Proper nutrition is an area often ignored when it comes to hockey players. However, by eating the right foods, you will have much more energy during games, have a much more positive mental attitude and be able to recover from injuries a lot faster.
With all the fad diets out there, it can become confusing on knowing what to eat to fuel our bodies. Here are a few simple nutrition guidelines to follow that can help you be a lot healthier.
Focus on a diet containing healthy foods
Try to include as many as these wonderfully nutritious foods as possible; Fresh fruits and vegetables, Whole Grains (whole wheat pastas, whole wheat breads, brown rice, oatmeal, cereals), lean meats (chicken, fish, lean beef), nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, soy nuts), legumes (lentils, beans), eggs, milk or soy milk, yogurt, unsaturated fats (olive oil, salmon, peanut butter) and drink plenty of water (8 glasses / day).
Limit the following foods as much as possible
Sugar (candies, high fructose syrups, sodas, desserts, ice cream), caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas), white flower (white bread, pastries), saturated fats (french fries, red meat, butter, doughnuts). Remember that the key is to avoid as many as these foods as possible, and to replace them with healthier more nutritious foods (mentioned above).
Focus on eating a good combination of carbohydrates / proteins / fats
For each meal, try to have a combination of those three. They are all essential to help fuel your body for hockey and to help you function at your best. Carbohydrates (breads, pastas, sports drinks) will give you the energy you need, protein (leans meats, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, legumes) will help rebuild your muscles and unsaturated fats (salmon, peanut butter, olive / peanut / sunflower oils) will help lower your bad cholesterol and promote better circulation. We recommend consulting a sports nutrition expert to customise an eating plan that best suits your type.
Eat more frequent smaller meals
Eating 3 large meals is not the ideal way to help our bodies function their best. Our digestive systems need just the right amount of foods to be able to function at full capacity. Try to focus on eating 4-6 smaller meals, and don’t eat large amounts between meals. Eating between meals is ok, but focus on smaller snacks (a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, a few nuts or seeds, a banana). You should also avoid eating too much before going to bed. Eating too much before going to bed will have your digestive system working too hard and will take a lot of energy out of you.
Typical Guideline to fuel your body before games or practices
Larger meals should be consumed 3-4 hours before games or practices to insure proper digestion has been done before you get on the ice. If you don’t have time to eat a meal, try having a large snack 1-2 hours before game time. Focus on snacks or meals that have lots of carbohydrates, as they will give you the fuel you need to perform at your best. The key is to make sure you have enough nutrients in your body to perform at your best without getting tired.