diet for chess players
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Chess is one of the world’s most popular games, played by millions of people throughout the world. Practicing chess is a continuous learning process. A balanced diet for a chess player is very crucial which can provide all the nutrients required for the optimal functioning of memory. Not only the quality and quantity of the diet are important for the chess players but also the timing of taking the right foods at right time is essential for the chess players.

The findings of several scientific studies are useful to improve the learning capacity and concentration power of chess players and to improve their performance. Being a practicing nutritionist, I can suggest the following dietary tips to improve the performance of chess players.

diet tips for chess player

14 Diet tips for chess players

1.Reduce your total sugar intake

Sugar is the empty source of calories, containing no other nutrients. Avoid sugar in your daily diet as far as possible [1].

Read – White sugar vs brown sugar vs jaggery vs honey

2.Replace Sugar with Honey.

You may replace sugar in your daily meals with honey. Honey is superior to sugar as it contains naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, a lesser amount of honey is adequate to impart desired sweetness.

Remember, replace sugar with a lesser amount of sugar but do not add extra honey to your diet [2].

3.Avoid all types of soft drinks

Soft drinks are loaded with sugar and artificial chemicals like coloring agents, flavoring agents, and preservatives, etc. All these are harmful chemicals. Stay away from all types of soft drinks [3].

Read- Which is the best soft drinks?

diet tips for chess player -  avoid cola drinks

4.Replace commercially available fruit juices with homemade ones

Like soft drinks, commercially available fruit juices are also loaded with sugar and artificial chemicals. Moreover, they contain little quantity of preserved fruits. The preservation process also reduces the nutritive value of the fruits. So, guys, don’t depend on ready-made fruit drinks. Rather invest 5 minutes from your busy schedule and make your fresh fruit juice at home.

5.Drink more milk

Milk is a source of good-quality protein and calcium. Increase your daily milk intake. It is nourishing food that can be taken during chess competitions. Sipping chocolate milk during the tournament may help you to sustain energy for a long time.

Skimmed milk contains a lesser amount of cholesterol and fat, so it is better to substitute whole milk with skimmed milk [4], [5].

Read – How safe is milk safe for you?

6.Take curds daily

Curd is a good source of probiotics, protein, calcium. Include curds in your daily diet. Curds and yogurts help to maintain good health and prevent many chronic diseases. It improves digestion [6], [7].

7.Avoid contaminated food

Avoid unhygienic foods and contaminated drinking water. Intake of street foods increases the risk of food poisoning, stomach pain, nausea, etc. Home-cooked food is the best for chess players.

8.Avoid overeating before or during the tournament

Excess amounts of food should be avoided before or during the tournament.

9.Choose easily digestible, non-spicy foods before the tournament.

Certain foods are difficult to digest, eg. cauliflowers, cabbage, radish, excess pulses, etc. Avoid these foods during tournament day.

10.The major meal should be completed around 2 to 3 hours of the chess competition.

A full stomach may cause a problem, sometimes it may cause a feeling of fullness in the stomach or may cause a feeling of sleepy. So, it is better to complete the last major meal at least 3 hours before the starting of the competition.

11.Avoid Greasy or fatty foods before or during chess competition

High-fat foods and oily foods take more time (around 6 hours) for digestion which may cause tiredness. Restrict the intake of fatty foods before or during chess competitions.

12.Avoid caffeine when the stomach is empty

The caffeine tolerance level varies from person to person. The chess player should take enough caffeine for stimulation but he should not take too much caffeine that may cause lack of sleep, nervousness, feeling jittery, etc.

It is better to avoid caffeine-rich drinks on an empty stomach.

For optimum performance, maximum alertness, and minimum jitters, frequent intake of small doses of caffeine is suggested. A mug of low-caffeine tea or half a cup of coffee is preferred rather than a one-time blast.

Periodic intake of a small number of caffeine results in a feeling of clearheadedness and calmness, which in turn enhances performance.

A small snack with a caffeine drink is a good approach.

diet tips for chess player -  drink water

13.Adequate hydration is essential for chess players

Chess players should drink a lot of water throughout the day because adequate hydration is needed for the optimum functioning of the brain.

14.Reduce the intake of processed foods as far as possible

Less processed foods and/or unprocessed foods are always preferred to highly processed foods. Traditional breakfast (like dosa or idli with sambar, upma with vegetables, chapati with mixed vegetables, etc.) is always better than instant breakfast recipes like instant noodles, ready-to-eat meals, etc [8], [9].

15.Include more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet

Chess players should take at least 2 or 3 servings of fresh fruits [10]. The inclusion of a citrus fruit provides adequate vitamin C. A handful of dried fruits is a good snack for chess players. Home-made fruit juices can also be taken instead of commercially available fruit juices.

Healthy breakfast for chess players

Since breakfast is the first meal of the day, breaking the fasting of 9-10 hours, it is essential to make a healthy breakfast that will supply an adequate amount of energy and protein along with plenty of micronutrients.

Homemade, nutritious breakfast is always preferred over any ready-to-eat instant breakfast. Nutritional benefits of selected traditional breakfasts are mentioned below-

diet tips for chess player- have idli
Breakfast recipes for Chess playersNutritional Benefits
Dosa with SambarDosa is an excellent probiotic-rich, cereal-pulse-based breakfast. The use of sambar (cooked pulse with vegetables) and coconut chutney (a high-calorie recipe) as a side dish further improves its nutritive value. Masala dosa is more nutritious than plain dosa as the former provides a good amount of vegetables.
Idli and sambarIdli is made up of fermented rice and dal, providing a lot of probiotics in our daily diets. Taking sambar with idli further increases the nutritive value.
PohaRice flakes (churah) are the richest source of iron among the cereals. Poha made with rice flakes and seasonal vegetables is a healthy breakfast.
Oat porridgeOat helps to control body weight and it is a rich source of prebiotics. Oat milk porridge with chopped seasonal fruits is a good breakfast.
Bread, butter, banana, and boiled eggThis traditional homemade breakfast is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Sattu paratha with raitaThis is a high protein, high fiber, probiotic-rich, cereal-pulse-based healthy breakfast.
Roti sabjiIt is a vegetarian breakfast, which is both healthy and tasty.
Suji upmaThis is a low-calorie healthy breakfast, ideal for those who are trying to reduce their body weight.

Healthy Snacks for chess players

diet tips for chess player- have yogurt

Since chess players should take small amounts of food at frequent intervals, healthy snacks are essential for the chess players. Few healthy snacks and their health benefits are suggested below-

Snacks for Chess playersNutritional Benefits
A handful of roasted peanuts and Bengal gramSupplies a good amount of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Freshly prepared fruit juice using fresh, juicy seasonal fruits like citrus fruits, watermelon, etc.They are rich sources of vitamin C, folic acid, minerals. They help to hydrate the body.
Lassi or buttermilkA rich source of probiotics and help to hydrate our body.
RaitaThe most healthy way to incorporate fresh vegetables, probiotics, and calcium.
Fruit saladA combination of several fresh fruits in a plate boosts your vitamin intake.
A small bowl (100g) of home-made sour cardThis is the simplest way to provide protein, calcium, and probiotics.
Sattu sarbatSattu (roasted Bengal gram powder) is an excellent source of protein, minerals, and fiber. The addition of a spoonful of lemon juice, and a pinch of black salt & black pepper further increases its vitamin and mineral content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do chess players drink so much water?

Proper hydration is very important for proper brain functioning. Playing chess requires good brain function and uninterrupted concentration. Dehydration must be prevented to ensure proper activity. So, drinking an adequate amount of water is required before and during chess competitions.

Small sipping of water at frequent intervals is good for chess players.

How much do chess players eat?

Chess is a game playing for an extensive period of time with intensive brain activity. Proper functioning of the brain requires a constant source of energy and water for proper hydration. Carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy for the brain.

Chess players should eat a balanced diet that can supply all the nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

To maintain good brain function B vitamins also play an important role. So, adequate intake of unprocessed or less processed, fresh foods should be taken.

The exact quantity of food intake of chess players depends on many factors like

  • Height, weight, physical status and health condition of the chess player
  • Habit of doing physical exercise
  • occupation of the player
  • Food availability and food habit of the person
  • Regular hours of chess practice
diet tips for chess player -  have fruits

Do chess players lose weight?

Yes, chess players may lose weight intentionally or unintentionally.

Intentional weight loss occurs when a chess player has consciously taken a low-calorie diet.

But unintentional weight loss is more common among chess players. High energy, balanced diet is required for chess players for the maintenance of their body weight and optimum performance. A diet that does not supply adequate protein and energy causes weight loss for chess players.

Do chess players eat sugar?

It is better for chess players to restrict their sugar intake because sugar is an empty source of calory, providing no nutrients. Excess intake of sugar may also increase the risk of obesity, hypertension, etc. Chess players should take a well-balanced diet providing adequate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Bottom Line

Chess is a game of intensive concentration and brain function for an extensive period of time. For maintaining optimum brain functions, diet for chess players should have a routine providing moderate carbohydrate, adequate-protein, and low-fat contents. All the vitamins must be supplied through natural foods. Proper hydration is essential for brain function.

Intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is essential to ensure the supply of adequate micronutrients.


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Dr. Sagarika Chakraborty was awarded her doctorate in Food and Nutrition from University of Calcutta (C.U.) in 2017. She is an experienced Researcher, working in the field of Food Science for more than 12 years and published papers in international and national journal. She has also presented papers in national conferences.

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