefits.
- Make a “side salad”
Ditch the idea that salads can only debut at lunch and opt for a snack-sized, nutrient-dense salad as a snack. It’s a great way to pack in the veggies and fuel without feeling overly full. Try building a basic but satisfying mini salad in these easy steps:
- Pick a base, I prefer kale for the brainy benefits and because it’s hearty enough to keep its crunch, even with salad dressing on it
- Add some sliced veggies – carrots, cucumbers, green onions
- Add nuts or seeds
- Eat some soup
While soup may not typically come into mind when you’re considering a snack, it’s a great way to tide you over between meals and add some effortless veggies to your day. Try meal-prepping a big batch of soup and refrigerate it or freeze it in serving-sized bowls for easy reheating when you need a little something. Soup is an especially cozy choice in the fall and winter.
Try these delicious soup recipes:
Of course, if you don’t like to cook or know you won’t have time, canned options can work, too.
Recap on Brain Food Snacks
The best snacks for energy and focus are the ones that work for you. Aim to make a habit of eating healthier snack options over highly processed foods that steal your mental energy.
*This article is not meant to be clinical nutrition advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider about any diet-related concerns. This article contains affiliate links.