How poker players lose weight long-term

Here is the thing. Playing poker for a living can be stressful at times. A lot of volume to be played and a lot of study to be done. Additionally one might have to take care of family or run a side hustle. Occasionally there will be an investment into one’s own health and there will be quick weight loss for a couple of week.s But what then? Changing diet quickly and going into a calorie deficit often leads to the opposite of what we wanted in the first place. The diet is unsustainable and the weight is back on in less than a blink of an eye. So, how do poker players lose weight long-term?

What weight loss means

For beginners, weight loss might seem like something that only happens on the scale. Weight is going down linearly and it is not coming back up after a diet for example. There is a lot more that is going to happen when we actually find a strategy for weight loss. In fact, it is more about optimizing body composition. It is about the total amount of fat and the fat percentage that is going down while we are in a calorie deficit. At the same time, one might exercise or even do some strength training that leads to building muscle. As the weeks go on, we might still see significant changes in the mirror but the scale does not change too much anymore. I’ve seen this with dozens of clients who came to me with a weight-loss goal. Weight drops reasonably quick for the first couple of weeks but once the gains from strength training started to be of siginificance the scale would not show too much of a difference anymore although the body composition was still improving greatly. In the graph below you can find the weight-loss curve of a poker player I worked with over 3 months. A total of 10kgs was lost but the important thing is to be seen in the mirror or measured with a BIA that measures body fat percentage reasonably accurate.

Long-term weight loss of a poker player I consulted over a period of 3 months

Long-Term weight loss – a strategy

Optimizing body composition is something that happens over months and sometimes years – it is not to be a 2-week rollercoaster that is going to turn you into a suffering and sugar-craving zombie. It’s a bit like the winrate in poker. You focus on optimizing your strategy and the winrate is a by-product of you becoming a better player. With weight-loss, you focus on healthy nutrition that fills your stomach and makes you feel good. The by-product will be that your body composition improves. So what is a good strategy?

Focus on protein

Protein is a macronutrient that can be found in all sorts of foods. For weight loss, it is recommended that we get at least 2g/ kg of bodyweight or 1g/ pound of bodyweight. For a 90kg person who wants to lose weight, that would mean about 180g of protein on a daily basis. Is that a lot? Yes it is! But it will surely help you lose weight as you will be more satiated and the digestion of protein has a high thermic effect, meaning you will take up less calories compared to when eating carbohydrates or fat.

Be aware of calories

Calorie balance is a fundamental principle for weight loss, and it revolves around the simple concept of energy in versus energy out. When you consume food and beverages, you take in calories, which provide energy for your body’s daily functions and activities. On the other hand, your body expends calories through various processes, including basal metabolic rate (BMR), physical activity, and digestion.

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than your body expends. When you consistently maintain this caloric deficit over time, your body begins to utilize stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss.

There are two primary ways to achieve a calorie deficit: adjusting your diet and increasing physical activity. Reducing portion sizes, choosing healthier food options, and avoiding high-calorie, low-nutrient foods can all help control calorie intake. Concurrently, engaging in regular exercise, such as cardio and strength training, can boost calorie expenditure.

What to focus on is including foods that are low in calories, high in fiber and high in protein. Those look like this:

Foods to focus on.

And you want to avoid the highly processed foods that are usually higher in calories and especially in sugar. Here is what they look like:

Foods to avoid.

Often times these calories can be found in drinks as well: Soda, alcohol, your high calorie cappucchino. Try to let go off them as much as possible.

A good way to become aware of the calories you are consuming is to try calorie tracking with an app like for example. You do not have to do this forever but maybe just logging your food for 10 days in total and compare it to your energy expenditure will give you a lot more awareness about your nutrition that will then lead to healthier choices.

Reduce friction

Once you figured out which foods to consume and what to avoid you will need to make it easy for yourself to actually consume those ingredients in healthy portions. In order to crave the food that you would like to crave it is recommended to not have as many foods at home that you would like to avoid. Don’t buy stuff that you don’t want to eat! The reduction in exposure will lead to you eating less junk food and sweets. Make it easy for yourself to eat the healthy stuff. Get some recipes and make it easy!

Time to get started

Weight loss and optimizing body composition is nothing that happens for 2 weeks and then suddenly stops. It’s a by-product of reasonable and healthy choices when it comes to your nutrition. Focus on the food that is high in protein, lower in calories and high in fiber. Starting with natural foods that are put together in tasty recipes is the most reasonable thing to do!

If you would like to get a more specific consultation it might be a good time to reach out to me via my contact sheet. I will reach out to you for a free 30-minute consultation.


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