Whether you’re a professional e-sports athlete or simply a passionate gaming enthusiast, nutrition strongly influences both your physical and mental performance.
As you go through different forms of pressure and stress throughout the day , what you choose to nourish your body with will eventually determine whether or not it can function properly and at peak performance levels.
You know when you are in a state of optimal nutritional fitness if the food you consume provides enough energy and nutrients that are not only sufficient in fueling the demands of training and playing, but also supports healing and recovery in between.
With proper nutrition, you can improve your energy levels, prevent injury, bolster your immune system, maintain focus, improve concentration, and most importantly, cultivate a lifetime of health and wellness.
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Building blocks of good nutrition
Experts agree that for peak gaming performance, your body needs to be adequately and consistently fed with the right combination of nutrients, which provide the energy and sustenance that all living beings need to grow, repair, and develop.
While there are many essential nutrients, they can be broken down into two main categories:
- Macronutrients: These are nutrients that the body needs to consume in large quantities. The top three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Carbohydrates burn fast and are ideal for quick bursts of energy during high-intensity exercise or endurance training, as well as for providing quality fuel for the brain. Foods rich in carbohydrates include grains and cereals, bread, pasta, vegetables such as potatoes and peas, fresh fruits, and dairy.Proteins, on the other hand, are very important for building muscle and promoting overall tissue structure. They make up enzymes that regulate metabolism and work in maintaining acid/ base balance in the body. Major sources of proteins include legumes and nuts, whole grains and seeds, lean meats, fish, and eggs. Proteins are very important to gamers. In fact, sports nutrition experts recommend that e-sports athletes focus on a lean and high-protein diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Fats (also called lipids) store energy in the body as reserve fuel. Aside from this, fats also protect our organs and cells, transport fat-soluble vitamins, fight inflammation, lubricate joints, produce hormones, and promote brain health. Butter and oil are rich in fats, as well as nuts, seeds, avocados, dairy, meat and oily fish.
- Micronutrients: These are the essential vitamins and minerals from food that our bodies need in smaller amounts, but are by no means less important to achieving optimum health. Micronutrients are crucial as they provide basic components for metabolism, growth, and development. They also regulate cell function, as well as build and repair damaged tissues in order to heal wounds, prevent diseases, and keep the body going.
For an adequate natural supply of micronutrients, a gamer’s diet should regularly include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meats, and dairy products.
However, if you are on a restricted diet and cannot get your entire recommended dose of essential micronutrients from food, or have been found to be low on certain vitamins and minerals due to a health condition, there are a variety of gaming supplements that can help. While they are not meant to replace the nutritional value of food, the proper use of supplements can play a significant role in supporting your daily diet for overall health.
Gamers have different nutritional needs
Just like anyone who indulges in sports, whether professionally or as a serious hobby, gamers will find that they have different nutritional needs as compared to individuals with less rigorous lifestyles, as they undergo more than the average physical and mental stress from training and playing. Basically, the more you demand from your body, the more mindful you should be on what you are feeding it with.
Pro gamers might require a higher intake of calories and macronutrients to provide strength, sustain energy, and maintain mental acuity for a prolonged period of time. They may also need more vitamins and minerals to boost their immune system, avoid injury, and aid with recovery and performance.
The ideal diet for serious gamers would depend on certain factors, such as: the type of daily activities you indulge in, the level of training and playing that you do, and how much time you spend doing these. Working with a nutritionist or doing your own research using credible references can help you come up with a plan that works for your individual needs.
It is also important to fuel your body consistently in order to maintain steady levels of blood glucose (sugar) and muscle glycogen (stored energy) throughout the day. No matter how busy you get, avoid skipping meals or reaching out for convenience food or energy drinks that are high on calories but low on nutrients. Watch your sugar intake as well, as dips and spikes in your blood sugar can create headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, dizziness, even loss of concentration and general weakness.
And of course, no one can talk about performance enhancement through balanced nutrition without mentioning proper hydration. While our bodies are comprised of up to 70% water, there is no storage system for it so we need to constantly replenish with fluids to maintain normal temperature and keep it running properly. As little as 2% water loss can signal a decline in any athletic performance.
No matter how engrossed you get in your game, drink in regular intervals and not only when you feel thirsty because by that time, dehydration would have set in. Dehydration is known to cause fatigue and lightheadedness, diminishing your ability to focus and remain alert. In some cases, dehydration can also lead to heat cramps and heat stroke, which is an emergency condition.
While there are many varieties of power drinks enhanced with different vitamins and nutrients, most health professionals would still recommend drinking fresh, clean water as the best way to hydrate and rehydrate, unless the situation calls for other hydration solutions.
Supplements can help
Today, many professional and recreational e-sports athletes also include gaming supplements in their dietary regimen to level up their training and recovery, improve physical and cognitive performance, and achieve an overall competitive advantage.
When used within established guidelines, nutritional supplements are generally known to be safe and effective, not only for enhancing performance but also for general health maintenance and immune support.
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