Sugar. Sugar. Sugar. As you can see from my previous posts, I’m not a nutritionist. I’m a pharmacist. However, every medical provider knows the value of a good nutritional plan. In fact, the first therapy a doctor should recommend is a nutritious diet. By simply changing your diet, you can cure almost any illness known to man. There is no drug in the world more effective than a quality diet.
I will not go into details about how nutrition can benefit the human body. There are many books that I can recommend that will do a much better job than me. However, I will give you some basic tips on nutrition. These tips are not the end of a quality nutritional regimen. They are a good start. In fact, if your diet is a drug and you follow my recommendations, you will notice the benefits in a week or two. While these tips are geared specifically towards poker and mental performance, they will benefit almost every organ in your body.
I personally guarantee that if you follow the tips below, your mental performance will improve more than you could ever imagine. You will remember more, you will be able to concentrate longer, you will have a lot of energy and you will feel more keen. The typical Western diet has been a disaster for cognitive performance.
Tip # 1: high glycemic index carbohydrates are bad, low glycemic index carbohydrates are good
Carbohydrates are vital for any poker player looking to maintain a high level of mental performance. Because? In fact, there are 3 reasons why every poker player should eat adequate amounts of carbohydrates.
1) The brain depends almost entirely on glucose Poker QQ (the end result of carbohydrate metabolism) as a fuel source for energy. Unlike the rest of the body’s cells, the brain has difficulty using amino acids and fatty acids as energy sources. Thus, maximum mental performance depends almost entirely on how much glucose is supplied to the brain for energy production.
2) Brain cells, neurons, cannot store glucose for later use as energy. If glucose is not available, the brain’s mental performance decreases almost linearly.
3) The brain uses more energy than any other organ in the body. This is a normal person. For someone who plays poker for hours, the amount of mental energy required is much greater.
Carbohydrates are not created equal
It is important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal when discussing mental performance. It was shown in a study after study that carbohydrates with a high glycemic index do not improve mental performance as much as carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. Side note: the glycemic index is a sophisticated term used to describe blood glucose levels resulting from the metabolism of a specific carbohydrate. Foods with a high glycemic index result in a higher amount of glucose in the blood compared to foods with a low glycemic index. Why don’t all carbohydrates affect mental performance in the same way? Insulin. Whenever a carbohydrate is metabolized by the body, the glucose that results in the bloodstream is transported to the body’s cells by insulin. Excessive glucose in the blood is not only harmful to the arteries, it is also of no use to the body. Energy can only be produced when glucose enters cells. Glucose can only enter cells with the help of insulin. So think of insulin as the Drain-O and glucose as the goo that builds up in the pipes.
The dirty little secret of insulin
So, what happens when you eat a food with a high glycemic index? The body’s pancreas releases a large amount of insulin to clear glucose from the bloodstream. This is good and bad. It is good because a large amount of glucose does not accumulate in the bloodstream, causing a number of problems (think about diabetes). But it is also bad because the brain needs a constant supply of glucose. Remember that the brain primarily uses glucose for energy and cannot store it for later use. So when you eat that donut or drink that can of soda or energy drink loaded with sugar, you initially get an explosion of energy because of the large initial supply of glucose. However, once insulin clears glucose from the bloodstream, you become lethargic, your memory becomes fuzzy, you start to lose your mental sharpness, etc. That’s why after about an hour of consuming your precious energy drink, you suddenly hit a wall and desperately need another chance.