Extra Life Marathon: healthy groceries for 24 hours of gaming

On October 25th over 40,000 people from around the world will participate in the Extra Life gaming marathon for the Childrens Miracle Network. For weeks players have been fundraising for their local children’s hospital, and all of the efforts will cap off tomorrow with 24 hours of gaming.

This will be my third year taking part in Extra Life, and although it’s a lot of fun it’s also surprisingly challenging to play games for 24 hours. The first few hours go pretty quickly, but usually around 2am all of your friends have gone to bed, you’ve been sitting there playing games for 18 hours, and you realize you have another six hours left. Six. Long. Hours.

Preparation is key to a fun and successful Extra Life Marathon, and part of that preparation is making sure you have adequate food and drinks on hand to keep you alert and healthy for all 24 hours. Below is my guide to preparing for the Extra Life Gaming Marathon.

The Goal

While Extra Life isn’t strict about timing everyone’s involvement, the idea is to spend as much of the 24 hours as possible playing games, so focus on pre-prepared food. Think about what you can eat easily while sitting in front of a keyboard. Instead of eating meals, for Extra Life I usually just plan on snacking several times over the marathon.

Stay away from junk food! It might be tempting to celebrate your socially acceptable gaming binge with stereotypical hot pockets and Mountain Dew, but being up for 24 hours is (literally!) exhausting and you’ll weather it and the following day a lot better if you try to eat nutritious food.


About Alcohol

Extra Life and a few drinks initially seems like a great idea. You’re playing video games all day and all night, isn’t that a perfect time for a beer or three?

You might think so, but you’re probably wrong. My first year of doing Extra Life I had a few cocktails in the evening and a pretty pleasant buzz by about 11pm and then I realized that I would be awake for another 9 more hours. Getting.. so.. sleepy.

My advice, sadly, is to just skip the drinks altogether. It will only make you dozy.

So What’s Good?

You want energy, but nutritious energy that will last. That means fruits and veggies, and protein.

My #1 suggestion is hummus and pita chips. It’s easy to eat, delicious, and very nutritious. Peanuts, or really any other kind of roasted nuts, are another great protein-rich “finger food” with healthy oils.

I also recommend a selection of raw veggies and a dip — in my case I got some baby carrots, broccoli, and califlower with tzaziki. Also I bought a bag of pre-made salad that comes with a seperate container of dressing, and a couple of apples. This way I can get some delicious food and quick energy throughout the day.

And hey, look, it’s all for a good cause

As far as beverages go, don’t forget to drink a lot of water! Caffeine will definitely help if you’re so inclined, but again it’s best to pace yourself. Drink a bit of caffiene (coffee or pop or whatever you like) at intervals throughout the day. Loading up at any one point will just give you the jitters, make you feel sick, and you’ll crash later.

The Next Morning

For most people Extra Life will be over at 8am Sunday morning. You’ll probably be very tired and a little hungry, so don’t forget to have something ready before a nap. Personally I bought some pancake mix that only needs water — usually I’d do pancakes from scratch, but I expect to be half-asleep and I didn’t want anything complicated.

To summarize:

1. Avoid alcohol entirely.
2. Drink lots of water.
3. Go light on the carbs and focus on produce and healthy snacky proteins.
4. Caffeiene and sugar is okay and can be great energy boosts, but pace yourself.

Let’s have a healthy and successful Extra Life Marathon!

Jessica, aka Liore, can usually be found griping about video games on her blog and podcast at Herding Cats, or on Twitter. She likes saying “flavor profile” and going light on the carbs, and dislikes measuring things. Jessica is currently obsessed with Korean cuisine.


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