What do German esports athletes eat?
Researchers have analyzed what German players eat in esports and we can say that the results are not what we imagine.
A can of Red Bull next to the computer mouse, a bag of crisps next to the keyboard, that’s how many people think of esports nutrition. “Energy drink is indeed part of the diet of many,” says Prof. Ingo Froböse, director of the Institute for Movement Therapy and Movement-Oriented Prevention and Rehabilitation at the German Sport University in Cologne, “But overall, eSports players eat better than the general population.”
This is the result of the third eSport study from the German University of Sport Cologne, presented on February 3, 2021. The previous two eSports studies focused on training and health behavior as well as media consumption and performance on mental well-being.
Dr Ingo Froböse interviewed around 820 eSports athletes of all levels. A particular challenge this year: Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, data for the 2021 eSport study was not collected at eSports events, but entirely online.
Energy drinks are part of eSports
Consuming energy drinks, often associated with eSports, is more than a cliché. About 40% of respondents consume energy drinks regularly, drinking just over one can per week on average. Energy drink makers have sponsored major eSports events and teams for years.
In addition, many of these drinks are associated with a supposed increase in performance and therefore appear particularly attractive to eSports players. These marketing strategies may well explain why player consumption is above average.
“The high amounts of sugar in these drinks should of course be viewed negatively from a health science perspective. Therefore, consumption should be drastically reduced, ”says Froböse, who recommends a handful of nuts and lightly sweet tea instead for an in-game boost.
Nevertheless, overall sugar consumption is significantly lower than that of the general population. Whether it’s soft drinks, chocolate or other sweets, esports players consume less than other groups. On average, one chocolate bar per week and a small bowl of salty snacks indicate healthy eating behavior.
In addition, fast food and ready-to-eat products are eaten only twice a week on average. So the cliché of a quick slice of pizza in front of the console seems outdated.
Meat is preferred over vegetables
However, there is still a need for optimization. “We see the same problem in eSports athletes as in the general population: there is still too much meat and too few vegetables on the menu,” concludes Froböse.
While the German Nutrition Society recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, only 15% of men and 25% of women surveyed achieve this recommendation. Although an above-average proportion of esports players are vegetarians or vegans (14.8%), the remaining group eats meat almost every day.
“In particular, the consumption of red meat, which is associated with negative health effects, should be reduced accordingly,” says Froböse.
Home cooking is the trend
The survey results show that half of all respondents do their own cooking at least five days a week. Only 5% of respondents leave the preparation of meals entirely to someone else. This is even more astonishing when you consider that the esports squad is made up of 86% men, who, in fact, cook rather rarely according to previous studies.
“Of course, we hope that this development will continue after the pandemic. Those who cook themselves also decide what goes into the pot. This is the first step towards a healthy and balanced diet, ”explains Rolf Buchwitz, vice-chairman of the board of directors of AOK Rhineland / Hamburg.
No negative influence of the pandemic
The results of the study also reveal that the pandemic has only a minor impact on the health behavior of respondents. As in previous years, the average level of physical activity among the target group is well above the recommendations of the World Health Organization.
Esports players spend more than nine and a half hours per week in physical activity. This is about an hour longer than that of respondents in the 2020 study. Almost all respondents still rate their health and well-being as good.
“We would have expected the pandemic and the restrictions that accompany it in daily life to have a negative impact on respondent’s health ratings and sense of well-being. Instead, the target group was able to maintain the level of previous years and even improve in some cases,” according to Froböse.
Still a potential for global optimization
“In general, the clichés of the junk-food-eating esport player are outdated,” concludes Froböse of the 2021 eSports study. “Reducing the consumption of meat and energy drinks can be an important starting point for health promotion. targeted approach that takes both the health and performance of eSports players to the next level.”