When we sit down to game, most often we’re not doing it for just 20 minutes or an hour. No, we’re looking at sessions more in the ballpark of anything up to 6 hours (and sometimes more.) To game for that long, our bodies and minds need energy, and sometimes mid-game boosts as well… But instead of giving you a list of sugary sports drinks—that by the way will only end up causing your energy to crash down the line—, we’re going to talk about some of the simpler ways to rev up your energy levels for long hours of play.
Drink lots of water. It sounds pretty straightforward, and it really is. Most women should drink about 2.7 liters of water every day, while most men should drink around 3.7 liters, based on average sizes. But that’s the baseline. When you’re exerting a lot of energy, you need more water. Everyone knows athletes need a lot of water to replenish what they lose during exercise and to keep their muscles working properly. Everyone’s also heard that when you’re taking tests or doing mentally strenuous work, you should drink more water to keep your brain functioning well. Considering gaming is a solid combination of both of those things, you can bet that drinking more water is going to help keep your muscles and brain running smoothly, increasing your endurance and energy overall.
It’s all too easy to reach for a box of cookies or a slice of pizza when gaming. You’re not usually thinking about what will help your energy—just what will taste good and curb your hunger so you can keep going. But in the end, those snacks aren’t going to do anything for you. What you want are healthy snacks that will both satiate you and keep your fuel levels high for a sustained period of time. The obvious thought would be to go for high-protein snacks, like unsalted nuts (I mean, you don’t want the salt gumming up your keyboard, do you?), beef jerky, sliced cheese, or plant-based protein bars. Protein is the best source of energy, but it also takes the longest to metabolize in our systems. So, you’ll want to have most of your protein before you game, so that your energy starts strong and lasts longer. For especially long gaming sessions, having high-protein snacks partway through can then re-boot you for the rest of the session.
Otherwise, you’ll want to go for complex carbohydrates, like fresh or dried fruits (without added sugars), sliced vegetables, granola bars, whole grain cereals, etc. Complex carbs are what will provide your body with the necessary sugars to keep going and give energy to your muscles for extended periods of physical and mental exertion.
We know it’s hard to pause on a good game, but we always advocate for taking breaks while gaming, and that’s to help with both your body and your brain. We talked a bit about the importance of taking breaks in our earlier post on improving your in-game focus. Well, that follows through to improving your in-game energy levels as well, with a few additional reasons behind it.
It drains our bodies to stay in the same position for a long time, ie., to stay seated. It’s not hard to lose energy and start feeling lethargic when too much of your body isn’t moving. The easiest way to get the engines going again is to pump some endorphins through your system. Endorphins are the hormones our bodies produce when we exercise and use our muscles. They are a natural stimulant, triggering positive feelings and greater energy overall. So, when you take breaks, try doing some jumping jacks, dropping for some push-ups, do a plank or a brief jog. Get the blood moving and the endorphins flowing, and you will certainly feel re-energized.
Breaks are also hugely important for our brains. When we do one thing for too long, our brains get tired. It’s like running the neurons on an endless loop—they’re bound too slow and tire out, just like if you yourself were running an endless loop on an outdoor track. So, step away from the game for a few minutes, take some deep breaths to get the oxygen flowing, and relieve your brain from the intensity of the game and the scenes you’re watching. You’ll come back refreshed, we promise.
Caffeinate—if you must 😉
Last, I suppose we should mention caffeine. It does do the trick for lots of people to help give that lift in concentration, energy, and focus. We think coffee or tea is your surest bets here, or something like a caffeine-theanine pill, which some people like because the theanine seems to counteract the jitteriness you can get from straight caffeine. Some gamers also really like the supplement-heavy drink powders that ramp up vitamins, caffeine, and theanine for an all-out turbo boost, but we think that the products that are closest to their original forms are going to be the best for you and your bodies overall. But remember; this is not the best way to energize, as you will inevitably experience a rebound low at some point.
The long and short of it is that when gaming for extended durations, you will need to rejuvenate your body’s energy supply throughout. The best ways to do that are the ways that will jive with your body’s systems most naturally so you can keep playing and win well. Give a try to these methods above and let us know if you see improvements!