Intro: Why is nutrition important for esports athletes?

What, when and how much you eat will play a pivotal role in your gaming performance.

The strategic consumption of carbohydrates and, in adequate doses, caffeine around certain training sessions and during tournaments can also represent excellent nutrition strategies for improving cognitive performance

You have probably seen or heard plenty of interviews with world-class athletes talking about how following an optimal diet plays an important part in their daily routine. Over the last couple of years, a number of athletes from a wide range of sports have talked openly about how changing their approach to nutrition helped them improve their body composition, increased their energy levels throughout the day, allowed them to train harder and achieve better performances in their career. 

Furthermore, the sports supplements market is an ever-growing industry that is constantly bringing out new products marketed for enhancing performance and well-being. Still, with all the debates going on around diet and nutrition, you are probably wondering how all this is affecting your gaming and why nutrition should be on your priorities list.

Over the next couple of months, our team here at G-Science is going to release several articles and other educational materials around nutrition and esports that will help you learn everything that you need to know in order to improve your current diet, health, wellbeing and gaming performance. In this article, we are going to present an overview of the importance of nutrition for different aspects of your life that are affecting the way you train and perform. 

Nutrition and Energy Levels

The type of food that you eat, the quantity in which you consume it and the time of the day when you have your meals and snacks is going to have a significant influence on your energy levels throughout the day. Have you ever felt tired, sleepy and less focused after having your lunch or dinner? This is something that people often experience and it can negatively affect their productivity during the day, which in your case, is your ability to train and play optimally. 

In addition, besides influencing your ability to train properly on a daily basis, consuming the right type of food and following a well designed nutrition plan can substantially increase your energy levels and improve your focus and performance during a tournament. The mental demands of esports are well recognised now and ensuring that your brain has adequate access to nutrients will ensure that it is fuelled properly and can perform optimally. This is a topic that we will cover in the near future with lots of practical advice that you will be able to implement into your daily routine.

Complexity Gaming's Best Foods to Eat for Esports Players

Nutrition and Cognitive Performance

There’s been a growing research interest (2) over the last couple of years on the relationship between nutrition and cognitive performance. Consuming an adequate quantity of key nutrients such as the fatty acid omega-3 and a wide range of polyphenols, can have a beneficial impact on brain health and cognitive performance (2,3). A good starting point for getting enough omega-3 is to include 2-3 servings per week of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines or tuna, and a couple of 30-g portions of nuts such as cashews, macadamia nuts or almonds. In terms of polyphenols, including a wide range of vegetables in your meals, as well as having 2-3 pieces of fruit every day would also be a good strategy. The strategic consumption of carbohydrates and, in adequate doses, caffeine around certain training sessions and during tournaments can also represent excellent nutrition strategies for improving cognitive performance (1). Check out our article on the pros and cons of caffeine use in esports.

Hydration, Health and Performance

Hydration is one aspect of nutrition that is often ignored, when in reality it is likely to have the biggest impact on our health and performance, especially when it comes to cognitive function. Even a small amount of dehydration has been repeatedly shown to have a negative effect on both physical and mental performance (4).

You should start by consuming an ample volume of liquids throughout the day, usually 2.5L to 3.0L, however, this can be adjusted based on how you feel. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty or until your mouth gets dry, this is already a sign that you are not well hydrated! Focus on drinking mostly water and tea throughout the day and avoid consuming high quantities of sugary drinks. If you must, go for the zero-calorie options as these are a good way to reduce the sugar content in your diet.

Nutrition and Health

Although it is something that may not attract a lot of attention, being healthy and preventing colds and flus is actually a great way to ensure that you are available throughout the year to train and compete at the best of your ability. Even a minor flu can reduce the time you have available for training and given that nutrition plays such an important role in protecting our bodies, why not take advantage of it?

Consuming a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits and nutrient-dense food such as eggs, meats and dairy products will provide you with a wide range of nutrients that can improve your immune system and keep you disease free. Foods rich in probiotics are also receiving a lot of attention these days and for good reason as they play an important role in maximising our immune system (5). Foods such as kefir, pickles and miso soup are great options for their high probiotic content. Given that it is winter-time, Vitamin D levels should also be of interest to you as most of the research is showing a strong correlation between optimal Vitamin D levels and immune health.

We hope you enjoyed this article and please get in touch if you have any questions!

REFERENCES

  1. Stevenson, E.J., Hayes, P.R. and Allison, S.J., 2009. The effect of a carbohydrate–caffeine sports drink on simulated golf performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 34(4), pp.681-688.
  2. Meeusen, R., 2014. Exercise, nutrition and the brain. Sports Medicine, 44(1), pp.47-56.
  3. Dyall, S.C., 2015. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 7, p.52.
  4. Wilson, M.G. and Morley, J., 2003. Impaired cognitive function and mental performance in mild dehydration. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57(2), pp.S24-S29.
  5. Jäger, R., Mohr, A.E., Carpenter, K.C., Kerksick, C.M., Purpura, M., Moussa, A., Townsend, J.R., Lamprecht, M., West, N.P., Black, K. and Gleeson, M., 2019. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Probiotics. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 16(1), p.62.