How to Crush the ACT Test with a Healthy and Delicious Breakfast.
When it comes to getting a great score on the ACT Test, students want to gain every advantage that they can. After all, our college and scholarship acceptance chances - and possibly our whole life - depend on our ACT scores, right?
In the effort to get higher ACT scores, most students focus on strategies and skills. But not enough students consider the whole picture when it comes to testing tactics.
And, the breakfast you choose to eat before the test is of the keys to feeling energetic and focused.
A healthy and well-balanced breakfast starts you on the right foot to a confident test day and a new high score on the ACT. On the other hand, an unhealthy breakfast (or forgetting to eat at all!) will leave you sluggish and tired. It’s hard to test well when you’re hungry, bloated, or stomach-achey.
Here’s the good news: as a professional ACT prep tutor, I’ve worked with hundreds of high school students across dozens of testing dates. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about what foods are good and bad to eat for breakfast before you take the ACT.
If you’re trying to ace the ACT, I’d like to share some of my best observations with you in this article. So, read on to learn more about the best tricks for breakfast on the morning of the ACT test!
Reasons to Eat a Healthy Breakfast Before the ACT Test.
So, a good breakfast will get us higher scores and a happy, confident performance on the ACT test. What are a few reasons that make this trick so effective?
- Food for your brain: A good breakfast provides sustainable, long-term energy for ACT testing. Healthy calories give your brain the fuel it needs to perform.
- Fuel for your body: With a healthy breakfast in your stomach, you’ll be free of distracting hunger pains. Your head, heart, and hands will be running at maximum efficiency. A healthy body strengthens the powers of a healthy mind.
- Increased focus and stamina: A good breakfast before the ACT gives you the mental and physical stamina it takes to stay focused for four hours of rigorous testing. Try that on an empty stomach!
- Save time in the morning: Many healthy breakfasts can be quick and easy to prepare for the morning of the ACT test.
So, we agree on the importance of a healthy breakfast before taking the ACT. But what are you supposed to do about it, exactly?
Well, coming up in the next section, we’ll cover some of the best, healthiest, and brain-smartiest foods to eat for breakfast on the morning of the ACT test. With this guide in hand, you’ll be ready to start cooking up a gourmet menu for your ACT prep. Read on!
Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast Before the ACT Test.
You may already some favorite healthy foods in mind to eat on the morning of the ACT test. I know I do! Breakfast is one of my favorite meals.
Don’t have anything specific in mind? Here are some great ideas:
- Low-fat yogurt. Add fresh fruit to make it extra-tasty!
- Eggs, however you like them. A great source of protein and energy.
- Oatmeal (not the sugary kind, though) – include raisins, nuts, or a bit of brown sugar and butter.
- Fresh fruit like strawberries, bananas, apples, or grapes.
- Healthy cereal (not the sugary kinds!)
- Toast or bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter – loaded with energy, and delicious. Be sure to supplement with protein, though.
- Leftovers like last night’s chicken pasta – use your favorite leftovers for easy, complete breakfasts you don’t have to make in the morning!
None of these strike your taste buds the right way? Then, here’s a breakfast option that always works: simply eat what you normally eat in the morning! Just do your best to cut down any excess sugar or grease. And, try to mix in a bit of extra healthy food options with your normal stuff (see below).
Eat a Variety of Foods for Maximum Mental Benefits.
If you really want the maximum benefit of a healthy breakfast before the ACT, then you should eat a good mix of foods!
The way I think of it is that every healthy food you eat has certain specific benefits. Some foods fill you up without making you feel stuffed and lazy. Others make you feel especially clear-headed and focused.
For example, eating fresh fish or sushi makes me feel smart, healthy, and full. Dried nuts, like almonds or cashews, are great at curing my hunger even when I can only carry a small handful with me. And, fresh berries taste like a delicious dessert, but don’t give me a sugar crash like cakes or candies.
So, mix and match your breakfast on the morning of the ACT to get a well-rounded blend of mental and physical benefits.
Try combining some fresh fruit and nuts, scrambled eggs with salt and pepper, a couple of slices of low-fat maple turkey bacon, and a cold glass of refreshing ice water. This makes a quick and easy breakfast that will put your brain in a powerful, clear-minded state for test-taking.
You can also mix up what you bring as a snack to the ACT test. Try a snack mix of fresh strawberries, almonds, and beef jerky with a bottled water. You won’t have to carry much weight, but your snack food will pack a punch. The beef jerky will give you strength and energy, while the almonds will sharpen your mind. Strawberries will be the perfect desert!
Try including a small taste of food in your breakfast that you know is healthy, but that you don’t usually eat. For example, a kale salad might be unusual for you, but these leafy greens are incredibly healthy and good for your brain.
So, ask your mom or dad if they can make you something like that with your breakfast! Just a small taste - in case you don’t like it. But, the taste of a new food will help wake your brain up in the morning, and you’ll round out your nutritional benefits as well.
Breakfast Foods to Avoid Before the ACT Test…
Just like some breakfast foods are a smart choice before the ACT, other foods are a really dumb choice.
I mean it literally! Certain types of breakfast foods will make you feel mentally sluggish and unfocused.
Sugary foods are often branded as breakfast foods (think Pop Tarts, high-sugar cereals and oatmeal, and syrups). But, are sugary foods like these really the best options for breakfast before the ACT test?
The answer, of course, is “not really.” Sugary foods will give you a quick burst of energy - great! Unfortunately, this burst will be followed by a drop-off as your energy and focus levels crash.
I’m no health scientist, so I can’t explain the exact digestive facts that cause this. But, that doesn’t make the sugar-crash effect any less real.
Sugary and high-fat foods before the ACT are never the best idea. Here are some common breakfast foods to avoid:
- Sugary breakfast cereals.
- Super-sweet instant oatmeal.
- Pancakes and waffles with lots of syrup.
- Pop-Tarts, cinnamon rolls, and other pastries.
- Orange juice – has a lot of sugar, and it makes many people’s stomachs hurt due to its high acidity.
- Bacon, sausage, and other high-fat meats – these breakfast meats can be oily and greasy, which will make your brain and body feel sluggish as your stomach struggles to digest them.
Sometimes, a good diet is more about what you avoid than what you actually eat. The same goes for breakfast on the morning of the ACT test. If you avoid high-sugar and high-fat foods, it will leave more room in your stomach for brainpower foods like nuts, fruits, and balanced proteins and carbs.
Eat Before the ACT Test Even if You Don’t Feel Hungry!
Even if you don’t feel hungry in the morning, it’s important to eat a healthy breakfast before the ACT Test!
For a variety of reasons, you won’t always feel very hungry in the morning. Sometimes when we first wake up on test day, our stomach seems to still be asleep.
It’s possible that your nervousness and stress over the test are just interfering with your digestion. This is totally normal. In times of stress, our bodies tend to shut down the digestive system first (digestion is a complex bodily function that requires a lot of resources).
So, it’s pretty common for students to not have much appetite on the morning of the ACT test.
But, it’s still important to force yourself to eat a bit of healthy breakfast (this is one reason pre-planning your ACT breakfast is a good idea… even when you’re not really hungry and can’t think of what you want to eat, you’ll already have a meal prepared).
Trust me, the nerves of ACT testing day will wear off before too long. You know what the nervousness will be replaced by, about 2 hours into the ACT test? Boredom.
Have you ever noticed how being bored and hungry is one of the worst feelings in the world? Avoid this depressing fate, and force yourself to eat in the morning before the ACT - even if you’re not hungry yet.
Should You Have Coffee or Caffeine Before the ACT Test?
In addition to having a nutritious breakfast before the ACT test, you should also make an intelligent decision about your coffee and caffeine consumption.
Caffeine can be used as a moderate mental stimulant in the morning, and can help you stay alert during the long ACT test.
However, caffeine also has downsides for ACT testing: increased anxiety, racing thoughts, and difficulty focusing.
If you’re not used to the effects of caffeine, it’s not a good idea to use the day of the ACT test to adjust. So, if you don’t normally have caffeine in the mornings, you should not drink extra coffee on the morning of the ACT.
Likewise, if you usually depend on coffee to get you going in the morning, you should have your normal dose of caffeine before the ACT test. Otherwise you may feel sluggish and sleepy. That feeling of exhaustion will hurt your ACT score.
So, I recommend making your normal, everyday choices regarding the use of caffeine on the morning of the ACT test. If you normally drink three cups of black coffee at breakfast, then stick to your routine. Likewise, if you almost never drink caffeine, then don’t use any on the morning of the ACT.
A third alternative for the morning of the ACT test would be to have some hot green tea, which has a very small amount of caffeine. It’s a beverage that’s also associated with other positive mental and emotional benefits.
Those of us who love our morning coffee will swear by the benefits of caffeine for challenging mental tasks like SAT and ACT testing. However, many people use caffeine in small amounts, or not at all. The choice is yours! Figure out what works best for you, and then stick to your normal caffeine routine on the morning of the real ACT test.
Now, You Can Plan a Great Breakfast for Your Next ACT Test.
I hope I’ve convinced you that it’s important to plan out a healthy and filling breakfast on the morning of the ACT test!
We’ve covered some of the key reasons that your breakfast matters so much before you take a grueling, high-stakes test. Then, I gave some of my favorite ideas for easy foods that you can use for a healthy breakfast.
We also covered some breakfast foods that you should definitely avoid on the morning of the ACT. These included sugary and greasy foods that will slow down your brain and make your body feel sluggish.
I explained why I think it’s so important for you to eat something before the ACT, even if you’re not hungry. Eventually, the boredom of test-taking will set in, and you’ll suddenly realize how empty your stomach truly is.
Finally we examined the pros and cons of having caffeine in the morning of the ACT test. Most likely, the best decision is to go with your normal coffee or tea habit, if you have one.
Your breakfast on the morning of the ACT is important, but not as important as your studies. Make sure you’ve properly prepared for the test - there is a lot to study.
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