Chess is considered a demanding activity as one single game can last even more than six hours. Grandmaster is the highest title in chess, and to the best of our knowledge, the nutritional practices of the elite chess players have not yet been studied.
PURPOSE: To describe the nutritional habits of chess Grandmasters.
METHODS: 72 active chess Grandmasters (18–55 years, 17 women, 55 men) from 35 countries answered an e-mailed questionnaire including fifteen items regarding nutritional topics like meal frequency, pre- and in-competition intake, and dietary supplement use, among others.
RESULTS: Forty-eight players (66.7%, CI95% 54.5–77.1) ate at least three meals/day, and twenty-six players (36.1%, CI95% 25.4-48.3) usually skipped breakfast. Most of the Grandmasters (n = 48; 66.7%) reported to avoid pre-competitive overeating. During the game, sixty-nine players (95.8%, CI95% 88.3-99.1) consumed some sort of solid foods or fluids; the most frequently used solid foods were chocolate (80.5%), fruits (14.6%), cereal bars (9.8%), while water (72.1%), coffee (42.6%) and tea (29.5%) provided most of the fluid intake. In competition, half of the surveyed players (n = 36; 50%, CI95% 38.1-61.9) took fluids even without feeling thirsty. One-third of the respondents (n = 23; 31.9%, CI95% 21.7-44.1) reported dietary supplement use. A minority of chess Grandmasters (n = 2; 2.8%, CI95% 0.3-9.7) reported to have a diet supervised by nutritional specialists. Thirty-seven subjects (51.4%, CI95% 39.4–63.2) referred to practice regular physical activity as a part of their general sport training.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study provide data on nutritional habits of active chess Grandmasters. They showed a satisfactory solid food and fluid intake during competition. However, elite chess players reported to have a defective scientific nutritional counseling.