Nutrition and Work Performance

How Can Nutrition Affect Your Work Performance?

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When it comes to nutrition, people tend to connect it with general health and body weight only. Reams have been written about proper nutrition to maintain healthy body weight and manage your health well. However, there is a strong link between nutrition and work performance.

Eating habits have a profound impact on your productivity at the workplace and routine tasks. Research has found that people with unhealthy eating habits have a productivity loss of about 66% more than those with healthy eating habits. It also found that poor nutrition leads to 50% more annual sick leaves. Altogether, research has revealed a connection between nutrition and work performance.

Nutrition and Work Performance

Why does nutrition affect work performance?

The body needs the energy to work, which comes from the nutrients supplied by the foods we eat. Food products loaded with the proper amount of nutrients provide high energy levels for longer times compared to foods without the proper levels of nutrients. Proper nutrition enables you to work for longer periods, enhancing your productivity. 

Proper nutrition also positively affects your cognitive functions, thereby making you more alert and focused on your work. For instance, people tend to feel sleepy in the afternoon at work after having a heavy, unhealthy lunch. Thus, the relation between nutrition and work performance can also be seen in your cognitive functions.

Processed food and other unhealthy food items lack essential nutrients. Such a diet causes your mental faculties to weaken, and you cannot think, makes you irritable, increases fatigue, increases stress, and reduces your overall energy levels. All such factors contribute to a decrease in your work productivity. Moreover, bad eating habits cause chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and more, negatively affecting your work performance in the long run. Altogether, the link between improper nutrition and work performance is clear.

How does a healthy diet improve work performance?

There is a positive relationship between proper nutrition and work performance. Proper nutrition comes from a healthy diet. A healthy diet means intake of the right amount of essential nutrients. The essential nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced diet has all such nutrients in the correct quantities.

A healthy diet reduces stress levels. Reduction in stress levels enables you to cope well with your workload and maintain a sound focus on your work. Moreover, healthy eating also pre-empts mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. By preventing mood disorders, you can work more efficiently. 

The essential nutrients provided by a healthy diet keep you physically healthy by maintaining your energy levels at optimum levels, enabling you to work harder. Apart from physical health, the nutrients also improve mental health by enhancing your brain functions and maintaining brain health. 

Consuming the right kind of foods also prevents the onset of chronic diseases, preventing absenteeism from work commonly associated with such conditions. As a result, your work performance is improved.

Thus, a proper diet is necessary to reap the benefits of the link between nutrition and work performance.

Which foods improve your productivity?

Now that you know about the link between nutrition and work performance, it is essential to know about the foods which enhance your productivity.

Carbohydrates, both simple and complex, come among necessary macronutrients. Lack of enough carbohydrates in the body results in a lack of concentration and low energy levels, which translates into low work productivity. To get enough carbohydrates, the diet can include whole grains, brown rice, pasta, and cereals. 

Fruits and vegetables should be a part of your regular diet. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables improve mood and increase your memory capacity. Dopamine production is also increased on a regular diet of fruits and vegetables, improving motivation. Consequently, work productivity improves. Some of the most suitable fruits and vegetables to improve work productivity are as follows.

  • Spinach is a leafy green vegetable rich in iron. It improves the oxygen supply to the tissues and energy levels, resulting in more ability to work harder. 
  • Broccoli is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, improving your focus and sharpening your thinking abilities. 
  • Berries are rich in antioxidants which protect the brain against oxidative damage and degeneration and improve memory and concentration. 
  • Bananas are a rich source of carbohydrates and potassium, which provide high energy to work harder and improve productivity. 

Proteins maintain the tissues and muscles in a robust condition. However, excess intake of protein must be avoided to prevent fat build-up. The diet must provide the correct quantity of protein. Good sources of protein include the following.

  • Nuts and seeds are rich in protein but low on fat which makes them even more beneficial for the body 
  • Eggs are a rich source of proteins 
  • Lentils provide adequate protein and fiber but do not contain trans fat and sodium 
  • Salmon fish provides omega-3 fatty acids, which improve brain functions and increase energy levels 

Which foods decrease your productivity?

A negative relationship exists between improper nutrition and work performance. There are many kinds of food items that not only harm your general health but also decrease your work performance.

Sugary drinks such as soda and soft drinks should be avoided. This is because such beverages increase the daily recommended sugar intake beyond the recommended levels. As a result, you feel weak and anxious, which harms your work performance.

Munching on chips, pretzels and other salty snacks throughout the day hurts your work performance. This is because consuming such salty food results in excessive sodium intake, which causes dehydration in your body and leads to lower work performance.

Foods such as fatty meat, burgers, fried items, butter, baked goods, and others rich in trans fat reduce work productivity. This is because trans fat causes the release of hormones tryptophan and serotonin, which make you sleepy. Moreover, the brain is also deprived of enough oxygen, making you sluggish.


The link between nutrition and work performance means there must be an optimum balance between the various elements in your diet. The food items beneficial for work performance must be included more in the diet while limiting the intake of food items that deplete your ability to work hard.


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