Chess and Nutrition

Chess and Nutrition - What Should a Chess Player Eat?

A chess player might look like an average human to a normal person. A player in fashionable formals sits on a chair for hours with a brooding, intense look- doing nothing but moving pieces.

But there’s more to that than meets the eye.

Chess is a very complex sport that requires not just great mental strength but also physical prowess.

You read it right; of course, we don’t mean you have to do push-ups before or after a game of chess to play well.

But the diet and workout routine of chess players is a significant factor in the player’s performance. Whereas physical activity helps keep the mind agile and alert for the unforeseen challenges and curve-balls coming their way on the chessboard.

As a sedentary board game, chess has many side effects that need to be warded off with the choice of a diet and exercise regime that fits into the schedule and keeps the player motivated to follow it.

A Healthy Regime is 80% Diet and 20% Exercise

The one who wrote this was not entirely wrong.

According to a study aptly named “Longevity of Outstanding Sporting Achievers : Mind Versus Muscle” – Not only does the game of life continue after the checkmate, but excelling in mind sports like chess means one is likely to play the game for longer.

Therefore, food intake is a crucial element to control your energy levels, especially when you are playing chess. Even if you can play chess without considering a good diet and a nutrition plan, you could get unexpected results.

A tournament chess game can be more than 7 hours of stress and fatigue for a chess player. As a result, it is necessary not to limit the preparation to study chessboard and moves but extend it to physical training and a well nutritional plan to meet the demand.

Nutrition impacts a player’s brain, improving alertness, memory recall, quick decision-making ability, and overall brain performance. It also enhances the players’ physical strength

What Should a Chess Player Eat?

What should a Chess Player Eat Before a Game?

Food intake two hours before the game affects how the player feels and plays during the game. After eating a voluminous food or food, which is difficult to digest, the bloodstream of the organs involved in the digestion process increases.

Consequently, the blood supply to other organs reduces, making players drowsy and tired while playing the game and prone to make mistakes.

Before the game, it is therefore preferred not to eat fatty, fast food rich in glucose and other easily digestible nutrients. Most of the players depend on quick, solid food such as chocolates, cereal bars, fruits, dry fruits, cereal cookies, etc.

And in fluids, they take mineral water, chocolate shake, fruit juice, coffee, tea, etc.

It is also not recommended to play the game of chess in a state of hydration as it affects mental performance and memory. Therefore it is recommended to drink a sufficient amount of water to keep the body and mind stable.

What can a Chess Player Eat During the Game?

A player’s food intake during a chess tournament can significantly affect a player’s performance. Having access to food during the game is advantageous. Water is a compulsion that is usually seen on chess game tables.

According to Kelly Hammer, a professional sports nutritionist, “not drinking enough water during a game increases the prevalence of fatigue, headaches, and low blood pressure which may negatively affect the results.”

The Secret Powerhouse Vitamin for Chess Players

Vitamin B, mostly Vitamin B12, directly impacts your energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. Apart from water, it is always a good idea to keep a banana or a citrus fruit on a game with you. There are other options like nuts, cheese sticks, protein bars, and tuna snacks, which are high in protein.

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Energy Drink and Caffeine – Should You Take them?

There is a debate about adding a sports drink or/and caffeine to the game table.

According to sports nutritionists, sports drinks like Gatorade are not required as chess is not an endurance sport, and they should not substitute mineral water. At the same time, caffeine during chess is a game of gamble as it is an individual thing. Sometimes it makes you feel energetic and occasionally sleepy.

That’s why players prefer caffeine-free drinks.

Pro tip: Go for chewing gum while you are on the game as it keeps one alert and energized. 

Eating Tips for Chess Players After the Game

It doesn’t matter much what you eat after the game. If you are in the tournament, avoid fatty foods as they could disturb your stomach and disrupt your next day’s schedule.

Top 3 Eating Rules to Boost Your Game

  1. Eat balanced food: What should you eat? A balanced diet is one that gives your body all the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get complete nutrition from your diet, you should include food that will balance carbs & proteins. Vitamins and minerals are a must. To be precise, one should include one protein source, one source of carbohydrates, and a few vegetables and fruits.
  2. Plan and eat strategically: A good Chess game plan will lead you to victory but not when you do not have a good eating plan. Eating healthy is essential to keep you mentally and physically fit. Apply a few strategies that work with your lifestyle. Start with veggies and fruits, plan for a week if you do not have time, use easy hacks like nuts and energy bars, always carry a water bottle and protein snacks wherever you can for regular fueling.
  3. Maintain enough gap between your intake: Eat roughly every 4 hours and within a 12-hour window. This limited window should help you regulate your food intake and benefit from better energy throughout the day. However, it is essential to note that you will not remain healthy, eating a lot of food of any kind while following the fixed eating gap. Eat suggested food in sufficient amounts to efficiently boost your game.

Final Thoughts

Well, a balanced chess diet will not make you a good chess player instantaneously, but it’s something that will give you an edge over the competition. It helps you feel more confident going into a round. Eating too heavy, or also less, or eating the wrong kind and amount of food can impact the efficiency of your brain and body.