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A Primer on Eating a Balanced Diet and Beginning an Exercise Routine for Poker Players

2,726 Views on 9/5/19

A review of the basics of nutrition and exercise so you can make a positive change to your lifestyle and results

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Eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise is necessary to maintain good health. As poker players it is also the best way to conduct your life if you want to maintain your cognitive abilities. 

The problem for many people is that once they start blasting through their twenties they either lose interest or just don’t know where to begin. This article intends to give you a review of the basics of nutrition and exercise so you can make a positive change to your lifestyle and turbo boost your results at the poker table.

It’s time for you to spring into action!

Making a Positive Change

Keeping fit and eating well doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact food that fits into a balanced diet perfectly can be made to taste even better than easy to make rubbish. It’s all about getting into a routine that feels comfortable.

Think about how much effort you have made in the past to understand a difficult poker concept, and for what reward? Getting your body and mind into tip top shape will have an incredible impact on how well you play and how motivated you feel to continue improving. If you haven’t seen any improvements in recent month then this is a perfect time to give this a go.

People like to make fun of sports such as snooker and darts when the best players consider themselves professional sportsmen, but at least they are standing up and moving. So many of us guys are sat down for more than 12 hours each day. It’s not a great lifestyle.

Luckily, we can introduce a few simple programs into our lives to stave off the effects of sedentary behaviour.

Why Bother?

Physical exercise always has the effect of making the blood pump faster around the body. Once this happens, depending on what exactly you are doing, certain changes will take place. If no physical exertion takes place during your working day your cardiovascular system will slow down dramatically. The amount of blood carrying oxygen to your brain will decrease and you will start to feel brain fog and sleep.

A person who follows a regular exercise routine will have a strong enough cardiovascular system that enables their body to pumping blood around their body at a decent rate. Physicians have proven this multiple times over the last several decades. A person who does no exercise is leading themselves onto much higher risks of heart attacks and strokes, long after their win rate took a giant dive into the toilet.

There are three distinct types of exercise we can perform to increase our fitness level and sense of well-being. 

  • Aerobic Exercise - This is cardio performed at an intensity level that is easily maintainable over an extended period of time - something in the region of 20 minutes and upwards.
  • Anaerobic Exercise - This is short intense exercise that leaves you gasping for air but strengthens the other half of your cardiovascular system. 
  • Resistance Training - This usually takes the form of weight lifting but can be performed using only bodyweight movements to begin with.

Implementing an exercise program that incorporates all three exercise types will give you the greatest benefits. This is said keeping in mind that we are not considering a specialised program here with specific goals. We only want to improve our health and keep our mind sharp to get the most out of our poker endeavours.

The internet is full of good advice for starting a program. YouTube video from instructors with a high number of subscribers is generally a good place to start until you build up your own knowledge banks.

The only other thing you need to know before you start from scratch is take it easy to begin with.


If you’re now going to take on an exercise program you must start eating properly. The body needs good quality fuel as well as rest to recover and adapt from strenuous exercise.

Let’s look at the basic macro nutrients.

  • Protein - Proteins are the building blocks of living organisms. Any exercise that puts strain on the musculoskeletal system needs a higher than normal proportion of protein for recovery.
  • Carbohydrates - These are broken down into slow and fast release. Generally you should avoid simple carbs that are released too fast into the bloodstream. Slow release choices such as wholemeal bread and sweet potato are to be preferred. The only exception is immediately before and after exercise. Carbs are you body’s energy source.
  • Fats - Fat consists of more calories per gram than the other two nutrients. This has led people to believe they are the main cause of people putting on weight. This is wrong. Too many calories compared to your energy expenditure is why you might put on weight. Fats are responsible for many essential bodily functions, in particularly your endocrine system that controls your hormones.
  • Micronutrients are also known as vitamins and minerals. These are the types of nutrients that have your parents telling you to eat more fruit and vegetables. Meat and potatoes alone is just not going to cut it. This is not a balanced diet containing everything the body needs.

The most motivated players are unlikely to cut down on how many hours they play and study, but we do hope that we can encourage you to at least make some changes to your downtime.

This is a wide-ranging subject and you will do well to spend a little time every now and then learning a little more on how to exercise more efficiently and how to eat well. Feeling full twice a day is not well.

For now, you have some exercise choices and can take a look at the nutritional content of your favourite food choices.

From this point on it’s all about making small improvements, just in the same way you do with your poker game.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More

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