Fuelling For Hockey
Hockey is a high intensity sport often consisting of short shifts involving sprinting and power based activities. Hockey requires a lot of energy and high levels of fluids in order to keep performance levels high.
Like with other high intensity sports carbohydrate rich foods are the best bet for fuelling your body. Optimal fuel for your body needs to be your number one priority when planning your nutrition and with the right diet you can ensure that you will get the most out of your performance.
Keep reading to learn about Scoutletes basic Hockey diet:
The energy hockey players obtain through their diet will come in large part from carbohydrates, so it is important to focus on carbohydrate intake every meal not just before and after playing or practicing. Keep in mind that carbohydrates are the best fuel for not only playing, but also recovering from a game. Some good choices for carbohydrate rich foods are:
- Milk, Yogurt or Cottage Cheese
- Whole Grain Foods
- Whole Grain Breads and Cereals
- Vegetables and Fruits
- Legumes – Particularly things like Lentils, Kidney Beans, Chick Peas etc.
In order to ensure that your tissues are not only growing but also being repaired to their fullest capacity you need to make sure you are getting enough protein intake. Not only will protein aid in the building and repairing of muscles, it will also help maintain a strong immune system and improve academic performance. It is important, however, to understand that too much protein is not a good thing. A protein heavy diet can result in dehydration and actually decrease energy levels. Stay away from high in sugar protein mixes and focus on getting your protein from ‘real’ foods. Some good choices for protein rich foods are:
- Lean Meats, Fish, Poultry and Eggs
- Milk, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese and Cheese
- Peanut Butter, Almond Butter Cashew Butter etc.
Despite the fact that you may be advised to make a conscious effort to avoid fat, some fat from healthy sources is required to maintain a healthy diet. Try and avoid an excess of fats from things butter, salad dressings, fatty meats, snack foods etc. Some good choices for foods containing healthy fats are:
- Olive and Canola Oils
- Fatty Fish – Particularly fish like Salmon, Herring, Trout etc.
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Almonds, Soy Nuts, Pecans and other various nuts
Don’t forget to keep hydrated and to ensure that you are consuming lots of low sugar fluids throughout the day, every day. Avoid an excess of things like pop, energy drinks, coffee and other high sugar and possibly dehydrating fluids. Fluids are required to support all of your bodies functions, even at their most basic levels, so don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your fluids up even when you aren’t playing. Some good choices for keeping hydrated are:
- Juices (Low Sugar)
- Electrolyte Drinks (Low Sugar – usually for during games/practice or for recovery after)
When considering meal times ensure that you are giving your body enough time to digest. It is good habit to eat larger meals 3-4 hours before practices or games in order to make sure you are ready to perform. If necessary eating a large snack 1-2 hours before, or a small snack 15-30 minutes before can also guarantee your body is fuelled and ready to go.
As a hockey player, like any athlete, you need to make sure you are drinking enough fluids during your game or practice. Water is always the best choice but sport drinks can help to add needed electrolytes as well.
It is also essential that you remember that your body needs to refuel afterwards in order to repair and recover. Try to eat a carbohydrate rich snack or small meal within 1-2 hours of finishing in order to get your body the fuel it needs. Ingesting some protein and lots of carbohydrates, along with rehydrating, as soon as possible after the game will help speed up recovery and enable growth. Some good choices for after game recovery are:
- Water, Juice or Sports Drink
- Bread or Bagel with Peanut Butter
Planning ahead is going to remain key as you may be away from home for games or tournaments or may be caught rushing between hockey, school and work. Especially when away from home watching what you eat is very important.
It is easy to get caught up in eating unhealthy or fast foods when on the road, but know that these type of meals are often high in fat and low in carbohydrates which is not what your body needs. This may leave you feeling run down or wearing out faster than usual.
If you want to perform at the highest level all game long you need to eat accordingly. Make the tough choices and stick to the foods above, your body will thank you. Another tip is to try to keep some foods and snacks with you at all times. Some good choices for snacks are:
- Fruit, both dried and fresh
- Granola Bars
- Vegetable Sticks
- Trail Mix
- Peanut Butter
Fuel For You
Every athlete is different, so it may take some experimenting to determine what foods, fluids and portions work best for you, but dedicate to this and you will see your performance improve drastically. Just remember that you need to practice proper nutrition just like you do stick-handling in order to be the best you can be.
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Tags: Eat For Your Sport, Hockey, Nutrition, scoutlete, Student-Athletes