Diet and the e-sport Athlete

(Written in collaboration with Goliath Gaming)

All athletes require monitoring of their diets to ensure optimal performance in their field of play. E-Sport Athletes are no different. E-sports might not be as physically demanding as more traditional sports, but can be mentally tiring.

Proper nutrition has been shown to increase physical and mental performance, both of which are key factors in e-Sports. There are a number of key factors involved in the success of e-Sports, including cognition, intact reflexes and focus. These factors can be influenced by the fatigue experienced by the player and the foods that he/she eats. Unfortunately, in a sport which involves a decreased caloric need, fast foods and energy drinks are more convenient. The added sugar in these foods lead to a spike and dip of glucose in the system. This results in the player being tired, both physically and mentally. This can result in poor performance immediately, but also puts players at risk of diabetes and obesity in later years.

The basic tenements of good e-Sports nutrition:

  1. Convenience is key due to time constraints
  2. All important micro and macro nutrients need to be included
  3. Vitamin D needs to be supplemented if most time is spent indoors
  4. Avoid sugary and high fat foods

What should a pro-gamers diet look like on game day?

The nutrition building up to a competition is an important facet in the performance of the team. Typically, one needs to eat a larger meal 2-4 hours prior to the competition. This allows for adequate energy stores to be built up prior to the competition and also enables the digestive system to process the nutrients.

A well-balanced meal needs to be eaten, including an easy to digest protein such as fish or meat (chicken/beef) and a well-tolerated side dish (low GI – sweet potatoes, brown rice). This aids in maintaining the glucose levels and prevents a spike and dip. Eating a well-balanced meal prior to the competition also ensures that players with digestive sensitivity minimize pre-competition digestive problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion – particularly prior to competition).

Fast foods, unhealthy fats, energy drinks and hard-to digest foods need to be avoided prior to competition. Increased blood flow is directed to the stomach to digest these difficult to digest foods, resulting in a decreased mental performance. 

Just before a competition starts, players should be having foods which releases energy quickly, however, still maintains the glycemic level of the body.

 Examples of such foods are:

  • Muesli bars/date bars
  • Nuts
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Protein shakes or meal repl

Following a competition, due to the decreased caloric needs in e-Sports, it is more important to maintain a healthy diet with good portions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This ensures that players get a good night’s sleep following a competition and players maintain optimal mental function.

Supplements

Supplements are used to optimize the diets of athletes. Suplememts are used to support immune function, decrease stress and anxiety and maximize micro-nutrients. 

Supplements that are important in supporting immune function:

  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Probiotics

Supplements used to reduce stress and anxiety

  • Sparse evidence for the use of CBD oil

Micronutrient supplementation important for e-Sport athletes

  • Vitamin D
    • E-sport athletes spend long hours indoors training so often require additional vitamin D
  • Magnesium
    • Supports the immune system and supports deep sleep
  • Omega 3+6

Example of a game day nutrition plan

Game Day Nutrition Plan  
Pre competition (2-4 hours)Larger meal with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.Chicken, Fish, beef, brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, eggs.
Immediate pre competition (<30minute)Smaller snack to maintain energy and glucose levels to optimize mental and physical performanceNuts, fruits, snack bars, date bars
During competitionAdequate hydrationWater. Avoid sugary drinks and energy drinks
Post-competitionWell balanced meal as aboveAs above

Conclusion, as adapted by the British E-Sports Association

  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables day
  • Cut down on salt and sugary energy drinks
  • Choose wholegrain foods where possible
  • Good sources of proteins should be eaten – fish, beans, eggs, meats. Fish such as salmon or mackerel should be eaten twice per week to optimize healthy fats
  • Don’t skip breakfast
  • Keep hydrated – 6-8 glasses per day is the recommendation

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