By Jason Lake
Where is your edge at the poker table? Are you good at reading other players? Do you understand the mathematics of investment? What about the logic behind taking certain lines, like check-raising the flop instead of leading out, or vice versa? All of these are good things to know – and all of them can be improved by changing your diet.
Unless you've already got a degree in nutrition, or you've hired somebody who does, you're probably not eating the things you should. This is one of the hardest habits for people to change. We naturally crave sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol, but once we start filling up, our bodies don't tell us to stop in time. It's also hard to figure out what to eat when the medical community itself can't seem to make up its mind. What's an aspiring poker legend to do?
What Would Ivy Do?
Instead of motivational speakers or 12-step support groups, let's take a more practical approach. Treat every single item in your diet (using that term in the larger sense) as something that can be upgraded to make you perform better. Those upgrades don't have to be done all at once. Just like you're better off studying poker 30 minutes a day than cramming on weekends, you can make small, incremental changes to your diet, without having to agonize over it.
Everyone has different nutritional needs, but for a general guide, check out the Nutrition Source at the Harvard School of Public Health website. They've got you covered. Wondering how many glasses of water/milk/Maker's Mark you should drink a day? It's in there. What about vitamin pills? Harvard can help you. Never trust this kind of thing to some guy on TV who claims to be a doctor.
If you decide you want to take the next step and develop the kind of advanced dietary practices that some of the top pros use, absolutely consult your real-life doctor first. Again, different people have different dietary needs. Jason Koon might put butter in his coffee, but maybe you shouldn't be consuming butter – or coffee.
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, of course. You can get the benefits of an improved diet without changing your workout habits, but you can do even better at poker by making the effort. Your nutritional requirements will change based on your exercise regimen; you might need to take in more protein or more carbs (or even more fat) at certain times of the day, depending on whether you're lifting weights or going for a run.