Hockey Nutrition is a subject that I feel really strongly about because of how important it is to everyone, especially hockey players. When we’re looking at hockey, besides the professional league, nutrition is one of those subjects that doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as it should.
So to kick off this Hockey Nutrition series, Puckdrawn will take a look at things that you can eat before games and practices, and also after games and practices.
The Importance of Hockey Nutrition
Nutrition is so important in hockey that it directly governs, controls and contributes to things like our energy levels on the ice, our cognitive response, and translating that into hockey tones. That’s our ability to be able to read the game, read the place, and to be able to make quick and instant decisions on what’s going to happen on the ice.
Nutrition also controls our mood and our ability to be able to put on a new fat or muscle, so it’s a super compelling force. The hockey players should familiarize themselves with it if you’re trying to become the best hockey player that you can be.
You’d typically be expecting me to give you a meal plan right about now. The reason that I’m not going to be doing that is because different people respond to different foods and meals entirely differently. So we’re going to give you the foundation or tips that you can follow, tweak and develop so they can suit you much better.
A quick side note: Hockey Nutrition is a complex subject, so what we’re going to be doing in this discussion is simplifying it to make sure that everyone gets a good understanding of what they need to be able to do before and after games.
What are the Key Hockey Nutrition
So the first thing we’re going to cover today is the importance of nutrition within hockey, which will give you that energy to perform. And the one we’re going to break down today are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and hydration, which means the water that you intake.
The main ones that you’re going to look for to perform well in hockey is going to be carbohydrates because that’s what your body uses to produce energy. Carbohydrates are very underrated.
People don’t eat carbs because they don’t like them, so we need to get over how important carbohydrates are in the sport of ice hockey. Carbohydrates are what your body uses to produce energy. That’s how you’re going to last into that third period.
Proteins are also super essential for the after part, a little bit before, but mainly after. It replenishes your muscle, allows your muscle to grow, and to recover.
Hydration is probably going to be your next prominent factor. Without hydration, you can’t function cognitively. Your muscle needs water because it was made of. They have their importance later on, not specifically in the actual performance, but later on in a generalized nutrition of your daily intake.
What to eat for a Game or Practicing
Before a Game or Practicing
One thing we need to get across is the practicing game should be treated in the same way as a real game. You’d hope to practice at the same intensity that you play for an effective practice, so you want to be loading up on carbohydrates before practice.
So your pre-game meal or your pre-practice meal should be carbohydrate-based. I’d say ratios of 4 to 1, and I wouldn’t worry about measuring anything out, just get it generalized.
3 to 4 hours before a practice or game, I’d have a high carbohydrate meal. Anything from pastas, bread, or rice with a little bit of protein and fats in there. 2 to 3 hours before a game, again, I’d still have a carbohydrate-based meal.
Just have a smaller portion so your body can then break that down a little bit quicker. And then straight before the games, about 20 to 30 minutes, I’d have some carbohydrates, sugary grains. Yes, I said sweets, even some raisins fruits which all get broken down real quickly before a game – they all are carbohydrates. Your body can use it.
After a Game or Practicing
Proteins are going to be the most important after the game. That’s when your body needs to recover and refuel, and you want protein in your body. You want some simple carbohydrates in there as well, but dominantly protein in that post-game meal. Remember that anywhere up to an hour after a game, I’d like you to be eating.
Fats are not ideal after the game because it slows down the digestion. So you want those simple carbohydrates and the protein which can have quick absorption into the muscle in your body.
And fats are just going to slow that down a little bit, so fats come in more of your whole day approach. If you’re just looking at pre imposed, fat isn’t too essential because they do lay down that digestion.
Next is hydration. When you’re thirsty, as a simple rule, your body will tell you. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. It would be best if you stayed on top of regular intervals to drink so every five minutes, sip some water.
In hockey, you sweat a lot because of the nature and the pattern of the sport. That’s why hydration is absolutely key to how your throat processes, how you work, and how you respond. Hydration is going to be so important, so just stay on top of that.
In an ideal world, we’d always be hydrated as we’d be constantly drinking. In reality, that’s not the case. I’d start focusing on hydration 4 to 5 hours before a game, and making sure you’re not thirsty at any point by always having regular drinks. And 5 to 6 hours before a game or practice starts, drinking a pint of water every hour-ish would be all right.
After the game, you should weigh up to see how much you’ve lost. If you weigh yourself before and you’re 180 pounds, and after a game, you’re 175 pounds, that’s 5 pounds of water that you’ve lost.
You’re not going to burn fat or anything in a game period, so that’s all water that you’ve lost. 5 pounds of water equates to a lot of water that you need to put back in your body. If you don’t put all that water back in your body, you’ve lost it, and you dehydrate it. By weighing up before practice and after practice, you can replace whatever you’ve lost.
After a game, something that I would use for people would be a handful of raisins for simple, immediate carbohydrates. The problem we find is people don’t want to eat straight after exercise.
Thus, a more comfortable solution though it’s not ideal, would be a carbohydrate-based drink. A good example is a protein shake with a fair bit of carbohydrates, which you can buy easily from anywhere.
Another ideal meal to have would be a small jacket potato, a handful of raisins, and some tuna. Any sort of protein-based will be beautiful so that you can have your meats or your fish.
However, red meat tends to be high in fat, so I’d avoid that straight after the game and save them till a little bit later in the evening. The next good meal is pasta. Pasta is going to be a slower absorb, but it’s still good. Fruits are also great after a game for carbohydrates, as well as crackers, rice cakes with jam, and other similar snacks that are immediately absorbed.
That sums up our Hockey Nutrition tips for pre-game and post-game or practice. Several little things for you to take away are: Carbohydrates before a game – dominantly complex carbs or slow-release; 3 to 4 hours before a game – more simple carbs, sugary foods and carbohydrates.
After a game – load up on protein and simple carbohydrates to get your body recovered and replenished; And hydration is absolutely the key throughout pre-game and post-game. Remember that nutrition is what’s going to make you a good hockey player, and nutrition is the key to your performance.
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