Optimal nutrition in esports
Vor 1 Monat JessyBlack

Optimal nutrition in esports

Why bother with your diet when you can perform on pizza and energy drinks? The simple answer: No matter which game you play – gamers are cognitively extremely challenged and have to make decisions in specific game situations every single second. A healthy and balanced diet helps you stay healthy and contributes to the improvement of both mental and physical performance. Why stay at the same level when you can do better?

In today’s article, we are going to look at the basics of healthy nutrition. We will discuss what a balanced diet looks like and what benefits it provides in relation to your game performance. In future blog posts, we will look at more specific topics as we go along.


The healthy and balanced diet

When it comes to food choices, variety and diversity are key. The more varied our diet, the more likely we are to meet our needs for all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The Swiss food pyramid illustrates in what quantities and how often we should consume certain foods. Foods of the lower level of the pyramid are needed in larger quantities, those of the upper level in smaller quantities. The combination of foods in the right proportions makes up a balanced diet. Fresh and unprocessed foods are to be preferred, since fast food and snacks often contain a lot of energy, fat and/or sugar, but little dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.1

Food Pyramide
Food Pyramide

For those who want to know more about the individual food groups of the pyramid and the recommended intake, I recommend the more detailed information in reference1


From the Pyramide on the plate?

Since the pyramid focuses on daily nutrition and is difficult to apply to a single meal, the Swiss Society for Nutrition also created the “optimal plate” 2. This plate shows that each meal ideally consists of a carbohydrate source, a protein source and vegetables or salad. Proteins are important for our muscles, the immune system, and for adequate fullness after a meal. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for muscles and our brain, and vegetables and salad provide the necessary vitamins and minerals for all metabolic processes to take place.

Perfect Plate
Perfect Plate: Healthy organisation of food


Practical realization of the perfect plate

The proportion of each component depends on your energy needs. For people with higher energy needs, for example, the proportion of carbohydrates can be increased. It is beneficial not to lose sight of one’s own feeling of satiety. Excessive portions cause us to feel lazy after eating, as our body needs more energy to digest the food. 


Advantages of a regular meal pattern

In addition to the type and amount of food, a regular meal pattern is also important. Three main meals and, depending on your energy needs, one or two snacks per day are recommended 1. Regular meals help us to keep our blood glucose levels at a constant level and help us to maintain our cognitive performance. If we are fasting for too long, our energy level drops and with it our ability to concentrate.4


Liquid – From water to energy drinks?

We should also not forget to drink. A meta-analysis showed that dehydration leads to a decrease in cognitive performance, attention, motor coordination and reaction time.5 The recommendation is to drink 1.5-2 litres per day 2. During sports, in hot temperatures but also in dry LAN halls, the need for fluids increases 6. Suitable beverages include water, unsweetened teas and coffee 2

Unfortunately, energy drinks do not count as suitable beverages, since they contain a high amount of sugar. This means that we should use and enjoy them on specific occasions.2 We will take a closer look at how this specific use can look in another blog post.


Sleep and the second brain

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, a healthy and balanced diet is also important because it can affect our sleep. Getting enough sleep, as most of you probably know, is important to perform at your highest level. 

Last but not least, a balanced diet also positively influences our gut microbiota. This is crucial to keep in mind because the gut not only digests our food, but also communicates with our brain. Therefore, it is accurately referred to as the second brain. Several gut hormones that can enter the brain or are produced in the brain itself have been shown to influence cognitive abilities.7 Since this topic is quite complex, we will discuss it in more detail in a later article.


Take-Home Message 

A balanced diet influences our performance through several mechanisms. Balanced means that each meal consists of vegetables, a healthy source of carbohydrates and a source of protein. Fast foods and sweetened beverages should be used sparingly, as they only provide energy for a short time and often contain excessive amounts of fat and sugar. In addition to solid food, fluid intake should not be forgotten.

Would you like to learn more about mental coaching, nutrition and performance? Make sure to check out our mYindset articles!

References

  1. SGE, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Ernährung (2021). https://www.sge-ssn.ch/ich-und-du/essen-und-trinken/ausgewogen/schweizer-lebensmittelpyramide/ abgerufen am 17.01.2021.
  2. SGE, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Ernährung (2021). https://www.sge-ssn.ch/ich-und-du/essen-und-trinken/ausgewogen/ausgewogener-teller/ abgerufen am 17.01.2021.
  3. Meeusen, R. (2014). Exercise, nutrition and the brain. Sports Medicine, 44(1), 47-56.
  4. Wittbrodt, M. T., & Millard-Stafford, M. (2018). Dehydration impairs cognitive performance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 50(11), 2360-2368. 
  5. SSNS, Swiss Sport Nutrition Society (2021). http://www.ssns.ch/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/HotTopic_Ernahrung_during_2.3.pdf  abgerufen am 17.01.2021.
  6. Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature reviews neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578.