Have you heard about the chess diet? It's not simply "barely moving," as the title indicates. Grandmasters do their best to keep in shape for upcoming tournaments, but when they sit down to competition, they are working out even while they appear to to do nothing but think. You might be surprised at how many calories the world's best chess players expend doing what they do.
The 1984 World Chess Championship was called off after five months and 48 games because defending champion Anatoly Karpov had lost 22 pounds. "He looked like death," grandmaster and commentator Maurice Ashley recalls.
In 2004, winner Rustam Kasimdzhanov walked away from the six-game world championship having lost 17 pounds. In October 2018, Polar, a U.S.-based company that tracks heart rates, monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess -- or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis.
Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters' stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.
To combat the depletion, the world's top chess players are very particular about the calories they consume, both during competition and the rest of their time. Read about the physical demands of chess at ESPN. -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Vysotsky)