Stay Stacked: Snacks for Your Game
You just bought your dream car. You know the gas station you are about to drive past has dirty gas, but it’s that tiny bit cheaper and less effort than hanging a U-turn to use the gas station across the street even though you know it has good-quality gas. Standard choice is the dirty option, right? Cheap and easy is the way to go? Obviously not.
Our body is the primary vehicle that we have in life, and it’s a heck of a lot more valuable than any car, so why would we fill it with dirty fuel?
The typical poker player’s diet on any given “game day” is usually pretty awful, considering the five-minute-per-hour limitation to grab the quickest, easiest snack possible. Add a trip to the bathroom, and you’ve got three minutes, at most, to spare. And it's even worse when playing live. After a few months, even weeks, all of those chips, cookies, slices of cheese or spoonfuls of ice cream start to catch up on your general health, focus and vitality.
Weight gain is the most commonly discussed and perhaps obvious effect that a bad diet has, but it’s not all just about the fat and skinny. There is so much more to what we put in our mouths. It’s the fuel that keeps us energized, alert and functioning properly — three things every poker player needs to excel at to be successful.
The concentration and thought processes required in a poker session means you need some serious brain food to stay stimulated and focused. I see countless poker players spending a fortune of time and money on refining their poker skills through all kinds of strategy training, yet not giving their body the nourishment it needs for the brain to function at peak performance.
If this sounds like you, you're cutting your potential short. Here are some healthy snacks (read: brain food) that I suggest to load your bag with each day before hitting the tables. Or for those online grinders, please remember, if you don’t have “junk food” available in the kitchen, then you simply have no choice but to eat healthier options.
Please keep in mind that this is not a set meal plan, it's just some suggested options to help deter you from eating lesser-quality foods or drinks between meals and to help your body maintain the energy and focus it needs throughout the day. You should always fuel up before you play and on your dinner break with a nutritious meal.
Blueberries have been labeled a “brain food” because they are packed with antioxidants that help protect the brain and skin. Studies have shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved the learning capacity of aging rats. (Source: Blueberries and Brain Health) On top of that, blueberries taste great! So try to snack on a handful of blueberries while you grind.
In the video above, I mixed blueberries with raw nuts and seeds, which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E, all which are known as "brain food." Keep in mind that with everything we eat, balance is vital. So while these pack a powerful punch, you don't want to overload on them either, so try to limit yourself to a handful per day.
Pick up a banana for a quick hunger fix and energy boost thanks to its high dose of potassium, "an essential mineral present in large concentrations inside every cell in the body. In the brain, potassium builds the electrical potential inside brain cells required for electrical signaling between cells. Depletion of potassium from the body decreases the amount of electrical signaling in the brain, resulting in lethargy." (Source: LiveStrong.com)
Speaking of potassium, coconut water is filled with it, as well as four other essential electrolytes that gives your body everything it needs to stay hydrated, including calcium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium. It's basically an all-natural sports drink, without the added sugar, flavors or colors.
For the chocolate lover, like me, look for raw cacao as a nutritious option to curb your craving. You've probably heard many theories about chocolate being good for you, or a "mood booster." Well, that's true, but only when it's in its raw form and not processed with mass amounts of sugar and dairy to make the chocolate that we know so well today. Raw cacao packs the highest percentage of antioxidants of any other food in the world, as well as neurotransmitters such as dopamine and anandamide that are associated with happiness. It is also the primary dietary source of magnesium, which plays a key role in producing energy for the neurons in the brain, giving you clarity and focus. The brand that I had in this video is the delicious Loving Earth's Coconut Mylk.
Last, taking a product like the Green Nutritionals Green Superfoods that I showed at the end of this video is a must for everyone. I highly recommend you visit your local health-food store and chat with the naturopath about which green-powder goodness is available. I take this stuff every morning when I travel, as soon as I wake up, to give myself a boost of green nutrients for the day. When I'm home, I add a small amount into my green smoothies for an extra kick.
There are many more options available that are just as quick and easy to grab on the go, and of course, that are just as tasty, and I will share more of them in future editions of Stay Stacked. With a little self-control when making your purchases at the supermarket, you could turn your game around in no time.
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