Nutrition for Hockey

You cannot maximise your performance without training hard. That is the first essential habit. 

The second essential habit is looking at food as a way to fuel your training. Proper nutrition is a habit that takes time to develop. Do not think of nutrition as just “eating”, think of nutrition the same way you think of a workout. Many mornings you may get up and not feel like doing your workout, but you would not skip the workout. Same goes for nutrition, many athletes tell me “I don’t feel hungry in the morning, so I don’t eat breakfast.” That is the say as skipping a workout in my opinion. When you eat you are ingesting the ingredients necessary to build and repair muscle, to replenish your energy stores and to maintain your immune system. You will be investing a lot of time and energy into your workouts, give a little extra effort to your nutrition plan to get the true rewards. 

Nutrition is often made more complex than it has to be, for healthy athletes proper nutrition is very simple. There is no magic shake or powder or capsule that will give you 21” biceps. You simply need to provide the proper building blocks. When you are training hard, your body wants to add muscle mass, but if you are not consistently ingesting the building blocks then you will fail to see the results. 

1. Eat smaller amounts more often: 

  1. You must eat every three hours this helps control blood sugar levels and keeps your body from going into starvation mode where lean muscle tissue becomes a source of energy; we really do not want this to happen. Even if you are trying to lose weight, you will still eat every three hours.

  1. Those who are trying to gain weight will eat six meals per day; those trying to lose weight will eat five meals. 

  1. When eating these smaller meals you must pay attention to portion sizes. Basically your protein portion will be about the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Your carbohydrate portion will be approximately the size of your fist. You can eat as many vegetables as you wish as long as they are not drenched in sauces or butter. 

  1. 2 - 3 of these meals will be “snacks” and may include meal replacement bars or shakes. 

2. Time your meals: 

  1. Everyone is busy, so you must plan ahead. Begin on Sunday by grilling some chicken, fi sh or lean red meat; this will help get you through the first part of the week. Then make a double batch of pasta or brown rice when cooking dinner and use this for lunch the next day. 

  1. By being prepared for your meals you will not be caught without some thing appropriate to eat. When you fail to plan your meals then you end up grabbing whatever is available i.e. junk. 

  1. You must be prepared to eat immediately before and/or following your workouts, this is a critical time to fuel your body. Due to their convenience, this is a time when meal replacement/protein shakes or bars may be the most useful. 

  1. Carbohydrates are the most important source of fuel for the body, but you do not want to overfill your tank (again adolescent athletes may need more carbohydrate s to keep up with their energy expenditure) . Eat the majority of your carbohydrates in the morning and afternoon as these are the times when you are most active. Later in the evening look toward more protein. 

3. Good Carbs vs ‘Bad’ Carbs

  1. When choosing carbs, we want to target the less refined sources. The glycemic index of a carbohydrate tells us how quickly it will raise our blood sugar. Glucose gets a score of 100; skim milk gets a score of 32. For the most part we want lower glycemic index sources as this helps control the insulin response or that sugar high followed by a crash. One exception is immediately following your workout you should choose a higher glycemic ind ex carbohydrate which will signal your cells to accept the building blocks that are being put into your system through your post workout meal.

  1. Watch out for some “Low Fat” or “Fat Free” products. When the manufacturers take out the fat they have to add something to make the food palatable, this often comes in the form of high - fructose corn syrup. This is found in countless products including pop, ketchup, granola bars etc. If high - fructose corn syrup is listed as the first or second ingredient on the nutrition label of a product (these are listed in the order of most to least volume on the label) then look for a different brand.

If you want some more advice about how to improve your on-ice performance or athleticism please reach out to me as I will gladly offer help - @coachcheema