Before we get started, let's be honest for a second. Poker players, as a whole, are not the most physically fit group of people.
Our brains are processing information on a regular basis but our bodies get little more than the occasional chair wiggle or lethargic stretch.
Articles like these need to be realistic. The point isn't to turn grinders into Olympic athletes; the aim is to offer practical advice that can keep the mind sharp and the body healthy.
Whether you play live or online, poker guarantees one thing; you spend plenty of time sitting in a chair. In order to be profitable in the long run it's crucial to revitalize the body and mind with exercise and healthy food.
Eating well and exercising have a real effect on your ability to make good decisions, the same decisions that translate into wins and losses at the poker table.
Best Brain Foods for the Poker Player
A healthy diet is something you should be interested in for more reasons than just winning at poker.
Make sure to have complete meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner with scheduled light snacks in the times between to refuel your batteries. Have one small snack 2.5 hours before lunch and another light snack 2 hours before dinner.
Include an assortment of vegetables and fruits in your menu. Fiber in your breakfast meal with juice will give you the kickstart you need. Avoid carb-heavy meals at night.
If you're like most people, however, you're going to be looking for something to snack and sip on while you're on the grind.
These five items are not only ideal fuels for your brain, they're also tasty and easy to add to your snack menu.
1. Acai berries and Blueberries
Purple berries, in general, are known to contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamins.
Acai berries, which are a unique fruit from South America, also possess essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids and protein.
Blueberries are one of the healthiest things to eat in the world. They contain more antioxidants than any other fruit and are linked to improved vision, coordination and cognitive function.
Brain benefits for the poker player: Improved vision and coordination will cut down on costly multi-tabling mistakes.
2. Coffee beans
Coffee's gotten a bit of a bad rap when it comes to health but the truth of the matter is that coffee is a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
It has also been shown recently that caffeine is actually good for the brain - in moderation of course.
The ideal form of coffee, when speaking in terms of mental health and benefits, is pure Espresso. Drink without milk and sugar for best brain results.
Brain benfits for the poker player: Rocket fuel for the brain. Stay alert and on point with a steady stream of caffeine.
3. Matcha - aka Gyokuru green tea powder
This is some of the rarest, purest, and most revered tea there is. What's unique about having Matcha tea is that you actually consume the whole thing. It's like a drink and a meal, and it's great for you.
It is grown in the shade and very rich in nutrients and chlorophyll.
Its high concentrations of amino acid L-Theanine which have relaxing and calming effects.
It has roughly 10 times the quantitative benefit of regular tea including greater amounts of antioxidants, catechins, vitamins such as C and A, even Fluoride and L-Theanine.
Brain benefits for the poker player: Take the edge off a bad beat with the calming effects of this revered tea.
4. Cacao Beans
Even though cacao beans are a big part of chocolate you're not going to get the good stuff they have to offer by eating an average chocolate bar.
You need to get the bean naturally. You can find it either in high percentage (over 75%) dark chocolate or 100% organic non-alkalized cacao powder.
Cacao is rich in brain-enhancing goodies like antioxidants, flavanoids, catechins and theobromine.
It's inked to improved cognitive function, bliss and mood enhancement.
Brain benefits for the poker player: Eating chocolate releases brain chemicals that will help you stay positive and optimistic, two very important traits at the poker table.
5. Wild Salmon
An amazing source of Essential Fatty Acids (like Omega-3), low in saturated fats, among the lowest contaminant (mercury) levels of all seafood.
It's linked to improved brain function, mood, synaptic connections, and even reduces your risk of stroke, Dementia and Alzheimers.
Brain benefits for the poker player: Wild salmon will keep your brain firing on all cylinders, giving you the faculties you need to outsmart your opponents at the table.
Exercises and Tips for the Online Poker Player
It doesn't take a fitness expert to tell you that sitting at a computer all day isn't going to do much for your body.
Don't worry, you don't have to join a spin class or buy a rowing machine to enjoy the benefits of good fitness.
Use a moderate combination of cardiovascular/aerobic training with regulated lifting and stretching. Remember to pace yourself. The point is to find a regime that you can rely on a few times per week.
Just like a well-balanced diet, staying physically fit is paramount to your quality and length of life, not just your poker game.
In addition to a healthy lifestyle we've put together a quick list of easy exercises and tips specifically geared to the online poker player.
6. Get an Ergonomic Chair
Ensure good posture by purchasing a comfortable, ergonomic chair. Square your shoulders and make sure your monitor is at a comfortable height.
Your wrists should be slightly lower than your elbows and your knees should be slightly higher than your hips for best posture.
7. Take 1-2 Minute Breaks
Have a watch or phone with a timer or alarm. Take short 1-2 minute stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes.
After each hour of play, take a 5 minute break. Also, if you are a tournament player, always try to get away from your computer/table during breaks in play.
8. Rest Your Eyes
Avoid eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically. Look away from the monitor and focus on something in the distance.
Rest your eyes by covering them with your palms for 10-15 seconds.
9. Start Routine Exercises
Use correct posture when working. Keep moving as much as possible. Roll and stretch your wrists regularly. Contract and hold your abdominal and gluteus muscles repeatedly until comfortably tired.
Exercise your calves by pushing up onto the balls of your feet, hold and repeat. Utilize the same process each time. A routine allows you to be habitual. This way you don't forget any areas and you treat all areas of your body each time.
The Final Word
Unfortunately knowing which foods to eat and which exercises to do doesn't count for a whole lot if you don't put it into action.
Observe your own habits and schedules and make a note of them. Not just a mental note, actually write it down.
Keep track of when you are playing, what you're eating, and how much sleep you are getting. If you rely on memory for this you will lose track or stop caring. Having it on paper will keep you on track.
Once you have your pattern on paper you can begin to dissect the info and figure out where to make the necessary changes. If you're serious about it you can change your lifestyle.
Once you have your brain and body functioning at peak performance you will see a real effect on your poker profit.