Get nutrition tips for esports athletes

Nutrition is a key element of every athlete’s success — including esports athletes.

A healthy diet benefits an athlete’s performance, focus, and recovery. Healthy eating helps them be at their best for their sport.

Esports and Nutrition

Esports athletes often game from six to 10 hours or more a day. They spend a lot of time practicing for competitions or matches with other players or teammates. Many esports athletes also practice on their own time.

Esports athletes should remember that they are, in fact, athletes. That means they should take care of their bodies just like athletes in active sports like baseball, basketball, or football. In fact, some could argue that they need to care for their bodies even more.

Compared to traditional athletes, those in esports do not have as much downtime. The average esports athlete may compete for 10 hours after a planning and strategy session. They often work 12-hour days for three or four consecutive days every week.

Rather than a physically active workout, esports athletes complete more of a drawn-out brain workout, which still is a body workout that gets the heart pumping and releases cortisol. There’s a lot of repetition and cognitive function involved, along with a lot of energy being used, so it’s important for them to take ownership of their body and their care.

Nutrition is a big part of that.

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A Gamer’s Diet

When thinking about esports, many people picture a stereotype — the gamer who sits all day playing video games and loading up on pizza, snacks, and sugary drinks. However, savvy esports athletes often use good nutrition, working out, and lifestyle changes to improve their skills and gain an edge on the competition.

Experts in sports nutrition at UPMC Sports Medicine recommend esports athletes focus on a lean and high-protein diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. They should stay away from processed carbohydrates, simple carbs like candy, simple sugars, sodas, and even heavy carbs like pasta and potatoes. Those foods aren’t terrible to eat for esports athletes, but they should limit them in their diet.

Esports athletes also should incorporate omega 3s, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, into their diet for their brain health benefits. It’s also important to maintain good electrolyte levels, which impact coordination and muscle contractions.

Potassium and magnesium, often found in nuts, fruits, and vegetables, play a big part in reflexes, coordination, and muscle function.

When it comes to beverages, water is the way to go. According to our experts, there’s no need for an esports athlete to drink sugar-laced beverages. There are some benefits to caffeine, but only in moderation.

Everyone has a different limit and tolerance for caffeine that’s based on their body weight and genetic profile. A high amount of caffeine can have reverse effects, such as overstimulation, less focus, and delayed reaction time. When an esports athlete is playing a game for hours on end, it is better to have a stable and sustained energy level throughout rather than a simple sugar- or caffeine-induced peak followed by a crash.

Forming Good Habits Early On

Professional esports athletes are often much younger than athletes in other sports. An esports athlete’s career usually peaks during their teenage years. By their early- or mid-20s, esports athletes are in the later stages of their careers.

Esports athletes often have to mature quickly and understand that they have to make themselves, their self-care, nutrition, sleep, and exercise a high priority. They should create good habits. If they don’t, it could shorten their career.

A daily or weekly workout regimen is key to keeping the mind and body healthy and maintaining a good body weight. To help esports athletes set up good eating habits, our Sports Nutrition experts ask them to outline their daily routines for sleep, meals, gaming, exercise, and more. Our nutritionists study their day-to-day eating habits to develop a personalized nutrition, gaming, and workout schedule. They set up the schedule to ensure the athlete benefits from their routine, their gaming, their team, and their lifestyle.

By fueling their bodies, esports athletes will have better stamina, higher energy levels, and more focus and concentration. Good nutrition can boost performance and improve the outcomes in their games.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.