Move like Agent Smith: Make caffeine work for you

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My old 40oz coffee mug!
My old 40oz coffee mug!

I want to preface this article by mentioning that everyone’s body handles caffeine differently. Some people seem to barely register caffeine while others have profoundly abnormal reactions, from being put to sleep to going completely bonkers. There is also a significant number of people that swear by a caffeine free lifestyle.

I am not one of these people and I assume that if you are still reading, neither are you.

I am what you would call a coffee enthusiast. I adopted coffee drinking before entering post-secondary education and it has served me well over two degrees, nine years hosting multi-day LAN Parties, and more late nights than I can count.

With that said, when it comes to caffeine intake, moderation is key. It doesn’t matter what convention I go to though, I guarantee that I will run into someone that does not understand the concept of moderation. Whether they are downing a 2-litre of pop or dual-wielding, keg-sized coffee containers (or that ludicrous Trenta from Starbucks).

As someone that at one life stage drank coffee from a stein, take it from me when I say that less is more when it comes to caffeine.

The trick is to consume moderate amounts of caffeine throughout the day. While it is economical and may even sound logical to order a wash basin of coffee early in the day, the result inevitably is a two part process.

First, a massive spike in energy that makes you uncomfortably jittery. What do I mean by jitters? The following are examples of the jitters while playing board games:

  • Speaking like an Auctioneer
  • Refusal to use what your first-grade teacher called “your indoor voice”
  • Overhand throwing of dice
  • Overhand throwing of other players

Acting like this will not attract convention attendees to your booth!

More commonly found symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Insomnia
  • Cold-symptoms
  • Muscle tremors
  • Upsettled-stomach

As bad as the jitters may seem, they are nothing compared to the second stage, the Crash. An accurate recreation of your body’s response can be found here

When the crash comes, you will be lucky if you can move or form coherent sentences, much less carry on a conversation or present your game.

What’s more, if the crash comes on Friday, your body isn’t going to be bouncing back by Saturday morning. Your body will need time to recover and this time will be at the cost of the limited convention time.

More regular amounts of caffeine by contrast will work to moderate your energy level. So what is moderate? The Mayo Clinic recommends 400mg, but the exact amount is going to vary from person to person depending on body weight, caffeine tolerance, etc. I personally have a sweet spot of around 200 – 300 mg a day, which constitutes a strong up in the morning and a smaller amount in the afternoon if I need it.

What works for you will differ so you may need to experiment a bit, but be mindful of the symptoms of the jitters and the crash and accept that if you are experiencing these symptoms, you should be taking in less caffeine.

Caffeine is a wonderful stimulant that can keep you pumped throughout a convention from a Friday night setup to a Sunday shutdown, it will work wonders on the body. Regardless of whether you prefer pop, energy drinks, tablets or coffee (my personal drug of choice) just remember that overdoing caffeine will make you less appealing than if you just sat in a somatic, caffeine free trance at your booth.

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Surviving the Convention Circuit Diet

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Convention Food will kill you!

You can rationalize that there is protein somewhere in the bacon and cheese bagel sandwich you just consumed; but that won’t undo the calories; or the effect this food will have on your body in the short term. An accurate recreation of your body’s general response to convention food can be found here.

This type of bodily response results in sub-optimal performance at conventions.

That is not being totally fair; sometimes conventions do offer healthy(ish) alternatives, but because healthy fruits and vegetables don’t have a great shelf life and take up lots of storage space, many conventions opt for pre-packaged/pre-cooked foods with shelf lives that rival my own life expectancy.

If a convention does make an effort to provide healthy foods; by all means give them your support. Convention and community centers are integral to our hobby and showing support by tossing a few dollars their way is always appreciated.

Just don’t make surviving off convention food plan A.

Beyond nutrition, food costs can add up and board game designers aren’t known for rolling in cash. Whenever possible, I bring along my own food to a convention along with a refillable water bottle. I do allot a certain amount of money for snacks to support the convention centre hosts, but the bulk of my food does not come from the convention.

If I am traveling or outside food is not allowed, I typically elect to dash out to a Subway and purchase the greatest quantity of vegetables possible to compress between two pieces of bread. If I am tied to my booth all day, I may buy in when I hear a fellow con-goer is going to venture out on a food run. I am a pretty trusting person though, so that may not work for everyone.

You’re not training for a Marathon or Bodybuilding competition, so you don’t need to maintain a pristine diet throughout a convention. By aiming to prepare your own healthy meals however, you ensure that both your digestive tract and bank account don’t take a nose dive and that you have a better overall convention experience.

Congrats! You made it to the end of the article; a feat few internet readers achieve. If you enjoyed the words above, SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER and stay informed of new Content, Events, and Games. Also, check out new blog posts here and on Twitter at #conventioncoach

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