If you’ve been lacking the get-up-and-go kind of gumption that you need to be productive at work, indulge in your favorite hobbies, or get the most out of your daily exercise, then you might need to pay more attention to self-care. Although you’ll surely want to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll also need to make sure that you are eating a proper diet. Given the latest results from a recent study on ways to boost motivation and performance, you now may even consider trying an n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) supplement.
The study, which was published in eLife Sciences, involved teams at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne School of Life Sciences and the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences. Together, they first determined that participants in the study who had higher levels of a protein known as glutathione (GSH) did better on tests that evaluated their performance and effort.
“N-acetyl-cysteine, the nutritional supplement that we gave in our study can also be synthesized in the body from its precursor cysteine,” said Professor Carmen Sandi of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne explained, according to ScienceDaily. “Cysteine is contained in ‘high-protein foods,’ such as meat, chicken, fish, or seafood. Other sources with lower content are eggs, whole-grain foods such as breads and cereals, and some vegetables such as broccoli, onions, and legumes.”
“It is true when they say ‘it’s all in the mind’ because the brain is the control center of the body,” Catherine Gervacio, RD, a registered dietitian and Living.Fit contributor, tells Eat This, Not That! “The study not only gave us a scenario of how much our brain is working hard 24/7, but also how it is affected by stress due to oxidative damage, and how GSH can potentially help in mindset, particularly in motivation.”
When it comes to whether or not you should be taking NAC supplements, according to Gervacio, “This is not necessary.”
“But it doesn’t hurt to try,” Gervacio continues. “Just make sure you are well-guided by a health expert.”
“As a dietitian, I would highly recommend, still, sourcing NAC from foods,” she adds. “You can get it from protein-rich foods like meat, fish, and chicken. It can also be found naturally in onions and garlic extract.”
Beyond that, Gervacio points out that “more studies are yet to provide evidence of GSH and how it affects the brain and motivation.”
“As we wait for further studies, let’s all try and eat our macros and live a healthy lifestyle,” Gervacio advises “Motivation does not rely on nutrition alone, but on how you surround yourself with the right people to guide you through your health, fitness, mental, and psychological being, as well.”