October 1, 2014

6 Better Than Coffee Study Drinks

By Megan Weyrauch on September 5, 2013 This is brought to you by Uloop & Kaplan. Search Uloop for student housing, roommates, college jobs, internships, scholarships, and college news.

“I want a large Americano with two extra shots of espresso.”

I stare listlessly back at this customer, letting him know he just requested for his drink to contain twice the normal contained amount of espresso. “Oh,” he adds, “better make it three extra shots then.” As a barista, I encounter students from early morning until midnight who need some form of caffeine to help them get through just a few more hours of studying. I am not kidding when I say I have people order extra shots of espresso or larger sizes for that extra kick. The customer I described above wanted his large Americano to have three extra shots of espresso, making the drink contain not the normal four shots, but seven. This type of caffeine consumption cannot be good for you. But I see it all the time. I, too, am guilty. I drink coffee like it’s my job (see what I did there?) because it gives me that jolt of energy I need to stay up until 2:30 a.m. and get up at 6 a.m. for class. I love the sound of coffee brewing in the morning and the way the delectable aroma creeps through my apartment, filling my nostrils with hints of hazelnut and cinnamon. Coffee is by far one of my favorite beverages and my go-to study drink for those long night study sessions and paper-writing sessions. However, coffee lover as I profess to be, I also have to admit to the negative effects of coffee drinks. While consuming a small amount of caffeine daily is not too harmful, drinking a ton of it, like our seven-shots-of-espresso friend, can prove dangerous. Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can lead to a physical dependence on the stuff, as caffeine is highly addictive. In addition, while caffeine may provide that quick boost of energy you need, it may keep you awake longer than you intended, leading to fatigue for the next day. The slight mood elevation you receive from caffeine eventually fades when you crash and feel just as tired as before, causing you to drink more caffeine. Sound like a vicious cycle? Here are six healthier study drink options. Avoid possible health risks and stay energized longer with the following drinks. 1. Good, old-fashioned water. Students normally grab coffee in order to stay awake longer, battling their droopy eyelids to finish assignments. However, because being dehydrated leads to fatigue, water is one of the best beverages to consume while studying. It is also the healthiest way to go in terms of what to drink. According to this article from the website webmd.com, there are at least six benefits to water. Water:
  • Helps maintain your balance of bodily fluids
  • Can help control calories
  • Energizes your muscles
  • Helps your skin to look good
  • Keeps your kidneys healthy
  • Helps you maintain normal bowel function
Water is a great choice for studying; you will feel not only hydrated but will avoid the caffeine crash that comes along with drinking too much coffee. Battle fatigue with water and you’ll have enough energy to finish your studying and go to sleep when you need to—no more caffeine keeping you up when you’re ready to hit the hay. 2. Milk Your brain uses three basic neurotransmitters to help supply it with the right chemicals to keep it going: acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin. According to this article, milk is rich in acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that excites your neurons and helps to improve your memory. Reaching for a glass of milk will also provide you with the following health benefits:
  • Calcium, which protects the body from major chronic ailments
  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • Skin care
  • Vitamins A and B
  • Potassium, magnesium and protein and
  • Carbohydrates for energy
  • Rehydration
Drink milk while studying instead of coffee and you’ll start reaping the benefits of a beverage that does a lot for your body. You can get more energy calories from whole milk, but choose low-fat milk for a healthier option. 3. Fruit and vegetable juices In addition to milk, fruit juice can help your memory and give you some energy for studying. Fruit juice “can boost your energy quickly because it is high-glycemic, which means that its carbohydrates enter your bloodstream shortly after you drink it.” Fruit and vegetable juices can give you the nutrients and antioxidants your brain needs to function properly. Not only will you get the benefits of these nutrients but you are ensuring your daily intake of fruits and vegetables by drinking these juices. However, I am not talking about the super sugary fruit or vegetable juices you find in the supermarket today. Check your nutrition labels to watch out for juices that are very high in sugar content such as drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup; look for natural juices or juices made with 100 percent fruit juice to get natural energy or these juices prove no better than coffee. In addition, these juices will keep you hydrated to beat that fatigue problem. 4. Smoothies Smoothies can be a healthier study drink option as well. Be warned however–similar to fruit juices rich with sugars, smoothies can also easily become unhealthy if you aren’t careful. Make your own smoothies at home to ensure you know what ingredients you are putting into your body. Making fruit smoothies with real fruits will give you natural energy. According to this article, adding berries, bananas or peaches can increase your energy, dietary fiber and potassium. A little bit of peanut butter can give you some energy due to its dietary fiber, fat and protein. You will get the nutrients and antioxidants from the fruits or vegetables you add to your smoothie, and can get some protein and carbs (energy!) by adding milk or yogurt. Be wary of smoothie vendors and ask about the ingredients in their smoothies before you agree to purchasing one; you could be ingesting a ton of sugar or calories if you aren’t careful! 5. Green tea There is a great debate about whether coffee or tea is better for you. According to wisegeek.org, though tea also contains some caffeine, it has nutritional benefits that coffee lacks. Different types of tea come with different health benefits. Green tea is considered the healthiest variety, according to wisegeek.org. Research indicates that this tea:
  • can help prevent cancer
  • fight plaque on teeth
  • lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure
In addition, tea has a smaller amount of caffeine than coffee. With coffee, your body absorbs and processes the large amount of caffeine quickly, resulting in the famous “crash.” However, because tea has lower amounts of caffeine, this “crash” is prevented when the small amount caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower pace. 6. Egg yolk and carrot juice*, and honey and bee pollen drink If you’re looking for something more interesting, I read on one webpage that beating an egg yolk into a glass of carrot juice is a great way to get some energy. You’ll receive the nourishing and cleansing benefits to carrot juice as well as an energy boost. The yolk of an egg will stimulate your adrenal glands when you’re exhausted, according to this same site.  This same website also suggests a honey and bee pollen drink—mix bee pollen powder and honey into some warm water for a natural energy boost. The honey gives the natural energy boost and also aids in digestion. Next time you decide to pull an all-nighter, reach for one of these healthier alternatives to coffee; you will feel energized longer, reap the benefits of nutrients and antioxidants and avoid the caffeine crash that causes even more fatigue. *If anyone tries this, please let me know. I would love to hear about the reactions of fellow students to you cracking open an egg in the library and sipping it down with some carrot juice.  

If you had to put down the coffee and take the MCAT right now, how would you score? Find out for free! With a free Kaplan MCAT practice test, you not only get an idea of how you’d score on the real exam, but you also get a full breakdown of which areas are your strongest and weakest. 

For more college news, and to search for student housing, roommates, college jobs, and internships, go to ULoop.com. ...read more
October 30, 2013

Kaplan Patrick Q&A: Efficient MCAT Studying Part 1

Hey guys! Following up on my student question from yesterday reminded me of a blog post I wrote a while back about proper MCAT studying. In order to help my students become more productive in their MCAT studies I always start with a question back! The first question to ask is how long should we be studying for?  Right away many say "9, 10 hours? All day even?" I am here to tell you that is simply not the case.  Remember that the goal for total hours studied for an MCAT should be around 300 hours on average. Keeping that in mind, a good number to start at is 6.  Just 6 hours is the max many study in a given day, often less. The important thing to note about these hours is that it is NOT 6 hours in a row.  Ideally, you want to break those 6 hours over 3 different sessions in the day.  Could you study for 6 hours in a row? Yes, absolutely you could, however, we find that students study more efficiently and put in more quality time when they limit a "study block" to only 2 hours.  This allows them to stay focused and work hard during that time frame and then back off and take a break. Below is a list of common daily schedules used by our students. I, once a Kaplan student, used the 'Early Riser' Schedule many days during my MCAT studies. This allowed me to accumulate a lot of study time that I otherwise would not have found. Early Riser If you can become an early riser and schedule some of your classes for the late morning/ early afternoon you can really utilize your mornings for MCAT study.   This is a very similar schedule to what I personally did in my own MCAT preparation. 8am - Wake and Breakfast 9am - First Study Session 10am - Workout 11am - Second Study Session 12pm - Classes 6pm - Dinner 7pm - Study for Classes 9pm - Rest/ Relax The "Not-a-Morning Person" Schedule Simply put some of us are just not morning people and that is totally OK! With the MCAT offering the 1pm start time on select dates this shouldn't cause any concern.  The trick to not being a morning person is to try and squeeze a study session in between your classes. 11am - Wake and Breakfast 12pm - Classes 2pm - First Study Session 3pm - Classes 6pm - Dinner 7pm - Second Study Session 8pm - Study for Classes 10pm - Workout 11pm - Rest/ Relax The Weekender As you can see in the two sample schedules above I always recommend time for a workout or at least some break that involves physical activity.  This can be the trick for keeping yourself focused and alert during long study days. Remember for most of us we are trying to balance class work with MCAT work! When you fall behind the best thing to do is to use your weekends to catch up! Most importantly you want to use at least one of your weekend days to take a full length exam. 10am - Wake and Breakfast 11am - First Study Session 1pm - Workout/ Lunch 2pm - Second Study Session 4pm - Break/ Errands 5pm - Study Session 7pm - Enjoy your time off. Remember it's the weekend! Stay tuned! More to come on what goes into those 2 hours of a "study block".  Remember a happier more efficient you in #MCATdomination!   [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
May 7, 2013

Time for MCAT Bootcamp!

So, you have been preparing for a late May or early June MCAT by studying hard and taking practice tests. Are you looking for something to give you that extra studying edge? Or perhaps you’re eyeing an MCAT test date later in the summer? Are you looking to get jump-started on material?

Either way, you’re in luck! Kaplan is running an MCAT Boot Camp event on 5/20/13 at 8pm ET!

This intensive MCAT Boot Camp event will feature questions on advanced content to give you an excellent idea of where you need to focus your MCAT studies. It will feature timed drills to solidify concepts and get in some excellent practice! The questions will all reinforce important MCAT content knowledge as well as critical thinking. It’s a great way to spice up your study routine or infuse it with content.

This event promises to be a great opportunity for any MCAT student and I strongly recommend registering today! How do you enroll? Simply click here and hit the “sign up” button next to MCAT Boot Camp. You’ll be challenged and engaged and gain great insight into the MCAT – what are you waiting for?

  ...read more
April 10, 2013

Surviving the Homestretch

It’s officially Spring! Although those of us in the Upper Midwest have yet to see any weather that even slightly resembles spring, the changing of the seasons heralds what can be the craziest time of year for any student who is simultaneously applying to medical school while taking the MCAT in April, May, or June.

Other times of the year, studying for the MCAT has the potential to be stressful, but in May that stress can reach an impressively high level. In the next month and a half most students will have hurdles such as finals, graduation, moving, asking professors for recommendations, writing a personal statement, finding a job, and researching positions or internships, all while trying to maximize their MCAT study-time.

The real question is- what can be done to reduce stress and allow an MCAT student to work to their full potential?

Here are some tips for stress-busting in the upcoming month and a half

1. Make a list- As you may be able to tell from my blog posts, I am a proponent of making lists to organize information and stay focused. This is especially important at this time of year when you have to keep track of tons of small details that could potentially have major consequences. I suggest making separate lists for school, MCAT studying and med school applications to keep each topic organized.

2. Meditate or reflect daily- One of the most stressful feelings is when you get to the end of the day and it feels like you have not accomplished anything. You look at your lists (see tip 1), and there are still a bunch of things that are not crossed off. Taking time to reflect each day on the tasks you have accomplished can help soothe your nerves and allow you to sleep better at night.

3. Stay healthy- The last thing that you need right now is a killer virus taking advantage of your overwhelmed body; so, get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and remember that there is an end in sight.

4. Utilize your outlets- All of us have different activities which help us to relieve stress. Make sure you know what your personal outlets are- exercising, cooking, chatting with friends, reading a book- and utilize them. It’s important to engage in these stress-relieving activities even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Hopefully this helps you all make it through the next 1.5 months! If you have any stress-busting tips of your own, I would love to hear them.

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