Amidst the furor that has surrounded world-class athletes and steroids use, performance-enhancing substances have come under intense scrutiny. Of course, chess players have long protested against drug testing. Should caffeine really be a banned substance? How about the herbs gota kola or gingko? How about the new drug that apparently sharpens mental agility called "modafinil?" It is probably a forgone conclusion that dieticians believe nothing is as good for mental performance as proper rest, exercise and diet.

Kay Umeakunne is one such dietician who extols these values and wrote an article that gives… food for thought. Umeakunne, a chess Mom and organizer, is also a registered dietician and Director of the Bionutrition Unit in the Clinical Research Center at the Morehouse School of Medicine. The article describes the proper nutrients needed for maximum performance in a chess tournament and was written for parents of chess-playing children.  Umeakunne was inspired after attending a tournament with her son Chima.

Food for Thought?

"After seeing children eating fast food and looking sleepy before the rounds, I thought it might shed some light," she reflected. The article titled, "What's Eating Your Game?" contains a litany of health facts and provides details about which foods provide what effect to the functioning of the mind.  Here's a tidbit that will catch the attention of coffee drinkers…

"While it helps you think faster and more efficiently, tannins from excess coffee will drain your iron stores needed for concentration. After you get the jitters, it ceases to be of any benefit at all. So limit coffee to no more than 3 cups per day and drink it between meals to maximize its effectiveness."

In the article, she provides a meal plan and a list of tips for maximum performance.  It is a very informative article and regardless of what dietary regiment one has, it will be of tremendous use… or at least provide something to tell your coffee-guzzling opponents after you've won the game.

Acrobat Reader Required

Read Kay Umeakunne's  "What's Eating Your Game?"

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 December 2004