The ULTIMATE guide to staying healthy during an MMO release


MMO launches. The perfect excuse to abandon all illusion of self control. The time to just let loose and have fun.

Fresh fruits and vegetables? HAH! The only thing resembling a fruit that you’ll be eating for the next week will come in the form of delicious fruit flavored bears.

What if you could maximize your play time AND shed unwanted pounds?

It is possible to not only be healthier, but the strategies I’m going to show you in this post will actually give you more play time, save you money, and are EASY to implement.

The Strategy:

  1. Drink healthy meal replacement fruit smoothie shakes in the morning
  2. Snack on easy to prepare healthy snacks during the day
  3. Eat one large meal that takes less than five minutes to prepare at night
  4. Exercise in the mornings before you start playing
  5. Incorporate bodyweight exercises into your play time
  6. Supplement your vitamin intake to ensure that your body runs optimally

Meal Replacement Fruit Smoothies

Meal replacement fruit smoothies have been the cornerstone of my own diet for months now. They are amazing because even though I work from home I find cooking more than once a day tedious.

Making meal replacement smoothies will allow you to get in all of the nutrients required to keep you alert and energized. I recommend making a shake during the “brunch” time so that it will keep you satiated until the late afternoon.

Crucial elements to create a complete and healthy meal replacement smoothie:

    • Frozen fruit – I generally use a cup of mixed fruits(strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, blackberries)
    • Protein powder – 25 to 50g of protein will make the shake more filling, more nutritious, and also taste better without needing to add loads of sugar
    • Flaxseed – 4 tablespoons of flaxseed will add 8 grams of fiber and 12 grams of fat to the shake, in addition to completing its nutrient profile flaxseed contains Omega-3 fatty acids which are healthy for the heart and brain
    • Almond milk/Coconut milk – Adds extra flavor to the shake. Regular milk will work as well but lactose does not sit well with my body and I’ve found almond milk and coconut milk to cause a lot less bloating.
    • OPTIONAL: Banana – add a banana if you are a hardgainer and find it difficult to pack on weight and generally need a lot of calories.
    • OPTIONAL: Almonds – add a handful of almonds to increase the fat/fiber/and protein content of the shake
    • OPTIONAL: Greek yogurt to add more protein and calories

I LOVE this Ninja blender, it’s super easy to use and clean up and it’s only $42! http://www.thehealthygamer.com/ninjablender

Note: the links above are affiliate links, if you purchase something from those links I get a small fee from Amazon. It does not cost you anything more and helps support what I do here at The Healthy Gamer.

Meals

Body composition and especially fat storage is primarily a result of your eating habits. Abs are built in the kitchen, not in the gym.

Cook big meals that you can quickly reheat

The main reason for eating so much junk in the first days of an MMO’s release is that junk food is quick and easy to prepare. But it is possible and EASY to cook big batches of healthy food that is every bit as quick and convenient as junk food.

Here is a playlist of quick and easy healthy meal video guides that I regularly cook while gaming: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL285B11116B848413&feature=view_all

Recipe for success

Five minute meals you can make with pre-cooked meat

    • Heat up a slice of roast beef/roast pork/roast chicken along with your pre-roasted potatoes and you have meal.
    • Throw some slices of your meat on some tortillias with hot sauce and you have a meal. Optionally you can cook up peppers and onions in less than 5 minutes and really make delicious fajitas.

    • Make a bowl of rice and serve your meat ontop. Add a little soy sauce for flavor. Optionally you can chop up some of the meat and stir-fry in a skillet with veggies and soy sauce/stir-fry sauce for five minutes and make an even healthier and delicious stir-fry.

    • Make a salad. Fill a bowl with salad greens, chop up meat and put on top. Optionally add avocados, tomatoes, onions, etc.

    • Boil pasta noodles and mix part of your meat with spaghetti or alfredo sauce to create delicious pasta in the same amount of time it would take you to cook a packet of ramen noodles.
    • Just eat a piece of meat cold! It’ll still satisfy and help fuel you.

The problem with Junk Food

  1. They are devoid of important vitamins and minerals. Malnutrition comes about from not only a lack of calories, but a lack of the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to function at optimal levels. When you eat junk food you get calories and a lot of carbs/sugars. And that’s about it. A great article about how junk food causes malnutrition: http://articles.latimes.com/1991-06-09/news/mn-898_1_junk-food
  2. They cause spikes in your blood glucose levels, which will lead to a immediate spike in energy levels followed by a large crash.
    1. “The human body requires a relatively constant input of glucose, a sugar produced upon digestion of carbohydrates, for normal functioning. Glucagon and insulin are among the hormones that ensure a normal range of glucose in the human body[6]. Upon consumption of a meal, blood sugar normally rises, which triggers pancreatic cells to produce insulin. This hormone initiates the absorption of the just-digested blood glucose as glycogen into the liver for metabolism or storage, thereby lowering glucose levels in the blood. In contrast, the hormone glucagon is released by the pancreas as a response to lower than normal blood sugar levels. Glucagon initiates uptake of the stored glycogen in the liver into the bloodstream so as to increase glucose levels in the blood[7]. Sporadic, high-carbohydrate snacks and meals are deemed the specific causes of sugar crashes. The “crash” one feels is due to the rapid increase and subsequent decline of blood sugar in the body system as one begins and ceases consumption of high-sugar foods. More insulin than is actually needed is produced in response to the large, rapid ingestion of sugary foods.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_crash

MMO launches are marathons, not sprints. Junk food will give you short-term energy at a cost of lethargy an hour later. Ontop of that they are empty calories which will most likely be stored as fat.

Healthy Snacks

The goal with a healthy snack is to give you a burst of quick energy so you can play for another two to three hours before needing to eat something more substantial(or another snack).

Healthy Snack Ideas:

  • Home-made guacamole - One avocado, a bit of salsa along with mayonnaise will give you a snack with roughly 300 calories. Avocados are rightly called a superfood. They contain very high quality and nutritious fats and proteins that will give your body sustained and long-lasting energy. I find that eating an avocado will keep me alert and filled with energy for 4 hours. A great guacamole recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_guacamole/
    • The guacamole is great to eat by itself but you can also spread it on tortillias to make a guacamole taco.
    • It goes without saying that guacamole makes for a great dip
  • Fruit with peanut butter. An apple or banana with two to three tablespoons of peanut butter contains the perfect mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to keep you fueled for three to four hours.
    • This is a wonderful pre-workout snack or breakfast
  • Beef Jerky. Expensive, but delicious, and perfectly healthy. Pure protein!
  • Nuts – almonds, peanuts, mixed nuts. No one nut is especially superior to any others. I prefer almonds just because of their taste.
  • Dried fruits – these can help stave off your sweet tooth, but I would recommend against eating too many as they are still very high in sugar content. Craisins are delicious!
  • Eggs – eggs are super easy to cook and make wonderful snacks. To prepare for Guild Wars 2 I’m going to hard boil two dozen eggs and just store them in a big bowl. A few eggs with some salt and hot sauce makes for extremely nutritious and delicious snacks. Eggs also contain choline, a nutrient found to improve memory and mental function along with exhibiting protective effects for our livers. Not only will eating eggs help fuel you, but it will actively help you concentrate and focus on the game! Source: http://www.3fatchicks.com/4-health-and-dietary-benefits-of-choline/

Get your workout in before you start playing

Back when I played WoW regularly I would often tell myself “okay just one dungeon and then I’ll go workout.” Well nine times out of ten that “one dungeon” turned into ten and I just skipped my workout for the day. Rationalizing to myself that I would make up for it the next day.

Remember your priorities. Hitting max level is cool, but five years down the line what is going to matter to you? The fact that you were one of the first level 80′s on your server? Or your health? Don’t let your excitement for a new game cloud your judgement and make you lose sight of your true priorities.

I recommend writing out an affirmation and promise to yourself. “My health is my number one priority and I will only play after I’ve finished my workout.” Write it in the comments below if you’re serious about making a commitment to being a healthy gamer.

Incorporate bodyweight exercises into your play time


I will be doing bodyweight squats, pushups, pullups, flutter kicks, and crunches every hour.

Benefits of doing small sets of bodyweight exercises:

  1. Increased blood-flow! Doing just one set of squats can raise your heart rate and increase the blood flow to your brain for the next half hour. This will lead to increased alertness in game.
  2. Small sets of bodyweight workouts add up for big results. Doing ten sets of 10 pushups a day over the course of a month can increase your maximal pushups by more than 30!
  3. Burn more calories. Doing ten pushups and fifteen squats seems small, but again doing it throughout the entire playing day can add up to hundreds of extra calories burned.
  4. Exercise releases endorphines which will make the gameplay experience even more enjoyable for you.

Note: Don’t tie your exercises to negative events in game. For example many people will set a rule of doing ten pushups everytime they die. While this may look like a good idea on the surface what you are actually doing is building a connection in your brain between negative events(like losing, or dying) and exercise. Eventually this can get to the point that simply by doing an exercise you will trigger the negative emotional state associated with losing or dying.

Use a Standing Desk!

I have an entire write-up on standing desks here if you would like to read it. But the cliff notes version. Standing burns 50 more calories per hour than sitting. Standing for 12 hours playing MMOs will lead to an extra SIX HUNDRED calories burned for that one day.

Take small naps

When Diablo 3 released I would go to bed around 1-2 am, wake up at 5:30, get all my workouts done and then play all day, taking small 20 minute naps around 10am, 4pm, and 8pm. If this kind of sleep pattern sounds interesting to you check out polyphasic sleeping: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphasic_sleep

Now you don’t need to do anything as crazy as this, but generally it is much better to take small naps(20-30 minutes) then try to push through fatigue by using caffeine.

The use of energy drinks is actually detrimental to your overall play time. What you are doing is essentially borrowing energy from the future. Your body cannot sustain the caffeine fueled energy for more than about 24 hours and eventually you will crash really hard. This crash might cause you to sleep 10-11-12 hours.

Whereas if you had just taken a small 20 minute nap when you started feeling really tired you could continue to play with 5-7 hours of sleep per day indefinitely without ever crashing hard.

Vitamins that you NEED to perform optimally

  • Multi-vitamin. I recommend NOW Adam: http://www.thehealthygamer.com/nowadam Cheap multivitamins that you buy from Wal-Mart don’t dissolve properly and studies have shown that most of the cheaper multi-vitamins mostly pass through your system without being absorbed and come out in your poop looking much the same as the way they went in!
  • Vitamin D-3. D-3 is produced by your skin when it is exposed to sunlight. The internet is full of anecdotal stories of individuals who cured their depression and low energy/low motivation through supplementing with high doses of vitamin D-3. I recommend taking 5000 IU’s per day since none of us are going to see an ounce of sunlight for the next few weeks. You can D-3 at most grocery stores.
  • Protein supplement. Not at all necessary, but very useful for getting in extra calories and fleshing out your meal replacement drinks. I really enjoy Myofusion. They taste great and mix great: http://www.thehealthygamer.com/myofusionprotein

Note: the links above are affiliate links, if you purchase something from those links I get a small fee from Amazon. It does not cost you anything more and helps support what I do here at The Healthy Gamer.

Drink Green Tea instead of Energy Drinks or Soda

“The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. http://chinesefood.about.com/library/weekly/aa011400a.htm

Cutting out sodas and energy drinks can be very difficult especially if you’re dependent on caffeine. Drinking green-tea can give you the caffeine you need to stay alert and energized while cutting out all the sugars and other junk that come along with energy drinks and sodas. And if that weren’t enough they’re also full of powerful anti-oxidants with innumerable health benefits!

I brew loose leaf green tea with the Ingenuitea system, it is WONDERFUL and I highly recommend you getting one if you enjoy loose leaf green teas. These allow you to brew multiple cups of green tea from the same leaf with incredible ease and simple cleanup. Ingenuitea system: http://www.thehealthygamer.com/ingenuitea

Conclusion

Staying healthy during an MMO release comes down to prior preparation and a few simple choices.

The man who has no time for health will soon find that he must make time for sickness – Robin Sharma, Megaliving

I want to leave you with this message for the conclusion. Remember that the longest journey begins with one step. None of us were born with rippling six packs and twenty two inch biceps. These are built over the course of years through consistent hard work and dedication. If you’ve been neglecting your health choose to change that TODAY.

  • http://twitter.com/JonMBennett Jonathan Bennett

    This is an absolutely fantastic article, man. Surprised there aren’t any comments yet. I just found your site through Reddit. Great stuff.

    • The_Healthy_Gamer

      Thanks Jonathan, yeah come on people, more comments! :P

  • Manuel

    Great articles bro, you speak with simple words but a lot of wisdom :)

  • Alex

    Just found your site and read through a lot and this article is very informative, props for spreading the message of maintaining physical activity even when gaming. I feel a lot of people will get big problems with their bodies when they get a bit older after sitting at their computer all day, leading to (further) depression. Keep going, it’s cool that you are doing your thing and helping others!

    // Alex