Is it Better to Eat a Large Meal Before or After a Test?

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Author: Megan Doyle

Does eating enhance mental performance or slow your brain down? In this experiment, you will evaluate the speed and accuracy of test subjects that have been asked to perform a series of mental tasks either before or after eating a large meal.


Is mental performance best before or after eating a large meal?


  • Food
  • Approximately 20 test subjects
  • Several mental tasks (eg, medium level Sudoku puzzle, multiplication test, etc)
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Notebook for analyzing results


  1. Put together several mental tests to give to your test subjects. Make sure that each task that you put together can be easily altered. You want the test to look different to your test subjects each time they take it (try not to alter the difficulty of each test when you revise them).
  2. Divide your test subjects into two groups. One group should perform the tasks on an empty stomach first, and the other group should first perform the tasks after eating a meal.
  3. Ask one group to refrain from eating for five hours before performing your tasks. Record the time it takes for each test subject to perform each mental task.
  4. On another day, feed this group a large meal and ask them to repeat each mental task. Remember to slightly alter your mental tasks so that they appear “new” to your test subjects. Record the time it takes for each participant to complete their task.
  5. Reverse steps 3 and 4 for your second group of participants. This group should be tested after a large meal on the first day, and tested after five hours of fasting on the next day. Remember to slightly alter your mental tasks from one day to the next so that they appear “new” to your test subjects.
  6. Analyze your results. Under which set of circumstances did test subjects perform each mental test fastest? Do you observe any patterns in your data? Does eating a large meal seem to enhance or slow the speed at which the tasks are completed?
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