Let’s me be clear. Nutrient timing is an advanced strategy. It can produce big results when implemented correctly.
However, the BEST timing in the world is unable to compensate for poor ‘basic’ nutrition practices – things like energy balance, macronutrients, hydration, and food quality.
If you haven’t read my quick start guide (input email for the free guide, no spam I swear), please go read that (and start practicing it) BEFORE you read on. You need to get the fundamentals taken care of before you even think about nutrient timing.
You already did?
Great. Let’s get started then.
Listen, I get it. I know your schedule is crazy, and it’s hard to know what and when to eat. My goal with this article is to walk you through exactly what you need to do before, during, and after your gaming sessions.
Note: These rules apply to any gaming session where the goal is either peak performance (like a competition) or maximal training adaptation (you’re practicing your last hitting in League). No need to follow these guidelines with casual sessions.
What’s in it for you? Nutrient timing will…
- Help you maximize your performance in a given activity.
- Improve your adaptive capacity, giving you more bang for your buck so that next time you’re even better.
Pretty good deal if you ask me. Let’s dive in.
Hydration (go back and read my Hydration article for more details)
- Your hydration status today is largely a reflection of your fluid intake yesterday, make sure you planned ahead.
- Check your urine color against a urine chart when you wake up.
- Follow the normal daily recommendations (as a reminder, ½ your body weight in lbs. in fluid ounces should be consumed).
- 4 hours before activity: drink 16-24 oz.
- Check your urine 2 hours before activity.
- If still concentrated, drink another 8-16 oz.
- Drink another 8 oz. at the start.
- 1 gulp = 1 oz.
- 2-4 hours is the ideal digestion time for a full meal before any task where you care about your performance (you don’t want to risk any stomach issues or hunger distracting you).
- The meal should provide adequate fluids (see above).
- The meal should be low in fat and not excessive in fiber.
- The meal should have protein and starchy carbohydrates or whole grains.
- Avoid foods that cause you to have gas, bloating, nausea, upset stomach, etc.
- Pick known foods you are comfortable with.
- Have a small carbohydrate snack 30-60 minutes before activity.
- Choose a ‘simple’ and ‘fast acting’ carbohydrate.
- granola bar, fruit, pretzels, crackers, fig bars
- Choose a ‘simple’ and ‘fast acting’ carbohydrate.
Pre-training/competition meal ideas
- Grilled chicken, rice, green vegetables
- Turkey breast, sweet potato, green vegetables
- Pasta with marinara and a grilled protein, green vegetables
- Turkey sandwich with a bag of pretzels and fruit
- Breakfast burrito or sandwich with eggs, fresh fruit (careful with cheese and fatty or processed meats)
- Scrambled eggs, lightly grilled potatoes, fruit, milk
- Drink at least 8 oz. per hour of activity.
- Choose snacks that have easily digestible carbohydrate and are low fiber, low fat, and low protein.
- If consuming a solid form of carbohydrate, be sure to consume adequate fluids to assist digestion.
Carbohydrate needs for different lengths of activity
|Length of Activity
|Amount of Carbohydrate to Consume
|Small amounts of mouth rinse
Easily digestible carbohydrate snack ideas
|Medium Fresh Fruit
|Small pretzel bag
Recovery starts immediately after the session ends. You want your body to have all the resources it needs to consolidate your training into long-term memory, as well as repair any damage done (many professional Esports athletes suffer from wrist, shoulder, and back issues). If you don’t provide the resources, your body will take matters into its own hands and start eating itself. The longer you wait, the more your body gets broken down. Many Esports athletes are still growing which compounds the issue.
Get your recovery fuel ASAP!
The goal is to have a healthy, balanced, full meal within 2 hours of the session (there should be protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and some form of carbohydrate). But if you are pressed for time for any reason, grab a ready-to-drink protein/carbohydrate beverage or smoothie to hold you over.
A Note About Recovery…
You are not better at the end of a training session. In fact, you are worse. Think about it – you just focused all of your brain power for 2 hours straight? You’re tired. If you entered a rank game right now, you’d lose.
So when do you improve?
In the recovery period after the activity (sleep is a big part here). How does your body adapt? It starts by consolidating the information into neural pathways and repairing any damage done. And then it overcompensates so that next time the same session is a little bit easier.
The recovery process is complex and takes a lot of work from your body. The raw materials needed to accomplish this task come exclusively from your food. This is why it is so critical to give your body the right food in the recovery period. It makes your recovery and adaptation better – giving you more bang for your buck with the training session compared to your pizza eating peers.
I don’t want this article to be purely academic. Pick a time (before, during, or after) to focus on and start doing it. Move onto the others when you feel you have a good rhythm going.
Warning: Try not to get too upset when your buddies can’t keep up anymore.
Ready to take your game to a whole new level?
Check out my advanced programs on Patreon for individualized guidance (and to support what I do).
While you’re at it, come join my Private Discord Server where you can find duo buddies who have the same fire you do to improve themselves (only invite me to duo if you are looking for a back workout). You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with, why not pick people who will push you to be better?