Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hockey and Sport Nutrition

From Heidi Smith, Sport Registered Dietitian

Nutrition and Hockey Performance, Does Diet make a Difference?
Kindly supplied by Heidi Smith, Sport Dietitian, from “Nutrition for the Long Run”, available from the Health and Performance Centre, University of Guelph (cost $15 taxes included) or go online to

Hockey is a fast and demanding sport requiring proper fueling to reach peak performance. Repeated bouts of high intensity, anaerobic shifts result in rapid decline of glycogen stores. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate. It takes 24-48 hours to fully replenish our limited stores after intense exercise. Without glycogen for energy, your performance will suffer. A recovery eating plan is essential to speed glycogen recovery before playing again the next day.

Therefore the hockey player’s diet must continually replenish carbohydrate stores. Carbohydrate loading in the days before a tournament and in between games has been shown to increase: distance skated, number of shifts skated, amount of time skated within shifts and skating speed.

What to eat the day before a tournament?

The day before: Try to graze on high carbohydrate foods throughout the day. Eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Choose low fat, moderate protein, high carbohydrate foods. Drink lots of fluids because every gram of glycogen is stored with 3 grams of water.

For the drive to the tournament: pack foods such as Fruit, trail mix, yogurt, sandwiches, sport drinks, juice boxes, sport bars etc… OR if you stop to eat go for foods such as Subway (low fat toppings) or Wendy’s grilled chicken baked potato (See section on Eating Out).

Dinner the night before: Don’t overstuff yourself. You want fast digestion so you feel light and fast the next day.

Choose (higher carbohydrate):
Pasta, bread and salad (light on the cheese, no cream sauces)
Grilled Chicken, rice and veggies
Clubhouse sandwich with salad (hold the mayo and fries until after the tournament)
Pizza with veggies and chicken toppings

Avoid (higher fat choices):
Pizza with sausage and pepperoni
Lasagna (too much fat)
Large steaks
Chicken wings
Caesar salad
Alcohol (slows glycogen storage)

What to eat when eating out? (Restaurants)

Look for key words that describe low or high fat foods
Words to describe:

Low fat: grilled, steamed, baked, broiled, boiled, marinara, poached
High fat: frying, sautéing, au gratin, alfredo, cream, butter

Fast Foods
- Plan meals that are less than20 g of fat & snacks less than 10 g of fat.
- Choose a grilled chicken sandwich instead of high fat burger.
- Order beverages that are caffeine free ie: juice, water, clear pop, caffeine free tea or milk
- Control portion sizes by splitting your meal with others and avoiding “super sizing” your meals
- Try to add carbohydrates: baked potatoes, salads, juice, milk or frozen yogurt
- Subs shops order high carbohydrate, low fat options
- watch out for higher fats from cheese, sauces and mayo
- Check out the grocery store before, during, or after a trip. Pick up fresh fruits, dried fruit, chopped vegetables, bagels, soynuts, granola bars, low fat cheese, yogurt

What to eat the morning before the game:
 Try to eat 2-3 hours before the game
 Choose high carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat
 Higher fat items take longer to digest and therefore can feel heavy in your stomach. We want to avoid foods that take longer to digest. We want quick energy the day of the game.
 Eat foods you are used to eating. Do Not try anything new the day of the game!

Ideal meals before the game:
Cereal, juice, oatmeal (any hot cereal), milk, fruit, toast (get butter on the side), peanut butter, poached/hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs (ask for no oil on the grill if possible), ask for egg beaters (some hotels carry this), egg white omelets, bagels, light cream cheese, ham instead of bacon, pancakes/French toast (easy on the butter and syrup).

Avoid (high protein, high fat):
Cheese omelets, sausage, home fries, muffins (usually high in fat and sugar), sugary cereals, too much coffee (can cause GI upset).

Eating between games is critical for recovery!!

Remember that you are already maxing out your glycogen stores. If you eat within 15 minutes of the game you can double your speed of glycogen recovery (which is slow to begin with). Maximizing your energy stores means you’ll be ready for your next game!

 Choose foods that are high in carbohydrate and moderate protein

Immediately following a game: (within 15 minutes)
Chocolate milk Sport drink – Gatorade, Power Aide
Fruit Juice Fruit – banana, oranges, apples
Yogurt Sport bar
Peanut butter & Jam Sandwich

Between games:
Munch on high carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat foods to satisfy your hunger. Think of it as small frequent meals and snacks rather than one big meal. Follow the pre-exercise guidelines according to the time of your next game:

For more tips and links visit Heidi Smith is one of the Sport Dietitians from the Health and Performance Centre at the University of Guelph. They work one on one with all levels and ages of athletes from beginner to elite. Call (519) 767 5011 ext. 1 for details on an appointment.

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