Being a high performer requires quick wit and a sharp mind.
Luckily this isn’t completely dependent on your genetics.
Despite what you’ve been told your entire life your “smarts”, mental performance, and even your IQ is not determined at birth.
It can be molded and shaped through intentional lifestyle changes and habits.
And there’s plenty of research to back this up.
If you follow the simple steps that I am about to lay out, you can increase your mental performance (almost) immediately and become a stronger more grounded man who can quickly make decisions, hold conversations, and create new solutions to problems.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Consume a High Fat Diet
If you have ever followed the Ketogenic diet or something similar, then it shouldn’t surprise you that these diets are rapidly gaining popularity.
They have incredible, data backed benefits that can help improve both your mind and body.
I’ve dabbled with keto and carb cycling and personally found a ton of success by swapping carbs for “fatty” foods.
Not only have I lost weight, but I’ve also been able to eat food I love on a daily basis.
Who doesn’t want to eat steak, bacon, eggs, peanut butter and avocado as part of a “diet?”
Sound too good to be true?
Don’t worry — fat doesn’t make you fat.
Pizza, booze, and the munchies make you fat.
“To be successful, you must dedicate yourself 100% to your training, diet, and mental approach.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger
But this isn’t an article about weight loss.
It’s about mental performance.
And despite the tremendous fat blasting results that myself and millions of others have experienced with the Ketogenic diet, losing weight is not the best part of a high fat diet.
The mental performance is.
If you take out water weight your brain is 60% fat. And you need to keep it well fed and lubricated to ensure that it’s firing on all cylinders.
And this is where high fat diets really shine.
When you consume a high fat diet (whether it’s low carb or not) you are effectively “feeding” your brain with high quality Omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.
And these good fats work wonders for your mental acuity.
I don’t have time in this article to dive into all of the science behind the diet, but I will suffice it to say that in my own experience, few things will have a more drastic and immediate effect on your mental well being and performance than a high fat diet.
Personally, I experienced more mental clarity, alertness, and endurance during my bout with Keto.
I was able to work longer, smarter, and better on every project that I tackled.
And countless individuals have echoed these same sentiments.
The bottom line is this…
If you want to improve your mental performance and show up each day sharper, clearer, and faster, then get more fats into your diet.
You don’t have to go full keto to see the effects.
Simply supplementing with a high quality fish oil and eating a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and avocados will be more than enough for you to feel an immediate increase in your performance.
Some days exercise is the best thing ever and a quick trip to the Sanctum of Swole is all you need to feel like King Leonidas leading the 300 Spartans.
Other days exercise sucks.
And I get it.
You may have had a long day, a longer weekend, or just want to watch the game and crack a beer instead of working out.
But how many times have you dragged your ass to the gym when you don’t feel like going?
It’s cold, dark, or you’re just unmotivated but you still get there.
Once you show up, exercise, and finish you feel great — you’re ready to take on the world.
Exercise isn’t just for your physical being, it’s synonymous with increased mental performance as well.
It shouldn’t be a shock that many of the world’s top leaders, CEO’s, Navy Seals, and successful people make exercise part of their morning routines.
“The mind controls the body, the body doesn’t control the mind.” — Tim Grover (Trainer of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, & Dwayne Wade)
There is mounting evidence that consistent exercise can increase your mood, speed up mental performance, and even increase your IQ.
Exercise has also been shown to:
- Increase your ability to learn
- Increase memory retention
- Increase creativity
- Reduce stress levels
Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be an excruciating 60-90 minute daily session either.
Studies have shown that even 5-20 minutes can help your psychological well being, reduce feelings of anger, depression, and tension.
Personally, I recommend that you include exercise as part of your morning routine so you’re less likely to skip it as the day progresses.
Don’t do it just for your future six-pack, do it for your mind as well.
3. Supplement with Omega-3s and Vitamin D
High fat diets are great, but with the ever decreasing quality of foods on the market and the rampant nature of nutrient deficiency, you need to ensure you’re feeding your brain by taking certain supplements that you simply can’t get from any dietary plan out there.
Specifically, you need to supplement with Omega-3s and Vitamin D3.
I won’t lie I hate eating fish – unless it’s deep fried and put in a delicious taco and served with an ice cold beer.
But fish is filled with Omega-3s which can have a dramatic impact on your mental performance.
Omega-3s will help your mental clarity, support focus, and increase blood flow to your brain. They will also help maintain your vision, skin, hair, nails and joint support.
And unlike many essential substances,your body does not create Omega-3’s on its own so you need to obtain them from your diet and/or supplementation.
The easiest way that I have found to get sufficient amounts of Omega-3s each day is to supplement with a high quality fish oil. (Checkout Jarrow’s Krill Oil if you want a high quality fish oil at an affordable price)
Likewise, vitamin D is also an important supplement to help support improved mental performance.
One recent study found that the lower Vitamin D levels the more negative your performance on mental tests.
The study showed that vitamin D will help you process information faster, increase hormone levels, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, and reduce depression.
While you can supplement this with a pill as well, you can also get out in the sun.
Even 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week will help increase your vitamin D levels.
“All successes begin with self-discipline. It starts with you.” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Fasting sounds horrible – I get it.
As men we love food, we love mass quantities of food, and usually, put it right behind sex in terms of satisfaction in life.
If I’m not planning to eat I’m probably eating — food is life.
But fasting, in one way or another, can have an unbelievable effect on your mental performance. At the beginning, it won’t be easy as we’ve been trained to eat throughout the day to avoid hanger.
I’ve read about tons of athletes and movie stars using fasting to get ripped.
Some of them include Hugh “Jackedman” prepping for Wolverine and the Rock when be became Hercules. Who doesn’t want to look and act like these guys?
Some other benefits of fasting include:
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of cancer
- Improved mood
- Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
Here are some common ways to include fasting into your life:
If you don’t know, intermittent fasting is a diet that cycles between a period of fasting and non-fasting.
With 24 hours in a day, most people usually start with 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of non-fasting. The most common thing to do is skip breakfast and start eating between 11am – 1pm and continue for 8 hours.
Once your eight hours is complete you no longer eat — just drink water or zero calorie beverages.
Sometimes as men we over indulge in things we love — i.e. beer, wings, and pizza. Football season and the upcoming holidays don’t help much either.
If you find yourself sluggish, unmotivated, and sloppy after a fun weekend or vacation try a full day cleanse following the debaunchery.
This is a great way to detox, rid your body of toxins and clear your mind.
The easiest way to fast is with intermittent fasting with 16 hours off, 8 hours on schedule.
Intermittent fasting paired with a high-fat diet and consistent exercise will help your body, mood, and overall health.
5. Getting Plenty of High-Quality Sleep
“Sleep is the best meditation.” — Dalai Lama
There aren’t many things that are worse than a bad night of sleep.
You wake up the next day angry, frustrated, and almost unbearable (at least until you’ve had your triply bypass double diabetes cappuccino)
It’s hard to make the most of each day when you don’t start out well rested.
As I’m sure you know, sleep has a huge impact on your mental performance.
On days when you are tired you tend to lack creativity, have mood swings, and generally lack the motivation to be productive throughout the day.
Personally, I don’t sleep much anymore – there is too much I want to accomplish in life both personally and professionally.
But even if don’t sleep much, hour wise, I make sure my 6-7 hours a night is high-quality sleep.
To ensure that your sleep is as amazing as possible, I recommend that you go through the following checklist.
- Quit working at least 2 hours before bed
- Turn off ALL screens at least 1 hour before bed (or install a blue light blocker like F.lux)
- Blackout your room completely.
- Eat a high fat snack 3 hours before bed time (this will kill hunger cravings and give your body the energy it needs to replenish your cells)
- Do 10 minutes of meditation before bed time
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Take a cold shower one hour before bed
For those of you who want to go above and beyond and supercharge your sleep to help you succeed, I have found that there’s a simple nightly ritual that will not only help you sleep better, but help you wake up more motivated productive, and on fire.
What is this ritual?
It’s actually pretty simple.
All I do is to read my goals and affirmations every night before I go to bed.
Studies have shown that the last 1-2 hours before bed can play a dramatic impact on your subconscious mind.
T Harv Eker, one of our earliest podcast guests talks about how you need to change your thoughts to successfully change your actions.
Feed your mind positive images and visualizations of you accomplishing your biggest three goals. Whether you visualize your house on the beach or imagine your business earning a million in a year it will help you get closer to fulfillment.
6. Drink More Coffee
“To me, the smell of freshly made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.” Hugh “The Wolverine” Jackman
Are you one of those men who drink a cup of coffee each morning and go from a zombie to a superhero ready to take on the world?
As we all know, coffee is a mood enhancer and one of the safest and fasting acting agents in the world.
It’s the reason you see a Starbucks on every corner and see people clinging to their coffee for dear life each morning.
It’s the second most drank beverage in the world at 1.6 billion cups per day!
Coffee has been used for centuries because it has so many positive effects:
- Increased alertness and energy
- Increased memory
- Reduce the risk of depression
- Potentially lower risk of some types of cancer and stroke
- Reduce risk of diabetes
Not only does coffee and caffeine have incredible effects on your brain it can also help speed up your metabolism, burn fat, and increase your physical performance.
However, more caffeine is not always the answer as too much can give you anxiety, make you irritable and increase your tolerance.
Try to have one cup of black coffee (roughly 100mg caffeine) first thing in the morning to get the day started and up to 2 more before 2 p.m. (if you consume coffee after 2 p.m. it will negatively impact your sleep.)
If you are one of the few who doesn’t like coffee but still wants the effects drink green tea to energize you throughout the day.
7. Brain Aerobics
The brain is a muscle and needs exercise to stay strong.
Unlike other muscles, the brain needs to learn new skills and take in new information to continue to grow.
Brain aerobics have been created to stretch and grow your brain in a new way.
For example, if you normally read the same three websites, do the same tasks at work, and watch the same TV you are not challenging your brain.
Sudoku is an example of a brain exercise that you can do daily and will “age-proof” your mind and slow down brain aging.
Learn Something New
One of the best ways I’ve exercised my brain this year has been online courses and seminars.
I have found that getting out of your comfort zone to learn new skills will exercise your mind and challenge yourself.
Attend a personal development event, take an online course or attend a sales seminar.
Read Something New
Reading should be a part of your daily routine – even if it’s 15-30 minutes as part of your morning rituals.
It’s no wonder that super successful people like Warren Buffet read five hours a day or Bill Gates reads a book a week.
Check out the 50 best books that every successful grounded man should read or check out these from Knowledge for Men.
8. Listen to More Music
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Bob Marley
Isn’t is the best feeling when you are on a run or slamming weights in the gym and your favorite song comes on?
Personally, music always seems to keep me inspired, engaged and motivated to finish strong until the last rep.
While music is great when you are exercising it also has a profound effect on your mental performance.
Studies that shown that a huge amount of dopamine (the feel-good hormone) is released when listening to music which makes your smarter and more mentally responsive.
These studies have also showed that background music on performance in cognitive tasks has shown improvement on memory, processing speeds, reading, and mood.
Some music will impact your mental performance much differently than others.
For example, when you meditate each morning it should be soothing, calm, and keep you in a relaxed state.
But if you want to become more efficient and engaged in your work you will need to listen to more fast tempo, upbeat music — commonly known as the Mozart effect.
The more I researched this while writing this article the more I believe it.
Don’t be afraid to mix up your gangster rap for some classical music to change your mood and increase your mental performance.
“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you filter it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.” Buddha
Meditation has so many benefits it’s hard to list them all.
There’s a reason there are now meditation studios, smartphone apps, and endless Youtube videos to help get you started meditating. This craze is here to stay – thankfully it has benefits for everyone who has the discipline to practice it.
Be taking time each morning to become “mindful” you will get rid of the clutter in your head, reduce stress and rid yourself of anxiety. Other benefits include reduced risk of anxiety, and
I can personally vouch – it’s been one of the most effective habits I’ve ever done and wish I would have started sooner.
For the best results, meditate every day – usually first thing in the morning. Even if you start with five minutes a day you will find yourself more calm, relaxed, and focused throughout the day.
Apps like Headspace make it super easy and have hundreds of ten-minute sessions. Don’t use time as an excuse, wake up ten minutes earlier each day and I promise it will be worth it.
Aside from sleep, you can use all of these techniques each morning to help increase your mental performance.
They may not get you to Bradley Cooper’s “limitless” level but they will help you perform better every single day.
Once you begin to use these techniques you will be able to focus, perform better at work, have less stress, and hopefully appreciate life more.
Don’t just take care of your body – take care of your mind as well.