Chess diet: 5 rules to boost your game

By | 24 août 2017

I’m not teaching you anything new by saying it is important to have a healthy lifestyle. Food intake is a key element for handling energy levels, as well as supporting your brain.

Even if you can play good chess without taking care of you nutrition, doing it could get you unexpectedly better results.

Following these 5 rules should help you get the most out of your eating regimen to sustain chess performance.

Don’t do diets

Diets are a temporary measure for achieving a specific result. Nevertheless, they don’t create a good nutritional foundation for long-term efficiency.

This study suggests at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years.

Moreover, you will feel frustrated along the way due to the many restrictions. And if one of these frustrations emerges while playing, it could definitely prevent you from fully concentrating and will hence affect your game.

Eat within a 12-hour window

If weight loss is one of your objectives, this rule could be a savior. The idea here is not to alter what you eat, but rather when you eat it.

This suggestion comes from a study done on mice where their access to food was within a 9 to 12-hour window (compared to some mice that had 24/7 access to food) and remained sleek and healthy despite eating food with lots of fat.

Good news is that results seem likely to apply to humans, although these are mice studies. This limited window should help you regulate your food intake and benefit from better energy throughout the day. However, it is important to note “no calorie restriction” doesn’t mean you will be healthy if you eat in excess, even if you respect the 12 hour rule.

In a nutshell: eat roughly every 4 hours (It can obviously vary from 3 to 5 according to your schedule and preferences) and within a 12 hour window. You can try for instance eating at 8am, 12am, 4pm (snack) and finally 8pm.

Eat what you like, but balanced

Now you that you’ve discovered the 12-hour trick, the next question is to choose what to eat. We hear all the time it is important to eat healthy or balanced. But what does that mean exactly?

This article summarizes the concept quite well and in simple words:

“A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. In order to get the proper nutrition from your diet, you should obtain the majority of your daily calories from”:

  • fresh fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • whole grains
  • beans and legumes
  • nuts
  • lean proteins

To be complete and for some of you who are interested, you will find all your need to know about the ideal daily intake here.

But if you want to make your life easier, you cannot go wrong if you compose every main meal with a balanced mix of:

Don’t forget of course to vary and ideally include better food for your brain.

Eat strategically

I know, eating healthy is definitely easier said than done. As in a chess game, a good plan will lead you to victory. So here are 5 strategies you can adopt:

  • Kill the bad habit: depending on your current “dependence” on sugar and other processed foods, here again the habit deconstruction system will certainly help you achieve results step by step.
  • Plan weekly: the hardest part is to find the time to plan. Then you will see that having planned what you intend to eat for the week will help you actually keep control and avoid too many food variations.
  • Use cheat meals: If living on fast-food is not an option, neither is having too many restrictions for a chess player as explained in the first rule. To be sure you will enjoy a good hamburger or a sweet dessert, a good technique is to include cheat meals in your food planning. An ideal target being 2 maximum a week.
  • Use tricks: well-known tricks to eat fewer quantities are first to use smaller plates, then to drink a big glass of water right before your meal and finally take time to chew your food correctly.
  • Start with vegetables: I was used to eating few vegetables (if any to be honest) so one system I found quite useful is to force myself to start with my portion of vegetables, before getting on to the rest.

Eat according to game circumstances

The first 4 guidelines are meant to facilitate your transition to a more balanced diet. This last rule is there to ensure that you have an appropriate food supply for your match day.

2 to 3 hours prior to the game, you should only eat a mix of slow burning carbs accompanied with lean proteins and make it you last main meal. If your time schedule is restricted, you can simply use the same formula but reduce the quantities to avoid digestive difficulties.

During the game, this research carried out with chess Grand Masters a few years ago recommends fluid ingestion and, if the chess player wishes to do so (or when the game becomes long), solid foods but in moderate quantities.

Mineral water, fruit juices, tea, coffee, sports drinks, cereal bars, fruits, raisins, dry fruits (almonds, e.g.), chocolate, cereal cookies, can be chosen according to the nutritionist.

I would however suggest not considering a sports drink or non-dark chocolate, except if you expect the game to finish soon. It might give you a quick boost for the final stretch but also lead to a sugar crash and consequently fatigue right after.

After the game, especially if you are in a tournament situation, avoid heavy foods as they could disturb your night and even possibly the next morning.

Final thoughts

Whether you like it or not, you need to be adequately nourished to have your neurotransmitters ready to shot, plus don’t forget there are obvious health advantages you will benefit from.

By following these 5 rules in your daily diet, both you and your game will be boosted. Just try it out for a month before facing an opponent and see the difference. Chances are you will definitely aim to change your eating patterns afterwards.




Disclaimer: The content on this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.