The biggest problem with nutrition in the Esports world is that there is simply no quality information out there, and this is by no means the fault of the athletes themselves. They are stuck trying to figure it out without clear guidance.
Whenever I ask Esports athletes where they found a particular protocol/diet/supplement, here are the most common answers:
- General fitness website
- Friends or family
- Their coach
- Big guy at the gym or IG influencer
- Heard a pro was doing it
- No source, they’re just trying to figure it out themselves
It’s funny, I haven’t yet come across an Esports athlete who ever said they worked with a sports or performance dietitian. The closest I’ve heard is ‘nutritionist’*, although even that is rare.
*Side bar: Anyone can be a nutritionist. It is not credentialed. ‘Dietitian’ is the term for a nutrition professional.
Not a single source was from a true nutrition professional. What’s worse, most of the sports dietitians are working tactical or traditional sports (I should know, coming from that space). And as I’m about to cover below, Esports athletes have unique considerations.
Your sport lies predominantly in the mental realm, rather than physical
This is the number one difference. Sure, there are sports that are similar, like baseball, where reaction speed and hand-eye coordination dominate. However, most nutrition information is geared toward traditional sports. Fueling muscles is far different than fueling the brain. You need a dietary regimen that is optimized to the brain and nervous system.
You’re sitting for long periods of time doing repetitive tasks
Esports are inherently a sedentary activity. Don’t be fooled into thinking this means it’s not strenuous. Chess players can burn as much as 6,000 calories a day while competing in tournaments. This exceeds the needs seen in some of our traditional sports!
But Esports is a little different from chess. The constant repetitive movements make Esports athletes far more likely to develop overuse injuries. You need the right dietary support to help manage inflammation and protect your lean tissue (connective tissue, bones, muscles) to ensure longevity in the sport.
It’s a shame every time a pro in their early 20’s is forced to medically retire.
You have less control over your food
If you’re living in a gaming house, you might have access to a private chef. Even then, most players I speak to still opt to eat out for most meals. All those food sources get paid to make food taste good. They don’t care about your health or performance.
If you’re at the collegiate level and living on campus, your funds are tight. If you’re living at home, your parents control the food supply.
The worst-case scenario is when you are trying to take your nutrition seriously, but the rest of your house is not, and it ends up being stocked with garbage.
You’ll need to do an honest, brutal look at your food sources – and possibly have some hard conversations with the rest of the house – to make sure your needs are met.
Whatever the situation, having affordable, convenient, and quality food options, all become a necessity for performance improvements.
Healthful foods are unavailable at sporting events
As you know, most Esports programs are tight on funds. Sporting events tend to be pretty bare as far as performance foods go.
You’ve got a few options:
- Eat the junk
- Don’t eat the junk
- Don’t eat the junk and bring your own supplies
The best option is obviously the last, but it also adds extra effort (and cost) to you. Don’t fall into the trap of just copying what others are doing. Needs will vary even between Esports athletes! What works for you as an individual can be completely different from your teammate.
You may still be growing (brain doesn’t stop until 25 yo)
Even if your body stopped growing, your brain is still developing until you’re about 25 years old. Either way, future you is counting on present you to put the right stuff in your body so that you don’t mess up the development process. You’re going to really be kicking yourself if you stunted some physical development that would have given you that extra edge.
There are unique energy, macronutrient, and micronutrient considerations for you as a still-developing Esports athlete. These needs are quite different than the needs of your family, coaches, pro athletes, gym bros, and IG influencers. It’s a big mistake to try and copy their nutrition patterns when their bodies are in a completely different developmental state.
You may still be in puberty
Puberty is a very interesting time in a human’s development. It’s classically recognized as being ‘over’ by 14 years for females, and 16 years for males. This doesn’t tell the whole story though. Estradiol is increasing in females until about age 20, while testosterone levels are increasing in males until about age 30!
The hormonal state of younger people is going to be completely different than someone who in their 30s. If your hormones are different, it’s not too big a surprise that the nutritional needs are also going to be different.
Bottom line: If you want to be a better Esports athlete you need to eat like a Esports athlete. Stop copying the rest.
Check out my articles that go into specific protocols you can look to follow!
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