eSports Athletes: It’s in the Game
Aug 26 2020
| Our Blog
| Jackie Rizo
When it comes to thinking skills, reaction times, and the ability to make quick decisions, professional eSports is considered one of the most challenging sports of our time. Just as professional athletes from traditional sports optimize their diet by adding supplements, more and more Pro Gamers use supplements to take their performance to the next level.
Upping One’s Game
As interest in brain health increases, nootropics are becoming an essential supplement to the natural products industry with its unique benefits of enhancing cognitive health. Nootropics, also known as smart supplements, are a class of natural ingredients which can help boost the memory, enhance creativity levels, reduce stress, lengthen attention span and raise alertness.
Caffeine is the most common nootropic ingredient used by most people, and while it can have health risks when overconsumed, this natural stimulant has been shown to improve thinking skills, provide energy and has been shown to be more effective when combined with a compound such as L-theanine.
L-theanine is an amino acid found most commonly in tea leaves and in small amounts in Bay Bolete mushrooms. Research indicates L-theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness. By combining caffeine and L-theanine at the right doses, the two ingredients work synergistically to give you greater energy while minimizing the side effects of caffeine, such as “the jitters.”
In addition to these two ingredients, there are many others that offer a range of different effects. Some ingredients help the brain protect or maintain what it is already using and producing (regulate neurotransmitter levels).
One such ingredient is NatAxtin™ brand astaxanthin, a natural ingredient sourced from Haematococcus pluvialis and considered to have the highest astaxanthin producing ability. Alexis Collins, Product Manager at Stratum Nutrition, said, “Astaxanthin is mainly used in dietary supplements as a powerful antioxidant that supports overall health and energy, joint health, exercise and recovery, cardiovascular health, brain and eye health, and skin health. It makes sense to use astaxanthin in formulations that want to claim antioxidant benefits both inside and outside cells with one single ingredient. In addition, not every antioxidant can cross the blood-brain barrier or the retinal-blood barrier. It takes a special class of molecules to be able to cross these barriers and support brain and eye health, and astaxanthin is one of the few that can.”
These benefits have helped it gain popularity in the sports nutrition industry.
A New Breed of Athletes
Athletes use nootropics to help get them in “the zone.” By being in this state means full immersion in what’s being done, enjoying it and all efforts feeling effortless.
“Nootropics in eSports play a unique role because unlike NBA or MLB athletes, eSports athletes are stationary,” said Erik Bywater, founder of Knosis Nutrition.
Bywater continues, “To perform well in these high-intensity games, athletes need to have lighting quick reaction speeds, superior focus, and the ability to make split second decisions, all while staying calm and collected under pressure. Nootropics help eSports athletes improve their cognitive function through improved focus and attention. We’re only scratching the surface of the unique nutritional requirements of eSports athletes but our team at KNOSIS Nutrition believes improving mental performance through a unique blend of nootropics can help athletes perform their best.”
The demand for sports nutrition products positioned as improving mental acuity and stamina has caught the natural products industry by surprise. A factor that is fueling the demand is the continuing rise of online gaming culture. According to the NPD Group, 73% of US consumers play video games. The global video game market will grow to more than $180 billion by 2021, according to market intelligence company Newzoo, up from $138 billion in 2018. The market for gamer-centric formulations is huge.
With such a large market value, product developers and formulators already have an advantage when it comes to stepping into the video game industry. The science is already known about ingredients supporting cognitive health, eye health, blood sugar levels and other health categories. The challenge is in how to better educate consumers on how these ingredients affect overall health and performance.
“eSports athletes are a new breed of competitors that require different dietary supplements than your ordinary athletes,” Bywater said. “Nootropics have been around for a while now and over the last few years have noticed increased usage in eSports due to the fact they help you focus and allow your brain to operate more efficiently. We believe nootropics are the cherry-on-top for e-Sports athletes - they need to be taking care of all aspects of their health and wellness to perform their best and we’re seeing this proven as more and more professional eSports teams hire nutritionists for their players.”
The brain consumes around 20% of the body’s energy and gamers need to stay highly alert for hours on end, maintaining their focus, reflexes and quick decision-making capacity on point. Besides the mental endurance required, gaming for extended periods is also physically taxing. For this reason, sports nutrition products, which are positioned as having brain health benefits, are attractive to this growing audience.
Nootropics have come a long way from short-term boosters to formulations that now target both the body and the mind in a way that supports health in the long term. Thanks to nootropics, eSport athletes’ performances can improve by the ability to think and react more quickly and clearly.
Though nootropics is not as large of a market as others in the dietary supplement industry, it does create potential for early entrepreneurs to cash in on a large return.
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